Fire Base Shkin / Fire Base Checo
Fire Base Shkin (unofficially called Fire Base Checo in honor of the paratrooper killed in action in 2003) is a mud fortress that resembles the Alamo. It is located in one of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan in Paktika province. After hours, when they find the time, are filled with various activities such as basketball, spades, volleyball, dominos, and the occasional rocket attack.
Shkin fire base is located about 4 miles from the Pakistan boarder at an elevation of 7800ft. Living conditions here at shkin are not the greatest, but soldier make due with what they have. The buildings that they live in are made out of mud and they keep the heat in very well and the lack of air conditioners make it even better.
US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II's from the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group provided close air support in the vicinity of Khowst, Shkin and other areas within Afghanistan to support coalition troops on the ground.
A tragic accident in Afghanistan April 9, 2003 killed 11 civilians and wounded one. A coalition bomb hit a home after an Afghan militia checkpoint came under attack in Shkin on the Pakistani border. Four militiamen were wounded in the attack. A quick reaction force from Coalition Task Force 82 responded to the attack on the checkpoint, said officials. The checkpoint is very near the firebase in Shkin and about a mile and a half from the border. The force spotted two groups of five to 10 enemy and chased them toward the border. The force requested air support, and Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers responded. One Harrier engaged the enemy with cannon fire and the other dropped a 1,000-pound laser-guided bomb. That bomb missed the intended target and struck the house.
As of mid-2003 it housed the soldiers of B Company 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) of the 82nd Airborne Division. The fire base has seen a great deal of enemy contact and the units that have served there have taken more casualties from enemy fire than any other location. The 505th PIR Panther brigade suffered their first causality of war, and that was Sgt. (Steven) Checo. It happened at Shkin fire base. Shortly after he was killed 1st Sgt. Rich was wounded, shot in the back of the head. It is definitely the hot spot in Afghanistan.
Given the close proximity to the Pakistani border, it seems to have the most contact with enemy forces and not just in the form of (improvised explosive devices) or rocket attacks it's actual direct fire contact with the enemy. Many of the soldiers feel the importance of their mission and are glad to be at fire base Checo.
The soldiers had a reason to come here. A lot of soldiers joined up right after September 11th. That was their main goal for joining the army because they were upset and angry and they wanted to get back at them for what happened and they are now fighting. A lot of the soldiers had family or friends that they knew in the World Trade Center or the Pentagon and it means a lot to them that they are here now going after the terrorists.
Despite the fact that soldiers at Shkin face an elevated threat level and have had to deal with the loss of fellow soldiers their morale remained high. The soldiers came here knowing that this was the hottest spot in the country and morale was high. They came to Afghanistan to kill the enemy, bottom line. They knew that this was the place where it was going to be done.
There is no doubt that all soldiers serving in Afghanistan face the dangers of combat on a daily basis but there seemed to be a distinction for those who serve at Shkin. The conditions here at this fire base, they are not bad but their not the best. Life is kind of rough here but the soldiers don't mind because they joined the Army to do what they are doing out here. They're going after the enemy.
The US Postal Service's unofficial motto reads that it's not stopped by rain, snow, heat or gloom of night. Add on the possibility of mortar or rocket attacks and it's a more fitting version for the 1st Platoon, 303rd Adjutant General Company (Postal). In November 2003, the Army Reserve postal platoon from Fort Devens, Mass., started sending two-soldier teams with small, portable post offices to outlying firebases such as Orguun-E, Shkin and Salerno once a month. Armed with a unit's mail, stamps, money orders and postal mailing boxes, the teams take on most postal duties. They also inspect outgoing packages for contraband.
As of early 2005 the Coalition was using 14 airfields in Afghanistan. These ranged from from an airfield like Bagram, which is a big airfield, to a small airfield like Salerno, Shkin, or Tarin Kowt or something like Farah that is a dirt strip. If the Coalitino needed to do a medical evacuation of either an Afghan citizen or Coalition, then some of these airfields like Salerno, Tarin Kowt or Shkin become very important to move people around the country.
Sgt. Michael J. Kelley, 26, of Scituate, Mass., died 08 June 2005 in Shkin, Afghanistan, when his helicopter landing zone came under enemy fire. Kelley was assigned to the Army National Guard's 101st Field Artillery Battalion, Rehoboth, Mass. Pfc. Emmanuel Hernandez, 22, of Yauco, Puerto Rico, died June 8 in Shkin, Afghanistan, when his helicopter-landing zone came under enemy fire. Hernandez was assigned to the Army's 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, Vicenza, Italy.
On Friday, June 15th, 2007 Master Sergeant Arthur L. Lilley with the 7th Special Forces Group out of Fort Bragg, NC died from wounds sustained in a firefight in Shkin, Afghanistan according to the DoD.
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