Situated in the northeastern Kunar province, Pech Valley is resplendent with green farmland set in the shadow of the Hindu Kush mountains. Beautiful as this place may sound, it was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting in the war in Afghanistan. More than 100 soldiers lost their lives there during the 13-year conflict.
It was in 2003 that a team of U.S. Special Forces or Green Berets entered this lawless vista, which has been dubbed the "Valley of Death." Led by Captain Ronald Fry, the team joined together to fight against the terrorist insurgency, and fight they did.
In "Hammerhead Six: How Green Berets Waged an Unconventional War Against the Taliban to Win in Afghanistan's Deadly Pech Valley," Fry recounts the thrilling tale in which soldiers tried to bring some much-needed stability to an area fraught with conflict.
When it was needed, firepower was used. More importantly, as specialists in unconventional warfare, the Hammerhead Six sought to fight the enemy in other ways. They tried to help settle disputes with village councils, repaired schools and clinics, and trained local security forces.
Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA 936), code name Hammerhead Six, was a team from the 1st Battalion 19th Special Forces Group out of Draper, Utah. The original nine members were serving in the Utah National Guard at the time of their deployment.
The mission was successful. Soldiers were welcomed and not turned away. Unfortunately, peace did not last for long. Once the team left in 2004, the situation reverted back to chaos. In 2005, it was the site where then-Navy Seal Marcus Lutrell was the survivor of a gun battle that he later wrote about in "Lone Survivor." In 2011, the area was abandoned by U.S. forces.
In this thrilling tale, the reader gets to learn about a more positive war battle that was fought by relying on understanding instead of ammunition.
A California resident, Fry is a Brigham Young University graduate and served eight years of active duty.
"Hammerhead Six" has no sexual content but contains some violence and mild swearing.
Ryan Curtis is a proud seventh-generation Utahn and also writes for Utah Political Capitol. In his spare time, he enjoys doing family history research and listening to '70s and '80s music. His email is [email protected].