OEF: Another World

July 2004

Our next transportation was on a C-130. I was looking forward to this ride a little. I had never been on a C-130 before, but we were always singing about the airborne rangers jumping out of it. We all boarded then the air force guys loaded our luggage after us. Another two and a half hours awaited us. We took pictures and video as we flew over mountains. After an hour or so I decided to take out my handy dandy laptop as almost everyone else slept. I had some catching up to do on my document in which I named; world tour. I wasn’t on long when we started to rapidly descend. We descended quicker than I had ever descended before and it might not have been so bad but as we quickly descend we were also turning and banking and lining up with the runway. In no time at all I became ill. I shut my laptop and put it away, as I tried to maintain my bearings. I became more nauseated and weak. We finally touched down and rolled to a stop. We walked down to a gravel waiting area and I saw a row of soldiers pulling security. This aroused in me the awareness that this was for real now. No more simulation games, drills, or classroom briefings; this was the real deal. We were given a handful of ammunition and a magazine in which we loaded the rounds. A convoy came to pick up the men who arrived before us. We were told that Camp Phoenix was only about ten minutes away. Our convoy came and we began our short journey into Camp Phoenix. The trucks had sandbags on the floor; this was probably because as far as we had been briefed Afghanistan was the heaviest mined country in the world. We passed through some villages as the little native kids greeted us by waving and giving the thumbs up sign. I waved back and smiled. All the stuff you see on TV, I was seeing and experiencing up close and in real time. The buildings, as few as there were; were primitive along with the whole surrounding environment. 

Camp Phoenix; Guard towers, vehicle search, personnel search, tents, buildings, the works, was here at last. Everything hit me all at once. I was very tired, hungry, and dirty. I hadn’t eaten since the night before, I hadn’t taken a shower since we left three days ago, and I was still time warped from the “jet lag.” We had an hour and a half “in” briefing, ate, took showers, and then it was time to sleep. I went to sleep at about 2200 Local time. The following day would be our only day off for a long time. As the sun set we began our work. Our job assignment was to man the towers on the twelve hour night shift. 

Security detail        August 2004                                

    Today for the first time in a week, I’ve been outside of the “wire.” We blocked off traffic while a convoy went to transport more soldiers from the airport. I don’t imagine the people here have traffic laws. They go just about any speed they can. We blocked the road to find out that the anxious drivers tried their best to find a way around, even if it meant crossing over to oncoming traffic. Though this may seem like a predicament to be in the middle of, we do have our ways of controlling the traffic. We only had to raise our weapons once to send a serous signal. We like to call this the universal language. Maybe harsh, but it is definitely effective. 

    I must tell you it felt like I was in an action movie. We drove to our positions, jumped out, stopped traffic, let the convoy rush past us, then briskly returned to our vehicles and sped off. We repeated this activity twice. In between the adventurous mission I caught an hour of sleep before the intense heat from the sun and the ever aggressive flies pulled what comfort I had from me, as I reclined in the back of our hummer. The part of this operation I disliked the most was the fact that we had just closed out our night shift tower guard and would be stampeding over our much sought after sleeping time. By the time the need for our assistance was discontinued it was 1000, six hours past the time I usually go to bed. I did slept well.


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