Monday, February 27, 2012

Hun Sen or Sar Kheng?

In my opinion, choosing between the 2 individuals is like choosing the lesser evil. You have to play the cards you are dealt with.

I would choose Sar Kheng over Hun Sen in terms of putting the people's interest first over his personal interests. True, we don't know much about the political life of Sar Kheng, however, the last good deed he did was finding justice for the garment workers who had been shot. He sought and arrested the perpetrators. He cited (pharaprasing) that we're a nation of civilized society unlike that of the Khmer Rouge regime.

I do believe he is more moderate than Hun Sen.

Hun Sen has done many good things to improve the infrastructure of Cambodia. But, as a leader of a nation, you're supposed to do that anyway. He built many schools and roads. He attracted many foreign investors to the country. Relatively speaking, he had provided a stable political climate in the country.

On the contrary, many will argue that Hun Sen lacks the necessary leadership skills to lead Cambodia. He only holds on to power because of his military control and of his dictatorial style of oppression. But one must not forget that he won every elections since 1997, fair or not is debatable. He is arguably the longest reigning leader in Khmer history.

In conclusion, I would choose Sar Kheng over Hun Sen for the pure fact of change. "Change" is good. We need a fresh politics. We need a fresh face. We need new visions. I've yet to see any long term visions provided by any of our leaders. If Sar Kheng becomes the next prime minister, I believe there will be more opportunity for the opposition parties to expand.

I want to point out that I neither a CPP supporter nor the supporter of the opposition parties. I support the party who offers unity, growth, and respect for personal freedom.

When I pointed out the lists of accomplishments of Hun Sen, I only listed as facts, not my opinions. Also, before I listed those accomplishments, I did state that all those things are done by any leader of a country because it's their job to do so. There was nothing outstanding at all about Hun Sen’s resume. The moderator stated that I have to give the "Pros" and "Cons." He also stated that I have to choose between the 2 men, Hun Sen or Sar Kheng. If there is a third choice or the 4th, there is no doubt I would choose the latter.

By...The Great Khmer Empire

Patriot Group Gathers at Indonesian Embassy

Source: TAN Network
A civic group today organizes a protest outside the Indonesian Embassy to air its disapproval against the dispatch of Indonesian observers to the Thai-Cambodian border.

Chairman of the Thai Territory Protection Network from Surin Province Prateep Talapthong today read out the group's statement of disapproval against the International Court of Justice or ICJ's assignment for Indonesia to send its delegates to observe the situation at the Thai-Cambodian border near Preah Vihear Temple.

Prateep said his group comes from the five lower northeastern provinces of Surin, Buri Ram, Si Sa Ket, Ubon Ratchathani and Nakhon Ratchasima.

He said his group disagrees with the ICJ's decision to set up a demilitarized zone at the Thai-Cambodian border around the ancient temple and the dispatch of Indonesian observers to the area.

Prateep regards the presence of foreign representatives at the border as infringement on Thai sovereignty and asks the government not to comply with the court's order on troop withdrawal.

He said the group fears the country will lose its right over its land border and maritime territory in the Gulf of Thailand.

Temple conflict isn't over; observers are still needed

Source: The Nation

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) looked to be on the cusp of making history when its foreign ministers met on February 22, 2011 to discuss the unprecedented fighting between two member states. Thailand and Cambodia were exchanging enough artillery fire around the disputed Preah Vihear temple for some to call it a war.

Indonesia convened the ministers' meeting in an activist moment of preventative diplomacy that made a ground-breaking decision to deploy observers to monitor the ceasefire. But a year later, with no boots on the ground, this hollow victory has left Asean looking weaker, raised questions over whether the conflict is really over, and left a cloud over Thailand's international reputation.
It was the civilian Abhisit government that approved the observers ahead of the meeting, and then foreign minister Kasit Piromya who subsequently announced that Thailand would welcome the deployment of Indonesian monitors, but it did not take long for this sweet regional diplomatic triumph to turn sour.
The Thai military spoiled the moment by blocking them on the grounds that having foreigners on its soil would be an affront to national sovereignty.
In the face of such a strong sense of nationalism, it is now a hard case to make that Thailand should live up to its obligations made a year ago and allow the deployment of observers.
Within Asean itself, many have given up on this idea. There is little traction for such arguments in Bangkok that Thailand should worry about its international reputation when the political culture is so inward looking. But until observers are there, it remains on the record that Thailand is undermining the UN Security Council, ignoring Asean, and defying an order of the International Court of Justice, none of which are the mark of international good citizenship.
Undoubtedly, the calculation has been made in Bangkok that giving in to the powerful military's nationalistic arguments about "sovereignty" trumps the benefits of following international law. But Thailand should try to resist such rogue tendencies and aspire to think of the longer-term consequences of its actions. As a member of a regional economic community with growing common interests ahead of the 2015 integration deadline, it should act the way it wants others to behave the next time Thailand has an agenda to advance that requires cooperation from its neighbours.
Times are changing and Asean's borders will soon be more like zones of economic cooperation and trade rather than Cold War battle lines.
With the guns silent and the General Border Committee and Joint Border Committee having recently met, some now see monitors as redundant and argue that the problem is solved and best left as a bilateral matter. But such pragmatism is too myopic and it misses the larger significance of the February 22 meeting as a precedent for how Asean can address future conflicts. It also denies the fact that the dispute is actually still unresolved. While this is the case, the border issue is out there and susceptible to future manipulation for domestic political purposes. Until definitively demilitarised, a formal ceasefire in place, and border demarcation resumes, it cannot be assumed that it impossible for fighting to restart. Asean needs to have a working political mechanism to avoid flare-ups and solve such conflicts, as well as the means to properly monitor any agreements. In this context, observers are invaluable, including as an early warning system.
The inability to follow through with an agreement has undermined the credibility of the regional grouping. It also puts a question mark over Thailand's commitment to the regional body and important concepts such as the rule of law that should govern it. The July 2011 order of the International Court of Justice creating a provisional demilitarised zone was legally binding on Thailand and Cambodia. The court delegated the Asean observers to be its eyes and ears on the ground until it could hear the substantive case on the request for an interpretation on its 1962 ruling on the border around the Preah Vihear temple.
Thailand does have something to gain from allowing observers to deploy. It could help stop further internationalisation of the conflict. To defy this order so blatantly shows unnecessary disrespect for international institutions but also risks bringing the matter back to the UN Security Council, which acts like a court of last resort in these cases. Monitors would create a sense that all sides are being watched, which would encourage all sides to be on their best behaviour. The Thais have claimed in the past that the Cambodian military has been provocative, and monitors could provide the evidence of such alleged transgressions. They could help solve often-controversial claims and counter-claims about who shot first.
In the end, we cannot start to think the conflict is over until observers are on the ground. The history of this conflict since 2008 is one of many meetings, expressions of goodwill, and statements of friendship often followed within hours by the boom of artillery and the retort of rifle fire. There is no certainty this dispute is on the way to being resolved until the two parties start to dramatically change and stop deploying their armies against each other on their shared frontier. The deployment of observers would change the pattern of behaviour and be a clear sign that it is no longer business as usual on the border.

Jim Della-Giacoma is the Southeast Asia project director of the International Crisis Group. Its report, "Waging Peace: Asean and the Thai Cambodian Border Conflict", is available now.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Master Sgt. Sarun Sar, Silver Star recipient, shares his story with the West Pearl Harbor Rotary Club

Source: Cambodian Community of Hawaii
Article submitted by: Mark Silliman

On February 1, 2006, Master Sgt. Sarun Sar visited the West Pearl Harbor Rotary Club in Waipahu to share his story on his experience as a American-Cambodian career soldier, as well as other life experience.
Master Sgt. Sarun Sar was born in Kom Puong Speir Province Cambodia on May 15, 1966. His father was a schoolteacher in Phnom Srong and his mother took care of the home and family farm. He had two sisters and three brothers. He grew up in war torn Cambodia during the insurgency of the Khmer Rouge. He attended school in Cambodia until 1975 when the communist insurgency won the war. His father was arrested and his brothers and sisters were separated from his family. He and his older sister were sent to a western province near the Thai-Cambodia border.
In 1979, the war came to his life again. In December 1980, he received a visa to enter the United States. He attended high school in Rockville, Maryland until completion. During high school in the U.S., he worked, was a member of the wrestling team, ran track and cross-country. His favorite subjects in school were math and American History. He joined the U.S. Army in 1985, and while in Basic Training at Fort Benning, Ga. he was mentored by a Drill Sergeant. The Drill Sergeant encouraged him to focus his goals on joining Army Special Forces. In 1990, Sar was selected for U.S. Army Special Forces. He deployed to Desert Storm with the First Infantry Division in 1990 as an Infantryman. When he returned from Desert Storm, he completed the Special Forces qualification courses and joined the Green Berets.
Throughout his 20 year Army career, he has been stationed in North Carolina, Washington State and Germany before arriving in Hawaii in September 2005. He has deployed on military exercises in Southeast Asia, Europe, Africa and South America. He also has deployed to Bosnia and Kosovo, and also deployed twice to Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan. He wears the Army Ranger and Special Forces tabs, and is a free fall military parachutist. He is Sniper and Assault qualified.
Sar earned a bachelor’s degree in American History from Campbell University in North Carolina, and currently assigned as an Operations Sergeant for Special Operations Command-Pacific at Camp Smith, Hawaii.
On Wednesday, January 3, 2006, Master Sgt. Suran Sar was awarded the nation’s third highest medal, the Silver Star, for heroism in his valiant effort to save his men during a firefight in Afghanistan.
Members of the West Pearl Harbor Rotary Club were quite moved by Master Sgt. Sar’s personal story, particularly when he mentioned that his 12-member Operational Detachment Alpha 732, spent nearly 80% of their time endeavoring to be good neighbors to the local people by providing humanitarian relief – a story of compassion not frequently mentioned in the news media. “We learned to love the people of Afghanistan, helped them build classrooms, provided medical assistance and even helped establish an infrastructure for water, sewer, and electricity,” Sar explained.
His humanitarianism did not end with the completion of his tour of duty in Afghanistan. More recently he coordinated with the U.S. State Department to obtain a grant in the amount of $75,000 for the purpose of removing landmine in his native land of Cambodia – one of the most heavily mined countries in the world where one in every 236 Cambodians have been maimed by landmine. With this funding, Master Sgt. Sar can continue to extend U.S. goodwill and save lives.
In conclusion, the West Pearl Harbor Rotary Club was pleased to have Master Sgt. Sar as their guest speaker. Through his presentation, it became apparent that the United States of America is winning the war on terrorism not only by virtue of the valor and bravery of men and women like Master Sgt. Sar, but also by virtue of their tireless effort to win the hearts and minds of people living in these budding democracies.


David said...
Thanks for continuing to tell us about people like this.
I would rather know someone like MSG Sar than the likes of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Michael Moore...
Oh well, everyone will understand.
Thanks again.
Lisa Gilliam said...
This was such a touching story Blackfive.All of them are touching but to me this hits really hard.I remember when I was in the hospital a few years back and had a kidney transplant and there was this Vietnamese doctor who was standing in the same room as my parents.He noticed my dad's hat and realized that he was a Vietnam Vet.He thanked my father for what he did,and had it not been for guys like my dad he wouldn't have gotten a chance to attend medical school.That made me even prouder of the Vietnam Vets than I already was.Stories like this make you appreciate them even more.
JoeS said...
MSG Sar is the uncle of one of our students, he spoke to our ROTC at school during an inspection. I saw them walking home in their uniforms so I offered them a ride.
MSG Sar is a great man, confident and enthusiastic yet he did not mention his awards. I saw his "Special Forces" tab after a few minutes and told him Wow! He really loves our country.
America needs to hear more stories about the holocaust in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Liberals surrendered to communism after we had won the war. Same suspects, Bill, Hillary, John Kerry and the "Peace??" movement.
Why do they call it the peace movement? If they get their way, freedom is given over to a dictatorship, people who love freedom get slaughtered. That is not peace.
I hope all of you can meet MSG Sar, What a real American hero!!
devil dog said...
M/Sgt Sar and I were Ranger students in class 12-92. I remember that throughout the course he exemplified leadership qualities instilled only in someone who understands what is necessary to accomplish the mission. During the course he often gave pointers on cleaning and maintaining the M60's as well as becoming a liasion with the cadre. At the end of the course our battle cry was "SAR!!!". I knew I would hear about him in the future. Bravo Zulu Ranger!.


 McQ on Saturday, April 15, 2006

We are a nation of immigrants, and that is something that has a tendency to be overlooked as the political battle over illegal immigration rages today. Today I want to highlight a soldier who epitomizes the best in the contributions immigrants have made to the United States of America. Today we honor Master Sgt. Sarun Sar, a Cambodian immigrant, US citizen and Special Forces soldier who was awarded the Silver Star for action in Afghanistan:
A U.S. Army Soldier assigned to the Special Operations Command - Pacific was awarded the Silver Star here today for heroism in a firefight while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in eastern Afghanistan early last year.

Master Sgt. Sarun Sar received the medal from Brig. Gen. David P. Fridovich, Commander, Special Operations Command, in a ceremony at U.S. Pacific Command. The Silver Star is the Department of Defense's fourth highest award for valor in combat. Sar has also been submitted for a Bronze Star for heroism in a previous fight.

During the eight months he spent on this tour, his second in Afghanistan, Sar and his team were in the Paktika Province along the Pakistan border, which is one of the poorest in the country. They provided security, health care, and construction projects for "shuras," meetings held with tribal elders to allow them to voice their concerns. On their days off they taught English to local kids and played soccer with them, said Sar.

The day of the attack they were conducting aerial reconnaissance, not one of their normal missions, according to Sar. In fog and extreme cold 9,000 feet up in the snow-covered mountains, the first Blawkhawk helicopter landed and immediately came under enemy fire. Sar landed in the second helicopter, dismounted, and rushed to prevent the enemy from damaging the aircraft and harming his team members.

He pursued one of the attackers into a building, and was struck in the helmet with a round from an AK-47 assault rifle fired from 7-10 feet away. "It felt like I was hit in the head with a hammer," Sar later recalled. For a moment he was disoriented, screaming "I'm hit! I'm hit!" to the medic, but within a few seconds he established that the wound was not life threatening, and he continued to fight. After the battle, he and his men administered first aid to two injured Afghan civilians, stabilizing them for medical evacuation to a coalition hospital.

Of the twelve personnel, only Sar and another soldier were wounded; no one was killed that day. "This country has given me so much, and this is a small price to pay, said Sar. "The hero is the guy in the cemetery right now, he and his family," referring to his weapons sergeant, who died in a separate battle in June. "He's the one who gave his life for his country. He's also an immigrant, from Mexico."
Two soldiers fighting for the United States, both immigrants. One lived. One died. Both heros.

MSG Sar has fought against totalitarinism all his life. He and his family have suffered and died for the cause. To MSG Sar, America is a special place, and as you'll see, in his 20 years in the military, he's served in all the hot spots in which US soldiers have been committed:
"Growing up in a war zone teaches you to be immune to a gunfight," said Sar as he described his childhood during the Vietnam War. Sar gained his first combat experience in his homeland of Cambodia, where his father was arrested by the communist insurgency during the war, and his brothers and sisters were separated from their family. At a very young age he joined the anti-Vietnamese guerillas, was wounded in action several times, and was sent to a refugee camp in Thailand to recover. There he was reunited with his older sister and her two children. After the war, they moved to the United States.

Years later he learned that his father survived the Khmer Rouge regime, was imprisoned in Vietnam for subversion, and passed away from disease. His older brother was caught smuggling weapons for anti-government guerillas and was executed by the Vietnamese. His mother and his two younger brothers died from starvation. Only he and his two sisters survived.

Sar became a U.S. citizen, and was later selected to join the Special Forces, where he has served 15 of his 20 years in the military. He fought in the first Gulf War, and has deployed to Thailand, Cambodia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Africa, Columbia and Afghanistan during his various assignments.

Cambodian American Hero

Sarun Sar
      Sarun Sar

  • Hometown: Rockville, MD
  • Awarded: Silver Star
  • Master Sgt. Sar and his 12-man special operations team were sent to search for Taliban fighters in the snowy mountains of eastern Afghanistan on March 5, 2005. The day before, they had been scouting and had spied some suspicious activity in a small village. They returned to base to re-supply and headed back out the next day.
    As the team’s helicopters attempted to land outside an area suspected of sheltering insurgents, the group began to receive heavy fire from the direction of the village. Realizing the dangerous situation they were in, Sar leapt out of the helicopter before it landed, hitting the ground running in the direction of the gunfire.
    Sar pushed ahead and turned around to yell out instructions to his team; that’s when he realized he was out front alone. His team was temporarily pinned down near the helicopters, helping the other team suppress the enemy fire. The enemy fighters had spotted Sar, and were firing in his direction; still, Sar kept low and waited for his team to catch up.
    Three enemies decided they could overcome one lone man, and rushed toward Sar – however, Sar was prepared for the attack. Sar killed one attacker, prompting the other two to flee. One ran for the hills, the other into a hut. Screaming over his radio for help, Sar rushed toward the hut to chase the second Taliban fighter.
    With his team finally caught up to him, Sar and a medic crept cautiously into the house. Suddenly, a spray of AK-47 fire was erupting all around them; Sar was hit on the helmet but escaped any injury. Sar grabbed his grenade and threw it toward the gunfire, killing the second enemy instantly and allowing he and his teammate to move forward. He and the medic then cleared the house, room to room.
    Once it and the surrounding area were cleared, Sar and his team treated the wounded while the other team of six chased Taliban fighters who had fled to the hills. Once reinforcements finally arrived, Sar’s team helped sweep the village, rounded up a large cache of enemy weapons.
    For his actions, Sar was awarded the Silver Star in January 2006. For separate actions in Afghanistan, Sar was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor in March 2006.

Cambodian Immigrant Becomes Citizen, American Combat Hero

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 30, 2006 – Sarun Sar first experienced combat at age 11 in the jungles of Southeast Asia. He fought in several combat actions before being wounded and sent to a refugee camp near the Thai-Cambodian border.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
David S. C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, greets Army Special Forces Master Sgt. Sarun Sar and his wife, Dobromila, after introducing the Silver Star recipient to the audience during DoD's observance of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month in Honolulu on May 10. Photo by Rudi Williams

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Today, Sar is a decorated U.S. Army master sergeant who has been awarded the Silver Star Medal among other recognitions. He was lauded earlier this month at an Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month commemoration in Honolulu.
Sar was born in a southwestern Cambodia village. His long trek to becoming an American combat hero was set in motion when he received an American visa and immigrated to the United States in 1980. A Presbyterian church in Bethesda, Md., sponsored his visa, and he settled with a family from the church's congregation in Rockville.
The commemoration event's keynote speaker, David S. C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said Sar and his family endured extraordinary tragedy. Pointing out that the 1960s and '70s were war-torn years in Southeast Asia, Chu said Sar's father was arrested by the Khmer Rouge -- Cambodian communists -- was imprisoned in Vietnam for subversion, and died from diseases he contracted while incarcerated.
"One older brother was caught smuggling weapons for anti-government guerrillas and was executed," Chu said.
When the Khmer Rouge took power in Cambodia, they instituted a radical program that included closing social institutions while relocating the population from urban to rural areas, Chu noted.
"Sarun's mother, two other brothers and a sister died of starvation," Chu said. "Many Cambodians fled across the border into Thailand seeking asylum and were transported to refugee camps. Some refugees, including a recuperated Sarun, were permitted to immigrate to the United States."
During an interview later, Sar said he didn't even know his birth date but believes he was 15 or 16 when he entered the United States. "I came through immigration people, and they gave me a birthday -- May 15, 1966," he said.
He said he joined the U.S. Army because he felt a need to serve his adopted country. "I think we take it for granted that this freedom we're enjoying is always going to be here, and it's not," he said. "People dislike the military, but when they're in trouble they always come looking for us. So, as a citizen, we need to make an effort to serve and protect the freedom that we took for granted."
Sar became an American citizen in 1986 and served with the 1st Infantry Division during the Persian Gulf War in 1990. "We did a lot of reconnaissance, so I didn't see a lot of action," he said of that experience.
Sar graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course at Fort Bragg, N.C., in May 1992. From that course, most Special Forces soldiers go to language school. But Sar already spoke Khmer, the language of Cambodia, so he was sent straight to a team in 1st Special Forces Group.
As a member of the 7th Special Forces Group, Sar saw "a lot of action" in Afghanistan in 2003, he said.
On March 5, 2005, Sar was team sergeant and operations sergeant of Operational Detachment Alpha 732, a 12-man team that was conducting armed reconnaissance of a suspected insurgent shelter located about 9,000 feet above sea level on a ridge line in Afghanistan's Paktika province.
Sar said it was a cold, foggy morning with snow blanketing the ground as two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters carrying his team approached the ridge to investigate enemy activity. "When the first bird landed on the north side of the ridge, it received fire," he said. "I saw the whole thing because we were a few seconds behind them. We landed and leapt out of the helicopter, and I told my guys to follow me and started running toward the enemy."
Sar cornered two insurgents who were trying to run away. "One guy dropped his weapon and started screaming at me," he said. "I saw him running, and he wasn't a threat to me so didn't engage him; I let him go."
Sar then discovered that his team wasn't right behind him and called for their help. "So I had the enemy shooting over my head, and my team was shooting over my head," he recalled. The team fought its way to Sar, and he and the team medic went after the enemy fighter, who was hiding in a structure.
"As soon as I opened that little door, he fired three shots at me from a distance of about six feet," Sar said. "The first two shots missed. The third one hit the right side of my helmet and snapped it back. But we took care of him."
Later, Sar said, it felt like he'd been hit in the head with a hammer, but it only left a scratch and a bump on his forehead.
In another incident, Sar said he and another soldier were on a reconnaissance mission when they saw about 20 enemy combatants in a fighting position on top of a hill. "I chose to attack them," he said. "But if it wasn't for artillery support, my whole patrol would have been dead today. Artillery saved my butt a few times."
Sar said his team did an outstanding job during that deployment, with 14 enemy gunfights --they initiated 13. His team conducted more than 300 patrols in eight months.
"I lost one of my men there, but the enemy paid with more than 63 bodies for that one guy," he said.
Sar protested the attention paid to him during the Asian-Pacific Heritage Month commemoration. "I came from Cambodia and I lost most of my family there, and nobody here can tell me what it's like to lose freedom," he said. "This country gave me so much and (my military service) is a small price to pay.
"I don't see myself as a hero," Sar continued. "The hero is my guy who is in the cemetery right now. He deserves it more. I did something I love to do, fighting and serving my country."
David S.C. Chu

After taking a bullet in the helmet, he shot his enemy and disrupted Taliban ambush


Master Sgt. Sarun Sar takes a break on a mountainside in Afghanistan. Sar, a native of Cambodia, was awarded a Silver Star after he slowed a Taliban ambush in 2005. (Photo courtesy of Sarun Sar)

Sarun Sar

U.S. Army / Silver Star
He is no stranger to war.
Sarun Sar’s first combat experience came in his native Cambodia, where he fought with anti-Vietnamese guerrillas. But when the Vietnamese invaded, his family was split up. His father died in prison, his brother was executed for smuggling weapons for anti-government guerrillas and his mother and two other brothers died from starvation.
Sar ended up on the western side of the country, where he was wounded several times and eventually sent to a refugee camp in Thailand.
There, he met up with his older sister and eventually moved to the United States. Sar gained his citizenship while in the Army and has deployed all over the world with Special Forces to places such as Bosnia, Kosovo, Africa, Colombia and Afghanistan.
In the latter country, he would distinguish himself again.
On March 5, 2005, Sar could see the Taliban fighters running from the village as his Black Hawk helicopter touched down.
“Follow me,” Sar screamed to his 7th Special Forces Group teammates before jumping to the ground, hoping to cut the enemy off.
He could hear radio reports about the team’s other helicopter taking fire as he rushed up the snowy mountain in Paktika province along the Pakistan border. He saw several Taliban running toward some woods. Another ran into a house.
Sar reached the house, throwing himself against a wall near the door and waiting for the rest of his team.
But “I didn’t feel anyone tap me on the shoulder,” said Sar, who was the Special Forces team sergeant, the most senior enlisted soldier.
Looking back down the hill, he saw that his teammates were pinned down by enemy fire. It was just Sar and a medic trapped at the house, far from their unit.
The squat house was made of thick mud and rock with a small door cut out. As Sar peeked inside, thick smoke hung inside the room. He barreled through the small, low opening, gun at the ready, and was halfway in when the flashlight on his M-4 rifle illuminated the face of a Taliban fighter.
The enemy’s muzzle flash lit up the darkness — three times.
Two shots missed. But the third hit the edge of Sar’s Kevlar helmet at his forehead, the force throwing him back out the door.
“I will never forget that little flash I saw,” Sar said. “He was waiting. It felt like I was hit in the head with a hammer.”
Dazed, he rolled back outside and started screaming, “I’m hit! I’m hit!” to the medic. The medic searched for a wound, but the bullet hadn’t penetrated Sar’s helmet. Sar pulled a flash-bang stun grenade and threw it into the room before he re-entered the house and killed the Taliban fighter.
His charge up the mountain had disrupted the Taliban ambush and prevented his team from getting bogged down.
Maj. John Litchfield, the Special Forces team leader at the time, said Sar’s actions also inspired the team to push up the hill.
“The rest of the team was under fire and pretty well pinned down,” Litchfield said. “Human nature takes over, and you start clawing for a piece of ground. Sar did the opposite of that. We certainly wouldn’t have achieved the goal in the same manner, and some of us could have been severely wounded.”
Soon afterward, the Special Forces team cleared the other huts in the village and rounded up a huge cache of enemy weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, bomb-making materials and explosives. Sar and another soldier were the only wounded Americans.
Looking back to the time on that mountain in 2005, Sar said he wouldn’t change what he did:
“That is how we do things. I would still go in the house. Next time, the whole team would follow behind me.”
Kevin Maurer is a North Carolina-based writer who has traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan to cover military units.

Sarun Sar

U.S. Army / Silver Star

Born May 15, 1966, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Married; one daughter.
Joined the Army in January 1985, deployed to Afghanistan in October 2004. Since has been promoted to sergeant major. Has had two tours of duty to Afghanistan and numerous tours throughout the Pacific theater since the start of the war on terror.
Disrupted a Taliban ambush that had pinned down his unit and led a charge that eventually uncovered a large cache of enemy weapons.
Assigned to Special Forces Command-Pacific at Camp Smith, Hawaii.
“I just wanted to serve my country. I only planned to do three years. I guess it (the Army) just grew on me.”

Afghanistan / Paktia Province