Déjà vu all over again: Guardsman finds history repeating itself in Afghanistan

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Paul Evans, KY ADT 4 Unit Public Affairs & Historian Representative

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Guardsman finds history repeating itself in Aghanistan

Kentucky Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Bucky Harris (left), a Middlesboro, Ky. resident talks with Army Staff Sgt. William Lile (right), a resident of Louisville, Ky. before a mission in southern Afghanistan of February 15, 2012. The two noncommissioned officers, both former members of the 82nd Airborne Division are deployed together as a part of the Kentucky National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team 4, which currently falls under the 82nd’s command. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Paul Evans)

FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan — Sometimes, when a person least expects it, past memories return in strange ways. For Air Force Tech. Sgt. Bucky Harris, a 34-year-old Lietchfield, Ky. native living in Middlesboro, Ky., life did just that. In February 2012, the one-time member of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment from 2000 to 2003, found himself in Southern Afghanistan, once again working for his old division.

This time, however, Harris is a member of the Kentucky National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team 4. Comprised of Soldiers, Airmen, and Civilian agricultural specialists from across Kentucky, ADT 4 is intended to help teach improved farming and business techniques to farmers in southern Afghanistan. Harris had no idea he’d be working for his old Army unit when he volunteered for the mission.

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Kentucky Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Bucky Harris (right), a Middlesboro, Ky. resident, prepares for a mission in southern Afghanistan of February 14, 2012. Harris is currently deployed as part of the Kentucky National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team 4, which seeks to improve the lives of Afghan farmers by teaching better farming and sales techniques. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Paul Evans)

“I thought when I left the 82nd I would never be back with them and wear their patch again. To be back in Afghanistan, this close to where I would have been ten years ago following 9/11 … and be here where it all was planned, it’s like the circle has come all the way around,” recalled Harris.

“That’s just kind of a funny thing how life is. You never know what life’s gonna bring you,” he added. “You might think ‘I’ll never be in this situation again.’ And something funny like just coming to Afghanistan, being assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, somewhere you were assigned and lived, ate, slept, and breathed 24 hours a day…that’s funny to me.”

Harris has served six years with the Army, three with the Navy Reserves, and the past six as an Airman with the Kentucky Air National Guard.  He says he originally volunteered to come to Afghanistan to honor old friends.

“Two of my really good friends in the 82nd were killed in Iraq … another lost his leg, and those were real close friends of mine,” said Harris. “I felt like I really wasn’t doing my part, I didn’t do enough. I knew I couldn’t go back into the 82nd… so this is the next best thing. I feel like I’m doing my part in the war.”

Harris looks optimistically on Kentucky ADT 4’s ability to make a difference with their mission.

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Kentucky Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Bucky Harris (left), a Middlesboro, Ky. resident talks with Army Spc. Courtney Stewart (right), a resident of Louisville, Ky. before a mission in southern Afghanistan of February 11, 2012. The two are deployed together as a part of the Kentucky National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team 4, which seeks to improve the lives of Afghan farmers by teaching better farming and sales techniques. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Paul Evans)

“If we concentrate on one area … we can maybe change a few peoples’ lives,” he said. “Maybe that can make a difference in the government. They won’t hate America, they won’t believe all the propaganda they hear, and they’ll have food on table and a stable livelihood … no matter what they think about America, at least they’ll have food in their bellies and money in their pockets,” he added.

“That’s something that I can look back with my grandchildren and say ‘I did that’ like my grandpa did back in World War II.”

Harris said he looks forward to accomplishing the mission helping Afghanis before returning home to his family.

“I just want to concentrate on being a good husband to my wife, Shana and being a good father to my five children,” Harris said. “My main goal is going home and just being there for them.”

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