Camp McPhee: The Story of Lt. Christopher Mosko

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Lt. Mosko at war. (Photo: US Navy)

Lt. Mosko at war. (Photo: US Navy)

Lt. Mosko and his wife Amanda in Hawaii in 2010. (Photo via NY Times)

On April 26, 2012, Lt. Christopher E. Mosko, a Naval explosive ordnance disposal technician, was killed along with two fellow servicemen when they hit a roadside bomb heading into a village. He was 28-years-old.

Lt. Mosko was stationed at a remote 30-man outpost in Zabul province called Camp McPhee. He had been in the military since 2007, joining after getting a degree in finance and engineering at Drexel. He left behind a wife, Amanda. The couple married in 2009 after meeting in R.O.T.C. They both ended up in the Navy. After his death, Lt. Mosko was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

Two years later, Americans have left Camp McPhee. Our involvement in Afghanistan is coming to a close, and Afghans are in the process of electing a new president. While there will likely be an American presence in the country after this year to train Afghan forces, the majority of the troops have already come home. Twelve years after special operations troops chased Osama Bin Laden through the mountains of Tora Bora, the war is winding down with uncertainty and 2,316 American fatalities, including Lt. Mosko.

A few days ago, on a sunny Friday afternoon, I met one of Lt. Mosko’s friends. They grew up together, attending the same high school in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Years later, coincidentally, they found themselves in the same dusty collection of buildings in Central Asia.

“It’s kinda like the Wild West where we were,” the friend said. “It was just on an island out there. Us versus them.”

Lt. Mosko’s friend is a Naval Special Warfare solider. If you don’t know what that means, he’s a member of SEAL Team 10. Camp McPhee, as you might have guessed, is named after Capitals general manager George McPhee. The men got tired of naming things after their dead friends.

“The outpost was created right after we got swept by Tampa,” the SEAL said, using Caps defeats in place of a calendar. “We went in there and established an outpost. We created it from scratch and just named it this.”

“I think he’s shrewd,” the SEAL added of McPhee. “It just sorta fit with what we were going for.”

The friend, a hockey player and huge Ovechkin fan, wanted to remain unidentified because the SEALs’ operations are classified. He didn’t want to talk about himself much. He was too modest for that.

When he returned from his final deployment in Afghanistan this November, the SEAL brought the sign back with him to his base in Little Creek, Virginia. He sent a note offering it to the Caps but never heard back. Eventually, he asked RMNB if we wanted it, which we very much did. Before the penultimate game of the Capitals season, he and two friends helped load the sign into my Miata. I drove home on Route 50 with it sticking out the open top.

The sign, for now, is propped up in my garage. It doesn’t feel like this is the proper place for it, but like the war itself it has to stop somewhere. In time, we’ll find a more worthy location.

“It’s easier to build something up than to take it down,” the SEAL concluded.

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  • Topher Gee

    You’re right, that’s not what I was expecting of Camp McPhee. Great story!

  • Christine Friis

    I’m so glad you guys kept this treasure and wrote the story.

  • sausaged

    Really good read fellas, I loved it.

  • JenCo

    Amazing! Thanks for this :)

  • Sara

    Half of my heart will always be in Little Creek….and you are right- There are things WAY more important than hockey. Thank you for this post today.

  • Alexander

    Well, puts the Caps shit season in perspective really quickly….great story, guys.

  • Matt

    I want. Very jealous.

  • The Norch

    Great story – well done RMNB.

  • Stevarooni
  • Smiley456

    The CAPS have several areas in the Verizon Center and Kettler with keepsakes. This treasure an explanation could go in these spots.

  • Benjamin

    I can’t tell you boys at RMNB how much I appreciate this story. I’m currently deployed to the Kuwait region, which I’m fortunate is much safer than Afghanistan, but I still somehow find time to watch or keep up with my Caps. it seems with the LT the Caps were near and dear to both of their hearts. Keep the love and hockey humor rolling. You can use all the ads you need!

  • marcusdlg

    I feel like this belongs in the locker room at Kettler with the story on a plaque that hangs beneath it. I know GMGM won’t be with the organization for much longer, but the story behind this sign is something that the guys should see every day they are practicing on home ice, and it should remind them that they play for more than just themselves.

    After that, McPhee shouldn’t be the name of the (former) GM, but rather it should be the rallying cry that reminds the boys that they should be playing as hard as the men that are fighting overseas.

    (Admittedly, this is a lofty goal and I’m sure most people will take issue with my suggestion, but those people can go get hosed.)

  • VirginiaPatriot

    Great story and great writing, Chris.

  • Husker in DC

    Thanks for the recognition of a good operator. Hooyah and Bravo Zulu

  • Owen Johnson

    He graduated from Drexel in 2007? So did my sister. They probably don’t know each other though.

  • Bilal

    This is a great story. Good job Chris and RMNB

  • Huey

    Great story! Thanks for sharing. Hope it finds a place of honor (no offense to your garage of course)…

  • JenniferH

    This is why we love sports and why we love the rush and heart and thrill of hockey. The Capitals are a special team and bonds us all together and RMNB is the best representative of that I’ve seen. Thanks for this story, guy.

  • Dark Stranger

    Great story. Thanks for sharing.