Michael's Dispatches

Men at War: Come Home with Your Shield, or On It


2011-07-31-070544-1000During the mission

08 August 2011
Zhari District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan

The men here can be seen saluting senior officers, while saying, “Sir, with your shield or on it.”  This is the mantra of Task Force Spartan.

On the morning of 30 July, members of 4-4Cav boarded CH-47 helicopters and at 0300 landed in the middle of a Taliban stronghold.  Over the next 48 hours, there were at least 27 firefights.  The number taken for confirmed enemy killed was eleven, though likely the actual number was considerably higher.  During the first day, one of our Soldiers was shot in the face and badly wounded.  His buddies say that had he not then played dead, the enemy surely would have killed him.  His buddies, braving close and accurate machinegun fire, managed to rescue the wounded Soldier from a roof.  A Blackhawk MEDEVAC took him away as we watched from a few hundred meters distance.


Afghans do not pave roads.  If you are driving on pavement here, chances are nearly 100% that someone from afar is behind it.  Afghans build walls, and so in this war, we need thousands of ladders.  It’s common to see troops during intense firefights shooting from ladders.

The three Spartan troops from 4-4Cav who were shot during this mission were all shot on rooftops.  Now, before the armchair generals chime in with advice on fighting positions, please don’t.  It’s not needed unless said experts are right here, right now.

On 31 July, another firefight unfolded.  The element I was with was maybe two or three hundred meters away as the crow flies.  Thousands of bullets seemed to be fired, there were dozens of explosions and the Kiowa Warrior and Apache helicopters joined in with rockets, cannon fire, and machine guns.  We only watched and waited for any enemy to stumble in front of our shooting positions.  The Soldiers’ weapons were ready, as was my Canon.  At the moment, our compound was not under attack, though the first Soldier who had been shot in the face the day before had been at our current compound, which was complete with heaps of marijuana drying in the sun.

Word came on the radio that PFC Brice Scott had been shot in the face just as had happened the day before.

2011-07-31-055444-2-1000This flight is taking PFC Scott on the first leg of his journey home.

Maybe 15-20 minutes after PFC Scott was shot, a MEDEVAC helicopter swooped in dangerously and picked him up.  Brice Scott had already died and was going home on his shield, having been shot on the rooftop.

2011-07-31-070509-1000The rooftop were Brice Scott died.

Our element moved to the compound where Scott had been hit.  There was a flurry of activity as Soldiers were quickly redistributing ammunition, and others had disassembled their weapons for quick cleaning before the next fight.  Two pigeons landed on the roof only feet from where Brice Scott had been mortally wounded.


Another Soldier had been on the roof when Brice was hit, and this Soldier was shot in the ribs.  The bullet was stopped by his SAPI plate.  He said it felt like he had been stabbed.  Other Soldiers said that the troop who had been shot in the ribs collected his wits and stayed in the fight.

During the fight, an Afghan Soldier, trying to help, grabbed an M320 40mm grenade launcher.  He negligently fired the 40mm grenade, which skipped off the ground and hit a US Soldier named Labadie.  The grenade struck Labadie’s helmet but did not explode.  SFC Aaron Causey, an EOD Soldier, saw the grenade, picked it up and hurled it like a baseball out of the compound.  Meanwhile, other EOD Soldiers were engaged in the firefight.


When we arrived, troops were redistributing ammunition before the next round of fighting might begin.  A troop called up to the roof asking for 40mm grenade ammunition and the Soldier tossed down some rounds while keeping eye on his sector.


The troops would stay up for hours on end wearing full kit, with no shade, no clouds, baking in the sun.  In this particular compound, the enemy was able to sneak in close through the grape vineyards.


Brice had been hit on the roof.  While under direct fire, he was lowered to the medics who worked in vain to save him.  Here they are standing just by the spot where Brice had been lowered.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    joe · 10 years ago
    Thank you for giving tribute to this young man Michael.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    ret7army · 10 years ago
    Thanks for the update Mike, Maj Pain (LtC?) mentioned that many back here seem to be forgetting that we are in a war, and that many will die as a result. After so long an involvement he may well be right, it shouldn't matter whether its one, or thirty it is still a heavy price to pay.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    CW3 Jim Calhoun · 10 years ago
    Keep taking the pictures and telling the story...America's not at War...America is at the MALL!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Hector · 10 years ago
    Rest your soul and may your family find peace. You will never be forgotten!
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    Mickey · 10 years ago
    Am I seeing things or is that a dirigible at the bottom of the pic of the medevac helo?
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    Leanne · 10 years ago
    I send my deepest condolences and most sincere sympathies to PFC Scott's family. I am a blue star mother to a soldier deployed with the 4-4th and nothing has touched my heart more.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    BSJ · 10 years ago
    Tell us more about the blimp in pic # !
  • This commment is unpublished.
    corkhill · 10 years ago
    That is a dirigible.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ned Chipley · 10 years ago
    Michael, again you have given us a simple but very moving report on the life and death of a brave warrior and his fellow warriors. Many thanks for an excellent dispatch.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Alex · 10 years ago
    Probably this:

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    Alex · 10 years ago
    Excellent work. The pics from the private ceremony got me choked up.
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    Tracy Young · 10 years ago

    Thanks for the poignant tribute to PFC Brice Scott. Our hearts ache and swell for Dell, Celina and Mia... may Brice rest in peace. We shall always remember.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike · 10 years ago
    I discoverd this article by chance. Somewhere I read that while our men were fighting, "stacks of marijuana were drying in the sun."
    Michael, were those stacks destroyed?
    I ask because of what someone commented on one of your other posts about our men having to win hearts and minds by fighting with one hand tied behind their backs.
    Guns and ammo cost a lot of money. How are the Taliban financing this war other than growing drug crops?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ben · 10 years ago
    Yes, you are correct. It's a dirigible, a balloon. It helps with security.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ken · 10 years ago
    Thank you Michael.... Semper Fi Warrior..
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    DesertStormVet · 10 years ago
    The best way to honor their sacrifice is by fixing what's wrong with our country. #1 Change our foreign policy. More US men and women need not die in the middle east, bring them home to their families now.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Lee · 10 years ago
    Semper Fi
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Joan · 10 years ago
    To the family of PFC Brice Scott, You have kissed and hugged a hero. Always hold this in your heart. May this bring you great peace and comfort at this sad time.
    Rest in peace dear Soldier in God's loving arms.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Violette · 10 years ago
    The two pigeons like a tribute to the two little girls,with there father gone.
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    Sarah · 10 years ago
    Thank you for this amazing article about Pfc. Brice Scott, he was a great soldier but more importantly to me he was a treasured cousin. We have been sorting the details about his death and this gives some much needed clarification. While it is extremely heart-wrenching to look at your photos it fills me with pride to see his fellow soldiers honoring him and the obvious impact Brice had made on them.
    Thank you again.
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    Karen · 10 years ago
    Thanks, once again, Michael, for great photos and text that almost make us feel as if we are there at the memorial service. Sarah -- I am so sorry for your loss and that of your family. I'm glad this dispatch gave you additional info. We will remember him and the others who died tragically this past weekend.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John Schofield · 10 years ago
    A UK citizen, I honor the American military, their families and friends. They do their duty steadfastly under terrifying conditions and a climate calling for training of the highest order. Nobody ever conquered the tribal peoples of the North-West frontier; and I doubt the trustworthiness of many Afghans. There are at least a million explosive devices - a seemingly unending supply of ammo. - and the vulnerability of Chinooks landing and taking off. Never did buddy entrust his/her life more to buddy ! Be proud, even as you mourn.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Thomas · 10 years ago
    Yes, America is at the MALL.

    Years ago, that sort of thing upset me -- then one day I realized what an incredible thing it is to live in a country where people can grow up in peace, live normal lives, and do normal things, despite the conflicts and distress of much of the world around us all.

    God bless America.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Shea Brown · 10 years ago
    Thank you Michael for your words and pictures. There are absolutely no words or images appearing in the U.S. media about what is going on in Afghanistan. Yours are the only reports I see from Afghanistan. The President, and the congress and the Pentagon are doing a very poor job of explaining our continued occupation there. Sometime, if you could, would you help us at home to understand why our soldiers believe their mission is a sound one , and worth the sacrifices that you so clearly record for us, and our troops.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bob Forsyth · 10 years ago
    It's obvious that those criticizing the troop load in a helicopter assault have never experienced the logistical problems of the operation. First, the object is to place as many troops as possible in the LZ in the shortest time. Using an aircraft as large as a CH-47 and inserting 15-20 troops in each, would take much longer and probably result in more casualties than discharging 5-40 troops in one helo. Especially is visibility in the LZ is minimal due to dust,etc. It makes the best sense to do what these men were doing.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jim McCullough · 10 years ago
    Celina and Mia should not have to grow up without their Daddy, and Dell should not have to raise them without their Daddy. Not for a bunch of opiate addicted shit bags who could care less about us or our country, let alone their own.We have the balls, muscle, might, and equipment to kick the shit out of the Taliban. But once again Washington D.C. lawyers make the decisions not our war college trained commanders. I blame Washington D.C. for this tragedy. R.I.P. PFC SCOTT. GOD BLESS YOU
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Honza Prchal · 10 years ago
    I could not decide what surprised me more, that in a country where wine if forbidden but opium and hashish considered normal that there is a vineyard or that I saw a blimp in one of your photos.
    My condolences to the family of PFC Scott.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jim McCullough · 10 years ago
    It is security / recon equipment. Just because there is a vineyard does not mean they are wine grapes.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jim McCullough · 10 years ago
    Hoooah. You my BROTHER are also a hero. Thank you. I first discovered your website at approx 16:45, here it is 22:01, I have only walked away from it for latrine missions and hydration ever since. I am very concerned though about a particular piece I read. RE: Gates of fire. How could Major Lawrence
    ( orders or not )question your actions. As a trained combatant.
    (retired/reporter or not)
    In regards to you manning a weapon in the
    heat of battle. You my BROTHER were trying to save CSM Prosser and LTC Kurilla, you are programmed this way ( no changing that ) while two soldiers whom were tasked with the responsibility ( GOD BLESS THEM )froze in the heat of battle and could not perform their duty. Thank God you did what you did. I guess what I mean is that it wasn't David Muir or Martha Radditz that picked up that M4. How could the major say anything to you but THANK YOU?.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jim McCullough · 10 years ago
    Michael, I am very strapped for cash. My business has failed thanks to D.C..Though my BROTHER, I will go out this month and purchase a Visa gift card and make a donation to the site. Even if it means I have to sell a rifle or other weapon to do so. Because I believe so much in what you are doing. Thank you. You my BROTHER are a true AMERICAN HERO.
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    ArmyWife19D · 10 years ago
    As a wife of a 4-4 soldier from FOB Pasab, this touched me so deeply. Thank you for helping the world remember and honor our fallen...and the families that loved them.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    ArmyWife19D · 10 years ago
    I guess that would be "COP" Pasab, not "FOB". :-) my husband would tease me for that. :-)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Christian · 10 years ago
    God bless PFC Brice, may he rest in peace, and his family. My God also bless the fine men of the Big Red One and all the military. Godspeed.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    E. Justman · 10 years ago
    I'm 27 years old and knew Brice as a child (I suppose he was about 22, perhaps five or six years younger than me). His father and I have been friends for years. Brice was and is a prototypical American hero. He had a wife and children; he was learning to be a carpenter; he was a great shot with a rifle and loved to shoot. But what makes the American hero unique is that he lives the American dream for as long as he can, and then offers to sacrifice everything he has gained because his Country asked it of him. That was Brice. Despite being his elder and a friend of his father, I will remember him as a role model. I can only aspire to give as selflessly as he did.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    MAUREEN STINSON · 10 years ago
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Bartle · 10 years ago
    I miss and Love you Scotty, My condolences to his Mother, Father, Wife, and Child and the rest of his family. I am honored to have worked/lived beside him! He will never be forgotten!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Ginapp · 10 years ago
    Rest now PFC BRICE in the House of our Lord. A place of Honor and Peace has been set forth for you with those who went before. Be at Peace for your family will have the America you knew. We will preserve this Nation to Honor you and all those gone before.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    akw · 10 years ago
    Outstanding work, Michael. You are absolutely the best at what you do.

    Rest in peace now, PFC Scott. To his family and friends, may you find peace and solace, knowing that Brice will forever be loved and honored as a great warrior and an American hero, and your sacrifice is gratefully acknowledged.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    richard machtolff · 10 years ago
    It appears that there is no final objective
    in the Afghan war. As with Vietnam, the politics endanger our people. The top commanders really have their hands tied with the armchair Washington politically correct morons.

    God will have a place for PFC Scott and will have Grace for his family.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    jim downing · 10 years ago

    Please keep reporting what is going on over here, America needs to know that we are still at war and our sons and daughters and fighting and dying honorably. From the men at FOB SHANK JPO MRAP, we thank and love you all.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    denise beck · 10 years ago
    Thank you all for giving my family and I comfort in showing us how he lived and how he died.without your story the questions would not have been answered.God Bless and Be safe.Brice's great aunt Denise.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Conrad · 10 years ago
    RIP PFC Scott and others who have given all. My prayers and condolences to their families and loved ones. And my prayers to those injured and those who care for them.

    Thank you Michael for sharing these stories and photos in an honest, respectful way.

    So called "news" organizations should be ashamed at their lack of honor, lack of respect, lack of seeking and sharing of the truth. They have been outclassed by a brave individual sharing stories and daily life of other brave individuals.

    I sign this with a mix of humility, awe, respect, pride, sadness, and gratitude.

    God bless!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Al Martin · 10 years ago
    Bob, we might need to point out that the altitude some of these missions are conducted that only a Hook can fly. Is that correct.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dawn · 10 years ago
    God Bless those who serve and pay the ultimate price.
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    OldCav · 10 years ago
    As I get older I begin to realize that only when you are in places like this can you begin to truly appreciate what you have at home.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Steven Scott · 10 years ago
    First of all, I thank god and count my blessings Michal Yon was there.I would never have seen the place he gave his life. I was truly blessed with one of the finest men to ever walk this earth, to call my son. He was strong brave and selfless. I have rarely met anyone who was such a fine man. He did not question his mission, nor will I, as a soldier only cares to accomplish it. He was there so that the enemy would not be here, and that we can go to the market and not be blown up. He was there to bring a better life to them and us back home. He will truly be missed by all who loved him. He made a difference, and the world is a better place because of him. He cam from a long line of warriors, and he did us proud. I take great pride in being a former 1st Cav division M1 Abrams tank commander, I take greater pride in raising one of the finest Cavalry Scouts to walk the earth. Once again thank you for being there.. your reports and photos helped so much. Steven Scott..Brice's dad
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jack Causey · 10 years ago
    SFC Aaron Causey, the EOD soldier mentioned above as throwing the grenade, was severely wounded on Sept 7, 2011, by an IED. He lost both legs above the knee, two fingers on the left hand and wounds about everywhere else. He is now an outpatient at WRNMMC at Bethesda, MD. After a couple of weeks fighting for his life, he has made tremendouse strides in rebuilding his life. He is Army strong.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Renate Tucker · 9 years ago
    You always in my thoughts!
    God Bless you our Heroes!
  • This commment is unpublished.
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