Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving Dinner at Bagram Posted by Picasa
Thanksgiving in Bagram

While it certainly wasn't home, the Army, and KBR pulled out all the stops to make Thanksgiving in the Hinterlands a memorable event.

While I don't think that come this time next year anyone of us are going to be saying "Gee Honey, that was pretty good, but you should have seen what we had in Afghanistan last year", the tremendous effort by everyone who helped with this celebration is truly appreciated.
Heard in Passing

"We've got to be getting close to leaving, we're on our 3rd set of Air Force guys."

-Anonymous- regarding disparity between Army and Air Force rotations.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Double Digit Midgets

So as much as you try to tell yourself that you will remain mission-focused throughout the entire rotation, that you will concentrate on the job and the time will take care of itself.  It’s an exercise in futility.  Like an addict who needs the fix to keep going from one day to the next, you find yourself in the evening, marking off another day on the calendar and counting those remaining.


Hello, my name is Brian, and I have a counting problem.  I know, I know, every one tells me that it only makes the time pass more slowly, but I can’t help myself.  It started with a simple tear-off calendar and that was depressing because I could see the thick stack of the days remaining in the year as opposed to the paltry few sheets signifying those that had passed.  One day though, I realized that the torn off stack was larger than the ones remaining on the calendar, and I started to feel the thrill of counting. 


Then came the full size calendars with each “X”d out day adding depth to a strangely comforting geometric design.  Of course, then the more I counted the more I wanted to count.  I became insatiable, but time was only passing so quickly, so I found new ways to mark off the days.  Counting in percentages of the total deployment became the Crack Cocaine of my new found addiction and counting down the days remaining is my Ecstasy, the new designer drug of the time killing habit and today, I found a new high from a number that is increasingly lower.  We have cracked the century mark.  There are less than 100 days remaining for us in this deployment.  We are “Double Digit Midgets” and getting shorter every day.


So, tomorrow I’ll stop counting and get my mission focus back.  I’ll find a 12 step program to get off the calendar “X”tacy, but today we’ll do the countdown limbo and see how low we can go.  Tomorrow, I’ll put the tear-off calendar in a drawer and turn my attention back to the tasks at hand, but not today.  Today we will show each other our calendars and in true vintage Steve Martin vernacular, proceed to “Get Really Small”


Friday, November 18, 2005

For a Day of Thanks

For those of you who have been reading my blog long enough, you know that we have a Thanksgiving tradition, certainly not unique but a cherished ritual none the less, in which all who celebrate with us take turns telling everyone present what they are thankful for on this day.  The miles and hours that separate me from my family’s Thanksgiving celebration this year is not nearly reason enough to forgo this tradition, so here are some of the things that I am thankful for this year.


For the opportunities that have been provided to me over the last year where I could help provide for the future well-being of people less fortunate than us, for the security of those near us here in Afghanistan, and for the lives we were able to save in Pakistan; for what I have seen and the lessons emblazoned upon my heart of how very fortunate we are, I am truly thankful.


I am thankful to be able to provide for the security of the country that has given me so many opportunities and blessings throughout my lifetime.  I am blessed to know of the millions countrymen who will be able to avail them selves of those same opportunities in the future.


I am thankful that I was raised in a home that taught and lived the values that guide me today, lessons anchored upon a faith in God, where what I was able to share was more important than what I thought I was entitled to, and where the thought truly did count more than the gift.


For the company of heroes with whom I will share this celebration as I have shared the past year, the lessons in leadership that I have been able to both learn and share, the examples of selflessness, duty, and patriotism that I have witnessed, and for the Herculean efforts that I have received and been able to put forth for a noble and righteous cause, I am truly blessed.


I am thankful that my family will celebrate this occasion in a warm, safe home filled with love in a place they cherish.  A home where all the sounds and smells that warm my heart and bring a smile to my face just to think about, football games, turkey, card games, pies, and children laughing, will fill the rooms from morning to night.


While I am extremely thankful for the well wishes and prayers of all who wander through this site which I truly believe have kept us safe this far as well as the rest of the way home, for all the heartfelt sentiments, none of which included pity for the hardships of our chosen profession, I can not express enough gratitude. 


I am sure you will understand when I decline to share with you the details of what I am most grateful for, even more so this year than last, in favor of sharing the gratitude for my most cherished possession, the love and support of my wife, only with her.




Happy Thanksgiving.



P.S.  I am also ecstatically thankful for the AFN televised Thanksgiving eve opportunity for the Colorado Avalanche to put the hurt to the Detroit Red Wings, and the Denver Broncos Thanksgiving Day thrashing of the Dallas Cowboys.  Gobble Gobble!!!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Happy Veterans Day

There is a bumper sticker that reads:  "If you can read this, thank a teacher.  If you are reading this in English, thank a veteran."


While I appreciate the sentiment, I'd like to take a minute to expand on that.


To all those who wore the uniform before me who ensured that those sitting next to me while I was learning to read and write were both male and female of all faiths and various ethnicities, and from all walks of life; Thank You


To all those before me whose selfless achievements are now my honored heritage; Thank You


To all who have placed the love of this country and it's underlying tenets above their own welfare; Thank You


To all those who have cast absentee ballots while far from far away places while fighting to secure the right of others to choose their own destiny; Thank You


To all those who have missed birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and holidays, whose marraiges and relationships have endured months and years of separation for the sake of the security of others; Thank You


And thanks especially to all those who have given pieces of their body and soul for just a small hope that the world my children and their children grow up in will not need those who will wear this uniform after me to live for months and years far from home and in harms way.


Back to Bagram Once Again

As promised, I have once again returned to Metropolis.  The hustle and bustle of this fortified American city in the middle of Afghanistan is much the same as I left it with the exception of the weather.  Not long before my Pakistan journey, people around here would have killed or died for a cloud.  Since my return on Tuesday, not only do I think I haven't seen blue sky, I have actually witnessed precipitation.  When the clouds do lift a bit you can see that the snow level is creeping down the mountains and the temperature is dropping right along with it. 


Hard to believe we're only 2 weeks from Thanksgiving.  While many people may find the thought of the Holidays here in the Hinterland a little depressing, Thanksgiving will be significant, because it brings with it, the coveted century mark - 100 days remaining.


Monday, November 07, 2005

Still in Pakistan

Sorry it's been so long since I put a post up here, it's hard to believe that I've been here almost 3 weeks.  During that time I have been to the Embassy several times working out various issues, worked with people from all branches of service, British, Germans, Japanese, and of course Pakistani.  I've flown on British CH47s, Navy MH-53s, Chinooks flown by the Big Windy Commander, and fellow blogger, Glen Siegerist.  I've heard gunfire and fireworks light up the sky at the first glimpse of the new moon, signifying the end of Ramadaan.


Most importantly though, on my last trip out, I noticed a significant difference in the Pakistani population.  It may have been a function of the places we flew to, but there was no swarming of the helicopter when we landed and and we flew over a great many tent complexes on the way in and out.  Aid has been reaching most area, and while there is still a great deal of work to be done before the snows come, it will have to be done by others not coming from Afghanistan.  All but myself and a couple others from Afghanistan have been replaced by counterparts from the U.S. or Europe, and with luck, I will be back in Bagram tomorrow.


While my heart still breaks when I think of all that I have seen here, I am thankful that I was in a position to give what little bit of help I could, and I will be thankful for the rest of my days for the things that I have.