first published on September 15, 2015 by Will
There wasn’t a single unit in the 173rd Airborne that didn’t see constant heavy fighting on that deployment, but Chosen Company of 2-503rd stands out above the rest.
Long before Wanat, Chosen Company was forced to shut down their remote firebase known as the Ranch House after several soldiers were wounded in repeated attacks and one three hour firefight in which the outpost was almost overrun by a large enemy element that was being actively facilitated by the local villagers.
Later, on a foot patrol outside COP Bella, 1st platoon fought their way out of an ambush that nearly wiped out the entire platoon. SGT Kyle White received the Medal of Honor for his actions that day.
Just days before going home, Chosen Company was moved to an unfinished COP at Wanat. Without air support in a vulnerable, poorly placed position, they were attacked by over 200 insurgents. The Battle of Wanat was intense, to put it mildly. Weapons had been shot so much they were seizing up. Distances between friendlies and enemies, at times, were mere feet. The battle resulted the deaths of nine paratroopers as well as an additional 27 American service members wounded, the highest loss of life in an incident since the war began.
These were not fluke battles. This entire deployment was nuts. We were stretched so thin across COPs and OPs that were put in some of the most indefensible, tactically unsound locations imaginable. The enemy came out to play, too, in numbers not seen since the invasion. SSG Pitts was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Wanat, making him the third awardee of his battalion, all from the same deployment, and all for different battles. That should tell you something about what these men went through.
I was in 1st Battalion on that deployment and we had just ripped out to Bagram on our way home. 2nd Battalion would be only a few days behind us. When we got the news, I was absolutely sick, but I was not surprised. They were just days… hours from getting on a freedom bird. We were no longer excited to be going back to Italy. We wanted to go back to our firebases and take back up the fight. It still makes me sick to think about.
Forever brothers! Sky Soldiers!