On that morning, the soldiers left their headquarters in Jalalabad for a meeting with Fazlullah Wahidi, the provincial governor in Asadabad.
There were 28 American and Afghan personnel in all, including two brigade commanders, two battalion commanders, two command sergeants major, an Afghan army commander and two U.S. civilians.
“We landed at [Combat Outpost] Fiaz, which is adjacent to the governor’s compound, around 9, 9:30 that morning,” Groberg said. “From there, we dismounted the helicopters and conducted a foot patrol of 1,000 to 1,100 meters to the governor’s compound.”
Everything about that morning “felt weird,” Groberg said.
“Just one of those feelings that you get in combat,” he said. “You don’t feel really comfortable about things, so I switched everything.”
Typically, the PSD would form a diamond around the principals, with Groberg in the back, he said.
“In case something happens, you collapse on the principals, and you take them away from danger,” he said. “I usually always, for six months, sat in the rear. I wanted the responsibility, in case something happened, to be the first one to grab the brigade commander and take him to safety.”
On Aug. 8, “I just didn’t feel comfortable, and I decided to have better eyes on, so I put myself at the spear of the diamond, so up front,” Groberg said.
The team medic, Spc. Daniel Balderrama, was on the right side of the diamond, and Pfc. Eric Ochart was in the back.
“He’s a big boy, Bears fan, love that kid,” Groberg said. “I told him, ‘Hey, listen, if anything happens today, doesn’t matter what the brigade commander’s rank is, you grab him, and you take him to safety. I don’t care what he says to you, you’re the colonel at that point.’”
To Groberg’s left was Sgt. Andrew Mahoney, the radiotelephone operator, while Sgt. 1st Class Brian Brink, the PSD’s noncommissioned officer in charge, and Pfc. Benjamin Secor were placed even further up front.