Army Pfc. Travis Munsell, 19, was considering a trip to the lake with his friends Tuesday morning after returning to Tucumcari from Kabul, Afghanistan Friday.
Munsell said he grew up in Tucumcari, moving here from Houston at age four or five.
Munsell originally planned to join the United States Coast Guard after high school but was disqualified from service because of a torn ACL he had repaired his junior year. The United States Army was willing to take him, however.
"I checked with the Army. I told them about it. They said, 'Well, we can get you a waiver' and sure enough they got me a waiver, checked to make sure I could do duck walks and make sure I could bend my knee just right and everything went fine," Munsell said.
Munsell said he graduated high school May 28, 2009, left home for basic training in October 2009 and was deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan in mid-March. It was there he received his assignment. He would train soldiers in the Afghan National Army to perform tactical military operations with the goal of eventually turning over day-to-day enforcement to Afghan officials.
"We're training them to take over our spot. We're putting them in our spot so we can go home," Munsell said.
Munsell said he never saw combat while stationed in Kabul, but the prospect of armed conflict was always real.
"There's always that possibility. Once you go out of site of the gates you're pulling security inside the vehicle, just looking around. Once you're out there, it's just a different thing and you're scared because you can get hit at anytime from anywhere," Munsell said. "You don't know where it's going to come from. You don't know what size it's going to be, so you're just looking around, pulling for security. But lucky for us, we didn't get attacked, so that's a good thing."
Munsell, who said he would like to continue serving in the Army for a career, will celebrate his 20th birthday next month in his home country, and said he expects to be re-deployed in January 2012, although he is not certain.
"That's what I'm expecting. I guess we'll see if it happens or not," Munsell said. "Hopefully we can get out of Afghanistan."