I’ve been on the road constantly since my first post announcing the return of “According to Carmen,” traveling around eastern and southern Afghanistan while on assignment for USA Today.

It’s been a hectic month of bad food, foot patrols and the occasional firefight.

But now I have a few days to cobble together a large story I’m working on about U.S. military efforts in a particular district of Kandahar, which is the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban. To learn more you’ll just have to wait until it’s published. Be sure to buy a copy of USA Today the next time you’re scarfing a slice of Sbarro at the airport. Don’t just wait for your free copy while staying at a Holiday Inn Express, you cheapskates!

Back to firefights. I saw a pretty intense one a few weeks ago when I was in Kunar Province, eastern Afghanistan, at a combat outpost called Pirtle King.

Here’s the story I wrote for USAT. Link includes text, a photo gallery and video I produced.

See, I told you I was busy. Not so busy that I haven’t watched “The Avengers” on bootleg DVD a half dozen times, but pretty busy. And I was so looking forward to seeing the new Batman movie being when I got to Kandahar, but alas, none to be found. What is this war coming to?

What was I saying before I went off the rails? Ah, yes. Pirtle King. For those that know me, PK is where I was shot in the face nearly two years ago by an RPG ( The rocket should have incinerated me, or at the very least forced the military to send my head and body back in separate boxes. It was a freak, one-in-a-trillion chance I wasn’t killed. I still can’t believe it sometimes. I’m just that lucky, I guess.

So lucky, I figured … fuck it, I’ll go back and see what’s going on there these days.

I did surmise there was a very teensy-weensy chance I’d have some sort of psychotic breakdown at the site of PK considering it’s the locale for the worst day of my life. But super-duper slim. Like me fulfilling my dreams of playing centerfield for the Pirates slim (I only gave up this dream while writing that sentence. I’m a little hurt right now at the realization). I wouldn’t got back there and jeopardize soldier’s lives by not keeping my head in the game.

That said, the first day at PK was a doozy. Read my story and you’ll get the gist.

At one point during the firefight, as rounds whizzed over our heads, the commanding officer looks at me, smirks and says: “Someone knows you’re back.”

Comments are closed.