Georgia Air Guardsman earns Purple Heart for Heroic Actions in Afghanistan

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Franklin Wetmore, a radio frequency transmission systems craftsman with the 202d Engineering Installation Squadron, 116th Air Control Wing, Georgia Air National Guard, was awarded the Purple Heart medal on Sep. 13, 2020, during a ceremony at the Museum of Aviation outside Robins Air Force Base.


U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Franklin Wetmore, a radio frequency transmission systems craftsman with the 202d Engineering Installation Squadron, 116th Air Control Wing, Georgia Air National Guard, was awarded the Purple Heart medal on Sep. 13, 2020, during a ceremony at the Museum of Aviation outside Robins Air Force Base.

On Dec. 11, 2019, while Wetmore and his team were awaiting airlift to conduct a quality assurance inspection for the Defense Information Systems Agency, a nearby explosion shook a terminal at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, where they were deployed during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Although Wetmore sustained an injury during the explosion, he jumped into action and provided security as the base came under attack. He guided unarmed comrades between bunkers and another terminal, some of whom were civilian contractors and some who were just leaving the shower area. Prior to Army personnel arriving to take charge of security, Wetmore guarded more than 500 personnel who were hunkered down in the terminal. During the course of the attack, he held his position for approximately two hours with shots firing in the distance before medical personnel could be notified and attend to his injuries.

With Christmas around the corner, Wetmore shared how he was thinking about the holidays coming up during the days leading up to the explosion.

“I was thinking about family, food, and looking forward to the helicopter ride to a forward operating base in Afghanistan,” Wetmore said. “I am proud to serve and always wanted to be deployed to the tip of the spear. But this time, the enemy’s spear got me.”

For his actions and ensuing injury, Wetmore earned the Purple Heart, our nation’s oldest military medal. It is a combat decoration awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who are wounded or killed by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy.

“I’m very honored to receive the medal, and I’m proud, but I wish I was never hurt,” Wetmore said. “I love America, and I go to deployed locations knowing I may never see my family again. America and freedom are that important. I am always ready and will always say ‘yes.’”

Wetmore’s actions downrange reflect his consistent service and dedication. Since November 2012, he has served in numerous capacities in the Georgia Air National Guard — primarily in the 202d EIS — inspecting, installing, and trouble-shooting radio and antenna installations for fixed and mobile radio communications. His work is key to establishing and maintaining communication systems and network connectivity in austere environments for U.S. and friendly forces.

“It’s an incredible honor to serve with Sgt. Wetmore,” said Col. Amy Holbeck, commander of the 116th Air Control Wing. “I’m proud of his selfless service and sacrifice on this specific occasion, but also of his continued commitment to serve this great nation.”

Blogs to Follow:

DVIDShub.net (September 2020)  Georgia Air Guardsman earns Purple Heart for actions in Afghanistan; Photo By Master Sgt. Nancy Goldberger

$1 Million Reward Offered for Information Leading to the Return of Paul Edwin Overby, Jr.


This month marks the sixth anniversary of the disappearance of Paul Edwin Overby, Jr. from Afghanistan. In mid-May 2014, Paul Edwin Overby, Jr., an American writer, disappeared in Khost Province, Afghanistan, where he was conducting research on a self-authored book.

Prior to his disappearance, Overby suggested that he planned to cross the border into Pakistan in furtherance of his research.

In May 2018, the FBI Washington Field Office announced a reward of up to $1 million for information leading directly to the safe location, recovery, and return of Paul Edwin Overby, Jr.

The reward remains unclaimed.

The FBI is dedicated to locating American citizens overseas and returning them home to their families.

“This past Friday, we mark the anniversary of the disappearance of Mr. Overby and renew our public call for information,” said Timothy R. Slater, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “Paul Overby went missing along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2014 while researching for his book about the Afghan people, and he has not been heard from since. For six years, dedicated FBI special agents and analysts have been working tirelessly to determine Mr. Overby’s whereabouts and return him to his family. Our pursuit of justice will not end until Mr. Overby has returned home to the U.S. and his loved ones. We ask anyone with information to please contact the FBI.”

We encourage anyone with information concerning the kidnapping of Paul Edwin Overby, Jr. to contact the FBI or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate or submit a tip at tips.fbi.gov.

Tips can be kept strictly confidential.

FBI.gov (May 2020) $1 Million Reward Offered for Information Leading to the Return of Paul Edwin Overby, Jr.

U.S., NATO Leaders Thank Troops for Afghanistan Service

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked U.S. and NATO service members who have served and are serving in Afghanistan on a day of tremendous hope for peace.


Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked U.S. and NATO service members who have served and are serving in Afghanistan on a day of tremendous hope for peace.

Introduced in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul by Army Gen. Austin S. Miller, commander of the Resolute Support mission, the two men talked about the joint declaration signed between the United States and the Taliban today in Doha, Qatar. Both stressed to the service members from 25 countries that the declaration is conditions-based and that coalition nations and the Afghan government will hold the Taliban to the agreement’s conditions.

Esper and Stoltenberg also emphasized that the coalition — including the United States — will continue to support the Afghan government as the process moves ahead.

“All NATO allies and partners, we are ready to continue to provide support for Afghanistan, but also to adjust and reduce our presence there if the conditions are met, because everything we do here will be conditions based,” Stoltenberg said.

Soffe Men’s 3 Pack-USA Poly Cotton Military Tee

Esper assured the service members that an end to the fighting will happen only when Afghans decide for themselves to lay down their arms and come together as one people. “We’re at that moment,” he said. “That is why the best path forward for the future of this country is through a political settlement.”

The agreement, Esper said, respects the integrity of the Afghan people “and preserves the accomplishments that we and our Afghan partners have fought so hard to achieve.”

American service members came to Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that killed 2,977 people in New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania. The attacks were planned and directed from Afghanistan by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Since then, almost 800,000 U.S. troops have served in Afghanistan.

“Over 20,000 of our veterans have been wounded here in combat and forever bear the scars of this conflict,” Esper said. “And nearly 2,000 brave Americans made the ultimate sacrifice on Afghan soil by laying down their lives in defense of freedom.”

Coalition partners made similar commitments and sacrifices.

Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also noted the sacrifices. “We owe a debt of gratitude to America’s sons and daughters who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan, and to the many thousands who served over the past nearly 19 years,” he said in a written statement. “The only responsible way to end the war in Afghanistan is through a negotiated political settlement. Today is a reflection of the hard work of our nation’s military, the U.S. Department of State, intelligence professionals and our valued partners. The United States is committed to the Afghan people, and to ensuring that Afghanistan never becomes a safe haven for terrorists to threaten our homeland and our allies.”

Esper told the service members in Kabul that there is still a long way to go. “All of our decisions moving forward are conditions-based and require the Taliban to maintain the ongoing reduction in violence,” he said. “If the Taliban fail to uphold their commitments, they will forfeit their chance to engage in negotiations with the Afghan government and will not have a say in the future of this country.”

But if the Taliban live by the agreements, the United States will begin a deliberate phase with redeployment of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, initially reducing the force to 8,600, the secretary said. “As we do this, we will work closely with our allies and partners to reduce their forces as well in a proportional manner,” he added. 

Still, even as the process begins, U.S. and NATO forces will continue their train, advise and assist mission. “We will not hesitate to strike terrorist threats throughout the country as they emerge,” the secretary said. “Central to our agreement with the Taliban are measures to prevent the use of Afghan soil by terrorist groups or other individuals who seek to harm the United States or our allies.

“Should that ever become compromised, we will take all necessary measures to protect our homelands and our people,” Esper said.

Defense.gov (February, 2020) U.S., NATO Leaders Thank Troops for Afghanistan Service

Help a veteran in need by donating here.

American Contractor Kidnapped by Taliban in Afghanistan

Newsweek has reported that an American contractor was captured by Taliban-aligned militants in Afghanistan last week, prompting a nation-wide rescue effort.


Newsweek has reported that an American contractor was captured by Taliban-aligned militants in Afghanistan last week, prompting a nation-wide rescue effort.

Mark R. Frerichs of Lombard, Illinois, was kidnapped last Friday in Khost, a province located in the southeastern part of the country that borders the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, an underdeveloped region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. officials told Newsweek, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the details publicly.

Newsweek went on to report:

Frerichs, 57, is a former U.S. Navy diver and the managing director for International Logistical Support, a U.S. government contractor. According to his LinkedIn account, he has worked as a civil engineer in several conflict zones from Iraq to Sudan during the past 10 years, where he has consulted on logistical contracts for both governments and non-governmental organizations. U.S. officials told Newsweek Frerichs had regularly traveled to Afghanistan since 2012.

While no group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, U.S. officials believe the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network orchestrated the operation. Newsweek was unable to determine exactly how Frerichs was captured, but efforts to locate and recover him include a joint effort by Departments of State and Defense, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If hostage rescue becomes an option for military commanders, typically the mission would be given to U.S. special operation forces.

During the past few days, American forces carried out both ground and intelligence-gathering operations to track the whereabouts of Frerichs while navigating difficult Afghan topography and severe winter weather that has prevented overhead surveillance missions by U.S. military drones.

Newsweek first learned about the kidnapping on Monday. The Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, a multi-agency team based at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., asked Newsweek to hold the story until efforts to recover Frerichs progressed, and the publication agreed.

“The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State,” said Holly Jensen, a spokeswoman for the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell. “We have no further comment.”

A Defense Department spokesman referred questions to the State Department.

Newsweek.com (February, 2020) EXCLUSIVE: U.S. CITIZEN KIDNAPPED BY TALIBAN GROUP IN AFGHANISTAN

 Help me maintain this news reporting blog by donating here.