Saturday, January 19, 2008

Familiar faces...

“The best mirror is an old friend.”- George Herbert

You know there’s something to be said about the joy of seeing a familiar face. Last night the six “second wave” guys from my unit arrived. I can't explain why it was so good to see them - it just was. Their trip here was a little more convenient in that they didn’t have to fly North from Al Udeid, Qatar to Bagram Air Field and then turn right around and fly South back down to KAIA (Kabul International Airport). Instead they were able to fly directly here from Qatar. (lucky ducks!!) Anyway, Alex was the only one of the six who had been deployed before (3 years ago in Afghanistan) so watching the other five step out of the back of those British armored Land Cruisers was precious! I saw a lot of wide-eyed and dazed looks on the guys faces. You could tell that it was just sinking in that they were actually HERE - in Afghanistan! *grin* They had just run the gauntlet down the road we refer to as IED Alley from the airport to the ISAF compound here and that was their first “honest” realization that they weren’t in Kansas anymore Toto! Roger, our radio guy, admitted to being scared. That’s ok… he’s right to feel that way, and even bigger for admitting it. But in any event, I was just darn glad to see them. I was their welcoming committee and had been awaiting their arrival for a couple hours in the cold. You could tell that they were just as glad to see me too…. There was a sincerity and honest enthusiasm in their handshakes. Hearty hello’s and greetings were exchanged. I shook all their hands and said, “Welcome to paradise!”…. That seemed to be an effective ice-breaker considering they hadn’t even had time to exhale from their uneasy trip through downtown Kabul. It was a way to say to them, “Hey, you made it man!... You can breathe now!” ;-)

From a purely selfish viewpoint, I was also glad to see the guys because that meant I could now get started on a somewhat normal work schedule too! From the moment we arrived here 6 days ago, I’ve been working 20+ hour days, only to take a short 2 to 4-hour nap, then start it all over again. Getting turnover from the guys that were leaving was difficult because they ALL wanted my complete attention and if they couldn’t find me, they would send somebody to go look for me. Once I had worked over 33 hours straight and just finally “hit the wall” so I told the guys I was going to take a two-hour nap. When they couldn’t find me, they sent Bixby back to my room here to get me! Bix woke me up and back I went for another double-shift. It’s been like this since the moment I arrived. This is partly why I haven’t been able to update the blog here as often as I would like either. So NOW do you understand why I am excited to see these guys?!! I really even should be in bed now, but wanted to send this update out. Tomorrow morning I will begin my first actual 8-hour shift! Whooo-hoooo!!!!

Yesterday was also our weekly Friday Bazaar, where the local Afghanis bring their goods to an open market just outside the compound here, such as rugs, jewels, DVD’s ($1 each!), hand-carved items, precious stones, scarves, traditional clothing and head gear…. You name it, it is there. I took one picture of just a very small section of it, but the bazaar filled an entire soccer field, so it was row after row, solicitation after solicitation from every man or boy who said, “My friend!... You buy [fill in the blank]?”… I’ve learned that if you don’t want to be bothered too much you wear sunglasses and keep your hands in your pockets. *grin*

Well, I’ve got to get to bed and at least get a “little” sleep before my short 8-hour shift in a few hours! Nite all!

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've just started reading blogs of those in the military and find yours to be very informative and entertaining. Since I don't have any family or friends serving our country, I've pretty much been clueless of everyday life in a warzone. My only reference I guess comes from watching Band Of Brothers which in part has stirred my interest in all things military. I'm from Chicago. So is Roger. Can you post a photo of him?

Thanks for serving and be safe!