U.S. Soldier Architect in Afghanistan Shares Perspective on Osama Bin Laden's Death
How did you hear that Osama bin Laden had been killed?
I actually heard about bin Laden’s death when I was getting ready to eat breakfast on Monday morning at our dining facility on the base. I remember walking into the main seating area around 7:30 a.m. and seeing the headlines on the television that bin Laden was dead. At first, I was surprised and also curious about how he died and where he was found since he had been in hiding for over 10 years. Other soldiers and civilian contractors in the dining facility, about 60 or 70 people, had a similar reaction: Everyone wanted to see how he had died and where the U.S. military had found him.
Are people over there happy?
Some of the interpreters who work with me on the base said they thought the death of the Al Qaeda leader would be a cause for celebration in Afghanistan. It was almost a feeling of jubilation. Another person I spoke with, a soldier, expressed joy that bin Laden had been killed and said it was a positive step forward for Afghanistan and its people.
Where are you from originally? And where did you study architecture?
I am originally from Boston but now live in Dallas. I graduated in 1990 from Texas A&M University, where I studied in the College of Architecture and majored in environmental design. During this time, I was also a part of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets in Company K-1. Upon finishing my degree, I was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Tell us about your work experience.
I worked for several architectural firms in the Dallas area while completing the Intern Development Program for licensing. At the time of my deployment to Afghanistan, I was on staff at VAI Architects, which specializes in different areas, including institutional and retail. I’ve worked there for about two and a half years, and I’m now an associate architect.
When were you deployed to Afghanistan?
Last October, my Reserve unit—444th Engineer Facility Detachment—was called to active duty in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. I’m stationed just outside of Kabul at Camp Dubs, which is located within a large Afghan National Army (ANA) base. I’ll be in Afghanistan for one year and will re-deploy back to the United States in October. This is my second tour of duty in Afghanistan; in 2005 and 2006, I was stationed at Bagram Airfield.
What sort of work do you do there?
This time, I’m part of a team called ITAG, which stands for Infrastructure Training Advisory Group. Our mission is to assess facilities and mentor the ANA DPW facility engineers in the operation and maintenance of those facilities. I am a major and team leader.
Are they stepping up security at your base? Are you worried that bin Laden supporters will retaliate?
As the news has sunk in, the military is guarded in regards to the atmosphere around and outside the base. We do not know how the insurgents tied to Al Qaeda will react and if there will be reprisals due to the killing of their leader. We can only continue on with our missions and remain vigilant in respect to the environment and those around us.