My travels with the 2-27 Infantry and the all American dustoff MedEvac company, brought me to several bases named after those who have made the ultimate sacrifice over there.
Forward Operating Base Bostick, Forward Operating Base Fenty, the Staff Sgt. Heathe N. Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram Airfield -- these names might just seem like places on a map or buildings visitors breeze by on their way to the barracks or the mess hall, but behind each name is a story and a grieving family.
Some in the Pentagon question the policy of naming these temporary bases after fallen heroes. They worry that the sentimentality, the loyalty, troops might feel because of the name, which might get in the way of tactical decisions to shut down a base.
One day U.S. forces will close these outposts or turn them over to Afghan security forces. The names will change or vanish.
|Forward Operating Base Fenty|
The 41-year-old was the commander of the 3-71 Cavalry. His wife Kristen has just given birth to their daughter Lauren, 28 days before the crash. He never got to meet her.
Kristen said she is now proud that a base in Afghanistan is named after her late husband, but she didn't always feel that way.
"Of course I was happy that he was being honored but I had these mixed feeling that really just came from grief," she said. "It feels like, gosh, you know, they took Joe and now that country has his name on a piece of land as well."
There is another way the U.S. can honor fallen troops, Kristen said, and that's to allow the family they leave behind to receive their benefits.
"Not every service member who dies fighting for our country has a building or a street named after them," she said. "But they have given their life in service, and the very least this country can do is to pay the benefits to their survivors."
|Forward Operating Base Bostick|
During an ambush in July 2007, Bostick was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade near Kamu, Afghanistan, and later died as a result of his severe injuries. The 37-year-old left behind a wife and two daughters.
The hospital at Forward Operating Base Bostick was dedicated to Capt. Rob Yllescas, who was targeted and killed by the Taliban in October 2008. He also left behind a wife and two girls.
|Hosptial Facility Named For Capt. Yllescas|
A Defense Department statement said at the time, Yllescas' legs were mangled and he suffered severe head trauma after the blast on Oct. 28, 2008. He died as a result of his wounds on Dec. 1, 2008.
The hospital at Forward Operating Base Bostick is named in his honor.
|SSG Heathe N. Craig Joint Theater Hospital|
The Staff Sgt. Heathe N. Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram Airfield is one of the largest trauma facilities in Afghanistan.
The hospital is named in honor of the 28-year-old from Severn, Md., who was in a jungle penetrator, trying to evacuate Private 1st Class Brian Bradbury. Bradbury was wounded in the same mission that ended in the deaths of Sgt 1st Class Jared Monti and Staff Sgt Pat Lybert.
Bradbury and Craig died when their cable lifting them into the helicopter snapped.
|Combat Outpost Monti|
On a mission to conduct over-watch of an area near the Pakistan border, he and his patrol came under intense enemy fire on June 21, 2006.
When one of his men, Private 1st Class Brian Bradbury, was wounded, Monti, 30, braved enemy fire in an attempt to rescue Bradbury, and was killed trying to do so.
The Raynham, Mass., resident was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor by President Obama in 2009.