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Pfc. Kiel Muston of the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment’s mortar section scans the countryside during a stop on the way to Naka, Afghanistan, March 24, 2005

Pfc. Kiel Muston of the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment’s mortar section scans the countryside during a stop on the way to Naka, Afghanistan, March 24, 2005 (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

This article first appeared in the Stars and Stripes Mideast edition, March 30, 2005. It is republished unedited in its original form.

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment have been in southeastern Afghanistan for the past month. From Forward Operating Base Orgun-E and two smaller installations, they've been patrolling a large, mountainous rural area connected by the most basic of roads.

Last Wednesday and Thursday, 1st Platoon from Company A, with the help of a mortar section from the battalion, visited a pair of remote settlements reachable only by air or off-road vehicle. In this case, that meant a nine-Humvee convoy.

Humvees from the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Division use a riverbed as a road as they travel through eastern Afghanistan on a two-day mission to the villages of Zarwuk and Naka.

Humvees from the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Division use a riverbed as a road as they travel through eastern Afghanistan on a two-day mission to the villages of Zarwuk and Naka. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

First Lt. Justin Freeman talks to mayor Abdul Mobeen as they drink tea together in the mayor’s room at the government building in Zarwuk, Afghanistan.

First Lt. Justin Freeman talks to mayor Abdul Mobeen as they drink tea together in the mayor’s room at the government building in Zarwuk, Afghanistan. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Spc. Jesse Davis, of the 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, shows boys in Naka, Afghanistan, their pictures after taking them with a digital camera during a patrol through the town.

Spc. Jesse Davis, of the 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, shows boys in Naka, Afghanistan, their pictures after taking them with a digital camera during a patrol through the town. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Capt. Jack Kilbride, left, of the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, uses a translator to talk to Naka police chief Jon Baz, center.

Capt. Jack Kilbride, left, of the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, uses a translator to talk to Naka police chief Jon Baz, center. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Capt. Jack Kilbride of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, led the two-day mission to the Afghan villages of Naka and Zarwuk.

Capt. Jack Kilbride of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, led the two-day mission to the Afghan villages of Naka and Zarwuk. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

A convoy of Humvees from the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment travel along what passes for a road in eastern Afghanistan, during a recent two-day mission to the villages of Naka and Zarwuk.

A convoy of Humvees from the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment travel along what passes for a road in eastern Afghanistan, during a recent two-day mission to the villages of Naka and Zarwuk. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Spc. Drew Wilkerson, top, and Sgt. Matthew Fillinger, both of the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment’s mortar section, scan the countryside after someone suspicious was seen on a hillside.

Spc. Drew Wilkerson, top, and Sgt. Matthew Fillinger, both of the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment’s mortar section, scan the countryside after someone suspicious was seen on a hillside. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Soldiers from 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment patrol along a road in eastern Afghanistan. They were on a two-day mission to the villages of Zarwuk and Naka.

Soldiers from 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment patrol along a road in eastern Afghanistan. They were on a two-day mission to the villages of Zarwuk and Naka. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

All along the road in eastern Afghanistan, the soldiers of 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment were greeted by children waving, giving a thumbs up, and asking for pens and chocolate and crying out “Give me a dollar.”

All along the road in eastern Afghanistan, the soldiers of 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment were greeted by children waving, giving a thumbs up, and asking for pens and chocolate and crying out “Give me a dollar.” (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

The Vicenza, Italy-based soldiers spent about 4½ hours driving through rough terrain to reach the village of Naka, where they checked out the local clinic and met with the mayor and police chief.

In getting to the village, they passed through a narrow gap in the mountains where two U.S. soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division died in separate incidents while on patrol in the past year. Air support was provided by a pair of A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, Marine Huey helicopters and Army Black Hawk helicopters at intervals during the two-day mission.

After spending a cold night at the government compound in the town of Zarwuk, soldiers looked for potential sites for police checkpoints with the local mayor before returning to their home base.

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