Despite a good job at Wesley Medical Center, one local resident decided to give that all up for a change, and to serve his country.



PFC Randy Read, decided to join the Army a little over 1 1/2 years ago.


Despite a good job at Wesley Medical Center, one local resident decided to give that all up for a change, and to serve his country.

PFC Randy Read, decided to join the Army a little over 1 1/2 years ago.

“Right now, it’s a great opportunity for me to do something for my country and make something out of myself,” said Read, a 2000 graduate from El Dorado High School. “I thought this would give me the chance to travel and get a perspective on life.”

He is currently stationed at FOB Wilderness/Tellier in Afghanistan, located between Khost and Gardez with the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) 4th Brigade RCT C co. 1/61 Cav, or Charlie 1/61 for short. They are a RSTA (Recon Surveillance and Target Acquisition) unit. This is Read’s first deployment, which will be for 12 to 15 months.

Where Read is deployed the terrain is mountainous. While the elevation is approximately 7,500 feet, some of the mountains there reach over 10,000 feet.

“The current mission is a joint UN/NATO effort to help the Afghanistan government become self-sufficient and eliminate the insurgent threat,” he said. “They (the insurgents) are just trying to disrupt the quality of life.”

Their current umbrella mission statement is Counter Insurgency operations.

“It’s a lot of PR with the local government, police and Afghan army to train up their people, gain their trust and stabilize the government’s infrastructure,” he explained.

Although it’s fairly quiet now, that fluctuates.

Read described the country as “impoverished.”

“Most of the rural area I’m at is mud huts with no running water and very little electricity,” he said. “There are no paved roads in my area of operation, but the Provincial Reconstruction Team is working on that. The big thing here is to try and put an Afghan face on all of our operations to show the local populace that their government is strong and can be trusted, that the government has the peoples’ best interest in mind unlike the former Taliban regime.

“It’s a difficult struggle of ideals with a culture much different than ours. We are only guests in their country trying to help the people realize their dreams of freedom and safety.”

Most of the locals they deal with on a regular basis are farmers.

“Most of the locals appear friendly to the coalition forces,” Read said. “The children usually rush out to meet us and seem to value an ink pen more than anything else.”

There also is a transient population called Kuchi that are similar to gypsies. They heard sheep, goats, camels and donkeys. Most of them tend to be Pakistani.

He said the situation there and what they are doing is a lot different than what he had seen portrayed in the big media.

Read enjoys having the opportunity to help these people.

“You hear about what third world countries are like,” he said.

Now he has had the opportunity to see that first hand.

“We’re building schools for them, giving them food and water and giving them a better way of life,” he said.