Don’t be Too Quick to Dis the Contractors

So here’s a little sidebar story from the Oct. 28 suicide attack on the UN guest house in Kabul.

Turns out a contract truck driver held off Taliban attackers with his AK while 15 UN workers were barricaded in a laundry room behind him. John “Chris” Turner was pouring 7.62 down range during the 2 hour gunbattle, saving the lives of the UN workers cowering in the cubby…

“I am armed. I carry an AK-47 and I kept firing it to keep the attackers away from the group I was guarding,” he said, describing how he shot from the entrance of the laundry room. The group later jumped over a back wall to take refuge in a house behind the guest house.

…he told the Associated Press in Kabul.
What a badass!

I’ve bumped into a ton of these cowboy types in both theaters and it doesn’t surprise me for one second that Turner did what he did. While the third country nationals are less ballsy, the Americans I’ve met transiting through the AO are by in large adventurers, self-reliant and extremely patriotic. They work hard as hell, put up with poor living conditions and I’ve never seen them complain or act bitterly towards the troops they help keep comfortable.

I’ll never forget when we came back from a week out on patrol in Afghanistan and we’d been ambushed twice — once on our way back to the FOB — and we arrived into Salerno pretty late. The KBR workers opened the chow hall for us and whipped up some grub for the platoon that came back battle and served it to us with a smile. They seemed genuinely happy to do it.

Guys like Turner do it for more than the money — part eccentric, part thrillseaker, part patriot — they do it in part because to them there’s a sense of service to their duties. They genuinely like being around the troops and doing what they can to make their lives easier and safer so they can do the job of taking it to the bad guys.

Here’s a video Turner made back in the day when he traveled to Afghanistan to do a doc on the drug trade there (and to get a bit of the whacky tobaccy for himself).

Great walk-off from his dad:

“He said he was burned a little, but that he wasn’t hurt,” the father said. “He’s got more guts than a Missouri mule.”

So the next time you hear the poobahs whining about how F-ed up “contractors” are in the war zone, remember they’re talking about guys like Chris Turner, a man who put fear aside and slung lead to keep the UN workers he was living with safe from the evil doers…

— Christian