The Last Journey
September 10, 2010 COP Turbett

Today is Friday, September 10, 2010. I am in COP Turbett in Helmund province, Afghanistan. Six years ago today, I was in Balad, Iraq assisting the CASEVAC crews loading a man that had both legs and one arm blown off from a rocket attack. It is also the night that I was informed that my father had been struck and killed by a car while riding his bicycle in New York. My younger brother has his birthday on this day. The 10th of September is one of those days I know about as we lead up to the 9/11 anniversary. This year, I will be here in Afghanistan which is exactly where I wanted to be this time around. I wanted to see it from the ground level on 9/11, nine years after the fact. It’s been a long time but seems like yesterday.

Today I was sick most all day long. I knew last night I would be taking this day off and I am glad I did. I have been fighting what seems like a cold for the past two days and today and last night I felt horrible. I decided to utilize my time wisely and catch up on all writings and photos and audios and place them all in backed up locations in the event something goes amiss.

Today is also the end of Ramadan. I’m glad for that. I can’t figure out why they actually do Ramadan or what use it actually serves, but I am gaining a bit of bitterness towards it all. In the early morning hours, starting at around 0400 hrs, the loud speakers go off with the guy in the mosque blaring out some message which probably says, “get up, get up, do your thing for Allah”. I really don’t know what he says but I do know he says it at 0400, and then again at 0500 and doesn’t shut up for what seems like forever. These people here, who all seem somewhat primitive, decide not to eat for 30-days during the day, and then never get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, which we all know is one of the keys to a healthy life. I have some deep concerns about Islam and how we all are being told one thing but what I see is something else.

I phoned home today and was informed that there is some guy in Florida with a small church who is about to go on a burning rampage of Korans. He apparently is causing quite a firestorm across the globe and I have a few things to say about that right now. Firstly, whether I agree with him or not, is of no value in this discussion, but what is of value is how he is putting Marines lives in jeopardy over here as well as others also serving in the war zone. He basically is bordering on in sighting a riot on a global scale. Now, there is a part of me that wants to say, sure, send him a pack of matches and let’s help him out. But, the reasonable side of me knows better and this guy is way out of control. It’s of no value what he is doing just to gain is 15-minutes of fame. Is a matter of fact, the Marines here are very angry with what he is doing. I wish I could convey that message right now.

After I got my writings all caught up and put into back up modes, I was able to find time between naps to take a shower, do some laundry, wash my hair, brush my teeth, shave and use the facilities. All that takes a lot of time and lots of energy. The problem with getting cleaned up is about ten minutes later, one is dirty again. So, it’s just the thought of having put the effort into getting clean. It’s called personal hygiene here. The tent is in dire need of cleaning and I try my best to get my area swept with a hand broom as often as possible. But the rest of the tent is one big dust bowl. I think that is part of the reason I am sneezing a lot as well as the temperature in the tent was down to 64 degrees the other night with the air conditioner blaring cold air. I know that is where I really got sick. Anyway, I think I may be on the mend right now, but I still feel terrible. We’ll see what the morning brings.

Today, right outside the gate in the bazaar area, a little girl was injured in a motorcycle accident. She fell off the motorcycle after being hit by a car, at least that is the story we are hearing. The Marines provided first aid and then called for a medevac and in less than 20-minutes, she was airlifted out of here. I was able to get a few photos of it. It’s quite an elaborate coordination plan to get a medevac here. And it is done rapidly. It’s always good to see these medevacs especially after having spent time with them. I feel part of the team each time I see one come in. They are in and out in a flash.

I’ve been speaking more and more to the guys here and they are opening up much more to me. I should begin to do more audios as the time goes on. Before I know it, it will be time to leave here. I received an extension to my orders, making me good through October 15, which is perfect. Now I do not have to rush out of here. I will go however somewhere around September 20, or thereabouts. I may stop by Echo company just to spend a few days with them. But there is a part of me that says it is better to just stay here with one unit and learn more and more about what they do. They are very comfortable with me and I with them. I just wish I had better set ups for what I am doing. More boots, better pants, a few other things. But, all in all, not too bad at the moment.

The hard part now is this dust. It is really killing me. I will adapt. Tomorrow is September 11th, one of the main reasons I am where I am at the moment. I will try to prepare as best I can for a big day of working and trying to get as much done as possible. It will be the only 9/11 anniversary I ever plan to spend again in this country. I will make the most of it with what energy I have.

I’m a tired now and will hit the sack. This is how the day ended for me on September 10, 2010 in COP Turbett in Afghanistan.

Jim Spiri