This story was first published in the Fayetteville Observer.
FORT BRAGG — A special Veterans Day podcast released Thursday features Fort Bragg’s highest-ranking general sitting down to talk to 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 able to deploy anywhere in the world within 18 hours.
On FORSCOM’s “Frontline” podcast, Gen. 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 deployment in August.
“I’m interested in what they saw, what they did and the impressions on them,” Garrett said.
According to a FORSCOM, Chellman is from the Nashville, Tennessee, area and has been in the Army for 16 years.
His parents retired from the Army in 2005 with a combined 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 U.S. 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 helping with evacuation efforts that marked the end of the nearly 20-year-long war in the country.
“Everybody has their idea of what Afghanistan is like, and we got there and it was dark. … It was not like what we were expecting at all,” Parsons said.
Chellman spokes about how Immediate Response Force missions also impact families.
“This IRF deployment was unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of,” the married father of two said. “We normally have that target date on the wall and everyone slowly gets ready and mentally prepares for this.”
Chellman said the alert for the mission came on what was supposed to be a fun day for his kids — their first day of school.
It can also be found on YouTube and the FORSCOM Facebook page.
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