HomeNewsArticle Display

Airman shares Afghanistan experience

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFPN) -- Staff Sgt. Matt never expected to live in a mud hut in the middle of Afghanistan, but that is exactly what he did for nearly 140 days

Matt is a terminal attack controller with the 25th Air Support Operations Squadron at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii. When he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the area of operations reminded him of where he grew up in New Mexico -- hot, dry, dusty and surrounded by mountains.

Matt was excited about going to Afghanistan.

"After 11 years as a terminal attack controller, I was finally going to get to do my job in a combat ... target-rich environment," he said.

While there, Matt was part of a 12-man special forces A-team in which his mission was to provide close-air support, communications and all aspects of fire support including artillery, air drops and other air support.

Although he was the only active-duty Air Force member on the team, he said the experience level was incredible. "Some of the guys fought in Vietnam and the Gulf War," he said.

"Expect the unexpected" was one of the lessons he learned.

"Most of my training has been to support a large conventional force like the 25th Infantry Division," Matt said. "In Afghanistan, we were performing unconventional warfare."

During conventional operations Matt would be working with a large Army unit but during OEF operations he worked with special forces and indigenous forces.

Life in this deployed environment was nothing less than austere. The mud hut was their "safe house" and home base was an old Afghan house in the Hindu Kush mountains. Even though it did have electricity provided by a generator, there was no running water. Everyone would take turns going out to get water for washing up and doing the dishes.

"It was one of three houses in the area that had electricity," said Matt.

In preparation for his deployment, Matt concentrated on running extra miles and performing additional ruck marches to condition himself for conducting foot patrols at 12,000 feet above sea level. A ruck march usually includes carrying more than 60 pounds of equipment in a backpack.

"Usually at the ASOS we do physical training five days a week," said Matt. "We must adhere to the physical fitness standards of both the Army and the Air Force."

A typical week of physical training would include running at least three miles a day and one ruck march of six to 10 miles.

When not at the safe house or meeting with the locals, a team of eight would go on patrol and usually be gone for five to six days.

"In that amount of time we would cover approximately 500 miles," said Matt.

Two different types of patrols were conducted, according to Matt, who took part in more than 80 combat patrols. One type was a presence patrol - a show of force where a team would drive through and let the Taliban see them.

"It was sort of like we were saying 'Hey, don't start your stuff again or we can respond,'" he said.

Other patrols were part of recovering equipment and capturing people. It also included the clearing of more than 300 caves in their area of operations.

Besides aiding in the capture and extraction of 44 Taliban and al-Qaida forces, he was also responsible for recovering and destroying more than 10 tons of weapons and munitions from Taliban caches.

He described the caches as rather shallow caves, their purpose for storing ammunition and weapons.

"We'd have to be careful because sometimes there were mines or trip wires in the entrance," he said.

The sergeant said he thinks Afghanistan is a place where things have not changed much in the past 1,000 years. Many things taken for granted in the United States are unknown to the Afghan people. They still farm by hand, harvest wheat with a sickle, herd goats and sheep and draw water by hand.

A popular toy with the children is a stick with a ring on the end. They also make toys from old military trash and weaponry.

"The kids put wheels on ammunition boxes left by the Russians," said Matt. He added that many times the children think an unexploded ordnance is a toy and blow themselves up.

For Matt, fitting in with the locals was part of his mission.

"We need to blend in with their culture and adhere to their customs," he said.

That meant eating native cuisine which sometimes took its toll.

"After eating the local food, we'd sometimes be sick for a week," said Matt.

While on presence patrols, tribal elders would feed the team. The usual meal consisted of goat, rice, fresh yogurt made from goat's milk, onions and potatoes.

Although Matt was glad to be in the comfort of home again, he said he appreciated the experience.

"It's good to see (Afghan) kids going to school now," the terminal attack controller said. "We've made a difference over there." (Courtesy of Pacific Air Forces News Service)


RT @USAFReserve: Battling #COVID; a cyber Airman’s story - https://t.co/HsJv6J7r2A #ReserveReady #ReserveResilient #ReadyAF https://t.co/y7…
RT @USAFReserve: #ReserveCitizenAirman makes life-saving decision - https://t.co/ZPviQZRrEX (Story by the @307BombWing) #ReserveReady #Rese
The Impact of Sharing Stories of Recovery and Resiliency Lt Col Katharine McGregor did not know much about the… https://t.co/17VibuxnTc
Many search for years to find their true passion in life. For Staff Sgt. Camrin Northrop, a firefighter for both th… https://t.co/QcNrBXPCV0
From their homes to yours, check out the @AirNatlGuard Band of the South! #ReadyAF #AimHigh https://t.co/yb7GhZZ5A3
Reintegration will be a deliberate & phased approach to protect Airmen & Space Professionals. Learn to maintain rea… https://t.co/egQSAV5uRB
The MQ-1B Predator is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft used for i… https://t.co/livZYQyXnH
Dr. Quinton Sasnett, a faculty member at Air University, talks about the university's civilian associates degree pr… https://t.co/0BgoCiGCUy
Improving mental health through expressive writing. @KadenaAirBase https://t.co/zVoYTQQl5z
Medical pros at Kadena Air Base, 3-D printed naso-pharyngeal swabs to test potential #COVID19 patients. The dental… https://t.co/h8q1HgLjRZ
The MC-12W is a medium-to low-altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft. Its primary mission is providing intelligen… https://t.co/st7WRJLDHB
Know what resources, treatments & therapies are available for invisible wounds. https://t.co/H2A7fYb8s3
“The Total Force team at Eielson plays a pivotal role that extends throughout Alaska and projects into the Arctic.”… https://t.co/7nSYEtYWHj
RT @AETCommand: 🙌🎉 Congrats to the @usairforce's newest pilots as Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-18 graduates today at @…
.@JointBasePHH Airmen participate in a ramp drop from a C-17 Globemaster III. The 25th Air Support Ops Squadron is… https://t.co/AZVT6Qzmgv
RT @SecAFOfficial: It is a pleasure to be in #Alaska to see #Airmen and #SpaceProfessionals in action! Whether it’s F-35s & F-22s protectin…
RT @EielsonAirForce: When @SecAFOfficial comes to visit, we show off the 'cool stuff' https://t.co/sGCSnVOOXg
RT @USAFReserve: A career worth a thousand words: Colonel Campbell reflects on career in aviation - https://t.co/atNAeYOoMI (Story by @Dobb
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Like Us
Follow Us