Here to Serve
I decided to go back into the army for a silly reason by most sane people’s standards—I wanted to experience war, and I wanted to go to Afghanistan to help people. The unit I was to go with is located in Pleasant Grove, Utah. It is a civil affairs unit. Its job is to help people, and that is what I wanted to do. We build roads, provide power/electricity through the construction of micro-hydro plants, and give assistance to the populace through the education of their society.
I did not go to Afghanistan thinking everything would be fine and that my comrades and I would be welcomed with open arms. I’ve been fired upon and been in contact with the enemy on several occasions. However, Afghanistan is a beautiful country. The scenery is breathtaking and in many ways looks like Utah and Colorado. The people are friendly and peace loving for the most part; they are just trying to raise families and exist in peace. I have met and become friends with many of these people.
The downside of this country and its conflict is that many individuals here will try to kill me on sight. They want power only for themselves and will do anything to obtain that power, even if it means hurting or killing their fellow citizens. We build things for the people; others destroy the things we’ve built. They hurt people and their children; we take those victims to our hospitals to be helped. We, the soldiers, are also killed or injured in the process. Fatalities and injuries are a fact of war. Those things happen even to the best of people who choose to serve. I have had five friends who have been killed in combat over here. Their deaths have affected me greatly.
Death here is therefore a reality that I am very aware of. Every time I leave the wire, I carry both an M4 carbine and a 9mm automatic pistol. I also carry over three hundred rounds of ammunition. I lock and load my weapons every time I go out and then pray that I will never have to pull the trigger. To this date, I have never fired a round except in practice at a range. But I will if I have to, to protect myself or someone else who needs protection in an action.
Helaman’s stripling warriors believed what their mothers taught them (see Alma 53). They believed, as I believe, that if one stays true to the faith and follows the admonitions of our Lord, that we can be kept safe from harm. I take the sacrament whenever I can; counsel other soldiers as needed; pray often every day for my safety, as well as that of the soldiers who serve with me; give priesthood blessings when asked; read the Book of Mormon every day; provide a good example to those around me; keep a daily journal; and bear testimony when the opportunity arises. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I know we continue to have a living prophet on the earth today and that he leads and guides this Church today. I know that Jesus is the Christ and that God lives.