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read more: Boston Herald Article
[password]Concord is not a place one typically looks for war heroes. Despite its claim to fame as the place where citizen-soldiers fired the shot heard ’round the world, today Concord is better known for protesting wars than for sending brave soldiers to fight them.
Yet Concord is where you’ll find 1st Lt. Kyle Snook, 24, who, until a few weeks ago, was serving his country in Afghanistan. On Sept. 26, Snook was wounded when he triggered a pressure-plate-activated IED while in a firefight in Kandahar.
Snook is the second of five children in a distinguished military family. His parents, both West Point grads, are retired colonels; two younger siblings are now students at West Point; and older brother Sean (West Point ’07) is in Afghanistan with the Army’s 82d Airborne.
Snook was raised with a strong sense of duty and a desire to serve a cause greater than self. “Ever since I was about 11 or 12, I thought I wanted to join the military. Once 9/11 happened I was 100 percent sure,” he said.
His high school teachers were supportive of Kyle’s decision to join the military. Although he says, “You could tell some of them had not really had a student who wanted to do that before, especially with the war going on.”
At West Point, Snook chose the infantry because he wanted to be “on the front line” with “the highest soldier interaction possible.”
That is exactly what he got.
Last spring, his platoon was deployed to the Zhari District of Afghanistan, a farming community in a highly contested area near the Pakistani border.
As platoon leader, Snook personally spent “a lot of time talking to key local leaders and showing them we’re there for them.” A critical component of his work involved training and working closely with Afghan soldiers “shona ba shona” (shoulder to shoulder).
“If we don’t train their force to fight the war once we’re gone, then everything we’ve done for the last 10 years means nothing,” Snook said.
In September, as part of Operation Dragon Strike, Snook’s platoon and its Afghan counterpart were tasked with securing a portion of Highway 1, one of the country’s only paved roads and a key supply route. For years, the Taliban has controlled the area, using it to launch attacks on highway travelers.
While clearing an area south of Highway 1, Snook’s platoon came under enemy fire. As they took cover behind a mud wall, Snook stepped on a pressure plate. It blew him off his feet. Although he couldn’t feel anything below the knee, and he thought he had lost his leg, he managed to crawl to a ditch where medics began to patch him up.
Now recuperating in Concord and receiving medical treatment at West Point, the Purple Heart recipient is unsure whether he will regain full use of his foot. But if he could, Snook says he “would go back over right now.”
Since returning, Snook has noticed that media coverage of the war tends to be negative. This runs contrary to his experience.
“Our soldiers are making a huge difference in that country right now, especially with the surge and this push south,” he said.
Here in Concord, there are no yellow ribbons or signs to support the troops. In this idyllic village town, with fields and trees in full autumn color, it is, at times, hard to remember that we are a nation at war. As Defense Secretary Roberts Gates noted recently, for most Americans “the wars remain an abstraction.”
“It’s not that people actively don’t care,” Snook said, but “it’s been 10 years; people are just kind of tired of hearing about it.”
We should never grow tired of hearing about it. Indeed, we must remind ourselves daily that the war in Afghanistan is a war against terrorists who have tried to destroy us. And we must appreciate always – not just on Veterans Day or Memorial Day – that our American Dream is made possible by brave soldiers like Kyle Snook.[/password]