ABC 36 anchor reflects on war and family upon return from Afghanistan
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – This will be an especially Merry Christmas for ABC 36 News Anchor Doug High because he’ll spend it with his family in Lexington after spending the last seven months in Kabul, Afghanistan as Commander and Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
He temporarily left as co-anchor of Good Morning Kentucky and Good Day Kentucky in March of this year. He trained stateside in April and deployed to Afghanistan in May. He returned home to Lexington December 10 to the loving arms of his wife and two young sons.
In his time in Kabul, he says they were under attack almost daily, which included the largest bomb explosion in that war-torn city’s history on May 31. That’s when a truck bomb, intended for Commander High’s base, was stopped by Afghan forces a half-mile away. The bomb was detonated, killing 150 people and wounding another 500, while leaving a massive crater in the earth. Even though it was a half-mile away, the force of the blast knocked High off his feet.
There was another day where grenades rained-down on High’s base. He recorded some of the barrage on his cell phone. You can clearly hear explosions in the background and air raid sirens going off on the base as shrapnel peppered the compound’s walls. He says those were among some of the most intense moments of his deployment.
“In a situation like that, you close your eyes at night and sometimes you don’t know if you’ll open them again the next morning. I mean, that’s a sobering thought,” said Commander High.
“We cannot pay back our military for what they put on the line for us everyday, it’s tremendous,” High added.
He also praised his wife Lyssa, who is co-host of Midday Kentucky on ABC 36. She played the dual role of mom and dad for the couple’s two young boys during the deployment, taking full advantage of today’s technology to Skype with her husband almost daily.
Commander High called Lyssa a rock star military wife. “If you don’t have that kind of support at home, there’s no way you can focus on your job over there,” Commander High said.
“Balancing the emotional side of things with your husband and the father of your children in harm’s way with the day-to-day responsibilities of playing the dual parent role is definitely a challenge,” said Lyssa. “But I’m glad to do it. He’s serving our country and it’s the least I can do to help serve our country by serving him,” she added.
Commanded High says by far, the hardest part of his deployment was being away from his family who he calls his “universe.” He says the thing that surprised him the most about Kabul is the amount of daily violence. He says the toughest part of his adjustment now that he’s back home in Lexington is leaving his comrades behind in Afghanistan.
“This was my time to leave, their time will come, you know this, but you still feel like you’re abandoning them in a sense,” said Commander High. “They’re still on a mission, and you’re not anymore. We were a close group. I worked with about 100 international officers and Afghan journalists and we had six U.S. officers, so naturally we were very, very tight. They were my people. I was in charge of them. I was responsible for them, and so, I think about them everyday and I can’t stand that they’re not home with their families for the holidays. So, that has been really, really tough on me,” High added.
Commander High also stressed the importance of supporting reservists, who serve in the same roles as regular military around the world, keeping America safe. It’s no longer one weekend a month and two weeks a year for reservists, it’s year round, being ready to answer the call to serve anywhere in the world, in harm’s way, performing the same duties as this country’s full-time professional military.
Commander High encourages people to reach out to reservists, support them, contact them through social media, send a letter or care package. He says receiving things like that for the reservists in Afghanistan during his tour was “gold.”
Early morning and mid-morning ABC 36 viewers will be happy to know that Doug High is scheduled to return to the anchor desk on Monday, January 29, 2018. We like to think of it as his second homecoming since returning to Kentucky.