Friday, March 17, 2006

Going home

I am a wee bit drunk as I type this. 365 days ago I was also drunk. How do I remember that fact? That was the last time I had a few pints before I went to Afghanistan was also St. Patrick’s Day. Now I was back at the same pub drinking a few pints, but I did stop this time after five pints, because soon I will be flying on the big iron bird home to my wife and kids, versus going down range.

For the past ten days I have been out processing or de-mobilizing in army speak. Go to CIF to turn in my body armor and all my other bits of field gear. Have the doctor ask me about my health, metal and physical. Did I see any dead bodies? I asked him US, coalition, or civilian? He put down yes in all three columns. Finance calculated my terminal or now referred to as transition leave. The dentist advised me to get my teeth cleaned when I got home. I now have three big folders, stuffed with papers, saying I am now a combat veteran. It feels like I just I blinked my eyes and I was leaving, but when I think about it was a long 365 days in Kandahar. I am trying to remember how many ramp ceremonies I went to. Way too many. But we (The US military) did lots of good there. I have no regrets. I helped open schools, train the Afghan National Army and Police, secure roads and arrange Hajj pilgrims go to Mecca. This fact will never make the newspapers or the cable new trash channels: there are no protesters chanting: “Americans go home, come back Taliban.” The Afghans like us and want us to stay. And stay we will. I expect tours in Afghanistan will be like tours for US personnel in Korea during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. A long hardship tour.

The interpreters I worked with wished me good luck and a safe journey home. I told them that I would visit them in a few years with my family and show them where the TICs and IEDs were at. I gave them a hug and wished them a safe, peaceful and prosperous future.

What is interesting is how many soldiers are going to the Active Army from the reserve. A lot. A few requested Iraq. That was a surprise. A couple of soldiers are ETS’ing or leaving the army, but many more re-upped to stay in the reserves. This is a post in it self.

I will be writing and posting a few more images when I get home. I have many themes and ideas for more posts written down in my notebook. I have a few ideas for a novel that I am bouncing around. Maybe if I have enough or as my platoon Sergeant would say “make some time” I start will writing.

While I was at the bar we were making toast: “to electricity, to in-door plumbing, or beer.” Then people mentioned names of fallen comrades. Last somebody said “To Tehran in ’07.”

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Driving through a village.

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PCO=A cell phone that is for rent, since telephone land lines are non-existent. Shops along highway four toward Spin Buldak.