Sunday, November 18, 2012

After a Few Weeks

So, it has been a while since I’ve posted, and that is simply because we have been incredibly busy. My days start at 5:30 in the morning and usually don’t end until well after 9:30 or 10:00 pm. That’s not all bad though. So far it has helped to make the days pass with relative quickness. In this post, I’ll try to catch everyone up on what has happened through the last couple days.

My bus driving skills have gotten quite impressive, as that has been a constant tasking for me. I have used that opportunity to learn KAF. It is incredibly hard to learn a whole new place when everything looks the same and there are very few street signs, and loads of traffic, either on foot, on bicycles, in civilian vehicles and military vehicles. Luckily, I’ve been able to get my bearings and not get lost.

We are starting to get into the groove in the office. A lot of stuff to get organized, and a lot of forms and memos that have to get done. Adjusting what the previous unit was doing to fit into what we need to has proven to be the most difficult task. Although they have done a great job over the last 12 months, every leadership group is different, and we are in the painful process of changing everything to our way of doing things.

I got a couple packages in the mail last week. My wife and my mother-in-law sent me some goodies. Everyone here was a little jealous, but I was super excited. Having some of my guilty pleasures in my tight little room, make life a little more tolerable.

Now that the Army has released this info, I can talk about it also. Our brigade lost a soldier a few days ago. Although I did not know him, it doesn’t make it easy to handle. It makes you worry about a lot of things, but it does not make me question our mission here. Each soldier lost is sad, but if we were to simply leave, then each soldier lost would be in vain. I was impressed by the turnout to the ceremony. It wasn’t just US Army soldiers who showed up to honor him. It was Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Seamen. Not only that, though, it was coalition forces as well. I shook hands with a couple guys from Romania and the UK, but there were more countries than just those two. It was a somber, respectful ceremony, but encouraging at the same time. We all know what we signed up for, and if in fact something were to happen to me, at least I know that my departure from Afghanistan will be treated with class, dignity, honor and respect. I know that won’t bring any additional comfort to my family, just as I’m sure it doesn’t help his, but it is nice to know.

Our Chaplain holds services every Sunday, and it’s nice to be able to go. I’ve been fortunate enough so far to get to play and sing during the worship portions of the service. I know I’m not the best guitar player, nor am I the best singer, but that is a great thing to look forward to each week. I am very thankful to the Chaplain for allowing me to do that. With today being the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving, the sermon was on giving thanks in all situations. It is hard to give thanks when you are thousands of miles from home, in a foreign country, you get no rest, and you miss your family. However, taking the time to stop and say “Thanks, God,” can change your day. After all, I wake up every morning, I get to talk to my wife almost every day, I get to eat a decent meal three times a day, and when payday comes, there is going to be money in the bank. I have a lot to be thankful for, no matter the situation.

Monday, November 5, 2012

New Experiences

New experiences are what excites a lot of soldiers about deploying.  So far, I've had a few new experiences, but the one I had today was quite a thrill.  We are still getting settled and organized here on the FOB, and often times that means someone has to do something they would never normally do, in order to get the mission accomplished.  

I was that person today.  

Because we had to get set up for the next round of troops coming in, the buses needed to be filled up with gas.  Because I was one of the few in the immediate area that could drive a manual transmission, I got chosen to help take the buses to the fuel point and back.  Yes, I got to drive a bus!  I've been trying to get licensed to drive a bus for quite sometime, but today, I actually got to drive one.  I know I know.  It doesn't seem so exciting, so I'll throw in a little extra spice.  The style of bus we use isn't your normal school bus, charter bus or transit bus.  What it is, however is an approximately 18'-20' long and 6' wide flat nosed bus.  It sounds and feels like it has two cylinders in the engine, and as I pointed out, was a stick shift.  It also had me driving.... wait for it..... on the right hand side of the vehicle.   That's right, I drove a stick shift, right side drive, local tour bus, on the right side of the road.  Close your eyes and imagine using the shifter with your left hand, your turn signal with your right hand, and being positioned closer to the shoulder of the road, rather than the center of the road.  Talk about an awkward feeling!  Nevertheless, the incredibly simple task was completed, and no pedestrians were injured.

I suppose in this time of homesickness, finding joy in the little things goes a long way!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

In Country

So I made it to our final destination.  No hiccups, no SNAFUs, and aside from a terribly tight squeeze on an incredibly bumpy military aircraft, no real adventures getting here.  Once we got here, however, it was quite the adventure. Getting off the plane into the terminal, we were all carrying someone else's carry on, and had to figure out a logic puzzle just to get ours back, and get the one we had back to the rightful owner.  It was mass chaos for about 30 minutes.

The couple days that we've been here, we've received quite a few briefings and instructions on how to work with the locals and the civilians who work here on the base.  I've followed that protocol, and have not had any issues.  The folks here on the FOB have been cordial and welcoming, and most have been extremely helpful.

We have run into a few issues though.  The internet for example, we were told it would cost between $60-$90 per month.  Yes, it seems a little expensive, but given how important home is to us we thought it would be okay.  After all, there are three of us in these tiny rooms (8'X14'), so at $20-$30 per person, no biggie, right?  So after discussions and figuring it all out, we signed up for it.  We all had our laptops out, and were excited to check in on home.  Then came the shock.  No, it isn't $60 per room, it is $60 per account!  Meaning $180 per room, in order for us all to use it at once.  We all agreed that that was outlandish, so we decided still to just get one account, and agree that we wouldn't all be on it at the same time.  I sure hope that that doesn't turn into an issue nine months from now, but we shall see.  I know how odd it is for me to be complaining about internet service while on a deployment.  After all, many deployed soldiers before me, relied solely on letters or phone calls.  I am happy and thankful to have a few comforts of home, though.

So far, we've been given briefings, trained, and begun to get acclimatized.  We haven't really started working in our given missions just yet, that I'm sure will happen next week.  But for now, everyone is doing okay, and aside from a few moments of homesickness and frustration, so am I.

I look forward to posting more soon, and even more so, I look forward to coming home.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

En Route

My unit is currently en route to Afghanistan.  Although I can't post the route we are taking, I figured I would use this airport's free WiFi as an opportunity to post a quick update.

Today has been a long hard day, with a lot more flying left to do.  This morning's goodbyes were tear filled, but also brought hope and excitement.  Knowing that deployment was inevitable, I'm glad it is getting taken care of now.  All I have to do is get this mission taken care of, and get back home.  I look forward to running back to the arms of my loving wife and adoring son.  Just typing that now makes me smile.

I think back to the words of my Drill Sergeants, and what they told me to get my head right with deploying and it is all coming true.  It is one of the most emotionally confusing times of my life.  If you ask if I am sad, scared, nervous, proud, happy, excited or ready, I can answer with certainty, "Yes".  Sad that I won't see my family for three-quarters of a year, nervous that I won't perform the way I expect myself to, proud that I get to wear this uniform and represent our country during a troubling time, happy that I get to do with confidence what most people are fearful to do, excited at the opportunities that these nine months will bring, and ready to do well.

I know that I have been trained well, a huge support system, and a faithful God.  Those three things give me the confidence to confront this deployment head on, and not flinch.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Apply to be a Chitika Publisher!

So the countdown has been going on for quite a while, and it is almost to zero.  I leave for Afghanistan in a matter of days.  I wish I could post publicly my exact date, but that is forbidden.  Just know that final preparations are underway.  The stress level is at its peak, and I am not sure how I'm going to handle saying goodbye.  I know 9 months is nothing in the grand scheme of life, but that doesn't make going away any easier.  It is my first deployment in my Army career, and no matter what anyone says to calm my nerves, I am uneasy.  I have confidence that I will be safe.  I'm trained well, and my battle buddies are trained well.  I have a relatively safe mission in comparison to others.  My uneasiness is simply that I am leaving behind a beautiful wife and young son.  Nothing will make this easy.

Nevertheless, I must go.  No one is twisting my arm.  I want to go.  There are plenty of soldiers who don't want to go, and either by troop cuts, pregnancy, injury, time of separation or other means, they aren't going.  That's not me.  I signed up in a time of war, and have been preparing myself for this since I was in Basic Training. My mind is right, and thanks to a wonderful wife, our family situation is absolute.

I look forward to the challenge, the experience, and the knowledge I'll gain.  I look forward to being proud of having done it.

Thank you in advance for the letters, care packages and prayers that you will send my way, and to the rest of my battle buddies.  They are all very much appreciated.

I will write more as time and policy permits, but in the meantime, know that I am ready.