Chapter no 76


WE MADE A SQUARE of our vehicles, which we called a harbor. The next day, and the day after, and so on, we ventured out to do patrols

around the town.

Show of presence, we were told. Keep moving, we were told.

Keep the Taliban wondering, we were told. Keep ’em off balance.

Overall, however, the base mission was to support an ongoing American offensive. There was a constant roar of American jets overhead, and explosions in a nearby village. We worked in very close concert with the Americans, engaging the Taliban in frequent firefights.

A day or two after we’d established our harbor, we were sitting on high ground, watching shepherds in the distance. All we could see for miles around were these men and their sheep. The scene looked innocent enough. But the shepherds were getting too close to the Americans, making them nervous. The Americans fired several warning shots. Inevitably, they hit one of the shepherds. He’d been riding a motorbike. We couldn’t tell from our distance if it had been an accident or deliberate. We watched the sheep scatter, then saw the Americans swoop in and pick up the shepherds.

When they’d gone I went out into the field, with a few Fijian soldiers, and picked up the motorbike. I wiped it down, put it aside. Took care of it. After the Americans had questioned the shepherd, bandaged and released him, he came to us.

He was shocked that we’d retrieved his motorbike. He was more shocked that we’d cleaned it.

And he nearly passed out when we gave it back.

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