Soldier returns from serving in Afghanistan

Chris Hill would go back there with no hesitations
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Lisa Radecki no longer has to rely on Facebook to ensure the well-being of her son, Chris Hill. That’s because Hill, 24, returned home on Jan. 6 after 10 months stationed in Afghanistan. Hill, who has served in the Army for the last four years, first returned to Fort Riley in Kansas, and started his leave on Jan. 28. He arrived in Lincoln on Jan. 29, since that’s where Radecki, her husband and his step-siblings live. “I am so excited and so proud of my son,” said Radecki, owner of Vonrad Trading Post in downtown Lincoln. Radecki said logging onto Hill’s Facebook page on a daily basis gave her reassurance that her son was OK while in Afghanistan. “I would go on Facebook, log onto his page and see that Chris was on there 12 hours ago or 16 hours ago,” Radecki said. Hill had a “love-hate relationship with Afghanistan” during the 10 months there, but would go back if redeployed. “I love my job and what I do,” said Hill, who recently reenlisted for another four years. “You couldn’t give me all of the money in the world to change careers.” Serving in the Army is a family affair, since Hill’s grandfather served in Vietnam and his father served 24 years in the Army. “He always wanted to (serve in the Army), ever since he was 2-years-old,” Radecki said. “When his dad went to Desert Storm, he told everyone his dad fixes tanks and kills bad guys.” Radecki said Hill was in kindergarten at the time. Stationed in Kandahar, which is in southern Afghanistan, Hill worked 14 hours per day on the night shift. On those shifts, Hill “built maps and worked at night planning missions when we were at the base.” Hill and his fellow soldiers also went on four-day missions but would not go into detail about what happened on those missions, other than he “liked dropping in on helicopters.” Some of the dangers Hill and fellow soldiers faced in Afghanistan include improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades, artillery rounds and mortar. “We weren’t shot at every day, but every other day, we would get a rocket attack,” Hill said. He described Afghanistan as “sandy and dusty.” “It got hot over there, 121 degrees. You’ve got 115 pounds of gear on, it’s 121 degrees and the elevation is 3,800 feet,” Hill said. “You can’t breathe because it’s up in the mountains.” Hill said Kandahar is one of the most “dangerous provinces” and that Kandahar is the “birthplace of the Taliban.” “Their culture is completely different and it was interesting to find out how other people lived,” Hill said. “It’s a third-world country and everyone still lives in huts and lives off of the land.” Some Afghans in surrounding villages were nice to soldiers, Hill said, and “some weren’t.” “Around our area, people started liking us,” Hill said. “We went and helped build schools, gave them food and water. Some of the villages started to like us.” Hill lived in a “two-man chue,” which he said was a room with a bunk bed. In his downtime, Hill played basketball, cards, worked out and ate. He only had one 24-hour day off during the 10 months he served in Afghanistan. Hill, who lost two friends while deployed, said he “didn’t have a fear” of being killed in action. “You have to keep your head in the game and you can’t dwell on it,” Hill said. When asked if he thought the war is over, Hill said no. “I think we still need to be there to accomplish what we started. The Taliban and Al Qaeda are still working,” Hill said. “I’d rather fight them over there than have them come here. I’d rather keep them there, search and destroy, and keep them occupied and away from the rest of the world.”