Afghanistan

U.S. Army/Department of Defense

A Michigan congressman is highly critical of the deal the Obama administration struck to win the release of America’s only prisoner-of-war in the Afghan war.

The Taliban released Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after holding him for five years because the U.S. agreed to release five senior Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It's Veterans Day, and all across Michigan, small ceremonies are taking place honoring the nation's military veterans.

A light rain fell in Flint as a small ceremony was held at 11 a.m.

Veterans Day has it's roots in the Armistice that ended World War I. Under the terms of the armistice, that war ended at "The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month."

Vietnam era veteran Raul Garcia told the small group assembled in front of Flint city hall of his pride of being part of a military family.

"To me, it's just a great pride to wear this uniform knowing that we are the greatest nation around," Garcia said. 

There are more than 650,000 military veterans in Michigan.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

When a veteran comes home from war with an obvious injury, like a missing arm, they know they'll have to talk about it.

Some vets get so used to telling that war wound story, it becomes almost routine.

What’s harder to talk about, and to understand, are the invisible injuries.

That's why a nonprofit called Fashion Has Heart is pairing wounded vets with graphic designers.

Together, they create t-shirts and combat boots that reflect each vet's experience.

And right now they’re on display at ArtPrize, where anybody can buy - and wear - the results.

Update 11:06 a.m.

The Associated Press reports the National Transportation Safety Board and the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority are investigating the crash:

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the crash, but the U.S.-led coalition said in a statement to The Associated Press: "Taliban's claims are false."

It said there was no sign of insurgent activity in the area at the time. Capt. Luca Carniel, a coalition spokesman, said the aircraft crashed from a low altitude right after takeoff.

Here's the site of the crash:


View Larger Map

Monday, April 29th, 11:16 p.m.

VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - An official of a Florida-based air cargo company says five of seven people killed in the crash of a civilian plane at an airfield in Afghanistan were from Michigan.

The plane crashed just after taking off Monday from Bagram Air Field, north of the Afghan capital.

The U.S.-led military coalition says it's investigating what caused the crash.

An official of Orlando, Fla.-based National Airlines says its Boeing 747-400 was carrying vehicles and other cargo.

Company Vice President Shirley Kaufman tells the Detroit Free Press that those killed were four pilots, two mechanics and a load master.

Kaufman didn't release the victims' names but says their families have been notified.

National Airlines was based until recently at Michigan's Willow Run Airport, west of Detroit in Wayne County's Van Buren Township.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee has returned from a trip to Afghanistan, the freshman's first official overseas travel as a member of Congress.

The Flint Township Democrat says the country is headed in the right direction with its own forces stepping up to provide security.

Kildee traveled to Afghanistan as part of a three-member delegation. He got back on Saturday.

khalidhanifi.com

Khalid Hanifi is a singer-songwriter who brings an unusual perspective to the songs and lyrics that he writes.

He's based in Ann Arbor, but as the son of an Afghan man who came from Kabul to the United States in 1956, Khalid has a foot in both worlds, and that informs his writing, from songs to his blog on the Huffington Post.
 
His latest CD is "A Brief Respite From Shooting Fish In A Barrel."

To hear the full interview, listen to the link above.

CNN

This afternoon, Zachary Shanafelt's body will arrive at the Gerald R. Ford airport in Grand Rapids.

Shanafelt's family says they will meet the plane, and there will be a procession to the Pederson Funeral Home in Rockford where a visitation will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. prior to tomorrow's funeral service.

Shanafelt leaves behind his wife, and 13-month old son, according to his obituary.

His son Daniel was truly the “apple of his father’s eye,” and his wife Marina was the “love of his life.” For him to have had that, we are all very humbly grateful.

Shanafelt became the 65th Michigander to die as a result of the war in Afghanistan, according to iCasuaties.org.

The average age of those killed thus far is 26.

160 Michiganders died while serving in the Iraq War with an average age of 27.

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Zachary Shanafelt was a field medic in the Army. He was injured in Afghanistan last year. He died at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. last Wednesday.

More from John Tunison of MLive:

Shanafelt was an field medic with A Battery, 1-84 Field Artillery, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Army Sgt. First Class Jeffrey Arnold, a casualty assistance officer, said Shanafelt was injured in 2011 and, since that time, has been at hospitals in both the United States and Germany.

Visitation is 7-9 p.m. Thursday at Pederson Funeral Home in Rockford and the funeral is 11 a.m. Friday, with full military honors.

Arnold did not immediately have details of Shanafelt's injuries.

Shanafelt's death raises the number of Michigan soldiers killed from injuries while in Afghanistan to 65.

Kurt Stepnitz / Michigan State University News

After a year's deployment in Afghanistan, 600 members of Michigan's National Guard are coming home. They'll join the ranks of 19,00 local Guardsmen and women who’ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But this particular unit will soon embark on a new mission. And this time, they're bringing their families.

For 3 years, the veterans, their spouses, and children will be part of a Michigan State University study on how families cope with life after combat.

ADDISON, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan memorial service is Saturday for a U.S. Army nurse who died suddenly in Afghanistan during a computer video chat with his wife.

The service for 43-year-old Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Addison Middle School, about 70 miles southwest of Detroit. He grew up in Michigan.

Clark was assigned to a medical center in El Paso, Texas, and then deployed to Afghanistan in March. His wife, Susan Orellana-Clark, was in Texas chatting with him via Skype on April 30 when he collapsed. The death is under investigation.

A funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in western New York.

Clark's wife is from Spencerport, N.Y. He and his family lived there for six years before he joined the Army in 2006.

The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee says Chairman Carl Levin and member Jack Reed are visiting Afghanistan, Turkey and NATO headquarters in Belgium starting this weekend.

The committee announced the trip Sunday by the two Democratic lawmakers. Levin is from Michigan and Reed is from Rhode Island.

ACME TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has ordered the lowering of U.S. flags in Michigan on Friday in honor of Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew S. Schwartz.

The Pentagon says the 34-year-old Traverse City native and two others died last Thursday when an improvised explosive device hit their vehicle in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

Reynolds Jonkhoff funeral home in Traverse City says visitation for Schwartz will be 5-8 p.m. Friday at Christ the King Catholic Church. It's in Grand Traverse County's Acme Township.

The funeral is at the church at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Schwartz was an explosive ordnance disposal specialist assigned to F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming.

He was a 1996 Traverse City Central High School graduate with 12 years in the Air Force and on his sixth deployment.

mortuary.af.mil

A young Army soldier from Boyne City died in Afghanistan last month (November 21) - just two months into his deployment.

U.S. Army Pvt. 2nd Class Jack Lee Diener was 20 when he was killed by small arms fire in Kandahar province.

Diener graduated from Boyne City High School in 2009.

Flags in Michigan are flying at half staff today in his honor.

In Boyne City, flags were lowered the day the town heard of his death on November 22.

From the November 22 PetoskyNews.com:

Britain's Channel 4 News / screenshot

Earlier today I posted the stories of two young veterans who had served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Multiple tours overseas is common in today's military. Re-enlistments helped keep these wars supplied with soldiers over the last ten years.

The problem, as Bernard Rostker of the Rand Corporation put it, "the more you go the more you’re exposed, the more likely you will eventually have some adverse psychological reactions."

Rostker is a former Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, and a former senior policy advisor on recruitment for the Secretary of Defense.

He said the propensity to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is cumulative. And with soldiers serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, they're more at risk than a soldier serving a single tour.

PTSD can show up much later in life.

"This is going to be a huge concern for the military," said Rostker.

"Rand did a study, it was a random telephone interview of large numbers of vets using screening techniques for PTSD, and came to the conclusion that there was a huge number of unreported cases. It was controversial with the Department of Defense who looked at the number of people being treated versus those identified with PTSD and noticed lots were going untreated," said Rostker.

In 2010, Britain's Channel 4 News did an excellent piece on the challenges facing today's military.

You can view it here:

 

Bernard Rostker said the military has come a long way in its understanding of the psychological effects of war.

"We’re much more aware of it today, but it’s still the unfinished business of this war," said Rostker.

(courtesy of BIGHABER.com)

A silent noon-hour vigil at the state capital in Lansing will mark the tenth anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan.  Its organizers say the U.S. has not learned the lessons of the war. 

Department of Defense

A Marine from Genesee County has been reported killed during combat operations in Afghanistan.
    

The military says Friday that 28-year-old staff Sgt. Nicholas Sprovtsoff of Davison and 27-year-old Sgt. Christopher Diaz of Albuquerque died Wednesday in Helmand Province.
    

Sprovtsoff was assigned to the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command at Camp Pendleton, California.  Diaz was assigned to Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California.
    

About a thousand Michigan Army and Air National Guardsmen will spend the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend back home, after spending the past year in Iraq and Kuwait.  Two battalions of guardsmen have been arriving in cities and towns across Michigan during the past few days.  

Captain Aaron Jenkins is a Michigan National Guard spokesman.    He says moving the troops from the Middle East to Michigan is complicated by the need to bring their equipment back with the troops.   

The military says a 34-year-old Navy SEAL from Michigan was one of 30 American military personnel killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down by insurgents in Afghanistan.

The Defense Department released Heath Robinson's name Thursday, listing his hometown as Detroit.

The special warfare operator chief petty officer and others aboard the helicopter died Saturday in Wardak Province while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He is the only Michigan resident listed among the fatalities.

Of those killed 17 were SEALs and five were Navy special operations troops supporting them. Three Air Force airmen, a five-member Army air crew, seven Afghan commandos and an Afghan interpreter also were killed.

The crash, about 60 miles southwest of Kabul, was the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the nearly 10-year Afghan war.

screenshot of CNN website

More than 6,000 U.S. servicemen and servicewomen have been killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to iCasualties.org.

Several media outlets track this information and break it down by state.

CNN.com has an interactive map that lists the casualties separately from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Their maps show where the soldier was from, and where they were killed.

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) - The U.S. military says a 28-year-old Army sergeant from Battle Creek has been killed in an enemy attack in Afghanistan.

The Defense Department said Thursday that Staff Sgt. Joshua Throckmorton died Tuesday in Afghanistan's Paktia province. The military says Throckmorton died of injuries suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Also killed in the attack were 24-year-old Spc. Jordan Schumann of Port St. Lucie, Fla., and 22-year-old Spc. Preston Suter of Sandy, Utah.

They were part of the 709th Military Police Battalion in Hohenfels, Germany.

Growing numbers of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are balking both at the length of the war in Afghanistan and its cost.

Late last month, a few weeks after U.S. forces killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the Republican-run House voted on a bipartisan amendment aimed at hastening an end to the war in Afghanistan. To the surprise of many, it fell just six votes shy of passing.

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) was one of 26 members of his party who joined nearly every Democrat in voting for the measure.

USMC Gunnery Sgt. Keith A. Milks / U.S. Navy

We're coming up on the tenth anniversary of the U.S. led war in Afghanistan.

So far, there have been 1,429 U.S. deaths from Operation Enduring Freedom, according to icasualties.org.

Marine Sgt. Paul Boothroyd III of Midland is lucky not to be one of those.

Andrew Dodson of Booth Mid-Michigan has a piece on Boothroyd's remarkable story.

A sniper's bullet hit Boothroyd's Kevlar helmet while on patrol in southern Afghanistan.

Boothroyd thought the helmet stopped the bullet, but the bullet was later found lodged behind his right ear - millimeters away from a main artery and his spinal cord.

From the article:

Boothroyd III travels back to Midland this week with his wife Ashley Boothroyd from Maryland. Their 2-year-old son, Paul Boothroyd IV, is with his grandparents waiting for his parent’s return to Michigan.

He enlisted in the Marines following high school. After acing a linguistics test, the Marines sent him to school, where he learned to speak modern and traditional dialects of Arabic, including Iraqi.

After his time off in Midland, Boothroyd III plans to return to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina awaiting his next tour of duty. He says he appreciates his time off, but wants to return to the Middle East.

Boothroyd says he looks forward to "get back to the fight."

Derek Devries / Grand Rapids Community College

U.S. Senator Carl Levin says success depends on two factors. The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee says the Obama administration should stick to the July deadline to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and make sure the country can continue to build up its own security forces.

The committee’s ranking republican Senator John McCain opposes the deadline.

Levin told a gathering in West Michigan Monday the deadline has helped the Afghanistan police and army exceed recruitment goals. He called a large, effective home-grown security force in Afghanistan “the Taliban’s worst nightmare.”

“Because it would demonstrate that contrary to their propaganda the war against the Taliban is not a war of foreign occupiers seeking control, that it is instead a war that the Afgan people believe in.”

Levin told a crowd in Grand Rapids that President Obama's deadline in July to begin transferring power to the government of Afghanistan has put pressure on the situation in a good way.