WARNO BLEND: Black Peppercorn, Cloves, Cinnamon Stick
The excitement of cloves, the sweet cinnamon of adventure, and the sting of black peppercorn.

Definition (DOD, NATO): Warning Order (noun) 1. A preliminary notice of an order or action that is to follow.

I am the luckiest man alive. I am not a soldier, but I’ve had the privilege of living with our men and women at arms and witnessing their courage and dedication. I have been welcomed by those heroes as a brother, though I’ve sometimes been thought of as crazy for bringing a camera to a gunfight.

In August 2011, I stepped off a plane for my first foray into Afghanistan. My family had been in the defense industry for decades, and I’d been raised at the feet of this nation’s finest warriors. Having been so blessed, and armed with only my knowledge and a Nikon, I sought a way to honor those who would lay down their lives for our country, and I was prepared to lay down mine next to theirs if need be. Acceptance, at first, wasn’t easy. As in all combat environments, an individual has to prove himself. However, as time passed, and the warriors who had agreed to host me understood the intent of my mission, I became another grunt on the line. This is not the kind of acceptance you can buy, and it is now my most precious possession.

Over the course of two years and multiple tours downrange, I traveled aboard more than one hundred military aircraft and vehicles, from Bagram to Herrera, from Kandahar to Shindand. I was hosted at multiple forward operating bases and more than twenty-two combat outposts, and I spent
many nights “outside the wire” sharing a rock for a bed and waiting to be hit. During 132 combat missions, my guides were US Army soldiers, US Air Force pararescuemen, special forces operators, US Navy explosives experts, US Marine Corps infantrymen, military working dogs, and Afghan officials and civilians, to name a few. The people I was with were much more than objects of my curiosity. They were my protectors, and I was their witness.

On the following pages, my intent is to give you a sense of the warriors, weapons, and wonders of Afghanistan that I saw firsthand, close-up, and personal. It is my hope that when we’re done here, you will feel as blessed as I do to have these brave men and women standing atop our battlements of freedom.

Robert L. Cunningham

Continue the journey>>>

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