Orfordville residents anxious for Afghanistan pullout
President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday night that he had signed an historic agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan that would tie the two nations together for more 10 years and complete a drawdown of American troops by 2014.
Closer to home, the news of a conclusion to the Afghan war couldn’t come soon enough for some Orfordville families, where they recently had to pay the price of war after a local solider was killed was serving in Afghanistan.
Cpl. Ben Neal, 21, was killed in Kandahar province after enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. Neal was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Neal called Orfordville home, and it seems just about everyone called him their son. He left behind a wife, his parents and many siblings.
In Orfordville, patriotism is proudly displayed. Farms dot the landscape and flags fly on almost every porch.
The longtime local Gas & Go service station is still full service, and owner Bill Sather said that the news of the war comes in, but only something like Neal’s death brings it home.
“I think it’s kind of hard going, for our soldiers over there, he said. “You hear that every day, or week by week, but it doesn’t mean too much until it hits home and then you realize.”
Signs around town honor Neal. In spite of all the American pride, the war appears to be anything but popular in Orfordville. Resident Fred Schnitcke said he thinks the war isn’t worth it.
“It’s a shame that our people are dying over there for a people that don’t want us there,” he said. “I mean, it’s the same situation we had in Vietnam. We’re pumping millions of millions of dollars over there. They’re using our money and what are we getting for it? Nothing except body bags coming home.”
Many other residents said that they want the war to end.Sather said that he hopes the Afghan government will be able to pick up the slack
with U.S. troops leaving.
“Their government, I hope, is getting stabilized. It’s tough to go over there and then leave them with an unstable government, but you have to do what you have to do. And I think we’ve been there long enough.”
Meanwhile, to honor Neal, Orfordville residents will be lighting his way home by leaving their porch lights on. Family and friends across the country are joining the effort organized on Facebook. Those lights will stay on until his body returns to Wisconsin. It’s not clear yet when that will be, WISC-TV reported.