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Jan-14-2007 19:17printcommentsVideo

Rough Road to Pesh Valley in Afghanistan (VIDEO)

One sure sign you are getting close to a place called the Pesh Valley in Afghanistan is the increase in the number of graves along the roadside. This story was originally published January 14th, 2007.

ANA soldier
Afghan National Army soldier at Fire Base California
All photos by: Tim King

(KABUL, Afghanistan) - "The intel we have so far as far as where we are going, is along the road into the Pesh, it sounds like there might be some activity coming from our left, so gunners be aware of that."

Those were the words of Sgt Major Kemp Freund, at the briefing before our convoy left for the infamous Pesh Valley.

Convoy to a base called California

The road gets narrow and rough, and the trip lasts hours. Humvees are huge vehicles but they are cramped inside, and it wasn't what most people would consider a smooth ride.

Soldiers call to their upper turret gunner to make sure he’s braced for the big bumps. "Hang on,” the soldier riding shotgun yells. The gunner calls back, “It's all good!"

The gunner in the turret of your Humvee seems especially alert and on the ready, as you maneuver through this place that has a sense of awe, an odd mix of natural beauty and tension.

Fire Base California in the Pesh Valley

One soldier notes the volatile area in which we have entered, "Now would be a prime opportunity to strike."

Our convoy arrived at the Forward combat base called California.

Specialist Frank Hays - Oklahoma Guard

Here, soldiers like Specialist Frank Hays of Picola, Oklahoma spend a great deal of time engaged in firefights.

"Yeah the Taliban's coming in and setting up strikes in that ridge area up there, they set up ambush areas along that top ridge up there,” he said as he pointed at the hillside.

And like Vietnam, the enemy strikes without warning, typically disappearing afterward by blending into the countryside. It makes the job of defending these local villagers difficult.

"Usually we don't even see 'em. We don't even see em, we can't see on the other side of that ridge and we can't even see em,” Hays added.

While the Americans stay busy, it is their Afghan National Army counterparts that pick up the slack and absorb much of the damage.

“Working with the ANA, they're good soldiers,” Hays told me. I asked, “You guys are getting a long way with them aren't you?” And Hays confirmed, “Yes we are."

Aziz is in the Afghan National Army

When asked about how it was to work with soldiers from America, an ANA soldier named Aziz was quick to display his appreciation, “Because they're coming to help, they help Afghan people and the ANA, I like all U.S."

That working relationship is keeping this combat hot zone called the Pesh Valley, a safer place, allowing the children here a better chance of having a complete life, one not cut short by a whizzing bullet, mortar or rocket.

Convoy moving out

Getting out of the Pesh Valley before the fall of darkness is a priority for coalition soldiers, but our convoy had no such luck, as military vehicles became gridlocked on the narrow dirt road, perched on a steep cliff overlooking the Pesh River.

The soldiers say that for a while, they felt like sitting ducks.

For about thirty minutes, the attackers that shoot from across the River had a sizeable target as the soldiers worked to free the bottleneck and get things moving again, which they did, and both convoys resumed moving toward their destinations.

When the dust settled, nobody was hurt, and soldiers said it was just another day in a dangerous place occupied by Americans, called the Pesh Valley.

Watch the Streaming Video News Report below, direct from Kabul, Afghanistan by Tim King: Video

In Afghanistan, Tim King, reporting for

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Tim King January 25, 2007 8:08 pm (Pacific time)

Kevin, I'm sorry to hear about your son's extension. One of the guys I spoke to in the Pesh said he felt safer when he was being fired on than when he wasn't. most of what these guys get is harrassing fire and the ACM (Anti-Coalition Militias) are lousy shots for the most part. All of the Americans I have worked with in country keep things very safe, your son is not in the worst place. I hope this helps, I wish I could help keep him safe, I have no doubt that he will be fine though, they are a very tight knit bunch in the Pesh. Take care, Tim King. January 25, 2007 7:58 pm (Pacific time)

My son Tyler, with 4-25 FA, 3rd IBCT, ... FOB SALERNO, is on his way over to Pesh Valley. He was supposed to come home in a week or so, now he's being sent over there for another five months! Keep him safe?

Osotan January 19, 2007 4:44 pm (Pacific time)

Yes, I noticed that in spite of their courage the penchant to call "time out" if their tailored utilitis in pastel cammoulflage were torn, soiled or perish the thought, bloodied! It was the main reason the reinforcemants didn't intervene during Gunny Zim's self defense demonstration, fear of damaging their uniforms! You gotta use psyhcology when shaving with a Fairburn.

Tim King January 19, 2007 11:11 am (Pacific time)

In Afghanistan, it is "Salam alakum" and "teteresti". Sort of "Peace to you, how is it going"? That Zimmerman is a real character and when it comes to McCoy, I am surprised by little, except those cammy sailor suits, that is the one thing that I wasn't ready for. In Afghanistan you can always spot the French and Italian soldiers because they are the only ones who wear skin tight battle fatigues, you can see them coming from a long way off.

Henry Ruark January 18, 2007 8:50 am (Pacific time)

O-S: I agree, that structure very rank... Will spare you similar incident, in SigCorps, with reference to film development process...costing me top-level of T-3.

Osotan January 17, 2007 11:50 pm (Pacific time)

I am reminded actually of an incident in which a Navy Admiral lectured me as I exited the head w/o washing my hands at the "O" club.,Annapolis Naval Academy.I'd been standing gaurd at John Paul Jones Crypt and after four hours I really had to go,so I snuck in there and was trying to get out undetected when he appeared and proclaimed.,"yong man., in the Navy we are tained to wash our hands after using the urinal",somewhat smugly I thought., with a group of scowling officers surrounding him I said.,"sir in the Marine Corps we are trained not to piss on our hands".., I did not ascend far in the rank structure.

Osotan January 17, 2007 9:12 pm (Pacific time)

and furthermore Sgt. King.,D.N.A. concurs Spanish- Anglo origins leading me to assume you inhereted common sense.,and the possibility of a family connection with the real McCoy's.,so take it from a friend of Gunny Zims's.,behave more like the Lt. than his youger bro.,who while swilling ale in the "E" club and collecting the Medal of Honor, will remain a Pvt.for the rest of his life!This should be example enuff. Do I make my point,Sgt.?

Osotan January 17, 2007 7:00 pm (Pacific time)

Gunny Zimmerman and his wife also attended the poker.., I mean chow line at the Think Tank and one direspectful comment from a contingent of inebreated rear echalon types in cammy sailor suits!(I'm not making this up) led the Gunny to lay evey one of them down for the count.,Lt. McCoy and I simply kept the immediate area secure from reinforcements the nearby Italiian barracks sent.,by shaving in the open w/our Fairburns.(sans Barbasol) We then consumed a fine curry and rice w/ gunny Zimmerman polishing off three Sing Tao lagers and after a smoke we eventually returned with dignity to our own quarters. ,a relativly bland day was recorded in the Rasta log.,Can you picture Ken relaxing w/ a chillum and a smile remeniscing while Capt. Banning tries to control his..,displeasure?.,over the incident? and do they say as a greeting., "Namaste bai!" in Afghanistan?

Tim King January 17, 2007 6:11 pm (Pacific time)

Yeah, Glad you and Ken made it out of there on one piece. Those guys in Pennsylvania really know how to party, sounds like a regular soccer fest. What did you say to those Italian guys anyway? Tell me you're laying off the sailor jokes...

Osotan January 16, 2007 9:26 pm (Pacific time)

Sgt. King.,yes., Ken and I went to the poker.., I mean the "think tank" eatery next to Tun's tavern and smoke shop.,and a group of Italian Naval personel took offense at our presence., the ensuing brawl turned into a hockey game!...,we shut them out of course.

Osotan January 16, 2007 8:54 pm (Pacific time)

Never! the Brass Pheonix by the way, is as you know a replica of a large bird.,and this is my image of of the Sgt.., Brave? of course! selfless?.,of course! walkin' stainless steel?., of course! But..,Sgt. King has boldly disregarded a direct order and his "love" chit has been revoked! However., a future mission to fill in the Mariana trench is pending, my respect will then soar like an eagle.,till then he is a figurativly less signfigant bird. (see USMC dictionary for details)

GI January 16, 2007 7:28 pm (Pacific time)

so what if Osotan doesnt love you Tim. I still do!!! Give Osotan time, he will come around.

enraged cupcake January 16, 2007 2:40 pm (Pacific time)

you rock Tim your just as good as Ac/Dc rockin story.

Tim King January 16, 2007 9:23 am (Pacific time)

Osotan, I tried to report in at Rasta Marine headquarters but they said you and Ken McCoy were out having a scrapping brawl with some Italian sailors. I chose to leave that one in your capable hands and nab the next huey headed back to the land of Alexander!

Osotan January 16, 2007 2:53 am (Pacific time)

and furthermore.,I do not love you Sgt. King.,had it not been for the commandants passion to melt down a Russian tank into plowshares and steel guitars you'd still ba a Pvt.! and of course I am not jealous or slighted., *#!!^*!!!., not at all.

Osotan January 16, 2007 2:44 am (Pacific time)

by the way.,was that the road to "Hotel California", Sgt King?

Osotan January 16, 2007 1:22 am (Pacific time)

Sgt. King.,awards orders;, from Rasta Marine Headquarters.,The Marcus Garvey.,to whit; you are hereby awarded the S.W. Asia service ribbon.,the Afghan Campaign ribbon.,the Silver Testicle ribbon w/ icicle cluster., the Legion of Merit w/ oak leaf cluster.,and the Brass Pheonix ribbon ( for repeated busts and promotions)Now to Orders.,to whit; you are to return to the cradle of another civilization in the Pacific N.W. on the first thing smoking out of Kandahar!, more page 14 entries pending, to be determined later.,out.

GI January 15, 2007 8:23 am (Pacific time)

SGT King, we love you man!

Osotan January 14, 2007 8:04 pm (Pacific time)

how could I say more?

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