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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