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Memorial Day in Afghanistan
by Seth Hensarling

Hello All,

Happy Belated Memorial day!!!

How was your Memorial Day? Do anything exciting? Last year the CG (Commanding General) declared Memorial Day a low battle rhythm day and essentially let everyone off half a day but this year we had no such luck. In the past I have usually spent Memorial Day out by the pool grilling some burgers, down at the beach playing horseshoes, or at the yearly family reunion. This year, however, my Memorial Day experience was a little different. If you're like me and need a little help with enlisted and officer ranks check out the links below:

About a month and a half ago, Shane (my roommate) and I walked over to the sewing shop and just happened to meet an Air Force First Lieutenant (1LT). We got to talking to her while the seamstress finished a modification on her flight suit and found out that she was a graduate of the Air Force Academy and this was her first deployment. She was stationed in Hawaii and volunteered for the assignment. She was very outgoing with a great personality and seemed to really be enjoying her experience so far. Since camp Eggers is kind of small we would see her around at the DFAC (Dinning Facility), in the gym, and I would see her each Monday and we would speak for a bit while doing some volunteer work on a project for the Afghan needy. (More on this later with pictures.) I was under the impression she was married because of the ring she wore but it turns out she wore it for her boyfriend, who also was in the Air Force and was a C-17 pilot also stationed in Hawaii. She seemed to have everything in front of her, her life, her career in the Air Force, and her family.

On May 20, 2009, only two days since I had last spoken with her, she and a few other military personnel along with a MPRI senor intelligence mentor were headed to Bagram from Kabul in a three vehicle convoy. They were traveling in up-armored SUV's. On the way to Bagram an IDE was detonated, the explosion killed her along with the MPRI senior mentor and their translator. (You can read about it here:

Since I have been here, there have been about two or three military personnel killed due to explosions from one type of bomb or another. But this was the first person that I even remotely knew and it hit home. I am very fortunate in the fact that the amount of danger that I am exposed to on a daily bases is very, very minimal compared to a majority of the military personnel and other MPRI employees. As you can see from the pictures there was standing room only at the service. Everyone from the top four star General in Afghanistan, David McKiernan (He was relieved of his duty a few weeks ago by Defense Secretary Robert Gates but is still in country waiting on his replacement.), to Major General Formica (He is the Commanding General -CG of CSTC-A and works on Camp Eggers), to the youngest enlisted guy/gal, to MPRI, KBR, and other contractors were in attendance to pay their respects. The service wasn't unlike any other memorial services that I had been to in the past for loved ones, friends and acquaintances. Not having really known either Lt. Roslyn or Shawn Pine my emotional attachment was somewhat limited but one part of the service did make my eyes water a bit and made me take a deep breath.

It's called "Roll Call" or "Muster Roll Call", the verbal accountability system the military uses and this is how it went...

Imagine a tall, stocky, older Army First Sergeant (1SG) in front of a standing crowd, a crowd so quiet you can hear the metal snaps (used to connect the flag to the rope) knocking against the aluminum flag polls as the wind gently lifts the flags with each gust. The old Army First Sergeant begins the Roll Call by projecting his booming voice out to the crowd and calls the squad leaders of the CJ2 Company one by one. Each squad leader that comprises CJ2 answers the First Sergeant call with a load and precise, "HERE, First Sergeant!"

"HERE, FIRST SERGENT!", responded the first squad leader as his rank and name are called.

"HERE, FIRST SERGENT!", responded the second squad leader as her rank and name are called.

"HERE, FIRST SERGENT!", responded the third squad leader as his rank and name are called.

Then, the First Sergeant's booming voice calls the name of, "MR. SHAWN PINE!" The crowd remains completely silent and motionless while the First Sergeant's pause seems to carry on forever. Then with out warning, and this time with more conviction, he calls out again, his voice demanding an answer, "MR. SHAWN PINE." A few seconds pass and for the third and final time the First Sergeant calls, "MR. SHAWN MATTHEW PINE" and waits a moment for a response, a response that will unfortunately, never come.

The First Sergeant's voice then calls the name of, "LIEUTENANT SCHULTE!" Once again, his roll call is denied a response and time seems to halt. Even the gentle breeze has stopped blowing and the crowd remains completely silent with many heads now bowed. The First Sergeant's voice once again shouts out, this time adding her first name, "LIEUTENANT ROSLYN SCHULTE" and once again silence prevails. Then, for the third and final time, the First Sergeant's raises his voice and calls in a slow drawn-out manner, adding her middle name, "LIEUTENANT ROSLYN LITTMAN SCHULTE!"

After a few moments the First Sergeant makes his way back to his seat and Taps begin to play.

Without a doubt, this will be a Memorial Day "Celebration" that I will not soon forget.

Freedom, my friends, is definitely not free. Is the sacrifice that is paid to preserve our way of life worth it? Today, as sorrow tugged at the heart and through misty eyes, "YES" came to mind a little slower than usual.


P.S. Since I've never been in the military and this was the first "Roll Call" I have witnessed, I may have some of the details off just a little.

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