Michael's Dispatches

Battlefield Forensics

2011-07-19-130449

Apparent gunshot.

2011-07-19-130712

Always interesting to check their shoes.  Haqqani fighters and serious Taliban typically use footwear that fits, and that they can run in.  In the surrounding villages, you’ll see that nearly everyone either wears sandals (that are not fit for running) or ill-fitting shoes.  Often the shoes are too small, and so they wear them like sandals by crushing the shoe heels with their heels.  At building doorways, or at certain types of meetings, you might see dozens of pairs of shoes outside.  If that’s in a village, the footwear typically will be sandals or ill-fitting shoes.  At a more upscale meeting, the shoes will fit but will not be running or sport shoes.  If you come to a village building in southern Afghanistan and there are a dozen pairs of sport shoes by the door—place your weapon on FIRE and prepare for battle.

2011-07-19-131521-2

As per normal, these guys had shoes, or sandals in this case, suitable for running.

2011-07-19-131412

How did this guy get burned?

2011-07-19-131434-2

Appeared to have a couple holes in his back.  As it happens, this was the last Taliban killed, they said.  They said it was by RPG; if so, it must have mostly missed, but the firefights are confusing, and the translations are even more confusing.

2011-07-19-131440

He was tough to roll over due to the rigor mortis.

2011-07-19-131443-2

The forensics team wanted to look at the third guy, and the Afghan helper started to kick him over like a sack of flour.  “Hey, hey, hey!  Don’t do that!”  The forensics guys didn’t like seeing the body kicked over and protested.  Enemy or not, something is wrong with that.

2011-07-19-131444

“Stop!”  The American forensics man told the policeman several times to stop but the policeman just looked confused and kept pushing the body over with his foot.  At least we have an idea of what he thinks about the Taliban.

Comments   

 
+1 # John-Capt in ANG 2011-08-18 14:11
Always good to see those who bring violence rewarded in kind. Also good to hear the ANP held their own and it sounds like their training held the test of fire.

I've tried explaining the differences in culture within other spots and the US but have given up. Now I just say, "Just go. If you sit on your couch/chair in the US and read/watch TV, you'll never get it or understand the scope of what you don't know."

Keep publishing photos. That's why I follow your posts/ dispatches. If I want watered down crap I'll go to a corporate news site.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
+1 # rob m 2011-08-18 14:13
This is an awesome post. Very graphic but I'm glad you posted these pics. Nice to see the good guys winning.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# Ben 2011-08-18 14:29
:o Great post. I'm not an addict of gore but those are great pics.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# Dan 2011-08-18 14:47
Even though they weren't in suicide vests they must have had little hope of returning alive when the diversion didn't work. The burned man no doubt sustained instaneous rigor as the protein in his body coagulated from the fire. Bizzare postures are common in burned bodies.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# Mary 2011-08-18 15:16
Thanks for the real stories Michael...inval uable! Truth is brutal but necessary.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# Carl Gierke 2011-08-18 15:27
The picture of the foot at the bottom of the second page looks similar to mine when I was young. I got "mild" frostbite on my paper route and had that texture for many years after.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
+1 # RE: Battlefield ForensicsSteven 2011-08-18 15:28
Thanks for the post, you never water down reality. People only exposed to mainstream media tend to forget that war is indeed ugly.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# Victoria 2011-08-18 15:32
Whoa - that was graphic. Probably not unusual for you Mike, but not something I see, ever.

Great job and thanks again. Inferno book is beautiful by the way.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
+1 # Prufrock 2011-08-18 16:11
I hate slasher flicks and their gratuitous violence. There's always something to do with an innocent person being terrorized.

These pics don't seem to have the same effect on me. I just feel sad, and a little tired, looking at them. What a waste of their lives and time. What a crass and hardened culture they live in.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# WasteMN 2012-10-12 20:33
Quoting Prufrock:
I just feel sad, and a little tired, looking at them. What a waste of their lives and time. What a crass and hardened culture they live in.


I'm surprised how much the same I feel as Prufrock looking at these; sad and tired, as much reminded of the waste of our lives as theirs. Between fanatics and incompetents, there are always more dead people than there should be, and they are often the wrong ones. I can see these guys very detached and clinically, but even though they are the enemy I do feel like it's such a waste of humanity on all sides. These guys should have had a peaceful life herding goats, but they and their mentors chose a different path. Maybe they felt little choice based upon circumstances beyond their control, their beliefs, and the pride they were raised with. I understand that. I would rather buy them or befriend them than kill them. We have tried all of that, often badly, and sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. They are still the enemy unless they choose not to be. I certainly haven't forgotten that, and if it has to be a zero sum game then better them on that truck than our men and women.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# Scott 2011-08-18 18:30
In the second to final picture, the Afghan police officer's right hand is clearly visible. Are we looking someone whose hand healed very poorly after a break, or a birth defect? Lacking the use of a hand would have a significant impact to the efficacy of this particular individuals job performance. Might he be better suited for a different job? Great reporting, keep up the good work.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# Ryan Foo 2011-08-18 21:07
Quoting Scott:
In the second to final picture, the Afghan police officer's right hand is clearly visible. Are we looking someone whose hand healed very poorly after a break, or a birth defect? Lacking the use of a hand would have a significant impact to the efficacy of this particular individuals job performance. Might he be better suited for a different job? Great reporting, keep up the good work.


He did kill the guy ;-)

Thank you for your updates Michael, these dispatches gives me a better idea of what to expect when I'm over there.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# Jeff 2011-08-18 22:46
Winning perhaps, but three friendlies died as well. Do you know how their remains were treated? Assume a quick burial per Muslim custom, but how were their comrades taking it?
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# Anita Henderson 2011-08-19 00:27
Michael, thank you so much for your dispatches, we owe a lot to your perseverance and bravery in bringing information to us about the Afghanistan theater of war. FYI, the guy with the strange pits on the bottom of his feet has Pitted Keratolysis which is generally caused by a bacterial infection and responds well to topical antibiotics. Being semi barefoot exposes the skin of the foot to every bug under the sun ;-(( We usually see it in the US when people sweat a lot providing a moist environment.
I am a dermatologist in Columbia, MD and have seen quite a few cases over the years.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# Dick Sherman 2011-08-19 02:16
Thanks for the update Michael. A question: I haven't heard anything about your book that I ordered and paid for a year ago. I guess some folks have received their copy - I have not. Can you fill me in on the problem.

Be safe and continue the good work.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# wmaster@michaelyon 2011-08-19 02:30
Mr. Sherman, can you shoot me over an email with your order information to and I will get to the bottom of what the problem is.

Thanks
Richard
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# Violette 2011-08-19 09:18
Serious business ,good,bad,ugly all in one.
It's remind me also: I just have a rock in place of a heart,sometime !
Funny looking policeman,his left[photo] hand maybe was tortured,hence shadenfreude.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# TheOldMan 2011-08-19 15:45
What a waste of life. These people could have been productive people, farmers perhaps but in the grasp of a stupid ideology, they are dead. I have a son who died at birth (genetic problems) and when I see idiots wasting their lives, I think of him who never even had the chance at life.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# 3rd Infantry Grunt 2011-08-20 01:32
Dead dunecoons, it just gives me a warm fuzzy all over!
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# MAUREEN 2011-08-22 17:16
Thank you for the truth. Wish all of the US could see these pics. Maybe this war would take front and center, as it should be.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# John Neville 2011-08-23 03:27
Thanks for the knowledge you send us. The forensic and ID stuff is really valuable. We will learn a lot and we will get good ids on people. We come to know our enemy much more intimately and he will suffer because of it. Thanks to the troops and to the Forensics guys.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# Ibncalb 2011-08-31 16:51
my feet look just the same. i work on a beach for weeks at a time barefoot. it's sand foot.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# Billy 2011-09-04 15:55
Thanks for showing us what goes on and glad to see Afghan police kicking some Taliban ass!
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# JMHH 2011-09-04 16:54
Coming up on the 10th anniversary of the horrific attack and mass murder of thousands of my fellow Americans, I was glued to my television on that day. I watched the horror unfold over and over again, but I wanted to.

I wanted to commit every detail to memory so that I would never forget what the terrorists did to my country and to thousands of innocent people. I felt no anger. I felt no fear. I did not feel anything.

Watching the events unfold, the only thing I felt was a sense of coldness that froze every emotion, and all that I was left with was a crystal clarity of thought. I knew then that this enemy must die, but not for the purposes of revenge. This enemy had to die because it was so purely evil that to allow any of them to live would be equivalent to committing suicide. I do not see human beings when I view these photos. I see nothing but the elimination of a fiendish atrocity against civilization.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
+1 # Brad Bonds 2011-09-04 19:43
Do people really understand we are at war? Maybe they aren't seeing it; or they think if it doesn't look like a World War movie then it's not a "real war." It is horrible, to me, hearing children out of high school talk about joining the military to get a job, go to school, and try for a good future, talking as if that's all going to happen in a magical personal place of peace for them, rather than in Afghanistan. I'm there to help them search and apply for jobs. I am not yet too jaded to at least try helping them find work, but there is none, other than facing military draft by default. I praise their voluntary enlistment, I praise their worlds of opportunity, I praise them and support them without reserve. Sitting beside them are our returning vets who are now in the same sorry situation - no job. They have given so much it would be cruel to ask them to speak up and tell everybody, "Hey, look at these pics, that's my dead buddy!" It's a real war: dead Americans look exactly the same.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# Tracy 2011-09-04 21:07
Thanks Michael for your courage and steadfastness in telling the whole story! The media is lame and the story so important. We love and support you all and your families too.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# DesertDave 2011-09-05 10:36
Mr. Yon, The only good day huh!

I DO see how some brass up the a.. er chain would not be too thrilled. These pics had to piss off a lot of the Afghans. But I'm glad you had the guts to tell this story and all that you do. I hope it all works out. Keep it up !
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# matt 2011-09-05 11:57
In college I got something similar from a rented ice hockey skate, same pits, hurt like the dickens after a while, turned my socks yellow and hard.

I was a stubbon dipstick so I never went to the clinic, took a couple weeks til I got to the point that it really hurt to walk so I got some Gold Bold and after a week of using that and throwing away my old socks it went away. I ended up throwing out the shoes too.

Its not fun stuff.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# bryan 2011-09-05 23:48
Is it wise to advertise the level of forensics that is done on the ground is Afganistan? Perhaps the brass would like to keep the Afgan bad guys supplying photographs, prints and DNA rather than wearing gloves and hiding from all cameras? I have never been to Afganistan so I am asking legit questions. I am not speaking rhetorically.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# Green on Blue intelMN 2012-10-12 20:10
Quoting bryan:
Is it wise to advertise the level of forensics that is done on the ground is Afganistan? Perhaps the brass would like to keep the Afgan bad guys supplying photographs, prints and DNA rather than wearing gloves and hiding from all cameras? I have never been to Afganistan so I am asking legit questions. I am not speaking rhetorically.


An interesting point, but I would assume this forensic investigation and tracking has been common for sometime, and as a percentage of those same Afghan officers are probably also on the Taliban payroll, I'm thinking that it's not a big secret. In this case it isn't being performed in a secret CIA safehouse, but is pretty much on public display here. A wise question and I commend your cautionary note. I'm no intel expert and could be wrong. I default to Michael's experience and judgement.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# Dave 2011-09-06 07:11
The position of the motorcycle rider still doesn't make sense, unless he died instantly after the bike caught on fire. He still would have had time to freak out and react and not just keep riding the bike until it flopped over and died then laid there for a while for rigor to set in. However, many people in pain die in various fetal positions.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
+1 # Ted Thomas 2011-09-07 02:08
what the unnamed Army general objected to in the post. Graphic? Very. Disturbing? Indeed. Isn't war always like that?

Keep it up, especially if the Army kicks you out again. If they do, I'll be writing to my Senators (including the minority leader in the Senate) to ask why.
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# Jack E. Hammond 2011-09-07 09:06
Dear Michael, I have never disagreed with you, but I can understand the generals view point. You remember how Americans got so upset over that one Iranian Mullah holding up a body part after the failed Iranian rescue mission under President Carter and then the Somalias dragging that body after the Ranger Shoot Out in 1993 and the contractors hanging body parts in Iraq. It is something we don't approve of, and that part of the world may think, that we think it only applies to our guys and not our enemies.

Jack E. Hammond
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
+1 # ArmyPA 2011-10-08 08:09
For the curious out there, the little pits on that INS foot are a sign of pitted keratolysis. Our Soldiers get it from time to time, and it has an absolutly horrid odor. In the book 'Horse Soldiers', an operator suffered from this, and the author wrote a rather comedic anecdote about a bare-footed shura that quickly turned into a covered-foot shura.

-Army PA
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# RE: Battlefield ForensicsHeath 2012-10-13 10:55
That are three less terrorists to worry about. :-)

Go get 'em !!! 8)
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# RE: Battlefield ForensicsHeath 2012-10-13 10:59
If the terrorists try to strike the U.S. Homeland. Our Chevy & Ford trucks will be filled with your dead. Do not mess with the U.S.A. 8)
Reply | Report to administrator
 
 
# RE: Battlefield ForensicsChristine Jones 2013-07-25 05:54
I am a Combat Camera member a few years back I was deployed and you mentioned me in your Adam Ray story. I just thought it was interesting that I am doing a story on battlefield Forensics and your name popped up, your name made me think of that sad day. Hope all is well. If you are ever interested and coming to visit our unit let me know. It would be amazing to hear your stories.
Reply | Report to administrator
 

Add comment

Due to the large amount of spam, all comments will be moderated before publication. Please be patient if you do not see your comment right away. Registered users who login first will have their comments posted immediately.


Security code
Refresh

Reader support is crucial to this mission. Weekly or monthly recurring ‘subscription’ based support is the best, though all are greatly appreciated.  Recurring and one-time gifts are available through PayPal or Authorize.net.

supp

supp

subscribe

My BitCoin QR Code

This is for use with BitCoin apps:

189

You can now help support the next dispatch with bitcoins:

Donate Bitcoins