View Full Version : 'Almost a Lost Cause'

10-05-2009, 12:15 AM
'Almost a Lost Cause'
The rocket-propelled grenade and rifle fire was so intense that most of the soldiers spent the opening minutes of the battle lying on their stomachs, praying that the enemy would run out of ammunition.

They had been in the tiny Afghan village of Wanat, near the Pakistani border, for four days. The command post of their remote base was still just a muddy hole surrounded by sandbags.

The radio crackled. About 50 yards from the base's perimeter, nine U.S. soldiers manning an observation post were on the verge of being overrun. Several soldiers were already dead.

"We need to get up there!" screamed 1st Lt. Jonathan Brostrom, the platoon leader at the main base. He and Spec. Jason Hovater grabbed as much ammunition as they could carry and someone popped a yellow smoke grenade to cover their movement. The two soldiers sprinted into enemy fire.

It was a predictable reaction from the 24-year-old lieutenant -- courageous, reckless, impulsive. When Brostrom joined the military, his father, a retired colonel and career aviator, had tried to steer him away from the infantry and toward flying helicopters. "I don't want to be a wimp," the son chided his father.

Brostrom and Hovater dove into the observation post. A sergeant who was too hurt to fight handed Brostrom his M240 machine gun. As the lieutenant turned to set up the weapon, someone spotted an insurgent: "He's inside the [expletive] wire!"
Nine U.S. soldiers were killed and 27 were wounded during the July 13, 2008, attack, which raged for several hours and was one of the bloodiest of the Afghan war. Among the dead was Brostrom.