The Last Journey
September 21-24, 2010 Camp Dwyer
In a Jam
Part 3

It was now after 6:00 PM on the 21st. I woke up a bit more tired than when I had laid down. I decided to go to chow and walked across the rocks to the chow hall. The minute I got into the chow hall and received my plate, I began seeing familiar faces and people started to stop me and say hello. It’s funny how having been here for only about 5-days a month ago, somehow I had made an impression of folks that stuck. I sat down with some guys who call themselves “social scientists” and ate with them. They are folks a little older than me and are kind of involved in a form of civil affairs and specifically had worked in the recent past right in the COP Turett area mostly around Koru Charegh where I had just come from. We had lots to talk about and I found myself listening to them more than talking to them. I now could listen to what they were saying and decide for myself what it is exactly that they do. They are with a group called “Human Terrain Systems”. They are so called social scientists. They are all from the DC area and remind me of some kind of State Department folks that do weird kind of studies on the lives of people we are trying to win the hearts and minds of. I don’t really think they do much more than what I do on the ground level but there is something about these folks that keeps my curiosity attentive. I did an audio interview on one of them that lasted 25-minutes. Most of it was basic general knowledge but there were a few hints in the audio of what other things they might be doing. Either way I got an education from them a little more about the area I had just been to. I think honestly I know more than they do about the area already. I am sure they receive a hefty sum from the tax payers as well.

Later that night, I was in the MWR tent catching up on some emails when a familiar face walked in. We both looked at each other and I said, “Mitchel?” He then said to me, “Jim?” And sure enough it was Lcpl. Mitchel from the PMT at Turbett. Mitchel and I had been on many patrols and we had become good friends. I asked him what he was doing here. He told me he was escorting an enemy detainee to the hospital that had been shot. Mitchell then looked at me and said to me, “did you not hear about 3rd squad today? I said, “No. What happened?”

Mitchell then proceeded to tell me about the squad I had just been with on patrol and took serious contact with on the 19th, had done a patrol today, the 21st and one of the Marines got hit. It was Lcpl. Robert Lamoines that had gotten hit in the right buttocks and it exited through the upper left thigh-groin area. It was a serious wound. I was completely startled and felt terrible that I had left early to make my life easier on the travelling end and had missed a serious firefight that I for sure would have been there with my camera. I pressed Mitchell for as much information as he had and all he really knew was that Lamoines was here at Dwyer at the hospital. I then determined that I would go see Lamoines and check up on him. Mitchell had told me that Lamoines was stable but that he had no other information at the moment.

Mitchell and I talked for over an hour or two that night about many things. He had just gotten selected at random to do the escort and flew in on a helicopter. The local Afghan that he was escorting came in to the COP Turbett CMOC aid station claiming he got shot by a “random” bullet. Here is what happens….the enemy makes contact with the Marines and a firefight ensues. Sometime after the firefight, someone always comes in with a gunshot. It is always the same people that were shooting at the Marines but without any “hard evidence” the story they tell is the one they (the Marines) have to go with. However, they are treated as EPW’s until a determination is made as to how it went down. In other words, what we do, is treat the same folks that just shot a Marine and actually expend lots of resources doing it. Somewhere along the line the injured “Afghan local” (who is actually a Taliban fighter) will be released after his treatment is complete due to the probable lack of what is called, “hard evidence”. Sometimes he ends up right back in the same area to fight against Marines another day. It’s all part of how it goes over here.

After Mitchell and I talked for a while longer, we agreed to meet the next day. I was now determined to walk over to the 31st CSH and go check up on Lamoines. It was late now, but I figured I would go see for myself how Lamoines was. It took about 25-minutes to walk over there and once I got in to the hospital I explained that I was a personal friend of Lamoines. They let me go in and I saw Lamoines there in a hospital bed sound asleep. He was ok, but I talked to the nurse in charge. She told me he had one really close call and that the bullet missed all important areas. It came in on the right buttocks and left a small hole but exited on the left inner upper thigh area leaving a hole the size of a sand dollar. She was amazed he was not injured worse. The discussed sending him to Germany for further treatment and at that I made a decision to try and accompany Lamoines on the flight. I would come back the next morning and check on Lamoines to see how he was doing.

I left the hospital, walked back to my tent and bedded down for the night. It had been a big day. I felt terrible about having left early to try and fix up my travel arrangements. I began to become angry at how the damn system is that causes me to miss certain things. This entire trip has been rough mostly logistical nightmares about moving around from point A to point B. I had to resign myself to the fact that I would follow up on Lamoines in the morning and pick up the story from where I was at the moment. I found it rather incredible that I had run into Mitchel, had been with Lamoines earlier and under fire and now here we all were at Dwyer and I had seen this injured Marines sound asleep recovering. That in itself is a little on the remarkable side.

That is how my day ended on September 21, 2010 at Camp Dwyer. I went to sleep with all of this on my mind.

Jim Spiri