Cory Chapline, who joined the National Guard in 2010, spent several months at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, and Fort Irwin, California in training before his unit deployed overseas.
Cory Chapline is one of those rare young men.
The kind that serves his country without a second thought. The kind who serves because he’s called to do it, because he wants to make a difference and change the world.
That’s why Chapline joined the National Guard.
"I felt like doing something with my life," Chapline said. "I am an adventurous person and wanted to do try something new, to accomplish something, to feel gratified, to do something most people don't do."
Chapline, who joined the National Guard in 2010, spent several months at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, and Fort Irwin, California in training before his unit deployed overseas.
In January 2012 his company – Company "C" of the 237th Support Battalion, 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team – deployed to Afghanistan.
Initially stationed at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Dehdadi II in the northern Afghanistan, he later transferred to Camp Spann located nearby.
Initially, Chapline settled in.
"Our living conditions weren't too bad," Chapline said. “At first, the food was pretty good. Once a week we had steak and shrimp on Friday night. But after a few months it started to turn bad due to budget cuts. We had a lot of fried food, sometimes it was like piles of grease.”
Chapline’s unit arrived in Afghanistan in late winter and he admits he was surprised to see snow on the ground. When the cool weather gave way to summer, he found himself battling a completely new element.
"We drank a huge amount of water when summer arrived," he said. “It was not uncommon to drink twelve pints of water. … In the shade it wasn't too bad but if you put your hand out in the sun you instantly felt this prickly heat. The temperature got up to around 125 (degrees) during the day. You didn't really sweat or urinate very much as the perspiration was instantly absorbed by the heat."
A DAY’S WORK
Chapline’s job was to work in support of medical units in logistics and protection. Often, he would be gone from the FOB for anywhere from a few days to a week at a time. Once, he was sent out to retrieve a weapon from a soldier killed in action. The mission was only suppose to take a day but the helicopter that was suppose to pick him up didn't show up; He ended up being stranded at the position for three days.
Normally, the soldiers moved around the country in helicopters but, on occasion, they had to move by ground convoy.
"We tried to avoid that due to the risks of ambush," Chapline said. "I was lucky never to have been caught in an ambush, though convoys in front of us did. Sometimes we got shot at with rockets, mortars, and small arms fire from a distance. I was scared a few times and worried I might not make it home."
Page 2 of 2 - While in Afghanistan, Chapline and he comrades came under fire at least a dozen times. There were also times he came close to being wounded or killed.
He lost people he knew.
"What I experienced will stick with me forever,” Chapline said. “I still get frightened when I think back to them."
One of the hardest parts of the war was identifying the enemy. Enemies was dressed like ordinary civilians. Suicide bombers could be old men, women or even children. Even a pregnant woman might be carrying a bomb under her dress.
Among those things Chapline and his fellow soldiers had to watch for were bombs, weapons and drugs that could smuggled onto their bases. All the Afghans and any vehicles had to be carefully searched for a variety of items including sharp objects such as screw drivers or knives.
During these times, the language barrier made the work difficult
"It really was difficult dealing with (Afghan citizens)," Chapline said. "We really didn't know the language and a lot of them couldn't speak English. That was a real barrier to communications. Once in a while you found an Afghan who could speak fairly good English and you could have a good conversation.”
Chapline came home from Afghanistan in the summer of 2012. While happy to be home, the war, for him, lingered on. He found it hard at first to go from a combat life to one where there wasn't danger. He noticed was that he was constantly watching people he was with and looking for ways out of a room as quickly as possible.
"I did it all without noticing I did some of these things (until) people would point it out,” Chapline said. “It took a long while to get back to a somewhat normal way of life. It has been a year now and I still have some issues. I had the worst time with enexpected loud sounds. They still get me from time to time.”