Thursday, September 30, 2010

BAGRAM Airfield (BAF)

After spending 9 hours at the airport for a flight that only takes 20 minutes, myself and my CLT finally boarded a plane to head to Bagram. We have spent the first couple days trying to get all their accounts up and running, and the Team checked in here at the hospital, before they were finally up and running and able to start business - today.

Once a week, here at the hospital, they do a Purple Heart Ceremony for all the Battle Wounded that are getting ready to be flown out of theater. My NCOIC here will be responsible for walking with the General to see all the recipients, so I decided to shadow this ceremony.

Prior to the General Arriving, we do the rounds and ensure the SM are ready to see the General. As we did the rounds last night, in preps, we happened upon a new patient – he was seriously about 1 hour into being admitted after an IED explosion he became victim to. This SM was, I'm sure, in a pain killer induced sleep, and it was obvious. This poor guy was swollen – what looked like -most of his upper body. He still had shrapnel tears on his arms, face and other places I am sure I didn't see. There was still dried up blood, and even fresh blood on the pillow he lie with, from the wounds that were covering his face and neck. Seeing this, hurt my heart. It was devastating to see the reality of the reports I process daily.

See, I (and my cell) are lucky. We simply process the reports. We can only visualize from the description. But my CLT in Kandahar hospital, and now here in Bagram Hospital, will see it daily.

And its not just the wounded service members. Yes, we even attend to the wounded enemy combatants (ironically, we heal the enemy we shoot – just so they can go back out there and try once again..)
we also tend to the civilian sector who are hurt as a result of enemy fire/IED, etc.

Anyways, we completed our rounds, there were 3 SM getting their Purple Hearts last night. As the General made his rounds, he greeted the wounded Soldiers, spoke with them for a few minutes, and then the order of the Purple Heart was read – and the SM was pinned with that and the Combat Action Medal. I have never witness a Purple Heart ceremony (no matter how small/quaint, it was) and it was truly a raw, emotional sight.

Looking in the Soldiers eyes, watching his face – so proud – so courageous, as the General pinned the medal to his uniform, was inspiring. I was proud for each of them! One of the Soldiers had been there for a few weeks, and the Sergeant Major found out and was having a brand new, fresh uniform delivered within the half hour – for him to fly home in.

Last night was a moving experience for me. I was in awwe at the Soldiers, their bravery, their sacrifice. It was also a humbling experience, in that, I know – I am lucky. Although I am here, in the war zone, I am blessed that I am not in the same dangers that these Soldiers face daily.. the front lines..

This also put a face to the injuries and casualty reports we process daily. I have to say, I truly am thankful this is not something I have to see on a daily basis.

I wanted to cry last night... I felt so bad for them, so proud for them.
I didn't. Instead, I came home, called my mom.

I didn't spend much time at the hospital yesterday – as I normally spend at work – but I was drained. I was mentally exhausted last night.

Today – I escape the reality of war – by watching movies all evening -
I'm okay.. maybe a bit more sullen today than the norm.. but I'm okay.

It is much louder here, than what I am used to.

My first night here, every loud bang, every loud noise startled me. I hear noises that sound like sirens, and wonder – should I be in a bunker? Is that the siren? Before I realize its the humming of a plane of jet engine..

My first day here – I witnessed an explosion – not sure from what – but I watched it happen.. heard the bang.. saw the black smoke go up, that followed...
I stood in anticipation of an alarm – a siren – something but it never followed..
Still don't know what it was..

So needless to say, I am a little more on edge here, than I normally am. The noises are unsettling, the loud planes over head, the constant stream of jets – which sometimes – sound much like an incoming rockets..

My room here is outstanding! I can not complain. I am sitting here, on a couch, feet up on a coffee table, watching a movie on the big screen TV, all while browsing the Internet on the PC that is in here.. There is plenty of room to include a few beds and a refrigerator ta'boot.. Here, I feel like I am living it up.. and for the majority of the days – I have privacy.. more physical privacy more so than audio, though. There is only one piece of wood that separates the female side from the male side – therefore, you can hear everything – but in all – there is NOTHING to complain about! :) Any bit of privacy and luxury – is grand and treasured over here! :)

I will be glad to go home..
obviously much more so to go home to the states – but my temporary home now – is far better than any other location I have seen yet, since my circulation started..

Anyways, today is a day to be happy.. excited and thrilled for my baby!
Today – is his birthday – all my feelings aside – he will feel celebrated today!

Til next time...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reconciling the past - Reminiscing

As I sit here listening to the music you sent, floods of memories surround me..embrace me in a warmth I can not describe and yet at the same time a despair so great I cant honestly answer if I have regrets in my decision to leave, although I will say that I do firmly believe God had a purpose.. A purpose for you and a purpose for me..

I have such great memories of the adventures we went on together, the explorations, not just physical, but mental, spiritual in a sense, even though we seldom if ever, ok actually never, enjoyed gods love together as a couple, i wonder what greater joys we would have encountered had we trusted in him, together
I wasn't strong enough in my faith to let it spill over on to you, who knew that one day we would end up where we are today, in the presence of gods love and still holding on to the bonds we share I spent many years searching for a path of survivability, freedom, love, joy, spiritual wholeness

But in my endeavors, I got lost along the way

During my years of being lost inside my own soul, you were being found...well let me rephrase that, you were reconnected with the one pure love, the one pure goodness in life..

As I sit here listening to the music you sent to me, sitting perched up against the bench that I am meant to sit on, I feel an overwhelming sadness of the life we left behind

I recall our walks along the beach, holding hands, the sun setting, the sand so fine, so pure that it feels as though we are walking on silk. The love in your eyes, on the 9th deck of the Volendam as we made our personal vows to eachother, the love in your eyes as you looked at me in my princess wedding gown, the joy in your eyes as we experienced some of the great rides at Busch Gardens, the wind blowing thru our hair as we rode along in our convertible Sebring coasting the roads in Florida during our well deserved honeymoon, the excitement in your eyes as we strolled thru Disney world with three young toddlers, even tho it was off to quite a rocky start,just making it up to the hotel room that was over aged, over paid and over populated with bugs, and mold...the proud achievement we felt at your graduation for your associates degree, at my Purdue graduation, at my commissioning, even tho you were burning up with celephane wrapping you so tightly you thought you would faint, the feel of your touch as you honored me with my first salute and I traded with you a silver dollar in exchange for that torture you endured in the heat of the gym at the armory.. The frustrations we Shared during our 24 hour venture in what we like to call PCSing from the muggy south to what would normally be a 12 hour journey.. And then again on our few day journey from Indiana to Washington..the excitement as we moved into our first real place together, in Indiana, one that we could make a home.. The hunger in your eyes, as we said our I dos (the first time) with only one couple to witness these vows, that sadly, we ended up leaving behind a few short years later.. The vows, the promises, we would not know would not last, becuase we were sure we were soul mates, what we failed to realize, was without a soul that was full of his love, our souls were destined to fail...because we couldnt do it alone... Even with each other, we couldn't do it without his love..

Thought it all, I still knew a love I had never known, a security in a man, a strong desire to be the very best, to be the one you wanted for the rest of your life.. The one you would be proud of, the one you would admire, and yet, all the while being an equal...I was so proud to have you by my side...I was so proud to call you my partner in life, my husband, my best friend..

Life changed us, family changed us, and what was left behind, was stranded on a single road, at fork, neither one of us would foresee...a fork, which would change us, who were were, and what we knew, forever..

This fork in the road leading us to different paths, because for the first time since we had met, we chose different paths, unbeknownst to us, we started individual journeys, in opposite directions, ultimately pulling our once united souls, to separate places

I chose a road that I thought would fulfill me, at the point in which we discovered we weren't fulfilling each others needs, needs much more powerful than just the basic food, water, subsistence, needs to fulfill a longing that couldn't not be described..

Along my journeys I have seen some things,shared some powerful moments, that now, looking back, would have been an incredible journey with you..
I was happy in my own way for a while..but my happiness still depended on the one opposite me, and his happiness...

In my ventures, I sky dived for the first time. I jumped out of a perfectly good plane, at 16000 feet and jumped to the earth in a most tranquil, awe inspiring peacefulness that can only be described as feeling like you were floating from heavens abounds, to the rocky bottom. An exhilarating rush, that can only be experienced, by jumping yourself..
I went ice skating for the first time in years, some thing I once loved to do as a child...

And I took a cruise to alaska, discovering the jungle, zip lining 300 feet above the ground through trees and mountains, I climbed a vertical mountain side of more than 80 feet high, with just my hands (although I did have lines attached to me, incase i failed..) although, as you know me, I let nothing beat me.. Nothing physically anyhow..had I only understood then, years before how untrue that would be.. Because one thing did beat me. My resolve for God and his magical touch..anyhow, after climbing said mountain/rock, I then repelled down, yet again, another exhilarating event, both the shaking muscles and nerves as my hands tried with all their might to climb something so high, probably not meant to just be climbed up, but yet, I accomplished it..then repelled downward back to where I started...

I learned to snow board making a few trips to selected mountains, ski tops, but my desire to snowboard well, did not actually couple with my knowledge...I was horrible at it, my first go round, my first trip, I dislocated my shoulder, an injury preventing me from returning for 6 weeks, at least, as it definitely disabled me, however, as stubborn as younknow I am, I was back out there 4 weeks later..still sore, but loved the journey, loved the feel, excited in the sport that was kicking my butt...eager to master it.. So this next visit was a weekend get away...2 full days planned on the mountain....which unfortuantaetly turned out disastrous on the first day....I thought I had finally gotten good...had been down the slope about 7 times...fallen probably double that..but still..I would get up, dust off the snow and keep going, that 7th time down, would prove to be my last, well, so far anyhow... But my resolve was relentless, even after my tailbone thought it could not take yet, another fall

As I was coming down the slope, my speed caught and I felt my self speeding faster and faster, to a point where the speed scared me, so I dug my heals down on the board, trying to slow my decline, only digging too far, to hard, bringing my feet, and the snowboard attached to them up in the air, in front of me, knowing what was coming next, knowing that if I fell one more time on my tailbone, it would probably break, I quickly made the worst errors ever in snowboarding, I put both my hands down, stretched out, behind me, to brace my fall.. You would think falling on fluffy snow wouldn't be painful, but it is like falling on cement, and inn this case it was no different. My hands went down, braced my fall, and boom, splay, poof.. I was down. Iniitally, it hurt, I felt like I sprained my wrists, but just shook them out, after The pain somewhat lightened up enough to bare, then, I told my self to suck it up..and dusted my self off, told dan, "im okay, they hurt a little, but I will be fine" so off he went back to the medium level hillside, as I, still on the easy slope, tracked back to the lift, which took me one last time up to the top of the slope, where, as I made it to the top ( never ever successfully getting off the lift without falling, lol, but doing it anyway..) so as with all the other times, I fell as I was coming off the lift, but it was not a bad fall, just a purposeful slide to the side. As I got my bearings, i started down the slope, my wrists still hurting, but i kept telling myself to suck it up... As i started making my way down, my wrists were now throbbing..both of them...and i fell... Again, ligghtly. But now my wrists are in agony, bringing me to tears, so i stop, i sit on thte slope side for a few minutes, and finally decided to take off my gloves..

When I did, I was terrified, in my own way, but not enough that anyone else around me would know. What I saw was horrible... On both wrists, on top at the bend, I had knots the size of golf balls .. This had never happened to me before, so although its painful, I had no idea what was wrong, or how bad it really was..but now, at this point, my hands are useless.. I was defeated.. I had to unstrap my snowboard, and walk the rest of the way down the slope. I made my way to the bottom, and went and sat on a bench to look at my wrists a little better.. Someone beside me saw and immediately went to the first aid counter and had someone come look at my all of a sudden it's a big deal.. I still had no Idea how bad it was..just that it was painful. As the first aid station scurried to get splints for BOTH my wrists, I called Dan who was on the slopes, told him That my wrists were hurting pretty bad, but not to worry, just meet me done at the first aid station ( I was just gonna get ice) (lol as if there weren't enough snow around..ehh?) and to meet me there when he was done...about 10 minutes later, he finds me at first aid, both wrists being splinted and we're being told to go get x-rays.. They were pretty sure I had broken both wrists...he was furious at me for underplaying how hurt my wrists were... But we did go to the closest hands now, completely useless.. I could not move a finger,without excruciatinng pain, let alone my wrists, which shot me thru the roof... About an hour later, we are leaving the hospital, I had fractured both wrists, my left one once and the right one in two places.. but i was on some pretty good painkillers, so, as long as i didnt hAve to do much with my hands, i was okay. We stayed..and i just watched people snowboard the next day ( it was a weekend plan..and just becuase i couldnt snowboard, doesnt mean i couldnt enjoy being the cheerleader at the bottom of the slope... ) i would not let my fall ruin the weekend i wasnt casted yet..too swollen...but splinted on both wrists... Ultimately, i ended up with a half cast on my right wrist and a more stable splint/partial cast on my left wrist....Heres the big surprise.. I still love the thrill of it, and would go back given the opportuity lol
Even tho my wrists will never be the same.. I can still feel the pain during push ups... Etc..but, im a sucker for the thrill.. What can i say...

But of all things I have experienced in the last 4 years, one of the most truly religious, physically demanding and inspiring trips I have ever taken was to the mountains in Washington (Mt. Rainier). I took a 6 day back packing trip with just a 40 lb pack on my back, hiking more than 63 miles in about 6 days, up elevations totaling more than 12000 feet in one day, and down the same in less... This trip took me around the mountain, which in all totaled 93 miles. This was a trip where I saw lakes in the middle of the snowed in mountain tops, 8000 feet Above the earth, a lake, so beautiful, so magnificent

I hiked 100 feet from a mother bear and her two cubs, admiring the beauty of a nature so exquisite, a feeling of smallness overwhelmed my world as I gazed at the beauty of this mountain, the wildlife, the bear which could have easily chased me, And quite literally eaten me in seconds, yet all she did was watch her cubs from a distance, eyeballing my closeness to her babies, ensuring i continued my hike and out of her way...I have never seen such a beautiful site, as I did, spending 6 days, with nothing but a pack, my legs to move me along this journey, although I may not have finished the journey completely around this mountain (severe blisters and lack of first aid to treat them endangered my health) I accomplished so much more in that 6 days, than I had in other endeavors..this was a peaceful, spiritual journey, that made me feel closer to God, and his wonder than I had ever felt. It was beautiful, wonderful and an adventure of a lifetime, but the spiritual rebirth at those moments it so deserved, was not given the full attention it deserved, and for that, I am remorseful.

Having said all that, Mt Rainier and all its beauty, its trails, the path which ironically was called Devils Peak, only led me to a new appreciation of God and all his wonder

Back to today...

So what does all this mean now, everything, everything that i have rambled on about? I don't know yet, but I think I am on the start of a new journey, this one, bringing me to where I need to be in my spirituality. My relationship with God is being strengthened, with every book I read, every road I am taking now is leading me in the right direction...I can feel it in my core...and I only hope that at the end of this journey abroad, I will have found and preserved what I am looking for inside myself...

And you, well, you are a great help....a positive force in that direction...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Kandahar Take 2

Have I ever said how much I enjoy Kandahar...?
If I did, I was lying.

I was supposed to leave for Kandahar on the morning of the 21st.  I woke up at 4 am, was at the airport by 545, watched our ride drive away. I decided to go check the schedule, make sure the flight was on time, and discovered that my flint had been remissioned, and the next show time for the next flight wasn't until 1940....

I was not about to stay there 14 hours, so I got ahold of my office, arranged a ride back, and went back and took a nap. I left again, and this time all was well. I boarded my flight to find that it was the same crew that I had flying out the first time. Only this time there was a general inboard, so he got the front seat view. It's ok, thought, as the plane reached cruising altitude, one of the crew brought me a drink and candy bar, letting me know they were sorry I couldn't be upfront with them again... That was pretty nice..  About the only nice thing of my trip lol

I made it in Kandahar about 11 at night, where I was given billeting in e transient female tent... This tent holds about 130 girls, and is not always

My conference went off without a hitch. I provided training for about 30 people, 20 different units down South.. Mission accomplished by about 11 am, and after going to the terminal to see if there were any flights avail that night, I went back to the tent and napped for about 5
It as hot and extremely pungent there. The odor is horrible.

After 5 I hit the boardwalk with SSG Wyatt, ate some ko-bobs, then a flurry and headed back to the tents. Just as we arrived, the incoming rocket siren sounded,  letting us all know to seek shelter...

What surprised me is the complaceny in KAF (Kandahar Airfield) that many have.  95% of the girls stayed in the big tent, that is simply that, a tent covered in stucco... I was astounded, but needless to say I wasn't one of them...

Finally the all clear was given, and I made my way back to the tent, and read and finished my 2nd book, in two days and started #3. flew back to NKC, without incident, and was definitely grateful for where I lived!

If I never have to return to KAF, it will be too soon.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Shack

"For although I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is." Colossians 2:5

When I was a teenager, 15,  this verse saved my life. I was  in the midst of some life changing events, and had some major choices to make. On that path, on that journey, I met God. I never met him in the physical sense, but I met him, I rediscovered the love within my heart, that was him. I was given my first bible at age 12 (which I still have). I read that bible, every day, eager for the knowledge, the joy, Whom I now know as GOD. I read and reread to understand, which of course at age 12-15, took a lot.  I started attending a youth group in high school (to be honest Church always has bored me) I never felt at "home" in a church. I felt at home in a youth group, with people my age, suffering some of the same of lifes tragedies, as I was. I felt less alone and more understood without the confines of a solitude church service.

One night, mid January, 1991, as I lay in my bed talking with God, I discovered his voice within me. This voice was not of yours or mine, it was in the form of verses, verses from the bible - how do I know these verses came from God? how do I know it wasn't just my mind randomly thinking of verses? Because god spoke to me that night. In a time of dire need, in a time of needing something much more powerful than anyone on earth could provide, he provided.  Before this, as I would lay down at night, I learned to keep a pencil and paper at my headboard, in order to write the messages God was sending me, in the form of verses from my bible.  Most of the time, if it were late, I would write them down, and then look them up in the morning.

One night, at the height of my discovery, my understanding that GOD sooo loved his children, he gave his only begotten son, to pay the consequences of the sins of his children he created, in order that they be spared, and loved in such a perfect love, that no words can quite describe it, in it's deserved way.
As I lay there wrapping my head around this, wondering if this were true, then why all my pain..?? How can I believe in such a perfect love when at such a young age, I lived thru soo much pain. Surely I had not sinned enough at that point in my life to deserve so much struggle?  I was always told and retold that God will never give you more than what you can handle... I believed this but really believed I must be one strong kid, because he was testing my strength continuously. I wonder even still, who came up with that line, but more on that later..

So this night, this night I lay there, I spoke to God, praying, asking for guidance, and the verse that instantly came to me was Colossians 2:5. On this night, I decided to look at that verse immediately, so I took my bible from my headboard and quickly looked up his verse. What was God telling me.. I needed this answer..I needed to know.

I was not prepared for what was about to happen. First of all let me tell you I was not brought up in a church going home. The only two times in my life I remember going to church as a family was at my brothers funeral ( I was 14) and then again the Easter following his funeral. It's not to say my parents didn't have their own relationship with God, I am quite sure my mother did, but it was never crammed down our throats or forced upon us. A relationship with God is an Immensly personal thing, and can not be forced, but fed, nurtured and built on bonds that are within ones self.  I am lucky to have had parents that let me find GOD on my own. Now, it has much more meaning in my life.

On that evening, as I read the words of the verse that was spoken thru my heart, my heart was transformed. my soul was released from the pain it had been suffering, my heart felt whole and soo full of love that I was jumping on my bed that night (while everyone in my house slept) I was celebrating my newfound relationship with God, my faith in his love for me, and the new comfort and peace that he provided me.

This is not a story many people know. I have never been a "bible thumper" nor "preachy" to any, however, what I did have, what my heart flourished in was this love so unconditional, so fulfilling, that i did share with few of my friends...I wanted them to know my excitement and feel that same love. Come to find out, I was behind the curve, because for those friends I wanted to share this with, I discovered in them, what I had just found myself. I shared, they shared and it only built a stronger bond than what I had before.

I have never considered myself a Religious person, which, I am happy for now. I did try to attend church regularly, but soon discovered that church was just a front for those to get in their Sunday best, and put on a facade to the outside that they lived this holy life only to return to their normal activities within hours of the service. I felt it was hypocritical at best and was doing a major disservice to GOD and his love for us. For that reason,  my relationship has stayed private, and is seldom shared in the company of a church service.

I have faltared and hurt and realize that I was not always honorable to my relationship with God, in that there were times as I got older that I did not trust him with my heart, with my pain, and therefore tried to go it alone, only feeling more pain and sorrow later. I know that now, because in those moments when I realized I couldn't do it on my own, GOD was always there, waiting for me to ask for his help, and help he would provide. He may not have answered questions I may have had, but he would always wrap me in the warmth of his arms and provide a comfort that warmed my heart and eased my pain. His help came in the form of an eased pain, and sometimes even a nagging desire deep within, a nagging need to attend church.  Twice, this has happened to me in the last ten years. Each of those times, was at a time I soo needed a bigger message, as always, he provided.

In early 2000, I was struggling thru a (yet again) rocky marriage, I was raising three kids, as an E5, and struggling mentally, emotionally and physical in finding happiness, and the answers i soo needed help with. I had this overwhelming urge to attend church. I wasn't a church goer, and therefore didn't even know which church I shuld attend.. but GOD led me, right where he needed me.  This service started out with a song that started my interest and began my journey to GOD when i was only 12. This song, as it started, reminded me of the love I had for GOD, and the trust I gave to him, from the beginning. Does he still fell the Nails is the name of it... And I knew, as this song started, this was GODs way of reeling me back to him, with a message so profound during the service, thru the song, that I knew..I knew this was him, reminding me, he has always been there....I just didn't have my heart opened to him enough, to hear him, or feel him, at the times I thought he had abandoned me.

That was my first time. The second time was just last year after moving to CA. I was dealing with some major changes, and some major heartbreak, and so badly needed GOD to help me, more than I thought he was.  Everyday, on my way from work, I would see a big church off the side of the interstate.  I felt a slight pulling, but not enough to attend... Just enough to say "I should go.." the following week, I received a post card in the mail, this was an invitation to attend a new church, and yes, it was this same church, this very church I would see, but now, I now felt like I had an invite from GOD. I went the following Sunday to this church, to receive the message that I know was meant for me.. It was about the unknowns, the fear, of change... Again, GOD was right on target, and I began to feel better and remember that he is always watching and always present..

As we get busy with life it seems, the only time we remember to talk to GOD is when we need him.  I am guilty of this too. Every relationship we have takes effort, not necessarily a bad, hard effort, but think of it as UPKEEP. It is no different with GOD.  although our God forgives us, that most of us get too busy in our daily life to give him a second thought, except for when there is something we think he can help with...we pray for strength, for peace, for healing, we ask GOD why, but do we ever take the time to just say Thank You...

I have been on yet another journey, that has strengthened my relationship, and reminded me of what I have.  I was sent a book, The Shack, which is an accurate depiction of how we stereotype what we believe GOD should look like, act like, as well as how we view it as s fault when something bad happens, I won't spoil the book, but suffice it to say, I get it. I don't understand everything, but I get it, I understand much more, and feel such an overwhelming gratitude to (1) GOD and (2) George for sending me this, at a time I soo truly needed it.   I followed up this book, with a movie called A Perfect Stranger & Another Perfect Stranger, which was a great visual to the book, delivering the same message.

After reading this book, and watching these movies, it makes me feel like l found GOD, again, today, only this time, with a much better understanding, a clearer view of my expectations and his, and I guarantee mine, were more than his.. His expectation of me, to love him, to trust him, and to let him live inside me. That is it. The rest will happen as it should, so long as I love him and allow him to love me with an unconditional love so powerful, that only GOD can give it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010



So I was warned.. A few times, about a few things.
1. the pooh pond sucks
2. The camp is filthy from the sand that is a constant nuisance
3. Don't go to TGIFridays
4. bring plenty of wipes
5. Be prepared to run to bunkers at least once a night

It was supposed to be simple. We were reserved on a flight, which ended up leaving an hour and a half before schedule, so we missed it. We had to sit at the airport for another 9 hours for the next flight. It wasn't so bad..KIAI has plenty of shops, pizza hut, coffee places and a MWR with free it was easy to kill time there..

Flight time approached, finally and we were boarding the we were boarding, it was getting full, I was about 4th to last but was told to back up..and me.. To head up the steps where the pilots were...yes people..I got front row seats to our flight. I sat in the engineer seat, headset and all, and bullshitted with the pilots as we made our trip.. I got to watch everything, and learned some pretty interesting facts about take off, winds, and the equipment they use that was similar to the ships.
It was great! Todd..the LCOL pilot and 3 British guys, one of which was called Foxy..

Anyways, it s pretty tired as I was, it was interested to be in the cockpit so to speak thru both our take offs and landings (we made a stop along the way) and to see the cities thru the NVGs.

We didn't end up arriving until about 330am...and I could instantly feel the crud on my hands, and face. The dust finds it's way into every crevice possible and makes you feel like you need a shower, constantly. We didn't get to our berthing until about 430, so we decided to sleep in until about noon...which then we met on the boardwalk for lunch. They have a boardwalk, which holds many different shops, pizzeria, TGIFridays, all surrounding a hockey court and volley ball area. The boardwalk was probably the size of my and of itself..
We walked around, took a few pics and then settled in for pizza for lunch. Overpriced, but a nice change. We made our way to the conference and then met up with our Casualty Liaison Team that works at the hospital here. If you think my job is difficult, I can't imagine theirs. They are there where they se the casualties first hand.all of them from this area, coming here to get stabilized, or treated prior to evac out of theater. It was a sobering experience to tour the hospital with them, seeing some of the injured. The thought of having to not only read, and write the reports as well as seeing them in person, is a depressing thought. I can only say GOD Bless my CLTs and what they have to see. After our tour of the hospital, we took the NCOIC out to dinner at TGIFridays. It was actually pretty good and similarly priced to the states... What would have made it better..? A glass of cold white Zin.. ;)

So, to the list of warnings,
The pooh pond sucks and stinks ridiculously bad...the smell is enough to make you gag.. Basically, their drainage system, is to a pond a couple blocks down from the berthing and boardwalk, but he odor, lingers throughout the entire's disgusting... Imagine living next to a sewage for a year...and the leas pleasant odors it emits..
The camp is very dirty..sand everywhere...constant haze of sand in the air and layers of it everywhere..
TGIFridays was pretty good...we'll see how my stomach reacts tomorrow..
Wipes...well, to get the constant layer of dust off your hands and face I have heard that they usually have incoming fairly regularly...but it's the norm here..and has become a routine they have grown to know...last nit was quiet..let's hope for tonight..
Heading home tomorrow...will write more upon my return..;)

Camp Phoenix

Camp phoenix...
as I get in the car to leave, we get our briefing. This is to allow is to know the threats, and know what to be on the look out for...
We are told that there is suspected to be 3 suicide bombers in out general vicinity, and what to look for, so you can imagine the a fear that built up...along with the adrenaline, as we departed NKC and made our short commute to Camp Phoenix..
the ride was uneventful,which allowed me to take some pictures, most of which you can already view on my FB account. when I arrived, Donovan took me under his wing, and gave me the grand tour. He showed me the shops they have, their Bizaar and basically the entire was pretty enlightening to see the differences in the Camps...
I went to the unit that I needed to give some training to, spent about an hour with them training them. It was a great session.
After completing my training with them, we continued our tour and I met some good POCs for future reference. We ate dinner At the BBQ shack...which was missing the but all was good. I saw many new faces which was nice after seeing the same thing and the same people for the last few months. We finished our tours and food and then it was volleyball time. Luckily we were early, so I was able to get my own workout include ab Ripper X. ;) Finally most people showed and I watched Don in action as he played valley ball with the French and Bulgarian was a pleasant site.. ;)

After a couple hours at the gym, and a shower later, we met back up at Dons office and just chit chatted with him and his crew until it got so late, we were both exhausted. The following morning I headed back to my own camp. All in all it was a nice night away, and one I most definitely needed. You learn to appreciate what you have, what other FOBs have and a make comparisons. Truly we are lucky to be where we are...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

You hear the sound of Alarms...Air Attack alarms, then INCOMING, INCOMING, INCOMING

So, I was thinking I wouldn't have much to write till I started traveling, but the Insurgetns proved me wrong and brought a little excitement our way last night...not in a good way...
so...imagine this...
you..sound asleep...ever so slightly you hear a humming of some sort..and slowly wake to gets louder...
You speak out to your roommate, who has now heard realize youre not dreaming..and ask "what the he'll is that" as you start to climb out of your bed..knowing the answer...
Then you hear.."it's the air attack alarm" oh shit..
You suddenly are wide awake..a mixture of time to feel...
You are still trying to digest it..knowing time is critical.. You are in a tinfoil house..and you know it's not need to get to a hard stand..
Priorities... Shit..mind racing..
Pants.. You need pants on.throw on your sweatpants ..quickly.. Cant walk out in tshirt, underwear and gun, yes even in an emergency you do think of that..
You grab your case(enclosed is your laptop, iPad and black book of your lifes accounts, names, numbers, etc.. it all in one case..priorities...
So..there you are 5 seconds after waking, you have sweats on, grabbed your belt, your gun and your case, slip on your flip flops and head out your door..
There is no time for primping, and worrying about anything else.. have to run the approximate distance of about a block..maybe 2to your hardstand...the office...
You step out the door..people are whizzing by...running for their life..really..
As you step out e door you hear INCOMING INCOMING INCOMING again...imagine in that few seconds the vision of. Issiles hitting your ass if you don't hurry... That's the thoughts running thru your it me that will get hit with it... Will it be me..
He'll run as if your life depends on it..BECAUSE here...IT DOES

I made it to my work within about 60 seconds tootle from the time I wearily heard the the time of arrival to safety...
Yes..that fast...
In retrospect..that was some of the longest seconds ever.. People were running in all different directions, depending on their job, their assignment for such an event..

We were stuck in our positions/locations until all was clear and all activity ceased.
This took about 2 to 2 1/2 hrs... So finally about 330/4am we were released back to our rooms (for those of us that lives in RLBs..which really are like they are made of tinfoil.. )
I am not sleepy yet...are you kidding... My adrenaline,,my name it... It took about an hour at least to fall back maybe 5ish?
0630 the sound of Air attack alarm wakes me again...
This time..I'm a little piste... "shit..not again"
Yes..the alarm..again.. Within seconds of the alarm a voice comes over to tell us what is going on.."a controlled detonation" seek safety of hardshell...
Atleast at this point I knew my life wasn't in jeopardy..but I went thru the process again...and bustled to my office..where again we were secured in our locations for another couple hours...
When finally released I went back to bed.. It was about 815, should've technically been at work t not in my pt gear and flip
I slept a couple hours ..this time..going back to sleep was easy...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

1 Sep 2010 - Wednesday

I have been very fortunate in life.
I have overcome many obstacles, accomplished countless goals, and have
had a successful, prosperous career.
Much of this, though, is owed to my family and friends along the way.
Those that were in the time of need,
And those that still remain. I know that without that support, I would
not be where I am today.
So thank you... thank you for all your support, love and encouragement!

My blogs have become more and more scarce due to the groundhog day
affect - that I don't want to impose on them.
It truly is the same thing here, everyday. Same routine, plus or minus
multiple casualty reports.

This week has been a busy week - with a count of upwards of 20 deaths -
this week alone.
Prior to that, it had slowed down quite a bit from the July rush and
influx of injuries and casualties.

I will begin battlefield circulation this month. Next week starts a
whirlwind tour of Afghanistan which will take
me on many travels and adventures throughout the next month.

I guarantee there will plenty to write about for the coming month... LOL