Courtesy of United States Central Command (CentCom)
Army Maj. Ryan L. Worthan
The wild lands between Afghanistan and Pakistan have never been for the faint of heart. That’s even more true for those stationed at Shkin Fire Base in Afghanistan – a fortified mud base, at 7,800 feet of elevation, a mere four miles from the border.
It is a “choking point” for insurgents in the surrounding mountains, and as such often experiences direct contact with enemy forces – as it did in spectacular fashion on Sept. 29, 2003.
Then-Capt. Worthan was on his second deployment with the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan at that time. As the sun rose, it seemed like it would be an ordinary day of patrols and maybe occasional contact with the enemy. But then, shortly before 6 a.m., a platoon on patrol received a barrage of fire from AK-47s, RPGs, machine guns, and mortars. This was not an isolated rocket attack or sporadic gunfire – this was a well-orchestrated offensive, the beginning of a pitched battle that would rage for 12 hours.