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Grapes In A War Zone

“I’ve traveled to about sixty countries and 48 states, and eaten a ton of grapes along the way.  Not a single grape from Sonoma to France to Italy can match the grapes in this area.  These are, by far, without comparison, the best grapes I’ve had in the world.  The texture of the skins and the fruit of the grape are just right and perfect.  The sweetness is harmonic and no seeds spoil the moment.  These are not just great grapes but fine fruit.”

The author is Michael Yon.  He was a Green Beret and since 2004, has been reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan. His is widely recognized as the top independent journalist working in the battle zone. His work has appeared in virtually all major media outlets.

The grapes he is writing about are in Afghanistan, and he reminds us that not all vineyards are bucolic as in Napa:

“Many Americans have died in these vineyards. Canadian blood has fertilized this ground, and we kill Taliban in these fields daily.  We watch them through UAVs, such as Predators, as they hide their weapons among the rows, or attack us, and often they move undetected. 

When the Russians came through this area, the Afghans said they would hide under the vines until the enemy was very close, and shoot them point blank.  After all, many of the local kids grew up right here, picking grapes and playing in the vineyards.  They know every bump and divot. 

The rows are not made of wire or wood as in the United States or Europe. The rows are mounds of packed mud that can stop 30mm cannon fire.  The enemy plants bombs along the rows and paths, and so our troops often cross perpendicular across the grape rows, which sometimes are over chest high.  Even without the heavy gear, the obstacle course is grueling and sometimes we take fire, or someone gets blown to pieces. 

The out-of-town enemies also don’t know where the bombs are hidden and so they often are killed.  Every day we hear detonations that remain unexplained.  Could have been anything.  Normally we know the causes, but many will never be known to us.  I’ve probably never written a full dispatch in this tent without hearing an explosion. Sometimes it’s a distant rumble and you only hear it.  Other times the shockwave pops the tent walls and your body feels it.  We usually hear many each day.  Fighter jets are roaring overhead as this sentence is formed.”

Michael is a precious national resource. Read his piece, titled Grapes here. It has some terrific pictures as well.

Then support his work here. We just did.

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