Stephan Mace of the Army's 61st Cavalry Regiment knew the Taliban would be waiting for him when he returned to eastern Afghanistan in September.
During a two-week leave in early September, the 21-year-old specialist sat on his father's couch in Winchester, Virginia, and discussed his concerns over Forward Operating Base Keating in Kamdesh District, a region known as a Taliban stronghold.
"He talked about the village next to the base, that it had 300 Taliban, and they couldn't do anything about it because they were in mosques hiding or with other civilians," says his father, Larry Mace.
Editor's note: CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a bestselling author whose forthcoming book is "Late Edition: A Love Story."
By Bob Greene
There is a beach in Coronado, California, just across the bridge from San Diego. It offers a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean, which is why it attracts tourists who are drawn to the sun.
I thought about that beach yesterday, when the news from the Indian Ocean near the Horn of Africa was flashed around the world - the news that the captain of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama had been rescued from Somali pirates by U.S. forces operating off the USS Bainbridge.
That beach in California seems quite placid, even sedate. The historic, red-gabled Hotel del Coronado sits upon it - the place where the Marilyn Monroe-Jack Lemmon-Tony Curtis movie "Some Like It Hot" was filmed. The feeling of the place is one of genteel manners, of delicate tradition. You almost expect to see guests carrying parasols and making reservations to play croquet.
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