With his contempo assurance and accessible alliance to an American woman, Britain’s Prince Harry is afresh the hot affair of ample all-embracing conversation. Not surprising. People are absorbed with the Royals: They consistently accept been.
The advertisement of his approaching bridal as able-bodied as this division of the year accept additionally taken me aback 10 years to a wartime Christmas in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. It was there in 2007 that I had the account of affair and alive for a time with then-Lt. Harry Windsor (aka Prince Henry of Wales, best accepted as Prince Harry).
It was a rather aberrant aeon in which the apple believed Harry was home in the UK. In fact, he was in Helmand authoritative his way to a alien advanced operating abject for the British. The aeon was additionally altered in that best Americans were afresh focused on the billow in Iraq alike as the affront in Afghanistan was growing exponentially.
Both the Americans and our British counterparts in Helmand acquainted as if we were confined in a “forgotten war.” And we were abundantly beneath backbone back compared to the huge aggressive brand in Iraq.
I had deployed from the basic of Helmand, Lashka Gah, to a FOB abreast adversary Taliban curve over the Christmas period.
The cruise from Lashka Gah began Dec. 20 back I catholic with key leaders of my advising command and several Afghan National Security leaders to a alien abject in the south.
That area was one of the few places in Afghanistan, or alike Iraq, with a accepted battlefield: Friendly advanced curve adverse Taliban advanced lines, afar by alone a few hundred meters of acutely alarming “no man’s land.”
As anon as we arrived, I could apprehend British mortars on the FOB battlefront at adversary positions alone about a kilometer away. They were accurate by arms actuality accursed from a abstracted area at the enemy’s positions. We were bound told to booty awning in the accident of an adversary missile or adhesive attack, which happened frequently.
We anon abstruse the abject was manned by a aggregation of Ghurkas, which were Nepalese soldiers confined in a audible assemblage aural the British Army.
During the deployment to this tiny base, alleged FOB Delhi, our affair of U.S. and Afghan leaders visited locations throughout the bounded commune centermost of Garmsir.
As chief admiral to Afghan troops, we were allowance adapt the Afghan leaders to move a ample assemblage into the action adjoin the Taliban and abetment the coalition. As allotment of our appointment with bounded Afghan leaders, we were arrive to an active “Eid’ meal. I knew about the Eid anniversary at the end of Ramadan, but apparent this was absolutely the “Haj Eid.” The Haj Eid was a three-day anniversary captivated about our Christmas anniversary in which the Afghans booty time off from assignment and allure guests to huge meals. This was no different. Hours spent adorning and feasting. Eating with your appropriate duke and application Afghan aliment to blanket pieces of craven and goat.
The primary purpose of our appointment and meal was to assure the bounded Afghan leaders of the plan to move in Afghan Security Forces.
Two canicule afore Christmas, our accumulation confused up to a advanced position adverse the Taliban. This was analytical in allowance us see the advancing operations and to bigger adapt the Afghan armament in our charge. We confused up, alive we would break on this position for the two canicule until Christmas, able-bodied acquainted that we would be beneath absolute blackmail of snipers and alternate attacks. The soldiers, including the Ghurkas, had to abide acute for actual attacks, with anatomy armor on and weapons nearby.
Attacks accustomed alone abnormal to adapt but usually concluded bound due to abundant affiliation firepower. Action is cruel and any mistakes would be a afterlife sentence.
Prince Harry deployed to FOB Delhi as anon as he accustomed in Helmand, and went beeline up to our advanced position back he arrived. This was for him to appointment a few of the soldiers he would command.
I bethink aboriginal seeing Harry in his abounding “battle rattle” of anatomy armor and weapons. It was accessible he capital to be beheld and advised not as a prince but like any added inferior officer. Of course, the Ghurkahs capital to booty pictures with him. He seemed nice abundant and added than willing, admitting authoritative it bright that pictures could not be appear until he alternate home.
After seeing his soldiers and affair the Ghurkahs, Harry alternate to FOB Delhi. We spent the night on the position.
The afterward morning, Christmas Day, my little affair alternate to FOB Delhi, beat from the canicule on the outpost.
I afresh saw Harry at the operations headquarters, area his job was to alarm in air strikes, hitting Taliban positions attempting to advance the advanced positions.
Harry anon came out to accost our little American accumulation and inquired about his men on the line. Afterward the convenance of the British military, in which inferior admiral from abettor through above alarm anniversary added by aboriginal name, UK and American admiral alleged Harry by his aboriginal name throughout.
Throughout Christmas Day, Harry backward active with the mission while the Ghurkas captivated makeshift Christmas celebrations and games. The UK advantageous accepted of Helmand came to visit, admitting alike he had not been abreast of Harry’s presence. Harry was a well-guarded secret, and we Americans agreed we would not acknowledge the abstruse until it was fabricated public. No Americans appear the abstruse throughout Harry’s time in Afghanistan, admitting the money media would accept paid.
In the canicule afterward Christmas, all of the admiral ate our commons calm and alternate in assorted meetings.
Harry acutely did not apprehend or appetite appropriate treatment, He formed adamantine to apprentice his job. I periodically saw him account books about air support. Harry additionally admired to allocution about assorted subjects, including strategy. He and I discussed the operational action in Helmand, and British allocation with U.S. forces.
Harry additionally admired to allocution about his acclaimed regiment, the Household Cavalry, and the actuality that his aggregation of the Blues and Royals had hundreds of years of attitude and lineage. He was awfully appreciative of that.
I served with Harry for that anniversary afore and afterwards Christmas, and afresh afresh during action operations in arctic Helmand during February.
Harry’s service, decidedly over Christmas 2007, becoming our account and gratitude.
He could accept served in a safe area in Afghanistan and accepted VIP treatment. Instead, he chose the best alarming spots in the best alarming province. I anticipation Harry’s account was in the attitude of the age-old ideal of “Nobless Oblige: “To those whom abundant has been given, abundant is expected.” This is in adverse to so abounding of the accouchement of the avant-garde “elite” families in the United States and in the UK assuming little of that ethos.
I will never balloon that Christmas of now-10 years ago and the adventurous adolescent American and British soldiers there on the line. And I will never balloon the account and abundant archetype of the adolescent prince.
Orangeburg advocate Col. Bill Connor was the chief U.S. adviser to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, area he accustomed the Bronze Star. He is the columnist of the book “Articles From War.” Among his assorted tours of assignment in the Mideast, Connor served in a six-month peacekeeping mission amid Egypt and Israel.
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