Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Submariner In Afghanistan

Today, as everyone knows, is the 6th anniversary of the attacks that woke most people up to the existence of the War on Terror. I'm still haunted by the images of that day:

While remembrance is important, it's also important to remember that the world goes on, and each tragedy brings forth important work to do. One person doing that work right now is LT Kenneth Cooke. LT Cooke is a submariner; he did his JO tour on USS Boise (SSN 764), and went to SUBLANT for his post-JO shore duty. One of his old Boise shipmates sent me an E-mail to let me know what Kenneth is doing now. Excerpts:

He's spending 400+ days in Sharana, Afghanistan, in the Paktika province. It's on the SE border, not too far from Pakistan. His job there is to oversee the construction, reconstruction, and subsequent employment of Afghanistan. The PRT contracts out for roads, schools, dams, etc. to local construction companies. Ken, since he's an expert, is the engineer that signs off on many of the projects. As such, he deals directly with many of the town and village elders, visits many of the religious leaders, and sees a lot of the countryside.
This also means he drives HUMVEEs through some pretty rough places. He's seen running firefights, he's ordered his soldiers into battle to relieve a Polish force that was under heavy fire, and had his FOB overrun. Yes, this is a submarine nuke...
Recently, LT Cooke's PRT suffered the kind of tragedy that happens too often in war. The E-mail continues:

Recently, his PRT lost three soldiers to enemy action. During the memorial service, which ran the "whole nine yards: roll call, 21 gun salute, Amazing Grace on bagpipes, and taps," General Pace showed up to "express his thanks for (Ken's) leadership."
General Peter Pace is the outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I'm assuming this visit took place earlier this month; an article about the visit is here. The E-mail goes on to say that LT Cooke got a chance to meet GEN Pace, who gave Kenneth a coin. Here's a picture of the submariner and the Chairman:

LT Kenneth Cooke, your service, like that of all submariners fighting the War on Terror at home or aboard, is deeply appreciated by those of us safe here in our houses. Whether it's submariners at sea doing more "traditional" submarine missions, or trailblazers like LT Cooke and CS2(SS) Matthew Julian, all of us "old-timers" are proud of you, and happy you're carrying on -- and expanding -- the best traditions of those of us who wear dolphins.

4 Comments:

Blogger Aarwenn said...

LT Cooke is also a friend of mine, and I am proud to be able to say that. Nice write-up.

9/11/2007 7:19 PM

 
Anonymous Byron Audler said...

I have a Lt.CDR friend, who left for Irag right after his CGSC as an IA to SF. He's been there over a year now, and I haven't heard a peep from him. He explained that he would not have much contact during this tour, that it would be much like when he was on patrol on his SSBN. He's a helluva guy, and I respect him immensely, and I worry about him all the time. I am sure that he is doing great things, which for the military and our Navy, an everyday occurence.

9/12/2007 2:54 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Folks,

As the subject of the above article, I immensely appreciate the sentiment my friend had while writing this up. However, let me clarify that perhaps I'm not quite the GI Joe he thinks I am. Some paragraphs of concern:
"He's seen running firefights, he's ordered his soldiers into battle to relieve a Polish force that was under heavy fire, and had his FOB overrun."
Ok, as a Navy guy I don't so much order soldiers into battle -- that's what we have Army officers and sergeants for. The Polish force we came upon that was under fire was doing fine on their own. And our FOB overrun? Not so much. We've been mortared, but "overrun" is a mighty strong word to use.

Another part of the article:
"Recently, his PRT lost three soldiers to enemy action. During the memorial service, which ran the "whole nine yards: roll call, 21 gun salute, Amazing Grace on bagpipes, and taps," General Pace showed up to "express his thanks for (Ken's) leadership."
Ok, a little more muddling of facts -- the three soldiers weren't PRT guys, but those of another unit on the FOB. Additionally, GEN Pace showed up earlier that day, wasn't in attendance for the memorial service, and was sure as heck not there to merely say "thanks" to me. He shook a large number of hands that day -- that of every soldier and sailor present.

Additionally, it's of note that I'm here with three more submariners: CDR Ed Fernandez, YNC(SS) Sam Delgrande, and CS1(SS) Greg Offutt. All fantastic guys, and each a great credit to the subforce and the Navy as a whole.

There are plenty of real American heroes over here -- not me. One of my good friends, our security force platoon leader, was in a vehicle struck by an IED. Although he got away clean, two of the guys in the vehicle ended up with purple hearts. On another occasion, several of our vehicles got shot up pretty badly by bad guys. Again, nobody was hurt, but the guys involved reacted quickly, and in accordance with their training. Those are the heroes.
Me, I'm just doing my job, biding my time until SOAC rolls around. May April 2008 come soon!

11/04/2007 3:31 AM

 
Anonymous Lora said...

I consider everyone ought to browse on it.

9/04/2012 1:21 AM

 

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