We made it. We’re actually here in
So, within the limitations I have on what I can tell you about; let me tell you about our trip. We left Shelbystan at 0500 on Friday the 19th. Our flight left
We flew north to
After a brief respite, we were back on the plane heading over the
After 2 hours or so, it was time to get back on board. There was another plane next to ours full of soldiers heading home. About 30 minutes or so before we got back on, we heard the announcer asking for the last passenger on flight XYZ to please get on board. Our plane left and there’s was still sitting at the gate. We decided that that soldier must have fallen asleep somewhere in the airport and no one could find him.
We then flew into
After that, we flew into one of the “stan” countries, Krygistan or something. I can’t remember. There, we got off our plane and figured that we would have a long wait to get into
We then flew to Bagram airbase. Again, we thought, and had been told, that we could spend up to a week there waiting for a flight or convoy down to
That was where the real adventure began. We were told that we would be going in a bus and a couple of 5-ton dump trucks fitted to transport passengers. The 5-tons had Kevlar going about half-way up the wall, but it was open from about mid-sternum to the roof of the vehicle. The bus was not protected in any way.
Before we left Shelbystan, we were told that IED attacks were being increased and that we could possibly encounter them going from Bagram to
Aaron, Steve, Slag and several others were in the back of the 5-ton sitting on wooden slat benches. My butt is still sore from that ride. The road was “paved” but it was like riding on a bumpy, dirt road. It was really jarring and rough. But you don’t want to hear about the physical discomfort of the ride so let me tell you about what we saw.
The countryside looked what I imagine
Leaving the city outside Bagram reminded me of my mission in the
We saw lots of “jingle” trucks. That’s what they’re called here. They’re semis, dump trucks, moving trucks and other large trucks that are painted in these vibrant colors with all kinds of patterns. From the mirrors hang steamers and other decorations. The cabs are intricately decorated with brightly colored material and other hanging things. (Again, pictures will be posted.) It’s the custom here. Anyway, these trucks were hauling all kinds of things, mostly scrap metal that I saw.
Since we were traveling in a convoy, we are trained not to let any vehicles pass us or try to get in between us. That happened on a couple of occasions. When a vehicle tries to do that, we’re supposed to yell at the vehicle, use hand gestures and other signals to let them know not to get too close. A couple of times we had vehicles try to pass us or go around us and our gun trucks had to close in on them, yell and let them know they couldn’t get that close. It was a little surreal to see what we’d been trained on actually happening. I don’t think any of the drivers meant us any harm, they just didn’t want to get stuck behind a convoy that was traveling slower that they would liked to have driven.
As we got out into the countryside, you could see mud/brick walls surrounding very large areas. I wasn’t sure why they created these “courtyards” as I couldn’t see anything inside the courtyard. Later, we saw signs that said that, at least some of them were used as brick manufacturing locations.
We saw several burned out and rusting remnants of Russian troop transport vehicles littering the countryside. It was a very visual reminder of the legacy the Russians had left behind, that and the tens of thousands of mines that still scatter the countryside.
Sheep, camels, a lone rabbit, a donkey and a few dogs were the only real animals we saw. A few shepherds were seen with their sheep.
The little kids were fun to watch. For the most part, they gave us the “thumbs-up” sign and would wave. I saw a couple give us the “thumbs-down” sign, but then most of them smiled after doing so. Most waved. It was cool. We didn’t see too many women, which didn’t surprise me. Some were unveiled and wearing Western style clothing. Others were completely veiled in beautiful blue veils. The men looked exactly as I imagined, based on the photos we had already seen. Most ignored us or simply stared; others waved and appeared to be very friendly. I was somewhat surprised to see a large number of men without facial hair. The fact that men wore facial hair here was so ingrained in us at Shelbystan in our culture classes, that I assumed that everyone would have at least a mustache but that was not the case.
As we arrived at
The symbol for
I can’t give a lot of details about the camp, but it’s pretty nice. Great chow hall. I could gain a lot of weight here but am trying to lose a few pounds before I come home so will have to watch what I eat. A fairly large gym, post office, laundry facility, Post Exchange, phone center, computer lab, showers, etc. are all here for our use. This wouldn’t be a bad place to have to serve. I’m told that the camp where I’ll be at is similarly outfitted.
And on that note, the “Gods of War” are smiling on me. Unless things drastically change, my team will be at the same camp as I am. That means that even though SGT Aaron and I will not be working together, we should be able to see each other almost every day. I’ll be able to see the rest of my team with the same frequency so I’m excited about that.
Actually, the true God in Heaven has been smiling on us. As we left Shelbystan, I thought I would feel a great sense of dread that would only get worse the closer we got to
As I’ve said in previous postings, the Lord has made it known to me that while this would be a hard deployment in many respects, He was watching over me. I have felt that on so many occasions. So as we were convoying under less that ideal conditions, I wasn’t too worried. Does that make sense? My only hope is that I don’t place so much confidence in that peaceful feeling that I don’t get careless. I hope that never happens.
Anyway, this has gone on pretty long and you’re probably getting bored so I’ll close. Three’s so much more I could say and I’m sure that over time, I’ll get it all said.
I should be getting my own computer issued to me in the next few days so that I’ll have more time to put some thought into these postings. Right now, I’m frantically typing in the computer lab trying to get it all said in less than 30 minutes.
Anyway, things are going well. We’re all safe and sound. And again, thanks for all your prayers.