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Epic Story Winner - Military

Epic Story Winner - Military

The Ballad of the Golden Arches 

Afghanistan: February 2002 (The earliest of early days) 
I was a member of the initial non-Special Operations aviation unit to get into Kandahar. We were (obviously) based on the airfield, but across the street was some reserve unit in their own compound (MPs, maybe?). Conditions were pretty austere, and there wasn’t much to do besides work or sleep, so of course soldiers are going to go looking for fun wherever it can be found. 
The story is, the commander of this reserve unit was some sort of mid-level bigwig for McDonalds back in his real life. Anyway, flying above their TOC tent was a couple flag poles with the American flag, and an equally sized McDonalds flag. Every morning we would wake up and walk out of our tents, stretch, and head to the piss tube…. and stare at that McD’s flag fluttering in the light of the early Afghan morning. I don’t know why that flag pissed me off so much, but I hated it’s existence. I guess because it looked suspiciously like morale, and we couldn’t have any of that….
So another guy in the Platoon and I started developing a plan…. We were going to get that flag! It took a couple days of planning, and waiting for a willing accomplice to be on gate guard to our own compound. The plan was in place, the CONOP was solid, sand table walkthroughs were completed. 
D-Day… the night of the raid. My teammate and I dressed our brown bearsuit tops and wool watch caps (most of you guys are too young to remember the amazingness that was the BROWN bearsuit top). We wanted to look as inconspicuous as possible, with no patches showing. We left our compound and crossed the street. There was a guard at their compound gate, so we just kind of milled about until his attention was elsewhere and snuck in undetected (give that kid an Article 15! He’s probably a CSM by now). Once inside, we kept our heads down and hands in our pockets. Moving swiftly to their TOC tent, we were almost apprehended by a SSG who was looking for a lighter. I could see in his face that he didn’t recognize us in the dark, but decided to not say anything (Security was apparently not high on their list of priorities). 
Once on the objective, we could see that the flagpole was actually just tied to the frame of the tent with 550 cord (Type III Nylon, for you Air Assault types). I could hear the typical TOC activity inside as I began to cut the cord, shaking the whole side of the tent. With one of the cords cut, we retreated to the smoke pit to watch for any reaction from inside. Satisfied that there was no response, we returned and cut the other support cord and dropped the pole and made quick work of the cords attaching the flag. Which was promptly stuffed into my cohorts jacket. We immediately began our exfil plan, complete with use of the running password to get back to our compound in case of a pursuit. 
Once inside, the only question was what to do with the flag? Our TOC was in a large actual building on the airfield, which conveniently had a flagpole on top. We climbed on the roof and hoisted our bounty high and returned to our tent for debrief and AAR. 
The next morning, I exited the tent into the cool Afghan morning, took a stretch, and headed for the piss tube. The entire reserve unit it seemed was outside and staring at our compound. I turned around and saw that McDonalds flag fully unfurled and fluttering in the breeze, looking every bit as beautiful as Old Glory herself. 
It didn’t last long, within about 30 minutes some poor S1 kid was up there cutting it down and returning the flag. There was a subsequent “investigation” in which our gate guard accomplice was questioned, but not only did he not give us up, he took the fall for us and earned himself a few days of extra duty around the TOC, although I suspect that no one on our side of the fence was really all that upset and thought it was as funny as we did. 
RIP Bryan, you were the best gate guard a guy could ask for.
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