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The Watchman

Jaryk Pitsch

“It was the morning of August 26th, 2021. I had been on watch since the morning of the 25th watching civilians ready to board the next plane available. I was a Corporal at the time in charge of pens full of civilians of around 1,000 to 1,200 people. Each of these groups of people were the amount we tried fitting on the US C-17's. My feet were killing me and all I could think about was "I cannot wait to sit and get some sleep." I heard an explosion and didn't think anything of it because it was just another day in Afghanistan. I looked around and chaos reigned. We started shouting at one another "WHAT JUST HAPPENED" to "Get these people on their faces''. I remember the feeling of my heart dropping. As we continued to stand watch, I listened to the radio my lieutenant had on his flak, "Many people hurt, many people dead, stand by for casualties". One minute felt like an hour but we stayed alert and waited for the count ready to feel the pain of losing a brother in arms. "11 Marines, 1 Soldier, and one sailor" said the Marine on the radio. My heart dropped to the floor and immediately I thought I must keep it together for my Marines around me.

We continued to stand the watch of our already 24 plus hours until finally our First Sergeant instructed my platoon leader to get some rest. As we were forming up for accountability and to walk to the basketball court, where we were sleeping, a captain in the army said "HEY, MARINES! Who would like to do the honors of bringing our flag to half-mast for the Americans we just lost?" "I will do it sir". I started to walk to the circle of flag poles. I got up and lowered it to half-mast with tears flowing out of my eyes thinking of the bible verse, John 15:9-17 "...No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friend...". I got down off the flag podium and walked to the sleeping quarters, bawling my eyes out and couldn't hold it together the rest of the day. The entire platoon was dead silent. I will never forget about this day, and it will forever hold a place in my heart until I die.”

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