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War Stories: Fighting A Monitor Lizard In Afghanistan

Check out this soldier's account of what he picked up at the bazaar...

Photo by iStockphoto


One fine morning (about noon since I worked through the periods of darkness) I was observing our nice, easy Sunday schedule, which meant I had one hour of free time before reporting for duty to go to the PX, bazaar, or Green Bean Coffee shop. I decided to go to the bazaar to have a cup of tea with my favorite local national shop keeper and let him rip me off on some pirate movies. As I got close to his shop, which was a conex box stuffed full of cheap Made-in-Pakistan items, I noticed a commotion behind the row of shops next to his. A group of Pashtun local nationals were gathered in a circle taking whacks at something with these long lengths of pipe. Foolishly, I decided to go see what was going on back there. I walked into the fracas and noticed they had surrounded a Bengal monitor lizard and were trying to kill it.


I knew the locals were afraid of the lizards and there were plenty of them running around the area. What was funny was the Pashtuns were too afraid to get close enough to actually hit the thing. I’m no PETA-type animal lover, but the things were harmless and I guess I felt sorry for it. I mocked one of them for being afraid and asked why he didn’t just walk up to it and grab it by the neck. He looked at me like I was crazy, then he asked me why I didn’t go and grab it by the neck. With this obvious challenge to my manhood, I accepted - foolishly, since I didn’t know jack shit about lizards or how to handle them. I walked into the middle of the astounded group of would-be lizard killers and snatched the thing up by the neck and tail...