Faces From the Front for October 12, 2009 - Pfc. Jarmaine Christian
Current Unit: 53rd Quartermaster Company, 286th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, Joint Sustainment Command-Afghanistan
Current Position: Gunner
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Kandahar, Afghanistan
Hometown: Cuthbert, Ga.
Years of Service: 2.5
Currently deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, Pfc. Jarmaine Christian is responsible for keeping convoys safe while they deliver vital supplies through some of the most difficult and dangerous to navigate regions of Afghanistan. While technically classified as a petroleum supply specialist, the 22-year-old operates as a vehicle gunner. Many fuel specialists currently deployed to Afghanistan take on the work of serving as gunners and drivers for supply convoys.
"It's my job to keep everyone in the convoy safe," said Christian. "So my job is very important and I take great pride in what I do. I love going out on a mission."
Riding in mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, also known as MRAPs or "gun trucks," soldiers of the 286th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion escort Afghan "jingle trucks" and military palletized load system trucks, all loaded down with U.S. military cargo. The convoys take the equipment to forward operating bases, sometimes through narrow city streets or in difficult terrain, always under the threat of enemy fire and constantly facing the possibility of breakdowns or reroutes.
Because of the austere and difficult terrain, Joint Sustainment Command Afghanistan, the U.S. logistics command, often moves large cargo to forward operating bases through logistics convoy missions. Soldiers of the 286th generally convoy one to three times per week with patrols lasting as long as four days.
On July 29, 2009, Christian was part of a convoy traveling through the mountains between the Oruzgan and Kandahar provinces. The group was ambushed by insurgents on their return trip in one of the largest and most complex attacks troops have seen since 2003.
During the nine-hour battle, insurgents fired approximately 14 RPGs along with detonating multiple roadside bombs and pummeling the convoy with small-arms fire. Militants fired machine guns and assault rifles from nearby homes, the tree line or from dug-in positions on the mountain ridges. Although the militants were well-covered, many Soldiers recalled the enemy had been close enough to see faces.
Five Soldiers were evacuated that day, and one Soldier evacuated the following day to receive medical attention. So far, three of them have received the Purple Heart Medal. Although they are non-combat arms Soldiers, the fuelers of the 286th CSSB reacted quickly to successfully respond to the attack.
Christian will return home at the end of this year to his wife and one-year-old son in Georgia. He looks forward to spending time with his family and focusing on his budding music career.
“The Army gave me a lot of new topics to write about," said Christian. "I've been through some good times and some bad times but my music helps me make it through the hard times. My hope is that my music can help other people through hard times as well.”