At first look, Benjamin Tupper doesn't strike you as particularly military, dressed in khaki pants, short sleeved shirt, sneakers and ball cap. But the captain from the 27th Brigade of the New York Army National Guard packed a small section of Creekside Books and Coffee July 1 with people eager to hear about his experience in Afghanistan.
"I'm not a bravo kind of guy," the Syracuse native said. "I'm really laid back. I'm kind of chill."
Tupper doesn't consider himself as having done anything extraordinary in Afghanistan, either. Nor does he consider himself a writer, even though he managed to complete a 253 page book about his time in Afghanistan titled "Greetings from Afghanistan: Send More Ammo."
"I never fancied myself as being a guy who could write a book, let alone write one that any one was interested in reading," Tupper said. "I would say I didn't do anything special there. I didn't do anything out of the ordinary that any American soldier or service man or woman [doesn't go and do.]"
But Tupper was in a unique position to write about the American experience in Afghanistan. The result of his effort is a compelling story that had the bookstore sold out of copies of his book by the end of his presentation.
Tupper worked as part of an ETT (Embedded Training Team) between 2006 and 2007. He was one of 16 men on the team that helped a battalion of about 300 to 400 Afghan soldiers get up and running, and fighting the Taliban.
The ETT's men were divided into groups of two accompanied by an interpreter and a company of Afghan soldiers -- from 30 to 60 men. Tupper's partner on their missions was Corporal Radoslaw Polanski, who is also a subject of the book.
Their missions varied, and included fighting the Taliban, disabling improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and the more mundane, like consulting villagers about building wells.