Monday, October 17, 2005

The Nature of Today's Soldier

They were wearing the woodland camouflage pattern BDU's instead of the desert DCUs, but otherwise, there didn’t seem to be anything overtly different about the troops that arrived at Bagram on Sunday than any other soldieryou might find in Afghanistan.  Like every other soldier before them, they stepped off the C-17, shook off the stiffness of the long flight from Rota, Spain, and tried to familiarize themselves with their new surroundings.  Like all their predecessors, they would face tedious welcoming briefings from the Personnel, Finance, and Base Operations, before being shown to their temporary housing.  The difference is that these 17 soldiers of B Co 2/227 Avn Bn. accompanying a disassembled CH-47 Chinook helicopter are not staying in Bagram, or even Afghanistan.  These troops are the vanguard of what has been dubbed Task Force Quake, an emergency response to the earthquake that has devastated large portions of Pakistan.


Now it's been 9 days since the earthquake struck, and most of you have already seen U.S. helicopters providing humanitarian relief there.  These are all helicopters that were already in Afghanistan and are now stretching their legs a bit.  They are people that you may have read about here before, Task Force Griffin, Sabre, and of course the ever present Big Windy.  I can't tell you what kind of mindset it takes to put the war on hold, fly to another country over hostile terrain, and begin working relief efforts with nothing to look forward to but returning to the war.


Over the next few days, more than 20 flights like the one that arrived Sunday with 20 more Chinooks and more than 80 more personnel, will drop into Bagram and one by one, the helicopters will be reassembled and test flown while their crews are familiarizing themselves with the intricacies of flying in the dusty high altitude conditions that prevail in this region.  Within a week, these crews will have their Chinooks in the air and they will be on their way to Pakistan to begin relieving our guys there.


The most remarkable thing about these people is not that the left their families and homes in Texas with less than 3 days notice, but that they did it for the 3rd time in 4 months.  These people are all fresh off the relief efforts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Now they get the added joy of flying through a combat zone to get to their next humanitarian effort.


I never though that I would get the better deal by going to war.  At least I know when I'm going home.



Wild Thing said...

Thank you big time for writing this. I was thiking about this happening and how the troops must feel when they have to leave fighting in the war and then come home and help with the hurricane and then once again go back to the war. So many emotions going on inside a person.
You write so beautifully how it is and I thank you. Thank you too for your service to our country.

Homefront Six said...

We said goodbye to our unit here a few days ago - they are headed your direction and then on to Pakistan. They've been home from Afghanistan for about 6 months. It's amazing to see the enthusiasm they had for this mission.

They (and you) are wonderful!

devildog6771 said...

As usual your sensitivty to details and emotions are amazing. What a truly insightful post. Thank you for sharing this with us. Thank you also for all that you and your family have sacrificed. Be safe and God Bless you and your buddies.