Camp Phoenix’s “Rambo”

March 8, 2007

I thought I’d do some checking up on the war that doesn’t seem to get talked about nearly enough in the media, so I did a search for “Afghanistan” on Digg, and an interesting story caught my attention: Afghan ‘Rambo’ stops bombers

This is a normal day for Rambo, an Afghan who has stood guard here for more than four years, pledging his life to the American soldiers that rid his land of the Taliban. But on Jan. 16, Rambo’s gatekeeping made him a bona fide hero.

On that day, Rambo wrenched open the driver’s side door of a moving car and wrestled a suicide bomber into submission before he could detonate his explosives. President Bush lauded him in a nationally televised speech several weeks ago, and before that, slightly exaggerated accounts of his feat circled through cyberspace, pleading for America to offer him citizenship or at least a medal.

I must have missed it when Bush mentioned him, since I’d never heard of this guy before.  Here he is:


I did some more searching, and found a little more background on Rambo on the Stars & Stripes site from Jan. ’05:  ‘Rambo’ helps keep U.S. base in Afghanistan secure

A person would be hard pressed to find anyone in the camp who doesn’t know or hasn’t heard of Rambo, so named by troops in the 10th Mountain Division.

“He’s definitely a legend on this camp,” Sgt. Michael Sweet said.

While Sweet, an Indiana National Guardsman, is a shift sergeant, it’s abundantly clear that Rambo is the primary gatekeeper.

In June 2003, when U.S. forces first rolled up to the front gate of what was then a Russian-Afghan transport company, Rambo was waiting. He hasn’t left.

Stories of Rambo permeate the base. Some are factual. Others are not.

“This is my hooch,” he says through an interpreter as he opens the door to a small, cramped room immediately off the front gate.

His real name is Jamal Udin, born in Kabul “maybe 41 years ago,” he said, to parents who moved to the capital from northern Afghanistan.

After reading all that, it’s clear to me that Rambo embodies the reason we are in Afghanistan, and reaffirms my belief that we are there for the right reasons.  So, I’ll do what the troops stationed there do, and give Rambo a hearty salute myself.  Best of luck to all of you.

For a soldier’s perspective on ‘Rambo‘ , and other things relating to Camp Phoenix and the daily life of the troops in Afghanistan, check out this excellent blog: Afghanistan Without a Clue (aka: AWAC) 


See also: Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix



  1. I was at Camp Phoenix when Rambo first started maintaing the gate. I once saw him run in front of vehicles risking his life to stop cars so that our convoy could make it through the gate.

  2. I am the proud wife of a WWII Purple Heart Hero, and have had great-nephews in both Afghanistan and Iraq. From the bottom of my heart, I thank Rambo for what he is doing. God Bless you, Big Guy! Keep up the good work. P.S. See my Hero’s picture on our website.

  3. […] *(I had to clarify, as I have another post titled ) […]

  4. I was there on that day.He saved lifes of a many people.he is really hero.God bless You bro!!!

  5. When you go to war with a country, your first inclination is to never trust anyone from that country. I sure learned that does not always hold true. Rambo was a man I would have trusted with my life any day of the week and a true patriot. In fact, I would trust him above many Americans I know. Here is a man who defended us at Camp Phoenix every day and put his ass on the line more than once out of a sense of duty and loyalty to us. The Taliban killed his wife in an attack years ago and when we arrived, he signed up with us to do his part to avenge her death. He has saved American lives at great risk to his own due to his extreme dedication to us and his appreciation for us taking down the Taliban. I would trust that man with my life to this day and am very honored to have known him. He is a living legend in Afghanistan and especially in Camp Phoenix and I hope he is allowed to serve with us until this war is over. The man deserves a ticker-tape parade at Times Square when this is all done, in my humble opinion.

  6. I was actually @ camp phoneix when this had happened though i was not on the front gate i was on the qrf team to resond to the bomb @ the gate. We were out of fort sill oklahoma 75th fires brigade 2nd 18th feild artillery. I worked by this mans sided more than a couple of 8 hour shifts he kept the local s pretty much in line when they would be waiting for their sponsors to arrive. At any rate he is a class act and a deserving human being and everything i heard from the guys on the gate was that he did indeed remove a suicide bomber from the car while guys from b battery were on gates that week. He wasnt even wearing any gear when i first arrived in country but after that accident ( if you wanna call it that ) he was issued a kevlar and vest w/ plates.

    • Steve, I WAS AT THE GATE.

  7. I met with “Rambo” upon my first week working at Camp Phoenix. He was a great talker and very friendly guy. Very respectful to all ranks and to our female soldiers alike.

    I witnessed his dedication as he thoroughly screened transports and applied strict protocol to entering outsiders.

    And his baseball bat alone commands respect and attention! He is a great asset to our conflict here in Afghanistan.

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  9. I was in A-4-31IN, 2nd BCT, 10th MTN DIV(LI) from May to November 2003. I have so many wonderful memories of Rambo!!! I called him Coco Jamal which means Uncle Jamal. I am not surprised by his heroic actions of wrestling a suicide bomber to the ground! Once when I was on tower guard at the main gate we spotted an abandoned white and orange taxi cab just outside the main gate. We called it in to BN and were awaiting guidance when Rambo, with no gear whatsoever, goes stomping out there does a one man vehicle search, rips the thing apart, and gives a thumbs up saying GOOD GOOD! I saw the comment earlier about trusting Rambo with his life above some Americans!!! I totally agree with that statement! I saw him go above and beyond what even an American soldier would do, exposing himself to mortal danger EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!! I heard not long ago that Rambo was killed in a suicide bomb explosion at the main gate, I pray to the Lord that is not true! He loves America true enough, but I wonder if he would leave Afghanistan. He loves his country like I love mine! He was committed to a better tomorrow for his people!!! God bless Coco Jamal!

  10. He makes a kick ass cup of chai to boot.

  11. Jamaluddin Afghani Rambo (The Real Rambo) worked for more than 13 years only 4 days off at camp phoenix Kabul Afghanistan.
    A honest, Brave and Loyal person.

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