Watch: The Lessons Of Afghanistan, Pt. 1

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Former 10th Mountain Division officer turned author Sean Parnell has written a 'boots on the ground' account of the war in Afghanistan called 'Outlaw Platoon.'

Anne Richter spoke at length with Parnell - excerpts from the conversation air Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights on 7 News This Evening and our late newscasts. 

Here are Anne's notes for part 1:

"I wondered what kind of person was emerging inside me. I wasn't sure who I was anymore, and for a moment, I wondered where my heart was headed and I grieved for the loss of the Sean parnell I once had been."

- excerpt from 'Outlaw Platoon'

Sean Parnell returned from Afghanistan a changed man. But that’s the end of this story. Let’s start at the beginning.

Parnell was a 24 year old lieutenant in the 10th Mountain Division. He was the leader of what came to be known as the outlaw platoon. He had 40 men under his command, and his book is specifically about their combat experience in a remote outpost a little over ten miles from the Pakistan border.

Sean had never fought before. But on day one, the enemy missed their target and hit a playground instead. Sean watched a little girl die in his arms and he knew life would never be the same.

"Part of me died when that little girl died and that part of me was the isolated existence that I had known living in the United States my whole life," he told Anne.

That was 2006. The U.S. was fighting two wars - the one in Iraq and the one Parnell calls 'the forgotten war.'

"When we got to Afghanistan we were absolutely shocked at how Afghanistan was spiraling out of control in 2006, yet America didn’t know that. My soldiers would come home on leave and Americans would say 'Ohh, thank goodness you're not in Iraq because Iraq is so dangerous.' And my soldiers would feel like they're forgotten," Parnell said.

And the enemy? Not what Parnell and his troops expected.

"When we first arrived in country, we expected the enemy that had no tactical prowess or creativity - farmers with guns and maybe a few RPGs or mortars, nothing more. instead, they had schooled us on the fine art of light infantry warefare for the last five months and now, at the midpoint of our tour, we took nothing for granted."

- excerpt from 'Outlaw Platoon'

The book describes the brotherhood formed on the battlefield, the fear soldiers felt but tried hard not to show and survival in the face of adversity .

The outlaw platoon spent 485 days at war. All but one of the men came home

Wednesday night: the war, as seen by the soldiers in the middle of it.

(Interested in the book? Read an excerpt from it, and more comments from Parnell, here.)

We've posted the entire interview with Sean, starting here.

 

              
 

 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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