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Why We Serve: Air Force Sergeant Dedicates Afghan Work to Fallen Comrades

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 4, 2007 – An Air Force construction specialist who served with a provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan last year has dedicated his humanitarian work there to two fallen comrades.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert P. Jubie. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Tech. Sgt. Robert P. Jubie, a 35-year-old carpenter who also has served in Iraq, recalled helping Afghans improve their lives through the construction of government buildings, homes, schools and roads during his PRT duty in Laghman province from June to December 2006.

The PRT’s work in Afghanistan was often dangerous, Jubie said, citing the death of two soldiers, both of whom were his friends. They were killed in Kabul on Sept. 8, 2006, by a suicide-bent driver who detonated his vehicle’s 300-pound load of high explosives.

“That really drove home to me to a great desire to continue the mission,” Jubie, an Arlington, Wash., native said. “Unfortunately, their lives were ended short, but their legacy lives on through the PRTs.”

Jubie is among a group of eight servicemembers with duty experience in Iraq, Afghanistan or the Horn of Africa selected to tell their stories to the American people at community, business, veterans and other gatherings as part of the Defense Department’s “Why We Serve” public outreach program.

The “Why We Serve” program, initially the idea of Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, began last fall, noted Air Force Maj. Ann N. Biggers, the program’s director. Eight military members, two from each service, are selected to participate in the program, which is conducted in quarterly segments, she explained.

“We know that the American public is hungry to hear about what these young men and women have been doing,” Biggers said. “It’s important for our speakers, as well, because they are out there serving their country, and they want to be able to tell their stories.”

Jubie, who said he is an intensely patriotic person, joined the Air Force through the delayed enlistment program after graduating from Arlington High School in 1991. He’d already studied carpentry during two years at a local vocational-tech school.

Today, Jubie wears a black metal bracelet bearing the name of one of his two fallen friends. He said he never takes off his remembrance bracelet.

Afghanistan is a battered country that desperately wants to emerge from a centuries-old cycle of poverty and violence, Jubie said. The tribal folk that inhabit Afghanistan’s outlands in the Hindu Kush Mountains are good-hearted, kind and mostly ignorant of the modern world, he said.

Education is a precious and valued commodity in Afghanistan, Jubie said. The radical Taliban, he said, conspire with like-minded local religious leaders to take advantage of the average Afghan’s non-worldliness.

“They’re a great and beautiful people,” Jubie said of the Afghans.

However, because of illiteracy plaguing the country, most Afghans “don’t really know if what’s being preached in the mosques is true or not.”

That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important that the Afghan people obtain increased opportunities for education and access to a higher standard of living, he said. The Afghans are especially appreciative of the PRT projects that build new schools for their children.

“That’s why the Taliban fights us to this day,” Jubie pointed out, noting that the terrorists want the Afghans to live in perpetual ignorance and poverty.

Afghans who are educated, forward-looking and focused on improving their lives would automatically reject the Taliban’s dark, medieval philosophy, he said.

Education represents “the voice of democracy and freedom,” Jubie said, as well as a path to a better life. These are opportunities that the Afghans long for, he said.

“And, we’re providing that,” Jubie said.

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