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
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
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
“(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
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
He said the little girl had thanked him “for bringing hope to
Box: Diggs book; “Your Neighbor Went to War” will be available
September this year.