Thursday, December 28, 2006

Half way through, both leave and deployment

That is not exactly true, I am halfway through Leave, and really just about half way through my deployment time in Afghanistan, but I have been away from home since late February, so well over half by time away from home standards.

It is almost surreal to come home and find things mostly the same way they were when I left. It is like I was away on a month long training for business the way it feels. However that is because I everyone here is still here, doing pretty much what they were doing when I left. I love that, it means that that is what I should find when I get home.

I don't miss Afghanistan at all. I know people who love being deployed, who relish in the adventure. I enjoy the adventure, but would trade it in a second for home. As much as I know that we are doing a good thing in Afghanistan, creating a time buffer for the Afghans to figure out how they are going to govern themselves, and create an infrastructure that allows democracy to florish, I still wonder how much progress is being made while we are there. I know any one persons contribution is not the point, that the sum whole is greater that the sum of the parts, but I am still basically left with blind faith and hope that we are indeed doing a good thing.

Christmas was great with my family, and while I am not sure how I got so lucky, I am sure happy that I was home. Everyone I have seen here has been great, I am truly a lucky guy to have so many people who care about me here.

I just went to a basketball game and our team won the game, that was nice, I have learned to enjoy watching high high school ball, and while I won't get enough games under my belt this year, I have next year to look forward to.

Prior to leaving I have to repair/replace a water bib that cracked and flooded the front yard with water again. Let me say the design by FEBCO may be great in some places in the world, but it truly sucks here, 2nd year in a row that I know of that it broke with minimal freezing in the area. Yes I have insulated it, yes it is a crappy design, and yes this summer I will be replacing it, I just don't have the time or knowledge right now to be mr. plumber handyman.

Also necessary to get my kids car fixed so he can stop driving my truck. Pretty annoying, unavoidable, and of course required.

Hmmmmm My Birthday is coming up soon, people all over the world or at least in all the bars in Oregon will be celebrating with me, as I have decided to hold my birthday on the 31st again this year.

Okay, that is really all that is going on right now, so I am through sharing.

Have a Happy New Year, be safe, sanity is a judgment call anyway, so attempt to avoid doing things that get you visited by guys with guns, or people with bandaids.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Too Much Fun In PDX

Okay, well, I left Bagram on the 17th. Arrived in Kuwait that day. Customs coming into the United States is conducted there. Threat brief, don't have this or we will arrest you. (Truth is stranger than fiction.) If you were guilty of possessing a Playboy Magazine going through customs according to the Customs lady, you would be arrested by the Military. This is primarily because we have been in Muslim countries and apparently they don't look at nude women. Having spent a week or so in a Muslim country I can tell you that while that may be correct, it is far from the entire story. However we will leave that for someone else.

Our European stop was fogged in, so ended up staying at a nice hotel in Budapest, Hungary. I recommend a trip to that location to anyone lucky enough to be able to get there. Very pretty city. Lots to do. Van Gogh Museum was located there just south of one of the most palacial castles I have ever seen.

Ireland, Bangor Maine, Dallas in a day. By hook or crook I made it out the next day and home to Portland. Much thanks to the folks at American Airlines in Denver and United Airlines in Seattle. Quite an adventure.

Home, last night I got to see about 6 or 8 people I haven't seen in quite a while, and we were fortunate to be out where Bree was headed, thanks to her brother, so I have caught up quite a bit, if not all the way with my Milwaukie friends. Who knew listening to Kareoke and drinking coffee with a nudge could be so much fun.

I missed talking to my folks in Virginia today, but I am sure that they are going to have a great Christmas together with family in Washington DC, so Merry Christmas to the famdamly, from coast to coast, and Merry Christmas to everyone else as well.

All my best


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Live From Bagram... It's Sunday Night

What happens to people who test the ice on lakes by walking into the middle if it gives way???

It is cold here in Bagram, I have been here for 3 nights now, and I have a routine, I am waiting for a plane in a couple of days, so I read a bit, eat a meal, go to the gym, walk to the PX, take a nap, watch a movie or three, and start over then next day. Eventful it ain't. But I am looking forward to getting home for Chrismas, and that is a very good thing.

Chris is turning 17 tomorrow. Wow, Happy Birthday Chris.

Yesterday I watched a guy walk out to the center of a large room sized mud puddle a foot or so deep, testing it for strength. When it failed he of course got his foot soaked. I had to laugh, I am not sure if he did that for my amusement or not, but I was amused anyway. And of course it does lead to, how many people in really cold country, find themselves taking a cold dip, and if that happens what happens to them next I wonder.

Ish, Not earth shaking just thought I would say hello and Merry Christmas to all you all. That is southern pluralese for youuns.

Have a good day


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

6 December 2006, whatta way to run a war

It is interesting that I have heard this is no longer a war, and that we are not in a combat zone, however, I go everywhere with lots of bullets and my bullet launchers, which I don't normally travel with in a peaceful zone, like say Portland, and I am acquainted with people who have either been shot, or shot at, or otherwise have had it demonstrated that they are unpopular.........

Okay, for the last couple of days I have been involved in an operation south of here. The Italians, Spanish and Afghans planned and executed an operation designed to ferret out the guys who keep shooting at our convoys going over a particular stretch of road. It went as well as you can expect, which means in the prose of the information officers, "We established a presence in the area, and demonstrated that we can deal with people in this area. " What it meant to my eyes was that we spent a lot of peoples time, accepting half way terms as whole, and no bad guys were hurt in the filming of the operation. (My Dad might say we half assed it, but I am not.)

I am truly at a loss to say how much of a lost opportunity that that was, I did however see a goat being born on the last day, which is humorous if you believe that the operation was much like what it took to conceive the goat.

Now on Saturday the day prior to leaving we had a guy driven to us after having survived a gunshot wound to the head. I think he might be okay by now, but haven't heard. We had advanced warning, so we called the medevac folks to let them know to be prepared, about an hour and a half prior to his arrival at our location. He arrived, and they decided after a half hour that they would come and get him. (He was an Afghan National, not a coalition soldier, so their was some question if they would come and get him at all.) While we waited our Doc Yeager, evaluated him, cleaned him, and generally kept him from going into shock. The gunshot wound entered the skin at the right temple, and exited behind the right ear, I don't think it penetrated his skull. After American radio men relayed the medevac request, Italian Officers coordinated with Spanish Officers to effect a launch of the medevac. I guess this takes approximately 1/2 hour even with ample warning. Anyway, they launch, and get to our location, and decide for some reason, to land 150 meters south of our landing pad that was marked appropriately. They land in a puddle of mud, and won't get out until I come and demonstrate that they won't sink in it. After we get them to the patient, they do what they do, and he is airborne to Herat by 9 pm. I really believe that he should have been there an hour earlier. Given American standards with American pilots that is how it would have happened. (Maybe)

Anyway, the next thing I know when I return from the mission is that the helicopter pilots are irritated about the landing. They landed the bird in a puddle, when dry concrete was clearly visible adjacent to the puddle, (I can't make this stuff up). I am sure the language barrier contributed, but I don't know what else might have. This all demonstrates why the principles of war exist and why when you violate them the costs may (probably will be) in human lives. Unity of command is a principle of war. It allows rapid execution of ordinary actions. A medevac may not seem ordinary to you, but to the pilots, it ought to be. The language barrier between English speakers and Spanish speakers is enough to cause a pilot to misjudge what is otherwise a clearly marked LZ.

Anyway, that is the update for the last couple of days, I have some pictures, and might manage to get them posted sometime, prior to Christmas.

Also, my niece is on the lookout for the gingerbread man, who apparently has escaped from her school, if anyone sees him, please direct him to Keizer Oregon. Or just let me know and I will tell her.

Additionally I did find out that I will get to enjoy my family for Christmas, and I hope that you do the same

All my best


Friday, December 01, 2006

2 December 2006

Hmmm this month is not going to see a bunch of entries I have a feeling. So I am going to cover a lot of strange ground all at one time, and see where that leads me....

Happy Birthday Lori Green, (Of course Green is her maiden name, and I don't think I have seen her in I really don't remember when, but, 2 December is her Birthday, and I hope she is having a happy one, I think she is somewhere west of Portland. ( I grew up with her and her brother from about age 5).

Happy Birthday to Chris, who is turning 17, he is a great guy I am proud to be his step dad, I hope you enjoy your birthday, and don't get to crazy with your friends.

I am sure I am going to miss at least one or two people I should remember but like I said to begin with, I am trying to cover some ground here too.

Happy Birthday to both my cousin Chris and to Barbara, both of whom turn a day older on the 27th of the month. Ironic isn't it.

On the 7th of the month I will find out what the next 10 days or so will be like, however I may not be anywhere near a computer at that point. If all goes as I would like it to, I will take some time to travel to Bagram, and then to home, and depending upon how that goes, I may actually see my family for Christmas, which would be fantastic. If not, then I guess the new year will do. In either case it takes a long time to get there, spend some time there, and come back here. So... I may not have much to share during the month. Of course, I could be wrong as well.

The weather here is dipping down into the low 30's and gets up to about 50 during the day. Clear skys so far, although the rain we had a couple of weeks ago sure did trash much of the surrounding area. There is no root network to hold the soil in place so, a big rain causes quite a bit of movement.

Hmmm I have run out of things to say or share, so will let this be the end for today. Hope this finds you well, and I hope that the rest of your holiday season is great.