News of bin Laden’s Death Brings Mixed Responses

By Patric Hedlund

A snapshot from the collective memory of this mountain was triggered by the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death Sunday night, May 1. Nine and a half years earlier, on December 5, 2001, five Anti-Taliban Afghani soldiers and three American Special Forces Green Berets were killed just north of Kandahar, Afghanistan.

An American B-52 dropped a 1,000 pound bomb 100 yards from their position. About 38 other soldiers-Afghani and American-were injured in that “friendly fire” incident. They were calling in a bombing raid on Taliban fighters as Al Qaeda terrorists were being chased out of their base in Afghanistan. Army Staff Sergeant Brian Cody Prosser from Lockwood Valley was killed by that blast-one of the first American soldiers to die in Afghanistan.

Prosser grew up in the Mountain Communities on a fiveacre farm just off Adam’s Trail, playing baseball and football, working at a local lumberyard, cracking jokes and dreaming of becoming a Green Beret.

At 28 years old, Prosser had already served in the U.S. Army for ten years when he said good-bye to his family to go after Osama bin Laden’s terrorists. At his funeral, family members remembered Cody was eager to join the fight. He wanted to go after those who attacked the Pentagon and the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001. Close to 3,000 American civilians died that day.

How does the death of bin Laden now, at the hands of a group of Navy Seals, affect Prosser’s family and community? His younger brother Jarudd (now a coach at Buena Vista High School in Taft) told reporters that he believes, “if Cody was here he probably would have been involved with that group that were going in.”

Commander Dave Gilman of Frazier Park’s VFW Post 9791 said this week that May 1, 2011 was “a great day for Americans.” He believes President Barack Obama’s announcement that the founder of Al Qaeda has been brought to justice “revives the spirit of America and what we stand for.”

The VFW is planning a big Memorial Day celebration on May 30 at the Brian Cody Prosser Veterans Memorial in Frazier Mountain Park.

But Dave Hicks, who runs two self-help groups each month in Lake of the Woods for local veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), says he doesn’t believe the Al Qaeda founder’s death will alleviate the cycle of anxiety, flashbacks, impulsive rage and depression that challenges many veterans suffering with PTSD.

“The statistics now show about 60 percent of combat veterans return with some degree of PTSD,” Hicks said in an interview Tuesday, May 3. “For some that becomes clinical. I don’t see them all getting well because bin Laden is dead. Most young men stay in denial and try to deal with it without getting help…but it just gets worse.”

Kevin Kasmarski recently joined the Frazier Park VFW. He served in Afghanistan in 2009. He is an inactive reserve Marine still getting settled in Lake of the Woods. He didn’t know about bin Laden’s death when we contacted him.

“If I’d known Sunday, I’d have probably cracked open a beer,” Kasmarski said. “Maybe a few years ago it would have been a significant victory, but now there will just be someone else who will step into his place. This may have started with him, but this is not going to end with him.

“Retaliation is likely, I’d say within a month or two,” Kasmarski added. “These are smart guys, educated politically, militarily, and as engineers. They will hit us from sideways or the back, from someplace where we don’t see it coming. Most likely it will be abroad, to drive a wedge between us and one of our allies…or NATO. We need them. And we can’t get out now. We need to stay and finish what we’ve begun or the Taliban will just return and be even stronger than before.”

The American resolve shown to finally catch bin Laden, said U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy in his comments “is the same resolve we should now use to become energy independent.”

This is part of the May 06, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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