About Us
Mission Statement
Rules of Conduct
Remember Me

Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 08/30/2016 10:26:04

Good Morning.

I've got a couple of things from Afghanistan last week. You surely heard that another US soldier has been killed. When the story broke, there were few details, but now he has a name. Which we'll pause to remember, as the news instantly disappeared from the headlines a day later.

IRVINE – Professor Ken Ebel used to sit on his porch with Matthew V. Thompson and three other students discussing life, books, girlfriends and love over beers.

Such a dialogue continued even after Thompson graduated from Concordia University Irvine and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2011, said Ebel, who retired from the school last year as a biology professor. Thompson hosted a Bible study for his fellow soldiers, discussing with them how to be a man of God while fighting in a war, he wrote in an email to Ebel dated Aug. 9.

“He was dealing with violence, dealing with evil, and how do you bring love in that situation,” Ebel said. “He wanted to be a man of God in the situation where he found himself in a violent world. That’s been Matt ever since I knew him.”

That email would be the last time Ebel heard from Thompson. The 28-year-old Green Beret was killed by a roadside bomb on Aug. 23 in Afghanistan.

Ebel was among more than 100 people who gathered at the Concordia campus Monday morning for a flag-lowering ceremony. Campus security guards raised the flag to the top and then slowly lowered it to half-staff. The flag will remain there for the rest of the week to remember and honor Thompson.

Thompson, a special forces medical sergeant, was patrolling in Helmand province as part of Operation Freedom Sentinel when an improvised explosive device detonated. Thompson died from his injuries.

He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.

Thompson, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theological studies in December 2010, is believed to be the first Concordia University Irvine alum killed in military service, said Steve Leader, the school’s veterans resource center manager.

Thompson came to Southern California in 2008 after he transferred to Concordia from Marquette University in Wisconsin.

Josh Geisinger has known him since the first day Thompson arrived at Concordia. He was among those who used to chat on Ebel’s porch and called Thompson by his nickname, Tito.

“Tito’s a kind of guy that if you’d never met him before, he would come and sit with you and have a meal with you, even if you didn’t know him,” Geisinger said. “He wanted to love people as they needed to be loved – not what was convenient, not what was easy, but what took sacrifice, what took courage. He was very good at loving people.”

Life was always an adventure for Thompson, Geisinger said. One time, they took a group of students on a hike up Mount Whitney after the first snow.

Thompson led the group, with Geisinger right behind him. Without any proper gear, Thompson slipped on ice every few steps for about two miles, but Geisinger caught him each time until they reached the summit. There was only joy in Thompson’s eyes and no fear, Geisinger said.

Their friendship was about pushing each other, he said.

“Whenever I was going through a decision, it seemed difficult at the time, but you talk to Tito and he’s like, ‘You know what to do, you know what’s important. You just don’t want to do the hard thing,’” Geisinger said. “It was like, ‘You’re right.’”

Thompson chose to serve in the special forces because he wanted to try something he wasn’t sure he could accomplish, challenging himself physically, mentally and emotionally, Geisinger said.

Staying with Afghanistan, there was another story that was in and out of the headlines. The American University in Kabul was shot up, and people were killed...but maybe because this happens every other week here at home most of us simply shrugged and moved on. Of course, real people were affected, but they're Afghans, so that doesn't count, right?

Mohammed Naser heard the bomb go off and ran to his second-floor classroom window, just in time to see the cinderblock garden wall blow apart. The lights went out and students rushed for the stairway, but someone said gunmen had entered the first floor.

"We were trapped. Girls were screaming in the next classroom. I could feel the fear," Naser, 21, a business student at the American University of Afghanistan, said Thursday morning, hours after militants bombed and stormed the campus Wednesday evening, leaving at least 12 people dead and 45 wounded.

The unknown attackers detonated a truck bomb at a school for the blind next door to the prestigious U.S.-run university while evening classes were in session. A small squad of gunmen rushed into the compound, battling police and other security forces until the pre-dawn hours. At least seven students died and hundreds were trapped for hours before the assailants were killed and the campus evacuated.

"They were trying to kick down our classroom door, so we pushed all the tables and chairs against it. Then students started jumping out the windows, and I did, too," Naser recounted from his bed at the Emergency Hospital in the Afghan capital.

At the same time that Naser and about 20 other students were huddled behind a pile of furniture in their economics class, a police special forces officer named Faraidoon Nizami, 25, was trying to fight his way up to their location.

"I saw one guy wearing a commando uniform, and I shot him," Nizami said Thursday. As he and his teammates started up the stairs, another militant threw a grenade down and injured one of them. Nizami said he threw a grenade back and saw the second attacker collapse, but he, too, was wounded.

Naser and Nizami ended up in the same cramped hospital ward Thursday, along with half a dozen other wounded students and police. Naser, who had landed on a cement patio when he jumped, broke his right arm and shattered his left hip, but crawled to a basement library and passed out. When he woke up, police special forces were carrying him to an ambulance.

"This was a political attack," he said. "They are trying to stop education in Afghanistan, and our university is the only one with international standards. It is a horrible pattern." Two foreign professors including one American were kidnapped by gunmen near the university Aug. 7 and have not been heard from since.

Nizami, who was nursing a leg wound, said his injured teammate later died in a hospital and their unit commander was shot dead in the all-night gun battle. But he said he was glad most of the students had been rescued and proud that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had stopped by his hospital bed early Thursday.

"I lost two of my friends, but the president came here and said he appreciated what we had done," said Nizami, who was a pharmacist before joining the police. "Education is so important for our country," he added. "If people are educated, there would be no more war."

Finally today, every now and again we have a story about erroneous or fraudulent awards. I'm not sure if I reported on this one, but it turns out that in addition to fraud and dishonour, such things also cost money.

TACOMA, Wash. — Federal prosecutors now say a former soldier who lied his way to a Purple Heart cheated Washington state and the federal government out of more than $750,000.

The total is about three times what investigators cited when they charged Darryl Wright with fraud in 2014.

Wright, a former National Guardsman, is due to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on Thursday. Prosecutors are seeking a five-year prison term, arguing that Wright lied about having been injured in Iraq in a successful effort to be awarded a Purple Heart and disability and other benefits.

They also argue that he obstructed justice when he accused a co-worker in the U.S. Commerce Department of violating his privacy after she discovered some of his wrongdoing.

Wright is seeking a one-year sentence. His attorney says he was entitled to most of the benefits he received because of PTSD he suffered from his deployment.

12 comments (Latest Comment: 08/30/2016 23:55:18 by wickedpam)
   Perma Link

Share This!

Furl it!