GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan (7/15/2012) – The U.S. Army
considers itself a values-based organization, inculcating new
recruits from the infancy of boot camp in its ethos: loyalty, duty,
respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.
July 1, 2012 -5U.S. Army Sgt. Colton
Hurley, an infantry team leader with the 82nd Airborne Division's
1st Brigade Combat Team, stands next to a memorial for his mother,
Sgt. Krystal Hurley, in this undated photograph. Hurley was inspired
to serve 20 years in the Army by his mother, a combat medic who
passed away when he was an infant. Photo by Army Sgt. Mike MacLeod
Sgt. Colton Hurley never knew his mother, a combat medic who passed
away when he was just a baby, but he knew what she believed in, and
he joined the Army to honor her.
Krystal Hurley earned the
rank of sergeant in just two years; so did he. She served in a
warzone; he's in one now.
Deployed to Afghanistan with the
82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, 22-year-old Hurley
is an infantry team leader in the famed 504th Parachute Infantry
“She wanted to do 20 years, so I'm going to do her
20 years for her,” he said while on patrol in Muqor, a busy town in
Afghanistan's restive Ghazni province.
That afternoon, the small
combat outpost that Hurley's unit shares with Afghan soldiers was
hit by a dozen mortar rounds, injuring several soldiers. Hurley was
among those caring for the injured even before the barrage abated,
close enough to the incoming blasts that medics had to screen him
for traumatic brain injury.
Muqor is a dangerous place, and
the Hannibal, Mo., native is already familiar with the snap-and-pop
of enemy bullets cracking the air overhead while he and fellow
paratroopers patrol the grapefields, mud-walled kalats and dry wadis
that make up this part of eastern Afghanistan.
His primary concern is the welfare of his soldier, Pfc.
“I personally told his mom he would
be coming home safe,” said Hurley.
According to wife,
Sarah, Hurley is always this way, selfless and humble, and
putting others first.
“There is a saying,” she said.
“‘Don't marry a man unless you would be proud to have a son
exactly like him.' I am proud that he is my husband, and I
know that he will teach our children the same values.”
Hurley's squad leader, Staff Sgt. Ron Hartford, a
15-year veteran, said that Hurley acted like a
non-commissioned officer even when he was a specialist.
“He is always trying to implement the Army Values,
making sure his soldiers are trained and taking care of,”
said Hartford. “He knows every bit of his job.”
Though Hurley deployed to Iraq for a few months in 2010, he
considers the current tour in Ghazni his first real
When his company arrived in Muqor this
February, rations were short, and they had no showers for
more than a month. Roadside bombs were a constant threat to
the military and civilian population.
Now one of the
most notorious branches off Highway 1 is a safe, major
travel route, and merchants in Muqor's bazaar report that
business is thriving.
“We're making it through, day
by day,” said Hurley. “I'll be proud to stand tall as a
He knows his mother would be proud.
By Army Sgt. Mike MacLeod
Comment on this article