07 August 2013

Nat'l Geographic's 'Eyewitness War' Eyes FOB Kalagush

A recent episode of a National Geographic Channel television series focuses on familiar U.S. National Guard uniform patch, as well as a familiar patch of ground in Eastern Afghanistan.

In an episode titled "Mountaintop Revenge," the 30-minute program "Eyewitness War" depicts the May 2010 actions of a Connecticut National Guard platoon then based at Forward Operating Base ("FOB") Kalagush, Nuristan Province.

The platoon was part of Connecticut's 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry Regiment (1-102nd Inf.), which deployed to Afghanistan as part of Vermont's 86th Brigade Combat Team (86th I.B.C.T.), approximately November 2009 to October 2010. At the end of its successful rotation, the unit was replaced by Iowa's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division.

Through helmet-camera footage, after-action interviews, and computer-graphic reconstructions, the "Eyewitness War" series tells stories of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq as seen by personnel on the ground. Each program is introduced with the claim that "The footage you are about to see was shot by U.S. military personnel."

To streamline storytelling, details such as units and dates are not always emphasized strongly, and viewers are left to piece together some details for themselves. In the Kalagush episode, the distinctive "deer head" shoulder patch of the 86th BCT is plainly visible, as is the fact that the soldiers are wearing Universal Camouflage Pattern (U.C.P.), rather than the MultiCam pattern uniforms issued to soldiers rotating into theater later in 2010.

The episode depicts an attempt to root out enemy fighters who were then regularly harassing FOB Kalagush in nighttime attacks. One such attack hit a fuel tanker, causing a fiery explosion.

The Connecticut unit decided to take the fight to the bad guys. After dismounting a daytime patrol of foot soldiers in the vicinity of Wadawu village, however, the armored trucks came under fire from three elevated positions.

One driver, Spc. Kyle Schipritt, was outside of his vehicle when a rocket-propelled grenade hit. Despite his injuries, he sprinted back his vehicle and was able to maneuver his truck. Spc. Ernesto Gonzalez engaged targets via the truck's remotely operated gun system.

From his deployment, Shipritt received multiple awards of the Purple Heart, and an Army Commendation Medal for valor.

"Luckily, we were all behind rocks, so we had cover and concealment," says Sgt. Michael Finnegan, leader of the dismounted patrol. "But the guys down below, in the trucks? They didn't have any cover and concealment. They were sitting ducks. They had to get out of there." The trucks returned to base with the wounded, leaving the Finnegan's patrol to walk 7 hours along a ridgeline back to Kalagush.

A 3-minute excerpt of the Kalagush episode is available on the National Geographic Channel website here. The episode will again air in its entirety on Aug. 19, 8 p.m. CDT.

Another "Eyewitness War" episode, "Bomb Squad Booom," involves a combat engineer platoon conducting mine-clearance operations in the vicinity of FOB Mehtar Lam, Laghman Province. (FOB Mehtar Lam is connected by road to FOB Kalagush.) The episode is scheduled to air again Aug. 12, 8:30 p.m. CDT.

For a full listing of "Eyewitness War" episode times and dates, click here.

The National Geographic Channel is also currently broadcasting a number of other war-related documentary series, including "Battleground Afghanistan" and "Inside Combat Rescue."

Recent feature-length National Geographic documentaries include "Inside the Afghanistan War" and "Bomb Hunters Afghanistan."

1 comment:

  1. Hey. This is SPC Schipritt. This is a pretty accurate description. However, there is a lot of information that National Geographic had left out. When was wounded in the knee and foot, two other Sergeants were wounded as well. Their names; Rez Onde, and Daniel Bergan. I had assisted in their wounds while wounded myself until the medic could get to us. While I treated their wounds, PVT Joe Case laid down heavy fire along with the vehicles heavy weapons. Once they where treated, we executed an maneuver to get back to trucks to get myself, and the two other seriously wounded soldiers a medevac from the FOB. There were other hero's that day in which Nat Geo left out. Under heavy fire, myself and another soldier have been shot in the helmets, me and PVT Joe case stayed with the wounded while wounded ourselves until the trucks could maneuver, and out medic got on there to help get them out. Please share this info so that people could recognize other heroes of that day. Their Names; Joe Case, Daniel Bergan, Raul Martinez, Rez Onde along with others that went above an beyond to help their wounded brothers.


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