|Sgt. Osting visits Landeck pen pals|
|Wednesday, February 27, 2013 1:59 PM|
“Are you taller than Mr. Ulm?” wondered one student, while another asked, “Are you taller than a zombie?”
“I don’t know, it depends on the zombie,” Osting replied with a smile.
Having spent the last eight months stationed in Afghanistan, Osting was more likely to encounter insurgents than zombies. While in Afghanistan, Osting kept in touch with Landeck students and made plans to visit after he came home on Feb. 14.
A Landeck Elementary alum, Osting went on to graduate from Jefferson High School in 2007 and left for basic training two weeks later.
“Basic training is 10 weeks long and then after that, whatever training you get depends on what job you choose,” Osting said. “I was on the bomb squad, so my training took about a year.”
Osting shared with the students some of his daily experiences on the bomb squad, as well as the life of a soldier in Afghanistan.
“A convoy is where we drive around doing presence patrol, looking for bad guys and IEDs, which stands for Improvised Explosive Device,” he said. “We have something called a mine roller that we attach to the front of our truck and if there are any explosives in the road up ahead, the roller will hopefully set it off before the truck gets to it.
“We also have a robot we use, to go down and take apart IEDs, so no one gets hurt. We only dismantle a bomb by hand as a last resort. When we’re driving around and we see a random object in the road ahead, we’ll send the robot to investigate. We’ve had one of them blown up.”
When soldiers are in a combat zone, the eruption of a firefight is always a possibility.
“Firefights can last a while or they can be as short as someone jumping out and firing a couple shots at you and then running away,” Osting said. “If you’re under fire, the first thing you do is find cover, even if it’s just behind a rock.”
While living in Afghanistan, Osting learned about the Afghan people.
“We were training the people there to do what we were doing because we’re trying to get out of there,” he said. “We want them to know what to do when we leave. A lot of the people there live in mud huts, basically like a larger version of your sand castles. The kids there are usually pretty excited to see us. They come out and watch us drive past and we throw them candy and things like that. It feels like a parade.
“We don’t have to speak the language because we have interpreters we bring out with us; usually our Afghanistan counterparts. We say a few sentences and they’ll translate for us. We got to eat some of their food, too. All of their bread is flat and they eat a lot of rice and vegetables, too.”
While in Afghanistan, Osting’s sleeping conditions ranged from a small room on base to a cot in an improvised shelter with dirt walls and a thin metal roof held up with 2x4’s. When they had downtime, Osting says they enjoyed normal activities like playing video games.
“We played games like Black Ops and Call of Duty, sometimes Mario Cart,” he said. “Things like that.”
Osting is the son of Dennis and Lois Osting of Delphos.