We arrived in Frankfurt, Germany. The landing was a bit rough and made the guy next to me a little nervous. Back home the time was 1530. In Germany it was 2230. So that day we only got eight hours of light and I slept three of those. We’re told that we will be using the same plane for the next flight so the only thing we needed to take with us off the plane was our M-4 Carbine. As soon as I exited to the lobby, I realized that I had never been outside of the USA. Although the part of the airport that we were at was Americanized, you could still tell that you weren’t in America. The show on TV had an interview about the upcoming election. Although it was CNN, it seemed like it was more balanced on the subject than the media in the US, if not leaning toward our current president, George W. Bush. They spoke in English but had a British accent. I thought to myself, wow, America must be important if this is the big subject in this part of the world. At 015 we returned to the lobby and re-boarded flight 9864.
Take off was smoother, not as much aggressive acceleration as before. I didn’t pay too much attention to the altitude but I knew we had acceded 500mph again. Snacks were passed out and a movie began to play. Thus far it has been like a flight simulation ride, a movie theater, and a restaurant all in one. I had enjoyed every part of it, and I knew it would all end too soon. The movie ended as the morning light began to penetrate the window beside me. I couldn’t believe it was morning again. I didn’t even know what the time was there but back home it was 2100, an hour before I would have gone to bed back at Camp Atterbury, in the Hoosier State of Indiana sitting in the Great land of America. Only a couple more hours remained until we would land in Tajikistan. From there we’d fly again for three hours then convoy the rugged terrain to Kabul, Afghanistan.
The flight lasted longer than I had expected. As we descended one could only notice the very different terrain. The trees were a kind I had never seen before; also the mixed grass had multiple shades of green. We landed at Manna’s Air force base, exited, and entered into a large tent where we waited for a few hours. By this time, I was so dazed and confused. We had just gone through a day in 12 hours; I spent five minutes trying to figure out how much sleep I had in the last 24 hours. I wasn’t sure if I should be tired or not. Finally, after an extended wait, they assigned us some tents, and what tents these were!
To our delight and amazement, these tents had air conditioning. I proceeded to find the bunk of my choice, which just happened to be right next to an outlet. I opened my laptop and started listening to some music. I didn’t feel tired because it was the middle of the day, however, the next thing I knew; I woke up and it was pitch black outside. I was surprised that I fell asleep and how long I slept. We had a formation at midnight to go get our armor out of our duffel bags. The whole process took three hours. Once we had what we needed we returned to our tents. It was four in the morning, we were wide awake, and we had a few things to explore on base. I soon found out how luxurious this base was. Though it didn’t seem like a large base, it had a full size gym, pizza parlor, PX, post office, and a whole lot that I didn’t even have time to explore. First, a friend and I found our way to the mess hall. It was like going into a grocery store except everything was free. The main breakfast wasn’t to be served until four thirty but there were enough alternative choices like cereal and fruit that it didn’t matter. Also there were bottles of juice, Gatorade, and Mountain Dew. I felt so privileged to be in the most well taken care of, and pampered army in the world. If I was in any other country’s army I’d hate Americans too. We took our time eating, talking, and watching a political talk show on the TV. We finished our unhurried meal, and then headed to the gym where we played some basketball for a while. When we were finished we returned to the tent and I went back to sleep. I got about three good hours in, and then at about nine a.m. we headed out to leave for Afghanistan.