By: Sam Ingles
In 2007, a single company of U.S. Paratroopers, self-titled the “Chosen Few”, arrived in eastern Afghanistan hoping to win the hearts and minds of the remote mountain people while also extending the Aghani government’s reach into rural areas. Their mission was not easy. For the following fifteen months, the Chosen Few were berated with continuous attacks by the outnumbering Taliban forces. Month after month, rocket-propelled grenades, rockets, and machine-gun fire poured down on the isolated and exposed paratroopers as America’s focus and military resources shifted to Iraq.
Just a week before the paratroopers were to return home, they faced an enemy force of three hundred fighters near the village of Wanat in the Nuristan Province. The Chosen Few, consisting of fifty brave men, defended a partially finished combat base, battling back the ensuing Taliban. Nine men died, and two dozen were wounded. Since that day, the battle near Wanat has been come to known as the most brutal battle since the beginning of the Afghanistan conflict in 2001. Upon their return home, two men, Sergeant Kyle White and Sergeant Ryan Pitts, were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
One member of the Chosen Few, John Whitney, was a member of the Chosen Company from 2009 to 2011. His roles consisted of providing leadership, creating combined multicultural engagements to solve community and security issues, and supervising multiple contracts that helped build better security and public services for multinational forces. In addition, Whitney developed a language program that trained over 40 local nationals to read and write; a program that is the first of its kind.
Whitney decided to start an initiative to help bring awareness to the group through the game of lacrosse. With the influence of his son, Ethan, Whitney proposed the idea of participating in the Shootout for Soldiers event to the 2022 ThundeLB3 travel lacrosse team. The goal, aside from fundraising, was to instill a high level of respect for those volunteered to serve our country.
“Each man was different but had something to bring to the table. Race, religion, social background made no difference, we were there for each other! Much like the 2022 ThundeLB3 boys. Each one of them, different, but there to complete the mission, to become better lacrosse players.”
John Whitney -Member of the Chosen Few