Maj. Gen. Franklin L. “Buster” Hagenbeck

The man in charge of all this keeps a sleeping bag on a cot in his Spartan office and a paperback murder mystery—“1st to Die,” by James Patterson— on his desk. Neither gets much use.

Army Maj. Gen. Franklin L. “Buster” Hagenbeck, 51, is a paratrooper, but he comes from the aristocratic breed of generals rather than the rough-and-tumble kind. He bears a striking resemblance to Douglas MacArthur.  And like MacArthur, he’s a constant presence in the operations center when his troops are under fire, up at all hours, pacing and questioning his staff, checking and rechecking and trying not to nag: aircraft spare parts, fuel, weather, ammunition supplies, even water; the separate routes the helicopters will fly through foggy mountain passes to get reinforcements in and casualties out and not collide with each other.  “You don’t sleep a lot at night,” he says one afternoon. “You spend every waking moment going over every detail until you think you’ve got it right.  One night I laid down for the first time in 48 hours, and 45 minutes later they came in to”—he gathers his breath and pushes on—“to tell me a helo is down and we’ve got KIAs (killed-in-action).”

Staff Sergeant Dirk Sheffer
PFC Ryan Odom
Staff Sergeant George Smith
Major Kevin Farris
Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Grippe
Maj. Gen. Franklin L. “Buster” Hagenbeck
Lt. Col. Fred Hoadley
Specialist Steven Merkley
Maj. Jerry Curran, M.D.

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