On August 26, 2021, a bombing at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan killed more than 100 people, Sgt. Kenny Wright and his squad were some of the first to respond.

When they arrived at the airport, Wright remembers the atmosphere and chaos of trying to help those who were injured. He described the medics running straight towards the action as he stood by waiting for higher leadership to give commands. On arrival, Wright and his squad leader hopped out of the truck to assess the situation. Trucks were whizzing by, asking them what happened even though they too had just arrived on the scene. Loud alarms were warning of further ground attacks. Too much commotion to understand what had happened or feel any emotion. Wright said it was about preparing for another attack and keeping as many people safe from that as possible.

The bombing of the Kabul airport

According to AP News, on August 26, 2021, around 9:30 a.m., two suicide bombers and gunmen associated with The Islamic State group attacked the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Afghan and U.S. officials reported that at least 60 Afghan people and 13 U.S. troops were killed in these attacks. Wright and his squad were nearby, ready to respond.

Wright explained that they had been told there was a possibility of a complex attack from ISIS. His squad drove about 15 minutes in a vehicle to aid the wounded and, later, dead. Even with the deaths that occurred, he said the most important thing was safety for everyone else at the airport. In that moment, he doesn’t recall having time to think about the possibility of dying or protecting himself from the potential second attack.

However, the reality of the situation hit Wright the next morning. “We slept in a different building and I left my phone in the original building,” Wright recalls. “And I just remember thinking, ‘Oh crap, I haven’t told anybody if I’m okay all night.’ I got back to my phone which probably has like 25 texts, like 30 Facebook messages from people and especially my wife. She hadn’t slept at all. And finally around 6:30 in the morning the next day, I was able to finally be like ‘No I’m okay. Everything’s fine. I’m safe,’ because everyone kept telling her to go watch the news… watch CNN and everything like that.”

Wright’s squad was able to leave Afghanistan on Aug. 30, but not without one last attack. As they boarded their plane and lifted off from the tarmac, about six or seven rockets were fired at the plane by ISIS. Those on the plane weren’t aware of what had happened until arriving in Kuwait. “There was an article on CNN when we got to Kuwait that I saw that said [ISIS] had fired rockets at the airfield and it was like, ‘Holy crap, that was us,’” Wright said.


The military was not something that Wright was intending to be a part of early on in life. Wright was born in Fitzwilliam, N.H. and graduated from Monadnock Regional High School in 2006. At the time of graduation, Wright said he had friends who immediately went to Iraq, but he had other aspirations at that point in life.

“Oh, I wanted to write for the Red Sox,” Wright explained. “I said, ‘This shouldn’t be that hard. I’m going to go sit at Fenway every day from April to October.’”

After graduating from Keene State College in 2010 with a degree in journalism, Wright did not go down to Boston for work, however. Instead, he ended up going north to Maine where he got a writing job. However, after being tossed into the ‘real world’ without any instruction, Wright was let go from the job and made the decision to join the U.S. Army.

The military life

Growing up, Wright doesn’t remember knowing many people in the military or the lifestyle having much of an impact on him. He described hearing brief stories about his grandfather being a marine and an uncle that may have enlisted. Now, much of his family and the people he surrounds himself with are a part of the service.

“But now, it’s like, holy cow, my brother is in, he is actually deploying next week, my brother in law is a captain in the army, my two in laws, my wife’s parents, were both enlisted in the Army,” Wright listed.

After losing his first job out of college, Wright followed in the footsteps of his brother and enlisted in the U.S. Army as a member of the Military Police. Now, after eight years in service, he still remembers going to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

“At that time, it was a little bit [scary], knowing that basically, it’s your life now,” Wright described. “You can’t really just call in sick and be like, ‘I don’t feel like going to work today.’ Like previous civilian jobs where if I had a rough night or something that could just be like, ‘I don’t feel like coming in today.’ Here, it’s kind of like ‘No one cares, get in here.’”

Wright said the goal of basic training was to “transition you from civilian into soldier.” Between April and September of 2013, when Wright completed basic training, he described this mainly as yelling, following commands of the drill sergeant and learning commands through repetition. He also defined the first few weeks of this as a “culture shock” designed to prepare new recruits for the lifestyle. Many young people go through this process without much support, but Wright was able to lean on his brother, who had already completed training, to help guide him through it.

Since leaving basic training, Wright has been stationed in Fort Riley, Kan., Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and now Fort Drum, N.Y.

Because of moving so frequently and not having a typical civilian job, Wright said it has been easier to find friends who are also in the military. He also said that with Fort Drum being his third duty station, he and his wife have friends all over the country and this can come in handy at times. Wright told a story of a time when their friends were ready to step in and help at a moment’s notice.

“When we were in Hawaii, we were supposed to get a big hurricane,” Wright recalls. “And [my wife] was going to be stranded at the airport for the night in Arizona. Well, I worked with people that now live in Arizona and we actually contacted them through Facebook and were like, ‘Hey, can you go pick her up?’ and they were like, ‘Oh yeah, sure.’ It never happened, but we already had that plan because we knew people, because of this job.”

Going off to fight the bad guys

In the past eight years of service, Wright has only been deployed once and that was in August 2021 leading up to the violence in Afghanistan.

Though he had no idea when he would be leaving home, Wright knew he was going to be deployed so he was able to prepare. He said preparation consisted of making sure his wife had necessary passwords for online banking, ensuring important content from his phone were transferred to her phone and the home computer and telling his three-and-a-half-yearold son that he would have to leave, possibly in a matter of days.

Wright explained this mostly consisted of telling him, “I’m not going to be there for a while because I’m going over… to go fight the bad guys.”

When it came time for Wright to leave, it was about 11 p.m. which meant a quick goodbye to a groggy three-year-old. However, his son was able to track his father’s travels through five countries in 27 days and, eventually, knew when he had arrived in Afghanistan. Wright said he was grateful for the amount of communication he had with his family as this was unusual for deployment.

“It wasn’t like the normal deployments where they were fighting up in the mountains of Afghanistan,” he described. “So when we weren’t [working eighthour shifts], we were in our room that we had and I was able to Facetime when I could, but the time difference was about eight and a half hours. By the time I woke up at like six in the morning, my wife was getting ready to go to bed.”

Wright was able to continue contact with his family most of his deployment, though that didn’t change the weight lifted off of everyone’s shoulders when he was able to return to the U.S.

Coming home and moving forward

Sgt. Wright arrived home safely from his first deployment on Sept. 11, 2021. He was greeted by his son, his wife, his brother and his parents.

“Everyone was just so relieved,” Wright said. “I was able to go take leave after, when we finally got back, I was going home and everyone was just so relieved… When I went over there, I didn’t expect any of us to not come back. And when August 26 happened with the 13 Marines and everything, it was like, ‘Holy crap. This is real life right now, like we could die here.’”

Wright is now back with his family in Fort Drum, N.Y. and though the reality of this past deployment in Afghanistan is still with him, he said this doesn’t change his preparedness for future deployments because it is the job of a member of the U.S. Army. “That’s what we train for,” Wright said. “The deployment is the big game and when we’re here, we’re just practicing.”


Meeghan Somerset can be contacted at


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