American Morning

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August 19th, 2010
10:56 AM ET

"I Am A Soldier": Army Sgt. prepping for his third Afghan tour

The last combat troops may be pulling out of Iraq but more soldiers are heading to the other war in Afghanistan. The clock is ticking to stabilize Afghanistan so U.S. troops can meet the president's goal of withdrawing next July.The success of that mission belongs to unit's like the one Sgt. First Class Randy Shorter is part of. They are combat infantry, part of the final surge deploying to the region.

As part of my ongoing series 'A Soldier's Story' we'll be following shorter and his unit as they head into arguably one of the most dangerous parts of the country: Paktika province. I will be departing for Afghanistan tomorrow with Sgt. Randy Shorter. We'll be there with him from the moment he says goodbye to his family and stay with him as he lands in the Paktika Province of Afghanistan for his third combat tour of duty. Located in the southeast, Paktika is a place where attacks by insurgents is a major problem. Their mission: Rebuild infrastructure, help teach the Afghan people how to police themselves, and fight insurgents. Sgt. Shorter and his unit were last deployed there in 2008. Watch Video

That's when Shorter's skills were put to the test when a vehicle in his caravan hit a roadside bomb... Insurgents opened fire. Shorter rescued the wounded, while returning fire.
He received the silver star for bravery during that mission.

Now Shorter and his unit are headed back to pick up where they left off.

As a 14 year veteran of the army, this is Shorter's third combat tour of duty. He'll be away from his wife Sheryll, and daughter's Melanie and Ariana for one year. It's an especially difficult mission because in his heart, shorter is a family man.

He married his high school sweetheart soon after graduation, around the same time he joined the army.

Filipino-American, Shorter came to the united states with his family when he was five, one of three kids who grew up in Long beach, California.

His dedication to family and country inspired him to join the army.

As we follow shorter in the series, we'll explore what its like for soldiers like him: Men and women who have had deploy multiple times to combat zones. We will also chronicle his family's life back at Ft. Campbell in Kentucky as they deal with the reality of another year without the man they love.

I'll be on the front lines with Sgt. Shorter for a few weeks, as he lands in the Paktika province in southeast, Afghanistan. Like we've done with the other soldiers in my series, we'll be following shorter for an extended period of time to get a better sense of military life on...and off duty. Catch their stories on our AMfix blog, and CNN's American Morning in September.

Filed under: A Soldier's Story • Afghanistan
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Lois Whorton

    I want to express my deep appreciation for ALL our service men & women who serve to keep us safe and FREE!. I am especially close to this unit as my grandson is one of Sgt. Shorter's crew. This is his second tour there and I want to say to them that they will be remembered in my prayers every day, and as they come to mind during the day. I know it was God's protection that spared my grandson the last trip over and I thank Him for it. We here at home owe it to our military to daily pray for them as they stand in behalf of our freedoms. Let's hold them up!
    Thanks CNN for this coverage!

    August 24, 2010 at 12:12 am |
  2. Vickie Watts

    My nephew is part of Sgt. Shorter's 101 group and he was one of the wounded that Sgt.Shorter helped to rescue! My nephew is returning with his Sgt. to Afghanistan.
    I agree with Mary, this should be posted on every daily news and keep reminding all the self absorbed Americans that there are men and women fighting to keep the enemy from showing up on our door step again! Americans have the attention span of a Nat! Our flags were flown and we stomped for a few days after 9-11, but how soon we've was no different than Japan bombing Pearl Harbor....why doesn't anyone care this time?
    I vote with Mary, nationwide coverage of this group both front line and back home of the daily stress of worrying about them!
    Thanks CNN!!!

    August 22, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
  3. mary hudson

    I hope this would be published on front page of NewYork times, more people need to know what a soldier goes through while serving the United States Army. We in America have a "I dont care attitude" its somewhere else and doesn;t envolve me.. but in reality it does. So I hope this story will be covered daily nationwide.

    August 20, 2010 at 8:29 am |
  4. Al

    Thank you for your service to our country! God bless you and your family.

    August 19, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  5. Cody

    SFC Shorter was one of my very first leaders in the Army. Couldn't have had a better example of what a soldier should be.

    August 19, 2010 at 4:27 pm |
  6. Debbi

    This is my Nephews Unit...deploying this weekend. Keep them in your prayers

    August 19, 2010 at 3:58 pm |