Michael's Dispatches

Afghan Faces



The water well inside this compound is dry, so the family has a deeper well with a pump just outside the walls.  The yellow jugs are used for everything from water, to cooking oil to IEDs.


The boy in black is wearing an amulet containing verses from the Koran.  The verses will be in Arabic.  The amulet is called “tawiz” in Pashto and Dari languages.


The families live with the cows, sheep and chickens inside the compounds.  Some families have goats.


This big field of marijuana is just outside the compound where we based for two days during a mission. The smoke is from an ongoing firefight.


The kids did not like US Army food, but they liked the drinks that a helicopter dropped off late at night along with ammo and batteries.


Kids everywhere.


During a walk before sunset.  Afghanistan can be like a National Geographic movie but with guns.


Typical Afghan boy in this area.


That night, we flew away in helicopters.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ben Simpson · 10 years ago

    Thank you for your years of reporting.

    Are you going to make it out to Patika any time soon? The NG unit that owns it is getting hammerd and it's hard to get any info out.

    Say hi to any TF Panther (1-505) for Doc Simpson.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tim Johnson · 10 years ago
    Are the majority of kids getting vaccines? Thanks and stay safe my friend
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John - Capt in ANG · 10 years ago
    I swear that kid in "2011-07- 0-005602-1000.jpg" looks exactly like a kid who used to beg for coins out front of HQ in Kabul in early 2010. Just when I got to know him he disappeared. I remember him because he wore pink boots, the sort like a kid would wear around the house.

    I looked up your Task Group, FOB, and area today. Holy cow you guys are busy in that area. I was going to try and pull up the 4-4 on BFT, but when things started popping in Kabul I pulled off.

    Looking at the grids, the Taliban scores another EPIC fail. I'm one of the many infosec police who give you grief, so I'm not going to go into much detail myself. However, the guys you go up against do far more with WAY far less kinetics involved.

    Thanks for pointing out the "yellow jugs". I keep seeing "IEDs in yellow jugs" and I couldn't quite picture it or figure out why the Taliban love using it to store, transport and emplace their IEDs.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Robert Pinkerton · 10 years ago
    Michael, Thanks so much for what you are doing and please pass onto the troops how much we appreciate them. My son is over there at present as an Army Reserve MP. He was in Iraq times with the 27th and later an MP company before going into the Reserve. My wife sends care packages every two weeks. May God bless you and them. I will be sending you some good coffee in about a month. Talk to you later.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Johnson · 10 years ago
    Michael - Thanks you for the frequent dispatches; it helps to bring the war home in a way the major news never does. Photos of Afghan civilians and especially children are great; its too easy to forget that there are people just like us trying their best to live their lives the best way they know how, raising kids, working and trying to provide for their families. Only they have to do it while avoiding IEDs, firefights and a force with little regard for their life or daily struggles. Keep walking the high road and stay safe.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Sara Johnson · 10 years ago
    This dispatch is a stunning visual display of the Afghani humanity you are in the midst of. You bring home the sights, smells. . . all the senses; to us here back home. Were you not to be there, our source for GOOD information would be dry. I wonder. . . the smiles on the young boys faces. . . the looks from the little girls; do they know freedom? Do they know democracy? Are their parents encouraging this independence and educating their sons and daughters to yearn for the release from the warlords and the Taliban? What is the school situation there for the girls? Have you heard or seen any villages where the girls are being educated. Just questions. . . I wonder about. Thank you, Michael. Stay Safe.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Taylorbunch · 10 years ago
    Thank you for the great photographs of Afghan children. My husband is currently deployed there as a nurse and cares for many children. It is refreshing to see their faces and know that my husband is doing something to help them. Thank you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Violette · 10 years ago
    se ramasse a la pelle...I always liked this song ![ melancolic song ]
    I liked the leafs pic strait away,so poetic,because it's the first leafs I see this year,and it's came from Afghanistan !
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Wayne Philpot · 10 years ago
    Mr. Yon, you have a way of taking just the right series of pics to give me a jolt of some sort with every dispatch. It's easy for me to think of every Afghan national as one of those we're trying to kill or one of those helping us kill those that we need to kill. The pictures of the kids are awesome, and though a little bit of Colgate would go a million miles with the little ones, they mostly look healthy and very much normal country kids... Keep your head down, sir, and God bless you and the good work that you do. Same goes for the warriors that you are serving by being there to tell their story.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    mary · 10 years ago
    I'm sorry, but am i suppose to feel bad for these people?? For the first time in my entire life,I cannot find compassion for another person..these same children you show in these pictures are the same ones, that given any amout of money from the taliban, would happily blow uo our guys..so what, do we give them money not to blow our soliders up?? what happens when the money and bribes run out?? These parents don't care about their own children..how are we suppose to take care of the kids in Afghanistan, the kids in Africa, the kids in Iraq ??There are children here in the US, west VA for example, that live like this..why not take care of them first??Yeah these kids look helpless and innocent now..just give them a year or two..they will strap bombs to themselves to get their virgins..sorry..sometimes the truth hurts..
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Randy Le Febvere · 10 years ago
    Absolutely fabulous pictures.Thank you so much for your work.As i gazed into the eyes and faces of the children,i could see a mix of apprehension,doubt,hope,and excitement. It is sad to think of the futures these children have.The boys growing up to endure the challenges of war n poverty,in the chains of religious legalism.And the girls,condemned to arranged marriages that often are abusive.Viewed more as property than human in their culture.My hope n prayers are that these girls' future will hold a quality education.And that they will find the freedom to marry whom they choose,rather than a husband that is chosen for them.Free of domestic violence.And for the boys.That they will know a life of peace for their families and love in their hearts.And have compassion,with the freedoms to live as they choose.and raise their families without having to comply with the dictates of a theocracy. May God bless the Afhghan children.And may His love fill their hearts and guide there lives.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Winefred · 10 years ago
    Maybe your are right to be cynical about what these children might do to our guys, given the right incentive (bribe). But when I look at our soldiers interacting with them, I always think of the fact that, while their parents were raised with mythical tales of America as the Great Satan, these kids have the advantage of meeting Americans as human beings -- our military men have proved to them that, although they come as heavily armed as a man can get, they are not people to be feared reflexively. They do not menace or kill arbitrarily and capriciously, like the Taliban or Al Qaeda. Surely this, as well as the efforts at "nation building", must have SOME lasting effect on the minds of these kids as they grow up -- surely we have turned some corner in the history of violence and anti-American hatred that has characterized their culture for generations before they met us face to face. That is what I hope, and pray, I am reading in their faces.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Doug · 10 years ago
    Great photos. Two points I found interesting. The young children, particularly the first two, already had wrinkles around their eyes. I was 40 before I managed to develop that sign of aging, but then I have not seen 1/10th what those poor kids have endured. Next, don't the mothers wash their kids? I understand they live a hard life, but I hope at least they get cleaned off at night.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    mary · 10 years ago
    I am very proud of the things our soliders are trying to do..my son throws bottles of water to them from his "ride"..instead of being thankful they throw rocks& Feeces at him.what happens when the last set of boots leaves there.they will go back to the way it was.our objective was ubl.objective met.now we have to "teach" them to live like us?? Maybe they don"t want to live like us,and thats ok.they have lived like this for thousands of years,who are we to try to convert them..like i said there are many children in the US living in less then livable conditions.I have no sympathy for them.this makes me feel bad, because I have always sympathized with people less fortunate..when did our mission change from getting UBL to trying to convert a nation to live like us?? Our own nation has its flaws..
  • This commment is unpublished.
    mary · 10 years ago
    they now say Pakistan is responsible for the american embassay boming.this from a nation that we pour millions of dollars into for humanitarian aid.the same place that they found UBL.remember "well, we did'nt know he was livin in that big ole house across from our military academy"..so much of that money is really needed to help our own out-of-work, hungry and homeless..God does help those who help themselves
  • This commment is unpublished.
    mary · 10 years ago
    [quote name="mary"]they now say Pakistan is responsible for the american embassay boming.this from a nation that we pour millions of dollars into for humanitarian aid.the same place that they found UBL.remember "well, we did'nt know he was livin in that big ole house across from our military academy"..so much of that money is really needed to help our own out-of-work, hungry and homeless..God does help those who help themselves[/quote]
    they use their children as propaganda tools..to draw sympathy from the american public..
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Chris · 10 years ago
    Your condescension to the people we're fighting for is insulting to every Afghan and Iraqi that has dies fighting these sick ultra-reactionaries(all of whom were far braver than you were or ever will be).
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Buckaroomedic · 10 years ago
    Of course the recent attack on the embassy in Kabul got all the big press . . . that's where a majority of the reporters are! The vast majority of them never leave the city and have no idea of what's going on just a few kilometers outside the city limits.

    Thanx to you Mr. Yon for getting away from that cesspool of a city and reporting on what is really going on in A'stan!

    Keep up the great work!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    mary · 10 years ago
    sure hope you were'nt responding to me..you see my husband and my son have both fought in this war..have you?? Don't be condesending to me...live in my shoes..worry abouta loved one day and nite..then you can reply to me
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Thisandthat · 10 years ago
    Young girls make good wives. The God of the Old Testament, in the hebrew, supported young marraige of young girls.

    Too bad men can't have young girls as obedient brides here or anywhere really. Would be nice.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Thisandthat · 10 years ago
    I don't see how they could live like us ever. There is nothing there, no resources, no thought.

    I've talked with internet-enabled pashtuns, they talk about how they'd kill anyman who even looked at their sister. Gouge out eyes, etc etc.

    I hope your realitives are ok and get to leave these people soon.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    SVB · 10 years ago
    Urban Afghanistan was just as "civilized" as the West before the Soviet invasion. Look at the historical documentation. Writing off the entire Afghan people because some of them are poor would be like writing off the U.S. based on prejudging people in photos of the poorest Appalachian communities. People are people. Some good, some bad -- regardless of ethnicity.

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