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.