Tag Archives: bowe bergdahl

Independence Day July 4th Five Years Ago

Independence Day; it’s not all about partying – although celebrating our liberties is certainly a major component – it is also a time to reflect gratitude for those who have paved the way for the freedoms that we enjoy in our great nation.

PFC-Aaron-Fairbairn-KIA-July-4-2009-Paktika-Afghanistan-thankyouaaronMy wife and I had the privilege to raise a young man into the kind of man who would be honored as a hero laying down his life on our behalf in honor of those very freedoms. PFC Aaron Fairbairn was an inspiration and a blessing to all who knew him and especially his brothers in arms who were there on that fateful day in Paktika, Afghanistan, to me, he was – and will always be – my son.

The fourth of July has always been a special time for Aaron and our family, as we would rendezvous every year at a seaside community to celebrate Independence Day and enjoy the fireworks. Aaron always enjoyed lighting his own fireworks on the beach prior to the official pyrotechnic performance. The only other holiday he loved more, was Christmas.

It was five years ago, today, that Aaron’s mother and I answered a knock at the door; a pair of unexpected Army men in full-dress uniform. It was impossible to believe the news, as it had only been hours since we’d talked to Aaron on the phone.


Sascha, Beau and Aaron

Within hours Aaron’s brother, Beau, sister Sascha and my wife, Shelley, were accompanied by a Casualty Assistance Officer flying from Seattle to Dover to meet Aaron when he touched down on American soil.

I had done such a good job of doing what I could to keep everyone as calm as possible, blanketed in love, ‘til their departure. I had called every friend and family member’s number in our address book. Since it was the 4th of July, I was forced to leave phone messages for everyone.

At the time, I had been working with a team of authors for a couple of months and we’d kept contact through Twitter. Though they were obviously not online at the time, I reached out to Twitter. My first compassionate words following the departure of my family were from a Twitter user I didn’t even know.

Freedom-is-not-free-thankyouaaron-Aaron-Fairbairn-July-4In that moment all my strength vanished as my heart broke. Within hours the Twitter community had chimed-in and the hashtag #thankyouaaron rocketed up to number one on the Twitter charts in honor of Aaron’s sacrifice.

I was blessed, encouraged as Aaron was honored in that moment, and it helped me knowing that Aaron’s loss of life was not inconsequential; even in his sacrifice, he had touched the lives of others who hadn’t (and never would have) had the chance to experience the joy of meeting him.

The last five years has been like a lifetime, only to have Aaron’s name in the media again, due to some connection that may exist between Bowe Bergdahl’s “capture” and the attack that resulted in Aaron’s making the ultimate sacrifice.

Aaron-E-Fairbairn-Justin-A-Casillas-PFC-Army-4-July-09-AfghanistanI hope that whatever drama surrounds Bergdahl doesn’t tarnish the image of any service man or woman who puts their life on the line every day, so that we can celebrate Independence Day; Aaron was such a man. And I have the deepest respect and gratitude for anyone who donned a uniform and stood shoulder to shoulder with Aaron.

America may have issues, but I love this country and every man and woman who is willing to step up for you and I, so that we can enjoy – and even argue or complain about – this great land of the free and home of the brave.

Thank you, all who have answered the call. We are all forever in your debt.

God bless you – and America,

-David Masters



Welcome Home Bowe Bergdahl

RIP-PFC-Aaron-Fairbairn-Aberdeen-High-School-July-4-2009I really can’t speak for my son, PFC Aaron Fairbairn whose name is listed as one of those killed in connection with the controversial disappearance of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in 2009. Suffice it to say, Aaron was a kind and gentle soul, and also proud to be in service to his country. The now-growing scandal and ongoing investigation regarding Bergdahl’s release has no impact on the memory of the brave, dedicated, compassionate person and upstanding character of my son.

Knowing Bowe as he did, serving with him in the same unit in Afghanistan, I am sure Aaron’s first response regarding Bowe’s release from the enemy, the Taliban who held him for five years, would have been joy for his fellow soldier and family back home. Any further statement from me regarding Aaron’s reaction or opinion would be pure conjecture, just a guess on my part or anyone else who would speak for him.

Aaron-Fairbairn-In-loving-memory-of-a-fallen-soldier-1989-2009As for me, however, I have prayed that Bowe (who was one of Aaron’s brothers-in-arms and friend) would return home safely, every day since I learned of his capture. I was tearfully grateful when I first heard about Bergdahl’s release, which was abruptly interrupted by a storm of controversy surrounding his exchange for five top tier terrorists being held in Guantanamo. I admit that I am bewildered and greatly bothered by the statements and accusations made against Bowe Bergdahl, the army, the government and the Obama administration by fellow soldiers who knew and served with distinction with my son.

Whatever the outcome of the controversy and investigation, I am first and foremost saddened with this happening. Truth be told, if it is proven that the government did conspire to free five of the worst terrorists in exchange for a someone who may have conspired with the enemy, causing the death of fellow soldiers, including my son, then I can only hope and pray that justice is served, and swift.

I, for one, though would rather steer clear of the rumors and conjecture while vying for the truth to be revealed in a succinct and reverent manner. There is so much hatred and anger surrounding the matter and I have no desire to add fuel to the fire.

david-masters-aaron-fairbairnFor now, let me say that at first we thought it was Aaron who had been abducted because we hadn’t heard from him since that event was reported in the news. We were never so happy to be able to speak with him on the 3rd of July, which turned out to be the day before he was killed in a Taliban attack.

I can only speak as a parent. As such, I am so happy for Bowe’s parents, that they can see their son come home, alive. Many have given far more than the average American could even fathom; but blessed are the loved ones of every single serviceperson who are able to greet him or her returning from harm’s way.

When Aaron called us on that July 3rd, it was after a radio silence that had been initiated by Bowe’s incident. Since we hadn’t heard from him in a week, when we heard the report of Bowe’s “capture” (then unidentified) we feared that it might have been Aaron who was captured. When Aaron called, it put our hearts at rest. Also, when he called, he was instructed not to talk about the Bowe incident. In fact, when I asked him about it, he said that he didn’t know anything about it and that it must have happened elsewhere.

I do not know, but Bowe’s incident did put COP Zerok at risk, and possibly did lead to the July 4th attack… But, I have learned that so much happens in the military that we are not privy to. The soldiers are sworn to secrecy and directed to adopt “official versions” of what actually transpires. We have all heard very strange stories that do not make sense to us, here safe at home. This war has taken a horrific toll on our children, family, friends and nation. I cannot even begin to imagine what is happening in the minds of those in service overseas.

I mean no disrespect to the military, how they operate, nor do I wish to dishonor Aaron’s sacrifice in any way. As far as I am concerned, Aaron proudly took this risk in the most honorable way. He will always be regarded as a hero.

Bring-home-Bowe-Bergdahl-POW-July-4-2013-Aaron-Fairbairn-HonoredBowe’s matter is between the Army (because he was under contract with them) and his maker.

Sadly, people who serve in battle sometimes are not able to return to their families. Other times, when they do come back, they bring trauma that is buried deep inside; they man-up the best they can. Some are more capable to handle the trauma than others are.

Aren’t we all just trying to make our own way?

Finally, speaking as an American, I am trying to understand what is now occurring, to wade through the red tape, lies and deception from wherever it emanates, in order to understand what we are truly facing, abroad and here at home.

God bless America.

David Masters



Battle Of COP Zerok Paktika Province Afghanistan July 4th 2009

Battleground Afghanistan documentary on Spartan Heroes: Battle Of COP Zerok Paktika Province Afghanistan July 4th 2009

Features July 4th, 2009 attack on the Airborne 4th Brigade 25th Infantry Division at RC East, 4/25 ABCT Area of Operation South Eastern Afghanistan 3-509 Infantry Airborne Battalion.

In memory of PFC Justin Casillas & PFC Aaron Fairbairn

They will never be forgotten

The documentary features video taken that day by soldiers, as well as propaganda video found on insurgents weeks after the battle.

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” – Thomas Paine 1776

July 4th, 2009 at 0535 the first round impacted Combat Out Post Zerok, E. Paktika, Afghanistan as Able Company 3-509 jumped into action to respond in kind.

Including PFC Josh Fuller Grenadier, SPC James Channer Gun Team Leader, SSG Jarrod Mahfouz Fire Support NCO, 1LT Mike Bassi 2nd Platoon Leader, SPC David Fantell Team Leader, 1LT Jonathan Mummert Fire Support OIC, CPT Bryce Kawaguchi Able Co. Commander, SPC Gregory Jemison Senior Line Medic

spartan-heroes-attack-on-the-4th-of-july-pfc-justin-casillas-pfc-aaron-fairbairn-305-infantry-airborne-battalion“The attack on Cop Zerok was an assault on the men who fought bravely that day. But it was also an affront on the values that make America great. It was no coincidence the insurgence attacked on Independence Day. These terrorists stand against everything the United States fights for. The 4th of July is a day to celebrate our freedom and during all the wonderful festivities take a moment to remember the sacrifice of men like Casillas and Fairbairn along with the millions before them that have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our liberty.”

Story by SPC Robert Ham

Awards from the July 4th Attack

Silver Star: PFC Justin Casillas

Bronze Star Medal with V device: CPL Brian Phillips, SPC James Channer

Army Commendation Medal with V device: 1LT Jonathan Mummert, SSG Jarrod Mahfouz, SGT Christian Nooney, SGT Michael Fink, PFC Jeremy Theisen, SPC David Fantell

Our deepest gratitude for all the men who fought bravely with PFC Aaron Fairbain, and to all the men and women continue to serve for the greater good. God bless you.