Well for a brief moment in time this man was my best friend. We grew up on opposite ends of the world. I grew up in farming country in the Midwest and he grew up in the middle of hell in war torn Afghanistan. Different languages, different cultures, religions, you name it nothing on earth would have brought us together. Nothing except war.
I was a young boy of only 19 when we met and he was already in his early thirty’s fighting in the 6th year of his second war.
The first time I met him I wasn’t very nice. To be honest, I didn’t respect him at all. I was an arrogant elitist paratrooper in America’s guardian of honor, the 82nd Airborne Division (if you're a U.S. Army Veteran, you know the type) and he was just a lowly Aghan Haji.
Surely he was ignorant to the world around him...
What little did I know?
I was surprised when I first conversed with him. His English was on par and his many years serving as an interpreter for our armed forces had given him the hardened slang of any American grunt on the frontlines.
He took shit and gave it just as quick. Be that I was the Commander's gunner, he was assigned directly to me and it only took us a short time to become close as any of my battle buddies out there in the shit together.
This man was tougher than most and he was funny as hell too. I wish I could share some of the jokes he had on Steemit, but those belong on the battlefield and nowhere else.
One thing I can share though is when we first met I went from disrespectful punk kid to karate kid and he was my Mr. Miagi. He was enlightened to the world I was only first getting to know, combat.
He had seen it all and lived to tell about it. I had the honor to learn everything I could from him.
He fought alongside the Mujahideen against the Soviet Union, and now fought against many of his former comrades with us.
Shortly after we met we had a long serious talk about politics, the people of Afghanistan, and ways that could possibly help them out of the eternal war they have been in.
I asked him how he learned English and why he chose to help the U.S. when all it seemed to me was we were causing more problems for the country.
After I had asked, he looked at me with a very serious face and said “Mr. Badger (he used my real name), when I was a little Shepard boy in field the US man came and he save me from evil Taliban. He save my life and I love him. He teach me English?”
I looked at him with wonderment in my eyes ”really? Woooooowww!”
”No, you idiot! I took the money from the army and went to college in Kabul! You're such a racist!”
That was his favorite insult for me, racist. Being a recon unit we had our share of hard work cut out for us and even though he was my best friend out there, I was never easy on him.
”Get your ass up that mountain your slowing us down!” I would order.
”Ah man, you're such a racist! Why are you such an asshole man.” He would shout back.
I miss our long nights on watch together drinking tee, telling ghost stories, talking about women and life.
He shared his world with me. Perhaps the greatest honor of all was meeting his family and having dinner by his house.
You see, for a foreign white devil to meet an Islamic man's wife and children is a big deal. I knew that then and I am so grateful for it. I will never forget it.
He served by my side, always faced the enemy with strength, and saved our asses many of times.
This guy also liked to tell the country people that Americans will eat their babies and things like that. So much for winning hearts and minds!
On one a rare occasion he rode in a different truck than mine. I don't remember why anymore, but it just so happens the truck he was in hit an IED (Roadside bomb) and he was sent home to recover from some minor wounds. Before he made it back to the front I was shipped home and never got to say goodbye.
He was ripped from my life as fast as he came into it. Our time together felt like an eternity and it was over in the blink of an eye. I miss him dearly and hope to one day meet him again.
That is war for you, it can make best friends, take best friends, it will scar you forever.