Feb 3, 2014
Yale Graduate Writes 'Afghan Post' About 'America's Forgotten War'
Peter Hvizdak/New Haven Register
Former U.S. Army Airborne Ranger Capt. Adrian Bonenberger of Branford went to Afghanistan after graduating from Yale. He was featured in The New York Times series “A Year at War” while there, and is the author of “Afghan Post,” which recounts his war experiences. Bonenberger is now at Columbia University working toward a master’s degree in journalism.
BRANFORD--Adrian Bonenberger spent two tours of duty in Afghanistan, and in those seven years, he learned a few things about heroism, leadership, survival — and the lifesaving value of stories.
Stories about battles fought are nothing new, of course. “Every group of soldiers returning from war has had to create its own organizations, where soldiers could go to drink and tell their stories to each other,” he says. “You realize that there is really no way to make somebody else understand what you went through.”
But Bonenberger, a 2002 graduate of Yale, decided to write a memoir about his experiences — beginning with his senior year at Yale, his year teaching English in Japan, and then his decision to join the Army (a decision which shocked most of his schoolmates, family and friends) and ending with his tension-filled return to the United States as a changed person.
Through letters home to friends, family and to fellow soldiers and in journal entries, he describes in fascinating detail his two deployments — the first as a second lieutenant with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in eastern Afghanistan, and the second as a captain for the First Battalion, 87th Infantry, 10th Mountain Division. This battalion was featured in The New York Times series, “A Year at War.”
His book, “Afghan Post,” published by The Head & The Hand Press, was released in January. Publishers Weekly has called it a “visceral account of the bumpy road of self-discovery for a young soldier at war.”
Bonenberger, whose father, Greg, is a lawyer and whose mother, Sheila, is a poet and retired librarian, is certainly not a typical volunteer for the Army. He attended Hopkins School and grew up loving to read, surrounded by intellectual pursuits and music. But, he admits, he was also not a typical prep student or Yalie. He drank too much, took chances, acted out.