First Soldiers in Afghanistan
Two soldiers stand in the Staten Island ferry terminal in the place where, a few months ago, a Salvation Army Santa stood. I show the soldiers my press card. They glance at it but don't speak. They continue to scan the crowd entering the terminal. “You guys in the Reserve?” I ask. “You’ll have to ask the L.T.” one answers. These guys were serious. “What’s an L.T.?” “A lieutenant,” the taller soldier says. “In Canada we pronounce that word left-tenant.” “Is that because they have two left feet?” This guy is smart. “That gun is scary,” I say honestly. I peer closer. A second magazine is taped to the gun. These guys have seen combat. “Have you been to Iraq?” I ask. “We’re not authorized to discuss that.” Turns out on further discussion they trained at Fort Drum. The Tenth Mountain Division, based in Fort Drum, were the first U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.