Editorials

A polite disagreement with the Cahokia guy who first struck back after 9/11

'12 Strong' movie tells story of elite 'horse soldiers,' including Cahokia man

The movie "12 Strong" is based on the story of 12 elite soldiers — including Cahokia's Steve Kofron — who volunteered for a secret mission to take out the Taliban a week after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
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The movie "12 Strong" is based on the story of 12 elite soldiers — including Cahokia's Steve Kofron — who volunteered for a secret mission to take out the Taliban a week after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

If you ever wondered where heroes come from, now we know they sometimes come from Cahokia.

Steve Kofron was one of the 12 Green Berets who came to be known as the horse soldiers because they rode into battle against Taliban fighters who were armed with tanks and rockets. He was part of our first strike back against al Qaida and their Taliban supporters who took down the Twin Towers and damaged the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

Until his story was recently declassified and told in a book and the movie “12 Strong,” few knew the former high school wrestler and football player carried the burden of a nation’s grief and demand for justice.

Some here knew his potential, though. Kofron spoke of his high school coaches, Lawrence Taylor and Russ Baum.

“I was just this little white guy but I always remember Coach Taylor said ‘He’s never quit. I see one day, that man is going to be something,’” Kofron said.

Kofron and his fellow soldiers had to fight for the chance to be tasked with a mission from which they were not expected to return. They were commandos making plans on the ground to strike back and disrupt the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“We were briefed that we might not be coming back and a lot of that is depicted in the movie,” Kofron said. “They were saying we don’t have a lot of intel on this and they (the Taliban) are cutting people’s heads off and skinning people alive. They offered rewards for our dead bodies in real life and in the movie.”

Overwhelming odds, risk of a horrible death and a lot to lose: two children and his wife, an Air Force major.

“There’s a line in the movie where someone asks, ‘How do you love your children and leave them and go to war?’ I don’t have an answer to that. You just do the best you can with what you have and what you got,” he said.

Kofron denies that he’s a hero.

“I’m not a hero and I know I’m not a hero,” he said. “I just hope that we can make it better for the guys behind us.”

Exactly what you would expect a hero to say. Thank you, Steve Kofron.

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