No doubt many of you have heard of the loss of Major General Harold Greene to an attack outside the city of Kabul last month. A lone Afghan soldier for unknown reasons opened fire on a group of coalition personnel reviewing the training of the Afghan army at a British run military academy. Among those wounded were several members in my unit, and General Greene was killed instantly in the attack. He was our general, and he was loved.
Major General Greene was one of a rare breed of officers that you could just look in the eye and know his quality. He was a brilliant man, an exceptionally caring officer, and as a fellow graduate of RPI he took me under his wing and made me feel at ease in Afghanistan. He had the qualities inherent in any good general. He commanded reverence and respect, and inspired confidence in everything we did. He also had the unique quality of putting everyone at ease when he talked to them - not an easy task when you have two stars on your uniform. I can say with complete honesty that I never had a conversation with him without laughing.
What the news stories failed to mention was that he was just weeks away from a trip back home to visit his family. He would sit in the patio of the USO on our base and talk excitedly with his family about his upcoming trip, which included a trip to Vermont. His family had already gone through so many months of hardship and longing with his absence, and this trip would give some reprieve from that hardship.
For the General's family his loss is wound that will never heal. For those injured and their families, it will be a long and difficult road to recovery, and for many life will never be the same again.
I know it's hard, especially at times like these, to understand what we're doing here. To most including many on the ground in this country, this war has not been worth the dear price we've paid. As hard as it is to understand, and as clouded as our efforts have been with questions of power, wealth, vested interests and our place in the world, in the minds of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines on the ground they don't fight for any of these things, or even for the country of Afghanistan - they fight for you.
I ask that the good people of Vermont continue to keep the family of General Greene and the service members wounded in this attack in your prayers.
Captain, United States Air Force