In the past 12 years there have been over 6500 U.S. lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each soldier lost has their own back-story. With-in those stories you will find the stories of their family, friends, and loved ones. My story is about the first Company Commander I served with in combat, Captain Michael J. MacKinnon.
My first experience with Capt. MacKinnon was after transferring to Fort Stewart, GA. I walked through the doors of my unit, known as “The Bandits”. I noticed two soldiers standing outside his office with their heads and eyes strait forward, hands firmly behind their backs and their bodies ridged as boards. I assumed the two soldiers had done something wrong and where waiting to be reprimanded. As I walked past them to hand the clerk my paperwork, I noticed they were both Lieutenants which was odd. Generally, in the Army, officers don’t get treated like new privates fresh from Basic Training. But that’s how man Capt. McKinnon was, there was a standard to uphold and he was going to ensure everyone adhered to it!
My next experience with Capt. MacKinnon was during physical training on a very humid Fort Stewart morning while our squad running. About 2 miles in, we were all short of breath and beginning to slow down. Out of nowhere Capt MacKinnon came from behind us and briskly said “nice pace, I’d be impressed if you kept it up for another 2 miles”. Then after about 5 seconds he took off in front of us and after another 30 seconds he was gone from our sight. But that’s the kind of man he was, if you did it in 12 minutes he would do it 11, and then talk trash. But no matter how much trash he talked, he would always back it up.
6 months into our deployment he was sent to take command of a company to the south. It was extremely uncommon for a commander to be changed in the middle of a deployment, but the other company’s leadership was failing miserably and our Battalion Commander believed Capt. MacKinnon was the only officer in his command that was up to the challenge. We continued on, operating at the high standards he had trained us to. Then on October 27th, 2005 the Company First Sergeant called us all into the main hall of the...