NPR's Tom Bowman and Producer Greg Dixon have been working in Afghanistan for the past few weeks. Mainly around Kandahar. They have a piece on All Thing's Considered tonight about the fight to the west of the city. They're with the 101st Airborne Division.
Tom's piece describes an attack on Alpha Company. A suicide bomber blew himself up on a motorcycle next to a US patrol, killing two soldiers, SPC Jonathan Curtis and PFC Andrew Meari. Alpha Company had been trying to work closely with the local Afghans, to gain their trust and to trust them. Sergeant Thomas Humphrey is worried about how his men will react to the loss of their fellow soldiers.
HUMPHREY: I feel that some people are going to treat the locals differently. But that’s were the leadership comes into play and takes a hold of the reins so to speak and keeps the soldiers under control.
BOWMAN: When you say differently what do you mean?
HUMPHREY: I mean they know it was a local that blew up two of their buddies and killed ‘em. I just think they’ll, not really go off on a spree so to speak…They’re definitely going to be treating the people differently.
Tom reports there's good reason for that suspicion. One of the villagers was hiding weapons and ammunition in the ceiling of his house. He is one of the Afghans the Americans had hired for day work, trying to put some money into the local economy.
Members of the 101st Airborne Division grieve in front of the memorial displays for Specialist Jonathan Curtis and Private First Class Andrew Meari who died in a suicide bomb attack outside their combat outpost in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan on November 1st.
Members of the 101st Airborne Division grieve in front of the memorial displays for Specialist Jonathan Curtis and Private First Class Andrew Meari who died in a suicide bomb attack outside their combat outpost in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan on November 1st. Greg Dixon/NPR
Tom and Greg attended a memorial service for Meari and Curtis over the weekend. Meari was 21 years old. Curtis, 24, leaves behind a nine month old daughter.
Here's what their commander, Captain Nick Stout had to say.
Jon and Andrew died as heroes and will be remembered as such. It’s men like them that make the conscious decision day after day to throw on 60 pounds of equipment and walk out the front gate knowing full well the dangers that they face. They stood in front of it without fear; with disregard for their own safety. And they did it for the men to their left and right. This is what makes men heroes.
15 American troops have died in Afghanistan so far this month. It's only the 9th of November.