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Capt. Tupper Sends 'Greetings From Afghanistan'

May 31, 2010 (Talk of the Nation)

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Capt. Benjamin Tupper trained Afghan forces, and fought on the ground against the Taliban and their allies.

In his book, Greetings From Afghanistan, Send More Ammo, Tupper shares what he learned about Afghan culture, and life as an American soldier.

Tupper describes what he calls the three guarantees of Army life. No. 1: Someone in the unit will have a hard-to-pronounce, multi-syllabic, Eastern-European last name. In his unit, he tells NPR's Neal Conan, that was his partner, Cpl. Radek Polanski.

Secondly, Tupper says, you'll have a man from Texas. In his unit, the Texan "was a chuck wagon circuit enthusiast — all things donkey and mule related. We would be out on a mission and he'd see a mule a mile away and stop the vehicles to go get a look," and talk to the Afghan owner about the animal's provenance.

Finally, nicknames are inevitable in the Army. Tupper had a "flurry" of nicknames, which are typically the result of "a comedic or stupid action ... or an opportunity just to poke a good-natured jab, lighten up the mood in a very stressful environment." So, at various points, Tupper was known as Capt. Prozac and Capt. Carebear, but the nickname that stuck was "Ring," thanks to an unfortunate ringworm infection Tupper suffered.

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