That time I was unofficially held hostage…

Afghanistan 2002–2003

Afghanistan, 13 years ago, we were on a mounted combat patrol (driving in humvees) in the southern side of the country.

We had entered a town that was supposedly friendly, when suddenly men appeared on the rooftops manning DShK — “Dishka” — machine guns. They had the tactical advantage, and the order came to hunker down in the middle of the road with our vehicles. Both sides were on edge, but nobody fired a shot — luckily, because we would have lost in our light skin (sheet metal) humvees.

Overhead, our air support — Apache attack choppers — hovered. One helicopter made a show of force, coming down just over one of the rooftop machine gun positions before blasting back into the air. The prop-wash actually knocked over that machine gun, but the gunner quickly stood it back up.

The chopper’s message was clear, you can kill them (us), but we can kill you. We were the littlest fish in the pond, but fortunately our big brother was there.

I honestly don’t remember how long our Mexican standoff lasted while our leadership worked to resolve our predicament, but to this brand new Private First Class, on his first deployment, it felt like an eternity.

Finally, the enemy stood down and we made it out alive.

Come to find out, the local warlord’s loyalty was only paid for with CIA bribes. He hadn’t received his monthly bribe. So we had just been held hostage in the middle of his town in return for his late bribe.

I was remembering this story as a possible illustration for a seminary paper I am working on and figured I’d post it here as well. Don’t politicize please. We made it out ok, and its just a humorous story to share now.

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