Military stories from past to present, both wars.

Rock Art

June 18th, 2008 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

Dear Gang,

The country of Afghanistan can be beautiful with rolling hills and lots of color.  It can change just as fast to arid desert area until you hit the next valley with a river running through which brings life to all the locals. On this particular day of travel, I was sort of daydreaming as I stared out the window of our vehicle and I started to notice all the “Rock Art” in the desert along the side of the highway. There were sections of white rocks piled up in little pyramids. I thought maybe this was the creation of bored kids while watching their herds of sheep.


I leaned forward to comment on this Afghan art. “Hey, Sgt first Class, what is up with all the rocks piled up in the little mounds out there? Is that some sort of artwork?” He chuckled and said, “Sir, that’s not art, those are land mines and the piles of rocks mark the area. This is the second most-mined country in the world, and every day some kid or farmer gets blown up by all these old Russian mines. UN groups will come out here and mark the areas for safety.”


I nodded; thinking that taking a stroll out there wouldn’t be a great idea. He pointed to a draw we were approaching, and said, “Sir, see that draw there?” I looked out the front and noticed the V-shaped cut into the side of the hill there. “Well, once we were driving to the base and our vehicle had a flat tire. We had a Marine Major on board who was brand new in country. After we stopped the truck, I told everyone to take a defensive position around the truck. As I was inspecting the work on the tire change, I walked around to make sure everyone was “good to go.”


When I made it the other side of the truck, the Major was gone. I went inside to see if he was there. No Major. So as I was walking out, I noticed him on the bank on the side of the road where he could see over the top.  I about flipped because there he was up there lying down among all that “Rock Art” with his pistol drawn. Oh my God, this isn’t happening to me! I could just see this guy getting blown up on my admin convoy! “Sir” I cried out, “The mines are all around you; whatever you do, walk in the same foot steps you went up there in.” He stood up and slowly retraced his steps back to the hardball road.


The Sgt continued, “I asked him what the hell he was doing up there?” “This Major, I think his name was Haley or something looked at me like I was crazy.” He said, “You told me to protect the truck. How was I supposed to do that with the bank fifteen feet higher then me? I just wanted to see if someone was coming at us; the high ground is where you want to be.”


I later talked to the officer in question and when he told me the story, he had a sheepish smile on his face, and said this Sgt First Class was about to have a heart attack when he found him up on the bank. He was really freaked out, and when he told me I was in a mine field, all I could think of was, “Christ, my first day in Afghanistan and I’m about to blow my legs off.” 


All ended well, but if you ever come out here in the future when things calm down, you know, for vacation? Just remember that the Rock Art is not Art…


Semper Fi,


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  1. 12 Responses to “Rock Art”

  2. By concretebob on Jun 19, 2008

    I’m not sure which bothers me more, you going native or you hanging out with the Army.
    Good stuff, Sir.

  3. By Stripeness on Jun 19, 2008

    Thanks *ever* so much for sharing! The last thing I’d ever want to do is nag anyone to write…and yet, like Kipling’s Elephant Child, I’ve a ‘satiable curiosity.

    Granted our troops cover a lot of ground and have widely varied experiences. Still, every little window into a region and culture I knonw little about is most appreciated.

  4. By Leta on Jun 19, 2008

    Oh Taco! Flies on food, potentially exploding rock art, disfunctional toilets. Man…where do I get a ticket? LOL!

    Always great to hear from you. Always great to read your stories.

    Be safe friend.

  5. By Karen I. on Jun 20, 2008

    Lt. Colonel, I’m proud of you for asking before just impulsively running out to explore.You are defineately model material as you look interesting(respectfully) in anything. Thanks to you and all our friends over there.

  6. By GunnNutt on Jun 20, 2008

    I thought fer shur the newbie Major’s name would rhyme with, er… Pain. Then again, he wasn’t a Major on his last trip to the ‘Stan.

    I think your idea of art work is correct — it’s just a new form: mine art!

  7. By chtrbx on Jun 20, 2008

    You are just having to much darn fun over there TACO!!…

  8. By Some Soldier's Mom on Jun 20, 2008

    what??? no pics???

    stay safe…

  9. By AFSister on Jun 21, 2008

    Sounds like that kind of Rock Art can stay riiiiight where it is, as far as I’m concerned. I wonder why no one told you that in briefings either before you got there, or just after arriving.

  10. By SusieJ on Jun 21, 2008

    Ah, Taco, an art critic you ain’t!

  11. By Karen I. on Jun 22, 2008

    Concrete Bob and I are seeing things others aren’t. Are we crazy or do we have the ability to see things others don’t?

  12. By Taco Bell on Jun 22, 2008

    Hey guys,
    Not sure what you are seeing??? They told us that this place was mined and not to go for a stroll. typical brief. Until you see them all out there, it opens your eyes. If I lived here, I’d have a gaggle of goats walking in front of me or maybe a couple of IVAW guys on point… Ha!!
    Semper Fi,

  13. By lela on Jun 22, 2008

    Taco, please be safe! We’d miss your wit if any of those exploding rocks, dysfunctional toilets, or cultural experiences actually get to you. When you head out again, don’t forget the gaggle of goats; they’ll keep you safe.

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