The Last Journey
Article #12 “Bandit Country”
I have arrived at my final,
first destination. It is simply amazing
that I made it after all this time. Let
me say from the onset in this writing, it was well worth the waiting. The moment I stepped onto land here at FOB
Boris, I knew this is where I’m supposed to be. This is “Bandit Country”. I am with very good people here. This is the infantry. This is 1-187. These are Rakkasans. They have been sent to one of the most volatile
areas in the fight. It is because they
are good that they have been sent here. I asked specifically to be among
them. I knew one soldier here. His name is Sgt. Bryan Doyle, a typical Irish
bloke that is a typical first class Rakkasan.
He is my friend. He helped me get
here. He knows I care about the soldiers
and can tell some of their story. Now
begins my time at forward operating base Boris, along the mountains and hills
day started early in
waiting on the flight line at
A short time later, my bird came and it was a welcomed site to see. I’m not exactly sure what it was and I’m not sure who is operating it. I’ve been told different things by different folks. Some say Russians, some say American contractors, some have no idea. All I knew is I had not been in this aircraft before and I was about to add another helicopter to my list of travels over the years. It landed, we all loaded up our gear and were shown where to sit. The first impression I had of this particular aircraft was good. I liked it from the first steps I took to get inside it. The ramp was excellent and well designed. It had what appeared to be Russian language written on it as well as English. It was quite easy to get into, which is not always the case in helicopters. It’s a single rotor bird, but kind of big. It looks like a cross between an older CH46 that the USMC flies and a Huey that the Army flew. It seats about a dozen people in seats with the cargo area pretty much in the rear of the bird. It’s very practical and I had plenty of room. I flat out liked the bird and think it’s now one of my favorite helicopters to fly in. It had two pilots, a crew chief and another crew member who was wearing an Afghan uniform. I could not see the two pilots but the crew chief in the back was wearing a USMC flight suit. He spoke English and I believe he was American, but don’t really know. He was very helpful getting my gear on board and I assisted him loading other luggage. I like his job, it is the one I would have wanted.
we took off, I right away felt like this was a “cool”
aircraft. It looks old and some say
ugly, but quite frankly, it’s a good bird. I had been watching the weather and thought
that we might get cancelled due the clouding up situation that was
developing. But, that was not to be the
case. We gained altitude and soon we
were pretty high skimming the clouds.
And there were lots and lots of clouds.
I’ve flown literally hundreds of flights in helicopters over the
years, mostly in
to landing I could see a bit of the area where the FOB is situated, but mostly
was getting ready to disembark the aircraft, they do not stay on the ground any
longer than is necessary. There is a
reason for that. We landed and three
soldiers and myself got out. We unloaded
our gear and the bird took off and raced against the weather to get back home to
their destination. Two soldiers from the
FOB greeted us and coordinated a gator to pick our belongings up.
After getting my things collected I was taken to “guest lodging”. It is very good accommodations and has it’s own private toilet, outside. I’m in a room that has 14 bunk beds in it as well as some cots. There is no one else at this time staying in this room. It looks like a building that my friend who is a Mennonite used to build and sell for sheds, only this is about twice that size. It is just fine and has air conditioning. It also does not leak. It is a fine place to stay especially this far out in the sticks. After getting my things put up I was taken over to the TOC and introduced to Captain Watson the company commander and Captain Corbett, the XO. I sat and talked with them for quite some time. I immediately decided that I would not go any further than FOB Boris. These guys are whom I want to be among. They just have it together and figured out right away who I am and why I am here. It did not take long.
summoned for Sgt. Doyle and in a short while later he appeared. It had happened. I found Bryan Doyle in
I soon spent some hours talking
with Sgt. Bryan Doyle and getting my own personal brief on things in this
area. No one could ask for a better
person to be briefed by. We talked on
the east end of the FOB looking at the mountains that lead to
a long while,
asked him to come by later on in the evening to where I am staying so I could
do an audio interview on him. He agreed
and later that night we sat down and talked a bit about some things. It was a fun interview and we touched on some
light things and some serious things.
Sgt Doyle recently encountered an IED while traveling in an RG31, more commonly known as an MWRAP. He and four others got tossed around quite a bit and were medevaced out to another FOB for treatment. All are ok, this time. But it was a serious incident. This is what happens out here. It seems to me to be a bit more important news-wise than whether Lindsy Lohan is getting in or out of jail these days. Sometimes I cringe at what our priorities are back home.
I spent the rest of the late afternoon and into the early evening mingling around camp and getting to know folks. I had chi with some of the cultural advisors that work here and other soldiers and civilians joined us up high on a platform overlooking the FOB and the surrounding area. This is a good place to be at moments like this. I knew it would be like this here. I just had to get here.
in the evening
That is what I had to do. It is hard to explain, but I’m trying my best to do so, for this is, “The Last Journey”.