Harry Young, Sergeant First Class, discusses his expectations for his upcoming tour of duty in Afghanistan.
When it comes to volunteering for his tour of duty in Afghanistan, National Guardsman, Sergeant First Class Harry Young, says, “ Everyone’s driven by their own reasons. Myself, I used to talk about how my flag flew on September 10 and it always flew the day before. It’s something that I guess, it’s just been part of my life. Maybe it started with my G.I. Joe’s ...but I’ve done it (served his Country) since I graduated high school in 1983. I was active duty in the Marine Corps. Then, I got out. I went back in active duty with the Guard, full-time recruiter for two years. Then, when my daughter was born, I went to what we call M-Day, a weekend a month, two weeks in the summer.
In Afghanistan, he’ll be part of a security force for the, “PRT’s or the provincial reconstruction teams,” he said. The PRT’s include doctors and nurses checking on the health of the villagers in Afghanistan. SFC Young says he’s one of 20 members of the local Guard Unit, 1st Battalion Heavy 109th Infantry, Honesdale, leaving for Afghanistan in February.
As he accepted the well-wishes of Brownie Troop #433, based in Honesdale, Thursday morning at the Lemnitzer Armory on Tryon Street, he said, “I think it’s refreshing to know that, at an early age, that kids are being shown to appreciate, not only in this particular case, what I do or my fellow soldiers, but there’s a bigger picture to the world than just what they see on TV, and that they learn to interact with each other and to share their ideas and their thoughts. My daughter was a Brownie. I was a Cub Scout, and it’s refreshing to see kids moving in a positive direction, especially at such an early age.”
Adapt to where they’re sent
Though it’s his first tour in Afghanistan, SFC Young told The Wayne Independent, “I think the way we’re trained and it’s instilled upon us, we just kind of adapt to wherever location that we’re sent to. The purpose right now of our training at Fort Bragg is to prepare us for this particular theater of Operation...They’ll have actors, if you will. And they actually have Afghan people that will be there that will interact with us while we’re going through our training to kind of immerse us into that environment. So now, we start thinking that we’re not in (Fort Bragg) North Carolina anymore, but we’re actually in Afghanistan.”
As he spoke of providing security for doctors and nurses, he also spoke of the children. Brownie Troop #433 listened intently as talked of the little ones and how, just like here at home, the kids look forward to gifts of candy and soda, something the soldiers willingly share. “My biggest thing and experience I’ve found is there’s a perception of Americans. And when we interact with the children, that’s that first step of breaking down that barrier ...When we roll in, of course we’re moving, it can look pretty intimidating. We have our body armor on. We have weapons. And, unfortunately, that’s a necessity, but it’s not necessarily always a great door opener or appearance as far as when you meet somebody for the first time. That’s why, when we meet with the kids, kids predominantly all throughout the world have that little less inhibition, so they more readily approach you ...And we’ll have interpreters with us, so it helps, initially, break down that barrier. And once the kids start talking to us, families and parents tend to follow.”
SFC Young says he’s a firm believer in taking the time to learn about the culture and the language so he can interact. “It’s real easy to learn how to say in a particular language, ‘Stop, or I’ll shoot.’ But it means so much more when you can say, ‘hello’ in a native language. And it breaks down that barrier ...Being able just to say ‘good morning,’ or ‘good afternoon,’ or, ‘hello,’ makes a world of difference.”