This story was first published in Fayetteville Observer.
FORT BRAGG – A special Veterans Day podcast released Thursday features Fort Bragg’s highest-ranking general sitting down to speak with Immediate Response Force paratroopers, who were part of the nation’s historic deployment to Afghanistan in August.
The 82nd Airborne Division’s Immediate Response Force is capable of deploying anywhere in the world within 18 hours.
On FORSCOM’s “Frontline” podcast, General Michael Garrett, Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command, spoke to 1st Brigade Combat Team Soldiers, Capt. Cody Chellman, Sgt. Gunner Parsons and Spc. Alsajjad Al Lami, about their experiences during the rapid release in August.
“I’m interested in what they saw, what they did, and the impressions of them,” Garrett said.
According to a FORSCOM, Chellman is from the Nashville, Tennessee area and has been in the Army for 16 years.
Last soldier out of Afghanistan was this former Delta Force 2 star
His parents retired from the Army in 2005 with a total of 62 years of service.
Parsons’ father served in the Marine Corps for more than 28 years.
Al Lami was born in Iraq. His father was an interpreter for the Army from 2004 to 2011.
The family immigrated to the United States in 2015, and Al Lami served as an interpreter for the Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Garrett asked the soldiers about their time in Afghanistan and helped with the evacuation efforts that marked the end of the nearly 20-year-long war in the country.
“Everyone has their idea of what Afghanistan is like, and we got there, and it was dark. … It was not at all like what we expected,” Parsons said.
Chellman talked about how Immediate Response Force missions also affect families.
“This IRF deployment was unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of,” the married father of two said. “We usually have that target date on the wall, and everyone is slowly getting ready and mentally preparing for this.”
Chellman said the warning about the mission came on what was going to be a fun day for his kids – their first day of school.
FORSCOM The Frontline Podcasts with Gen. Garrett’s conversation with the soldiers can be found on all podcast platforms, including Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and Castbox.
It can also be found on YouTube and FORSCOM’s Facebook page.