Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Adam Ray

Adam Ray

18 February 2010

Kandahar, Afghanistan

On Feb. 9th, in a field near a road, an Afghan soldier squatted to relieve himself.  He picked the wrong spot. A bomb exploded, blowing off a leg, and he died.  Captain John Weatherly, Commander of Charlie Company of the 4-23 Infantry at FOB Price in Helmand Province, mentioned that in passing as he described the series of events that led to the death of Specialist – now Sergeant – Adam Ray, a vigorous 23 year old, born in Tampa, Florida.  The bomb the Afghan stumbled upon was near the IED that struck Adam.

Without the thousands of culverts underneath, the roads of Afghanistan would be 

flooded and washed away during the snow melts and rains.  In safe countries, drivers pay as little attention to culverts as we would to telephone poles.  As a practical matter they are invisible to us.

In the war zone that is Afghanistan, life and limb depend on noticing normally mundane things like culverts.  They are a favorite hiding spot for the Taliban to plant bombs intended to kill Americans driving the roads.  Hundreds, even thousands of pounds of explosives can be stuffed inside, launching our vehicles into the sky, flipping them over and over, sometimes killing all.  And so, in some areas, soldiers on missions must stop dozens of times to check culverts for explosives.  Since we do this every day in front of thousands of Afghans, they know our patterns.  In addition to planting bombs in culverts, they plant mines and other bombs near culverts, to get men who stop to check.

The U.S. military has been taking inventory of the culverts, identifying their exact locations, and documenting them with photos and maps.  The military has embarked on a program to place barriers on culverts over which our troops cross on any regular basis.  The enemy tries to remove or circumvent the barriers, and so night and day we have SKTs (Small Kill Teams) who move from place to place watching culverts.  The SKTs frequently call fire that kills men who come to place bombs.  When more enemy comes to collect the bodies, we kill them, too.  But the SKTs can’t be everywhere all the time, and so this wily adversary lands hard blows every day.

The main route west from Kandahar is Highway 1, the jugular for ground transport in Afghanistan, which also connects to major cities like Kabul.  Donor nations have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to construct and attempt to safeguard this crucial passageway.  Yet the enemy is always there, leaving convoys smoldering and bullet-riddled bodies slumped over steering wheels or crumpled on the road.

Between Kandahar and just east of FOB Tombstone most of the culverts have been blocked with obstacles such as concertina razor wire, yet ten remained open.

And so on Tuesday, 9 February 2010, Charlie Company from the 4th Battalion 23rd Infantry of the 5/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team from Fort Lewis, headed out to conduct “culvert denial.”  The Soldiers know the risks of approaching the culverts, yet they do it anyway.

Staff Sergeant Christine Jones from the 4th Combat Camera Squadron was along on the mission.  Company Commander Captain John Weatherly was away at a meeting when 3rd Platoon arrived west of Maiwand, just off the south side of Highway 1, near the village of Yakhchal, a Taliban stronghold.

The unreleased combat photos show that the morning was clear and bright.  Soldiers can be seen unwinding concertina wire at the mouth of one side of the culvert.  Specialist Adam Ray walks across the road to the other side of the culvert, down in the drainage area, and a photo catches dust in the air.  A flock of birds can be seen taking flight.  The meta-data on the image indicates it was 9:30 AM.  A white 4-door car sped away, over the culvert, and Sergeant Jones quickly snapped to get the plate.  Subsequent investigations indicated the car was not involved.  The soldiers’ discipline speaks for itself; nobody shot at it.

Adam Ray was among the three soldiers who had been wounded by the small explosion.  Captain Weatherly got the radio call and headed over, as did Army medevac helicopters.  Adam’s feet and legs were fine; the explosive was buried higher up, near the road at the side of the culvert.  He had been hit in the neck. The other two soldiers had arm wounds that were not severe.  Despite the danger of more bombs, the photos show soldiers and medics diving straight in to help.  Adam was patched and put onto a litter, and soon an Army helicopter with a red cross landed in the dust.  The wounded were loaded and flown to Camp Bastion where Adam Ray, the third of five children, beloved son of a minister and a devoted mother, a soccer player and a flirt, who tutored dyslexic kids and was known to ask less popular girls to dance at school events, died.  He was 23 years old.

The War in Afghanistan has truly begun. This will be a long, difficult fight that is set to eclipse anything we’ve seen in Iraq. As 2010 unfolds, my 6th year of war coverage will unfold with it. There is relatively little interest in Afghanistan by comparison to previous interest in Iraq, and so reader interest is low. Afghanistan is serious, very deadly business. Like Iraq, however, it gets pushed around as a political brawling pit while the people fighting the war are mostly forgotten. The arguments at home seem more likely to revolve around a few words from the President than the ground realities of combat here. I can bring the ground realities, but can sustain the coverage only by the graciousness of readers. Please keep that in mind. Please click…

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Honor and Pride
I am broken hearted for Adams family and their loss and also for the loss to the USA, these fine young men and women represent everthing that is best about America and the families that raise them.
Michael Adamson February 18, 2010

Thank you, and a question-
Thank you for telling this story. It illuminates just one tiny aspect of the fight, as well as honoring Sgt. Ray. 

A question- what was the Afghan soldier's name?
staghounds February 18, 2010

Answer for staghounds
His name was THE ENEMY. God bless the families of those who have given their lives and those who still serve.
Barbara Gibbs February 18, 2010

Never Forget
Thanks for keeping the cost of this war real and in the forefront of our minds...
Wes February 18, 2010

Thank you, Michael Yon, for treating this oft repeated situation with sensitivity.
Jim Boyd February 18, 2010

Another Marine mom
God be with Adams family and give them strength and peace, I know they would trade anything to hold their son once more. I get the DOD reports every day and reading about the day he gave his life he became all of them. My heart breaks for the price the free world pays to defeat this enemy. 
Susan Buedel February 18, 2010

Afhan soldier
The way I read the dispatch, the killed Afghan soldier was not the enemy, but rather THE ALLY. 

Thanks for the dispatch. It is priceless to be able to gain a specific understanding of what our soldiers are doing and what they go through every day. The stories of big engagements or crises are important also, but I think it is even more important for us back home to be able to visualize the day-to-day activities of our warfighters, and to realize that the war is on everyday for them.
mwfair February 18, 2010

Trackbacked / Linked
This article/post has been trackbacked and linked at The Thunder Run 

Adam Ray - By Michael Yon 
David M February 18, 2010

Greater love ....
Praying God will comfort Adam's family and comrades. Praying for the safety of all our brave troops - and you, too, Michael. Thank you for representing our warriors and telling their stories. God bless them, every one.
Kathy DiSanto February 18, 2010

for Barbara
With a comment like that you've never seen combat, you have ally's and you have enemy's, they can look and act the same, but thier belief's are different. The afgan soilder that was killed was a loss for America, he was not an enemy but a mission partner, someone just like you who want's a safe life for his family and freinds - if someone wanting to live a day without fear of gunshot and reprisal is killed fighting for thier freedoms, it is a loss for us, and he was not the enemy. 

Hoorah Adam - Godspeed
Trevor February 18, 2010

Thank you for telling it like it is. My prayers go out to all of the families involved.
Sherie Martin February 18, 2010

Charlie Company 4/23rd
I worked with the men of Charlie Company 4/23rd 40 years ago in Vietnam as a Scout Dog Handler. I am always saddened when I read of the death of one of our troops, but the death of Sgt. Adams a member of this fine unit that once watched my back I find particularly heartbreaking.
Steve Ball February 18, 2010

God Bless Adam.
Mary February 18, 2010

Grim Necessity
It is good to have someone like you in Afghanistan with the troops to send bulletins like this out. It is especially difficult for me to read because my son is in the Army in Afghanistan. I don't read as much about it as I read about Iraq - I don't need the reminders of how dangerous it is and how quickly my life could change from having a son in the Army to having a son in a grave. It is, however, essential that people in general are reminded that we are at war, and the war is against terror and terrorists; that those people, in general, want Americans and America dead. Sadly, Americans are war-weary and tired of hearing about it. Thank you for continuing to provide the message....just in case anyone reads.
Terry Frakes February 18, 2010

Ray Ray
Ray man, we had some pretty good times. You truely were a Prince. If everybody in this world had a little more Adam Ray in them, well I think that everyone that knew him knows that it would be a much better place. You were always down for anything, non judgemental and always had that look on your face. You never put yourself ahead of anyone else and never thought that you were better than them. Well guess what bro, you were. Adam Ray the Prince. You should start trying to get the story on JFK for me and try to loosen up that tight ass James Dean a little bit, I'm pretty sure you're chillin with him right now. Thanks for being who you were Adam, and standing up for the stuff that you did. It's just so weird that you're gone.
Kevin Mahoney February 18, 2010

Thank you Michael for all you do and GOD BLESS our men and women.Like I've said Thank You never seems to be enough.To Adam GOD BLESS you and rest in GOD'S LOVING ARMS my prayers and thoughts are with your family and I thank them too for the sacrifices they have made.
Jean February 18, 2010

That and I didn't know you played soccer MoFo. We could have been doing that instead of trying to play guitar when we had too much to drink. Next time kid.
Kevin Mahoney February 18, 2010

thank you for putting a name to our military in Afghanistan. So often the media never takes the time to honor our military and their williness to serve our country. May God be with the family of Adam Ray as they grieve the loss of their beloved son Adam. I thank you for your story here and just wish the American people would take the time to care more about our military.
jean kiger February 18, 2010

My admiration
After a regular day at work, I go home and relax in a comfortable home. These soldiers are at war 24/7 and can never let their guard down. May they receive our admiration, gratitude and prayers.
Armand February 18, 2010

My condolences to all families involved
Godspeed, indeed. 

And Barbara... you need to re-read the post. The Afghan killed was on patrol with our guys. Yes, there are cases of Afghan and Iraqi soldiers and police turning against us, but not all. As Trevor said, his death was a loss for America too.
AFSister February 18, 2010

RIP Adam and our Afghan Brother
God Bless the peace loving people of this world. We are so fortunate that people like Adam and our Afghan Brother are so brave and willing to fight for our freedom. God, please comfort their families, friends and comrades and continue to protect the troops that carry on. They are all in our thoughts and prayers, as we hope that one day soon this nightmare will be over.
Jenny February 18, 2010

Another HERO lost to us and welcomed in the arms of Angels
Thank you for the story. A very dear friend of mine from high school lost her son in combat in the Helmand Province on 26 Sep, 2009. The grief and the outpouring of love for this fine young man who was a Marine, a Warrior, a Son, a Brother and a Husband have changed my life forever. Rest in Peace Adam...and Jordan and all the other Brave Warriors who've gone before and those who shall no doubt follow. The world is a better place becasue of you and now you call Heaven home. May God be with your families as they adjust to your earthly absence.
Dan Nightingale February 18, 2010

Tampa has lost one of her sons
There is no joy in Tampa as we mourn the lost of a fine young man who died way too soon. Our hearts are broken. No more war. No more blood. Now more dead young people. But as long as there are those corwardly bastards willing to kill innocent women and children, we are grateful to the men and women who stand up and oppose them. de oppresso libre 
Warren Harris February 18, 2010

Semper Fi, Soldier
Lee February 18, 2010

Rest in Peace
Godspeed and Semper Fi Adam. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten.
TexMarine2254 February 18, 2010

to all that have served thank you and god be with you
travis/colorado February 18, 2010

Thank the Lord for these Brave young men and women, and the families who sacrifice so much. Prayers for Adam and his family. Prayers of thanks, Mr. Yon.
Sara Johnson February 18, 2010

God bless our fallen soldiers
I wish our enemies would read these posts to get a glimpse into what the real fabric of our country is all about. Thanks Michael for telling this story. My deepest sympathy to Adam's family and friends. I wish I had the honor to have known him personally. And to those who are reading, thank you for your service.
George February 18, 2010

Gold Star Mother
Today marks seven months since my only child died as a result of wounds sustained in southern Helmand Province. Here I sit reading another story that brings tears for my own loss and for the loss of another brave, young soldier. Reading the comments of those who knew Adam continues to validate the selflessness of our soldiers and the inspiration they shared with all who knew and loved them. I know first hand the effect my sons death has on his brothers in arms. It has been made clear to me that he will NEVER be forgotten and seven short months later, I have no doubts. I am forever grateful and indebted to those who are willing to fight for my freedoms everyday AND to Michael Yon who does the same to stand next to them and keep us informed. I pray and pray and pray for ALL of them to find they power they seek to accomplish the tasks at hand and for them to know that prayers are offered every minute by the masses for ALL of their protection and safety. 

"He which hath no stomach to this fight let him depart. But, we in it shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers! For he, today, that sheds his blood with me, shall always be my brother." Wm Shakespeare 

Thank God for those willing to fight and heartfelt gratitude for those who lose their brothers (and sisters). They will not be forgotten.
Jill Stephenson February 18, 2010

My son is currently serving, training national soldiers with the skills to defend their own homes. I couldn't be more proud of his character, the kind that leads great young men and women who could chase any career they desire, to choose to fight for the freedom of those who can not defend themselves. We in the Army family STILL hear great news of Afghan and Iraqi families who know and appreciate the gift our warriors are giving them. Shame on the mainstream media for ignoring it. My prayers, and far too inadequate thanks, are with Adam's family.
Army Dad February 18, 2010

My heart goes out to the American forces in Afghanistan and the horrible conditions in which our soldiers must live and fight in to protect those in foreign countries who want oppose our forces. America needs to take the attitude to win this conflict and win it now using all of our powers rather than drag it on having anothe Vietnam in History our textbooks. Turn our Mariines lose, let them fight to win, give them the equipment, relax the rules of engagement and lets get this thing over with and bring our guys back home.
Sue Clayton February 18, 2010

God Bless you Adam. Thank you for painting a picture of who Adam was as a man and a soldier. Please, God, Bless all of our men in combat, especially in Afghanistan. Help the 4-23 every day they are in harms way. Bring them home safely, soon.
Diane McNally February 18, 2010

My heart goes out to the family of this brave young man. My sincere gratitude to him and those like him , who do not shirk from their duty to protect this country of ours. 
I too was in the Marines. My father was career Army, Ist Division Seargents Major back in the late 50's. I do understand and honor the service and commitment of such brave young men 
and women. My heartfelt thanks and deep respect to them all. When will America wake up to the threat from abroad to kill our country , its people and our way of life??? We are in this to the end, 
and the bad guys will keep coming until we show them once and for all we will never say die. we will never stop in our efforts to kill every last one of them. This will be a fight for our country's very survival 
as we know it. We all need to do our part to support our valiant soldiers , God bless them all !! We also need a Commander-In -Chief who truly understands his responsibility and aggressively pursues the bad guys , 
with no apology. That is his number 1 job. Thankyou to the writer of this article.
John Hollingsworth February 18, 2010

Dear Barbara...
...POUND SAND, lady! 

The Afghan Soldier was fighting for his country alongside American soldiers and gave his life for what he believed in. How dare you belittle his sacrafice! 

God's Speed, SPC Ray.
Matt Everhart February 18, 2010

God Bless you Adam
I read the story about Adam Ray, a true hero. May his Mother and Father find peace in God's love for their loss. You will see Adam him again.
Bob T - Colorado February 18, 2010

We are dimished
We are dimished with the passing of Adam and all the other brave warriors who put their lives in harm's way on our behalf. I dis not know Adam nor do I know most of the troops but as a veteran of 22 years of service, I fel te pain as another member joins the brotherhood of the fallen. Let us never forget the sacrifice they made. Rest in God my brother!
John Tyler February 18, 2010

And my heart goes out to you Jill for your loss. May God bless and keep you. 
Tom Crook February 18, 2010

Afghans Are Not the Enemy
For Barbara Gibbs and others, the Afghan soldier, a part of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) comprised of the Army, Police, and Border Police are not the enemies, they are in fact the mission. The reason that this young trooper was with the Afghan soldier is because he was partnering with them. Partnering U.S. and Afghan units builds respect and capability of these forces and there is no question why the Afghan Army is the most respected element in the ANSF. The more capable the ANSF becomes, through partnering, the sooner the ANSF can assume responsibility for their battle space, the more capable they become at separating the enemy from the people the better the government of Afghanistan becomes at providing services to it's people thus legitimizing itself in their eyes.
R. C. February 18, 2010

Barbara, please get a clue
Afghan soldiers are our allies in the fight against the Taliban.
Matt February 18, 2010

Ease up on Barbara
I'm sure Barbara started typing before her brain went in motion. I can't imagine she really meant what she wrote
Ewakahuna February 18, 2010

God Bless You Adam. And thank you Mike for this story, it reminds me every day of the bravery of our soldiers, and that my petty complaints are -- petty. Adam, you will not be forgotten.
Vicki February 18, 2010

We need to know.
At least some of us need to know with much more urgency, also. We need to know the story of some of our Afghan allies. As implied by the post asking the name of the Afghan soldier, he has a story and a family, he fought against the same enemy, and died for the same cause as Adam. We need to hear Adam's story, but we also need to hear the story of our Afghan allies, because otherwise too many are unaware that their freedom is worth fighting for, just like ours. Their lives are worth honoring, just like ours. Their sacrifices help make us safer, just like ours make them safer. Their story begs to be told, and their lives honored, just like ours.
John Findley February 18, 2010

May God our Father in Heaven be with everyone who calls on his name. I have heart felt sorrow for all the give their lives to make the world a better place. To all that have served and all that have served and all that will serve, I am proud of you and I am very proud of America......... God Speed........
Beauchamp February 18, 2010

A loss for all of us ...
When one of our children loses their life, a little in all of us dies. God bless the Ray Family in their loss and in their grief. God bless America as we continue into uncharted territory. Give our leaders, civilian and military, godly wisdom!
Paul Wilson February 18, 2010

Gone Home
Thank you Adam for your courage and sacrafice I know that you never be forgotten and that you can now rest safe and secure in Heaven and I pray that your loved ones will always be protected and cared for until you are reunited someday. 
God Bless You and all of the men and women who fight for freedom and justice. 
You will alwayse be remembered. 
John Thomas February 18, 2010

Sons of America
What a heartbreaking loss of an American son. I too have a young Marine the forth of five children who is yet to be tested. He is currently safe in America but I am sure to be shipped out at some point. As I read this moving tribute to young Adam Ray, he sounds like my son. I am moved to tears for his loss and the pain that his Mother is surely feeling. I know that it may be me some day. I hope and pray that it is not.
mom of five February 18, 2010

There is a constant in the number of Americans focused on the culture, and away from libertys' service. This hasn't always been true. This lack of appreciation became fashionable during the '60s, and has affected American life ever since. Our underappreciated military sacrifices, always given by a minority of Americans, lacks the proper attention of a self-indulgent press and the majority it serves. So few provide the magnificent blessing of liberty, for the benefit of the thankless mass. We must be a solice unto ourselves. Adam served, Adam died, Adam sacrificed. I saw it in Vietnam. (note the name 'wolfhound', of the 25th ID) What a sorry country in the '60s........so underserving of such gifts. God has, and will continue to bless Adam, his family and friends, and all of those who willingly place the service of liberty above themselves. He understood completely that he was living a privilege, a privilege of service with the flower of his generation, and that all who refused be there with him, chosed to abandon service over comfort, and live off of the freedoms he provided. God bless those who possess such noble spirit..........
wolfhound February 18, 2010

Required Reading
Your dispatches, Michael, should be required reading for all. Bringing home the awfulness even of war in the defense of the nation is a necessity. We thank you, Michael. And thank you everlastingly to the troops and to the families who worry and sacrifice each day. Thank you! Thank you!
L. M. Calhoun February 18, 2010

FOB Tombstone, Helmand Prov, 2007
RIP Adam. Rest easy now, your job is done.
HOTCHOW February 18, 2010

So sickened by the senseless of this entire occupation
I feel so hopeless and heartbroken for these soldiers...their families. It tears apart so many people. What part of the trillions which were given to the DoD after 9-11 was spent directly on our troops and their families? Do any of you know? 

Suicides are now higher than those KIA. 

How do Americans turn the blind eye and ignore what is happening? 

Angie M Bishop February 18, 2010

From a former USMC
May you now RIP as your time here on earth was short, but your short life will never be forgotton. For a job well done so now go with your fellow soldiers and rest in peace.And God will watch over you untill we meet in heaven.
Norman Lamothe February 18, 2010

Sleep well Brother. It is a shame our CIC wants these Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen to obtain Health Insurance to cover their wounds. As he is quoted as saying, "They volunteered for this, so they knew there were risks, and they should help out. Sorry POS.
VNCorpsman February 18, 2010

medically retired USAF medic
Rest In Peace brother. Lord I beg you to comfort the families of the brave fallen. I'll see you on the other side. Your work is done. rest easy now troop.
OIFMEDIC447 February 18, 2010

medically retired USAF medic
Rest In Peace brother. Lord I beg you to comfort the families of the brave fallen. I'll see you on the other side. Your work is done. rest easy now troop.
OIFMEDIC447 February 18, 2010

Angie Bishop...get a clue
Yes, almost all of us proudly Support our Troops. It is not a blind support, we know and realize the sense of duty and patriotism these young men and women posess. If not for the courage and fortitude of our troops, where would our world be today? Better? I don't believe so! They will come home once the mission is complete, they know they have to stay and until that day comes they will fight with all their heart and might. They are there serving, not for some agenda, they are there for the man (or woman) standing beside them and they can do this because there is always someone there who has there back. Thank you Adam for you service and sacrifice and thank you to my son who I thank God for returning safely. God Bless our Troops and God Bless America!
soldier's Dad February 18, 2010

Thanks for the information. Our son, Army Chinook crew chief with the 4th CAB, is due to deploy to Afghanistan in the May '10 timeframe. We are concerned, of course. Your posts are always informative and sometimes heartbreaking, but I'd rather know the reality than assume anything otherwise. Thanks again. I'll keep reading. Oh, and the charge card $$ is coming your way.
Tom February 18, 2010

Classic reporting.
Mr. Yon's reporting style reminds me of classic war reporting from WWII. It is the kind of detailed, honest, unsentimental journalism, (without the anti-American slant that infiltrated reporting during the war in Viet Nam) that Bill Mauldin or Ernie Pyle would have been proud to produce.
Michael Miller 1259 February 18, 2010

9/11 Angie Bishop 9/11
Our troops are in that hostile environment fighting the Taliban because the Taliban gives aid and succor to the folks who slaughtered so many on Sept 11 in New York City. They help those who killed Americans and they are repressive to the extreme to their own people. If they did not have guns do you think anyone would pay attention to the Taliban? They are a relic from the past, but a dangerous one. They are mislead about the nature of the Divine and respect only force. If you were referring to their suicide bombers please be aware that in Palestine the only way they can now recruit suicide bombers is by thretening families or playing on the fears and fantasies of the mentally dimished or very young, ignorant people. There is not a person under the age of 40 years old who would not trade places with you to live in this country, the USA. Sure there is a lot wrong with the USA but for some reason no other nation has so many people who want to live within its borders..
Brian February 18, 2010

Tragically heroic
My sincere condolences to his family and to his fellow countrymen. American military servicemen are good, decent and great people. Every loss is tragic.
Kash February 18, 2010

Thankyou Adam
Adam I trust that you are with the Lord now and He has said "Well done" What an incredibly brave soul! You sounded like an amazing man while you were here on earth. My prayers are with your family now, that they would find some peace and comfort knowing they will see you again one day. Lord hold them close to You and give them peace like only You can.
Traci Wilberger February 18, 2010

Thanks, Adam
Thank you for your service. Rest in peace now, and God bless you.
spratico February 18, 2010

Tomahawk Veteran
As Tomahawk Veteran of the 4-23rd Battalion in Alaska & a Vietnam Veteran as well. 
May Sgt. Ray RIP 

Our Tomahawks veterans group have sent a wreath and have men who will attend both the memorial service at Ft. Lewis and the funeral in his home state.
Lem February 18, 2010

Do Not Stand At My Grave
Do Not Stand At My Grave 

Do not stand at my grave and weep, 
I am not there, I do not sleep. 
I am a thousand winds that blow, 
I am the diamond glint on snow. 
I am the sunlight on ripened grain, 
I am the gentle autumn rain. 
When you wake in the morning hush; 
I am the swift uplifting rush 
Of quiet birds in circling flight. 
I am the soft starlight at night. 
Do not stand at my grave and cry. 
I am not there, I did not die. 

Deeply Saddened February 18, 2010

I am keeping this soldier's family in my prayers, along with the troops that are fighting for us. Thank you troops and May God always be with you and protect you. You are in my prayers daily!
Lillie M. Shoptaw February 18, 2010

I enjoyed having you as one of my soldiers at Madigan Hospital when you were a 68G (Patient Admin), you always asked me how it was when I was Infantry, and I told you how it was, you still wanted to reclass to Infantry, and I told you to becarefull at Fort Benning, since I know a lot of Drill Sergeants there. Then I stopped off at Fort Benning to visit one of my buddies and then saw you when you were going through AIT for 11B, I asked you there if you still wanted to be Infantry or go back to the hospital were you work indoors, dont have to worry about the rain or being cold outside... You replied back saying "Yes SGT Weinle, I still want to be Infantry" .. 
You know what brother, Stand At Ease, Relax and take the heavy load off, the Mission is Complete for you, Thank You for Your service and Sacrifice to the US. Rest In Peace inside the Gates Of Heaven for You Have Done Your Time In Hell My Brother, YOU WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN. We all will link back up with you in the future. Take care of all of our other brothers and sisters that will be showing up at the Gates of Heaven, show them around and just wait for the rest of us to show up...
SGT Weinle February 18, 2010

This is great reporting
I repeat what many have said before, but thanks for your very sensitive writing about this war that appears almost forgotten here in the US. Michael has real talent and he reminds me of the best dispatches from WWII by Ernie Pyle. If interested in reading about WWII with this level of sensitivity check out: 


His pieces on N. Africa, D Day and the death of the captain in Italy are real classics. 
syvanen February 18, 2010

We sacrifice for freedom
So many will go and sacrifice and those in this lost land, that remain will be better for it and the country they sacrifice for will not know what they have given, but we that have served before know and will remember. God Bless them, they are our youth and our future lost to protect others who will never know..and don't have a clue to the world around them....PH
Phil Hoza February 18, 2010

Adam, Ray ray
Dear Adam, I have relived our time together over and over again with alternate endings, very much different to the one you encounter. I always admired your love for the Army, because you were born with it, I learned it along the way. I remember those long nights at the hospital and the training for our so called upcoming deployment, and our happiness when we both got accepted to school, and the double cheese stackers with bacon for breakfast, the pizza, the sunflower seeds, the long days playing my version of scrabble, all the cokes, and the strawberry smooties, and the mango smoothies, the french fries at midnight, teh movies, the james dean stuff, the different color tapes we dealt with fro mthe other shifts, your stories, your 21st b-day story in particular, how much you love your family, and your easy going spirit. i will forever miss you, u have left an emptiness in my soul that i cannot explain. thanks for everything we lived together, thanks for the lessons learned, i will not let you down. i promise. SGT Pin. see you later, hugs my dear ray ray.
Adriana M. Pin February 19, 2010

So sickened by the senseless of this entire occupation
I Fear that now the casualties are many and often, and that the conflict has been so prolonged, we are in danger of forgetting the point of why we are in Afganistan. 

Whether or not you agree with the motives for going in, we are now committed. It is no supprise that domestic security in Afganistan is at present ropey at best, despite the best efforts of the coalition. what may not be fully understood is that Pakistan is also at threat from domestic Terrorism, in fact it is well known that there are large sections of eastern Pakistan where the Taliban can move freely and with impunity. 

Why is that of concern to us you may ask? well the madrassa's of the eastern border region are known to be a breeding ground for islamic extremeism, where young muslims are radicalised. Currently, those Talib's and islamic fundamentalists has us to fight. if we were to leave now, the government of pakistan which has proved itself to be a great ally would be unstablised, the fundamentalists now without the western devil to fight would no doubt settle old scores which may in turn destablise the country possibly followed by the rest of the region. 

What we must not forget is that Pakistan is a nuclear state. And the only thing worse that is worse than islamic fundamentalist terrorists is an islamic fundamentalist terrorists with a nuclear arsenal. 

I have myself lost friends and former colleagues, in fact you may have read Michaels stories of Oz Smidt and Rainbow team in his previous dispatches, and of Oz's ultimate sacrifice. But despite the losses, I believe we must see the mission to the end, for the alternative is inconceivable. 

Mark R (Ex British Army Bomb Disposal) February 19, 2010

Gone But Never Forgotten
Adam will never be forgotten.
Cpl. Beddoe February 19, 2010

this says it all about his character
"was known to ask less popular girls to dance at school events"
pbordes February 19, 2010

God bless you Adam and your loved ones. I'm so greatful for your courage and your sacrifice. You died so that the rest of us could live free and most Americans can keep taking our great country and what you gave us for granted. There are but a few that are willing to fight for freedom while most want to enjoy it, talk trash about our country but would never defend it much less fight for it. Thank you and rest in peace!
Rod Rodriguez February 20, 2010

Prayers Sustained
For you and all our warriors, continued prayers!
Virginia Gentleman February 20, 2010

Do Not Stand At My Grave
The poem attributed above to "Anonymous" was actually written in 1932 by Mary Elizabeth Frye. 
jic February 20, 2010

Adam, you were truly a man of God. I can't thank you enough for your sacrifice. For me personally, you put a face to the war and made everything that I've heard since I was a kid a reality. You woke me up to something that needs to change. My heart breaks for all the families who have lost loved ones. Your family especially. They are wonderful people and I know you know how much they love you. You are a hero. It was said over and over again at your funeral today, but it can't be said enough. You were, and are, and always will be so loved by your family and friends and by all the people who's lives you touched without even knowing them. Thank you Adam, for being who you were. 

And thank you to Mr. Yon for writing this and for honoring Adam as the brave soldier he was. God bless you.
Meg M. February 20, 2010

My dearest Adam... I am a better person having known you. You were an amazing person and a wonderful friend. You truly lived life to the fullest. Even before your untimely death, you taught me that life is short and how to live with no regrets. You never let an opportunity or experience pass you by. If you had the chance to do something that no one else would do, you would take it. Mundane concerns, such as "can I really do this?", "am I capable?", "will I get in trouble?" always went way over your head. As for if you could do something or if you were capable- the answer was always YES! And as for getting in trouble- well, sometimes it is better to ask forgiveness than permission. I am almost ten years older than you are, but this is a lesson that I learned from you. Your funeral yesterday pained me to my soul. Your family's grief and sense of loss was almost unbearable to watch. I pray that the Lord will offer them comfort in this time of sorrow and I pray that, they will have some comfort knowing that their son touched so many people's lives. So, here's to you, SGT Ray, to a life filled with no regrets, for always rooting for the underdog, and for making the ultimate sacrifice. You are truly a hero, both in life and in death... You will never be forgotten...
Stephanie February 21, 2010

Prayers are with Adam and his family
I know the pain is terrible to lose Adam, but he died for all of us. We appreciate and love him for his sacrifice. He joins the hundreds of thousands who have gone before in making the ultimate sacrifice that makes this beautiful country possible. With love in our hearts.
sam February 21, 2010

To Honor Adam and His Family
Twenty-three is so young, too young to be leaving us. But in that short amount of time, he has lived a life of great purpose and meaning that few others will ever be able to lay claim to. You did a good job Mom and Dad. I pray that the Lord will comfort you now and through the years. I cannot imagine the unbearable sorrow. I did not know Adam, but I feel the pain of that loss. May God bless you.
stryker guy's mom February 21, 2010

I didn't know you, but I shall not forget your sacrifice. Rest in Peace, may your family and friends find comfort in your memories. 

Thank you for writing about this brave Soldier, Michael. Prayers out for your safety.
Lorene February 21, 2010

RIP Adam Ray
Sincere condolences to the Ray Family....... 
Another young man cut down in the prime of his life. 

Rest In Peace Adam.
bsmarrt February 21, 2010

As always, this dispatch has been reprinted with permission from the author, Michael Yon.

Please support this mission by making a direct contribution. Without your support, the mission will end. Thank you for helping me tell the full story of the struggle for Iraq and Afghanistan.

To read more on Michael Yon, or more information regarding the military, please go to the Michael Yon Dispatches Gather Group


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