Oregon National Guard soldiers with the 1186th Military Police, which trains in Hood River, hold holiday boxes sent by community members from the Gorge. Their Christmas party was delayed when a suicide bomber detonated his vest near the complex.
As of Thursday, January 11, 2018
A group of Oregon National Guard soldiers who train in Hood River and Salem had a little more excitement for Christmas Day than planned when a suicide bomber detonated his vest near their compound in Afghanistan.
At least six citizens were killed in the Dec. 25 attack and several others were wounded, but the military police unit suffered no casualties, said Capt. Brian Fike, who oversees the training regime for the unit.
He was formerly in charge of the National Guard unit in The Dalles.
“Civilians took the brunt of the explosion, like they almost always do,” said Fike. “Our group remains in tune with their environment and very professional — they are doing well and making me proud.”
The bomber struck near an office of the Afghan intelligence service in the capital, Kabul, where soldiers from the 1186th Military Police forward detachment, known as the “Praetorians,” are working, according to an Associated Press report.
The Islamic State terrorist group claimed credit for the attack.
“The bomber was on foot and detonated his suicide vest on the main road,” stated Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish in a news release.
Separately, in southern Helmand province, six Afghan border police officers were killed when their military vehicle hit a roadside bomb. Six other policemen were wounded in the incident, which also took place on Christmas Day and was initiated by the Taliban, a militant group with a strong and growing presence in the area.
The holiday tempo of operations in Kabul delayed opening of care packages, said Fike, but his soldiers did get the opportunity to divide up the snacks and hygiene items that were gathered by the Holiday for Heroes Committee and shipped by The Dalles Outpost of Point Man International Ministries.
Due to the generosity of the community, he said the soldiers were able to share some of their loot with U.S. troops in Kandahar, nearly 300 miles away.
Fike said the military police will be returning home later this year. He said the soldiers will immediately begin training with the unit for response to nuclear and biological weapons.
“Everyone is doing well and the winter fighting season is winding down,” said Fike.
The committee that provided his soldiers with boxes also shipped items donated by Wasco and Hood River County residents to defense contractors in Afghanistan and a group of Marine Raiders at another location in the Middle East.
Business representatives and members of service organizations came together to spearhead the outreach that drew community attention. the committee credited the generosity of area residentfor being able to fill and send 85 boxes into combat zones.
The committee was co-chaired by Elizabeth Wallis, manager of the Civic Auditorium and Chris Mumford, founder and drummer of Got Your Six, a band that fundraises for veteran causes.