January 29, 2007

Name: CAPT B. Tupper
Posting date: 1/29/07
Stationed in: Ghazni, Afghanistan
Milblog url:
Email: [email protected]

Unfortunately I was sick with whatever it is that has caused me lose twenty five pounds in less than two months, and was unable to go out on our planned mission to our most contested district. But my teammate Ski still had to go, so I wished him well.

When he returned that evening I went over to get debriefed on how things went. As I got close to him, I immediately noticed his uniform was covered in blood, dirt and gore. His normal upbeat and sunny vulgar disposition was absent, and I knew some heavy stuff had gone down. I made him a quick dinner while he told me about the mission. He was in no mood to cook, and could barely manage to light his cigarette. The "thousand yard stare" was in full effect -- he was clearly still out on the battlefield, reliving the various "what ifs" that had played themselves out earlier in the day.   

The story started predictably: Taliban ambush, returned fire, RPGs, near misses, etc. As the engagement developed, Ski and the ETT soldiers riding in his Humvee were firing on, and receiving AK and RPG fire from, Taliban soldiers in a small village. The ETTs and ANA soldiers maneuvered into the village and immediately came across a handful of wounded and dead Taliban. Some were dead where they fell, others had crawled into shallow ditches and lay there dying. The fire from the ETT and ANA forces had been so fierce that the Taliban had abandoned their wounded, which is uncommon. We normally find blood trails and no wounded after we engage them.

Now Ski is an infantryman to the core. He chomps at the bit before each mission, hoping we will encounter the enemy. He is not one to wax humanistic. His normal response to most questions about the Taliban is to express a desire to destroy them in combat.

But Ski, upon seeing the wounded Taliban, immediately grabbed his Combat Life Saver medical bag and moved to begin treating them. Doing this was at risk to his own life. The enemy was still in the area, and the wounded lay in ditches in an open road. Without hesitation, he used his limited medical supplies on the enemy, in an attempt to give them comfort and aid.Framed_tupper_skitreatingenemywounded_1

While he ate the food I'd prepared for him, he described how one of the injured Taliban was going into shock. His femoral artery had been hit and he was bleeding out.

"This guy was looking at me with fear in his eyes, expecting me to finish him off. When he realized I was trying to stop his bleeding, he relaxed and put his hand over his heart." In Afghanistan, it's customary among men to put their hands over their hearts as a sign of deep respect and thanks.

Here is a Taliban man dying, felled by our bullets, showing a final act of thanks for decent treatment. And there is Ski, the warrior, holding this man in his arms trying to make his final moments as comfortable and painless as possible.

That image of compassion from an unlikely source, in an unlikely place, is stuck in my head. As I sat there and listened to Ski, coated with the enemy's blood, I knew this day would stay with him for the rest of his life. It's a small, but tangible example of decency and honor in an environment full of hate and pain.


God bless your comrade for his selfless act of compassion, and God bless you both, and all our troops, for your sacrifices. May He keep you safe until you are able to return to your loved ones.

Mark this required reading for those that question the value of your efforts in the Middle of Nowhere. Real war, real people and the end is far from sight. Thanks for sending and hang on to the truth, all men are created equal.

that's one of the most amazing things i've ever heard. thank you for sharing. my best for you and ski, take care.

All the same inside, afraid to die alone. This is very moving and you are amazing to go from being fired on, by what could have been this very person, to trying to save his life. And he really did the same, thanking you for your efforts. And thank you and your buddies for your ongoing service. Be safe.


Thank you for recording this tiny piece of humanity in an inhuman situation. This sort of behavior is truly heroic!

If the guy your friend treated lives, his changed realization will do more to ease the hatred than if he was killed. Thanks for your post, and try to take it easy! Btw, that weight loss sounds like a Peace Corps friend that had parasites. (Roundworms.) This can be totally serious, get it checked. The little guys migrate and wreck havoc to various organs. If it ain't one thing, it's another.

So many of these stories about you amazing men go unheard, untold and unread. Thank you for posting this. Hopefully a large audience will read it and realize more of the entire scope of what you guys do each day.

CAPT Tupper. I checked and didn't see your name. If none of your group has signed up PLEASE go over there and do so in order that we may support you by action from back here. If you are signed up please let us know under what name. I have a couple of guys in Afghanistan who I support and they are coming home. Always looking for new ones!

Can NEVER thank you all enough for who you are and what you do. Stay safe. My best to you all.

That story brought tears to my eyes.

Thank God there are people like Ski in the world today.

Well done.

Well said.

Wow! What a touching and wonderful story... Ski and Tupper, thank you, God bless you and Stay safe...

Sir--thanks for a awesome story! While most of the country's media supports the efforts of us soldiers, I have come across some bits of leftist propaganda that tries to show us as bloodthirsty savages; like Seymour Hersch's recent comment calling us "the most murderous and violent Army in the history of the country". Your recounting of Ski's experiences is what it is all about, and serves to show the true difference between us and the those we fight. Here in Baghdad, and in Afghanistan, we know that if we are captured, it's going to be a quick and horrible end for us, like with Tucker and Menchaca just south of here a few months ago. Yes, we fight efficiently, but when the shooting is over, we just as quickly switch into humanitarian mode. You and your team mates are true Soldiers, in every sense of the word. Thank you for everything, and keep soldiering hard!

'SGT Roy Batty'
While nobody's perfect, and I'm ok with that, I wanted to point out that characterizing Seymour Hershs' comments as "leftist propaganda" is a little peculiar. If you think his remarks are inaccurate, please, challenge him on those grounds, because military service not withstanding, many who would call his remarks leftist would not hesitate to say the same about you. I interact on a daily basis with people who would regard your blogs with fury. Your blogs would be considered highly unpatriotic, flippant, and dangerously disrespectful of authority. The best you could hope for would to be regarded as lunatic. Is there an easy way to tell you that you would be seen in the same light as Seymour Hersh? I do not wish to offend, I only want to remind you that labels make it harder to know the truth.

What a compelling story. I'll hold you and Ski in my prayers today...Thank you for your service

My father has seen active service on a number of places, and often comments on the difficult balancing act between fighting your enemy and remaining humane straight after (or even in, as here) the heat of battle. It's nice to see that exemplified here.

This story brought tears to my eyes,it shows the humanity even in a war zone between two fighting men.good luck all of the troops. you are the best.peace

Zelma - These good men have EARNED the right to say anything about the war that they wish and anyway they wish. Yes, there are some who would call them unpatriotic...the same ones who would freely give up our civil rights without a fight. This administration has done more to bring us very closely to a police state or a dictatorship than anything I've seen in my lifetime.

There's something incredibly precious in your tale, and that's the point that we are all humans, and each of us deserve that compassion so eloquently described here. Yes, the impulse to reach out and try to save the life of the one who has just tried to take yours is exactly what differentiates "us" from "the bad guys." Thanks to you, and Ski, and y'all get a beer and a hug if you ever come through Virginia. Ok, you can skip the hug if you'd prefer just the beer. :)

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