Jul 202004
 
Authors: Evan Truesdale

Capt. Bob Diggs Jr. walked into the room at the Fort Collins

Senior Center, undistinguishable to others while his only mark of

office was his “combat infantry badge” medal worn on the collar of

his black suit.

Diggs said he is not what people expect when they meet him.

People expect a larger-than-life incarnation of Rambo.

“No, I’m like this” he said as he sagged his knees and let his

arms flop loosely to his sides during his multimedia presentation

Wednesday.

Diggs is a captain in the Colorado National Guard 19th group –

he is a Green Beret. As a National Guard soldier, Diggs’ usual

routine was remarkably similar to anyone else’s until July 2002,

when his unit was activated and sent to Afghanistan. There, his

unit of 12 men trained a battalion (roughly 700 men) of Northern

Alliance soldiers in tactics and marksmanship to prepare for what

they would face in Afghanistan.

These soldiers later became the first troops in the new Afghan

army.

However, he considers his most important victory to be the

opening and operation of a school in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital,

after the fighting ended.

He spoke of how women were treated like livestock, and many

suffered beatings several times a day while they begged for their

families on Kabul’s streets. He also spoke of public executions

held in the Olympic Stadium and the frequent presumption of guilt

against the accused.

Diggs said he saw “a child dragging a brick on a string – that

was his toy.”

Afghanistan is the most heavily mined country in the world, with

6 million landmines spread throughout the country, Diggs said.

Diggs has traveled to 25 different countries and has officially

been deployed to seven different countries in Central America and

parts of southeastern Asia. He described Kabul as “the most

destroyed city I’ve ever seen.”

When Diggs began talking about the rebuilding of the school, he

showed pictures of a rundown two-room shack that the Taliban had

stripped of supplies, including the electrical wiring in the walls

and ceiling.

“(The Taliban) did a very good job of raising a generation of

illiterates; that was their goal,” Diggs said.

He painted a black square on the classroom walls to use as a

chalkboard when he taught English to the men on Wednesdays. Because

of Muslim law, students as well as teachers forbid gender mingling

in the classroom.

Diggs was openly emotional when he described the plight of a

little girl who was unwelcome as she tried to learn English by

listening to the men while looking through a window at the

classroom.

When he talked about saying farewell to the girl, Diggs took a

moment to stand at the side of the stage and collect himself before

continuing.

He said the little girl had thanked him “for bringing hope to

(her) country.”

Box: Diggs book; “Your Neighbor Went to War” will be available

September this year.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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