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Worst and best military experience of Randy Allen Emerson

Jessica Emerson

Author Jessica Emerson  is the winner of the “Most Heroic” Kiwanis “Interview a Veteran” essay contest. We are pleased to present her essay.

Randy Allen Emerson was born on March 8, 1965 in Barre, Vermont, and entered the U.S. Army on March 7, 1984.  He spent his first two years stationed in Illesheim, Germany, and then was transferred to the 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, KY with the 3/327 Infantry unit.

One of his most prized accomplishments was becoming a “Ranger”.  He was Department of the Army selected for recruiting duty where he served in Monroe, Michigan, for three years.  He then attended the Special Forces selection course at Ft. Bragg, NC, and then onto completing the qualification (Q) course where he became a Green Beret Engineer.  He was destined to be part of the Middle East conflicts as he had become fluent in modern Arabic, and also Persian Farcy languages.  Ft. Campbell is designated to the Middle East, so he was then transferred back to Kentucky.

Sgt. Emerson began his SF career with the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) on a Special Operations Team (SOT – 586) which is what he refers to as “blowing up stuff” and “kicking in doors to clear buildings”.  Being an adrenaline junky, he said that it was a “rush” building up to the “hit”.  He went onto become the Team Leader of 586, and then transferred to a Mountain Climbing Team.  Only then did he question his sanity when he was hanging over a 14,000 foot mountain with only a rope underneath him.  At this time he had been a soldier for seventeen years and did not think he would ever see “action”.  An infantry soldier always thinks about whether he will have what it takes if the time comes.

On 9/11, he was serving on the Bravo Team (support) and was one of the first teams to touch down in Uzbekistan and then into Afghanistan.  Sgt. Emerson described his worst experience while at the Battle of Qala I Jangi.  The Taliban had taken over an old British fort near the town of Mazar-e-Sharif.  During the takeover, a CIA agent, Mike Spann, was killed and laid in a courtyard for three days during the battle before his body could be recovered.  A-teams were positioned on top of the fort while the Taliban escaped running through the fields surrounding the fort.  Air strikes were called in to drop jdamms (smart bombs), but the Air Force misinterpreted their coordinates. The bombs hit the fort where the A-Teams were located wounding six of his fellow soldier’s.  Sgt. Emerson’s B-team drove to the fort in pick-up trucks to help evacuate the wounded via helicopters, and recover Mike Spann’s body.  One of the soldier’s Sgt. Emerson carried out on his back was Major Syverson, who after recovering at Walter Reed deployed into Iraq and was killed by an enemy rocket in Balad.

Once the wounded was evacuated, Sgt. Emerson’s team continued the fight for two more days directing fire from special ops aviation air platforms.  All the Taliban were killed except for 80 who were then taken as prisoners. The American Taliban, John Walker, Jr., hid three stories under the fort, captured during this conflict, and returned to the United States to be tried for treason. While investigating the fort after the fight, Sgt. Emerson’s team found several outbuildings were completely filled (floor to ceiling) with ammunitions. He realized then how blessed he and his team were to come out of this conflict alive.

Sgt. Emerson remembers many great military experiences including traveling to foreign countries, scuba diving, mountain climbing, and blowing stuff up.  But, it wasn’t until after the fight at Mazar-e-Sharif that he knew it was one of the best experiences that he would ever know.  The people in Afghanistan were prisoners in their own homes.  It wasn’t until the Taliban had been killed and captured, that the people came out of their homes and “took to the streets”.  There was music blasting through the town, the children were dancing and playing, and the women were not wearing burka’s.  The people were grateful that the United States was there, and Sgt. Emerson was proud that he could be part of giving them the freedom (at least temporarily) that they deserved.

After two tours in Iraq, he retired after twenty-one years of service ending on April 1, 2005 with numerous awards including the Bronze Star with Valor earned while evacuating his wounded “brothers”.  Sgt. Emerson retired with the rank of Master Sergeant.

Sgt. Emerson left for Afghanistan when I was 9 years old.  I am now soon to be eighteen and it makes me proud that my father served our country with honor.  He continues to return to Iraq to help our soldiers from a civilian standpoint, but still is serving our country today and forever.  God Bless America.


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