The Last Journey
31 July 2010, Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, 1145 hrs, Saturday…The journey is beginning to
take shape. I left home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at 0430 hrs in the morning, Wednesday,
July 21, 2010. Today is ten days later and what seems like a
million miles ago. Bagram is where
things for me begin to come into focus.
None of this could have happened without the help of the Army and Marine
Public Affairs Offices. Before I go one
step further, it needs to be made known to all my readers that these particular
offices in the military have absolutely gone above and beyond their calls of duty to assist me and educate me on everything
pertaining to my embed. It was my
experiences in the past in Iraq with the same offices that made everything concerning
my journey then a success. I must
commend them again for the hospitality they have shown me once again. It makes me feel comfortable within my being the respect and
professionalism they constantly extend to me.
They are aware of who I am and what I’ve done and know a little
about my personal story. They also know
why I do what it is I do. I like having
them always on the lookout for me. I
feel honored to be handled by them at all times. They make my life on this journey very good.
In a little over twelve
hours from now, I will depart Bagram for camp Salerno, via helicopter.
Salerno is a “no light at night” base. I have a friend there whom I used to work on
the flight line with in Balad, Iraq back in 2004, who told me via email this morning
to be sure and bring a red light flash light for night. What this means is, Salerno is subject to attack at all times and all precautions
are taken to minimize any advantage the enemy may obtain. Salerno is only my second to last stop before I arrive at my
first embed location. From there, I will
head further into border region with Pakistan.
This morning, I found
myself getting up early to take a shower at around 0430 hrs. It’s quiet at that time and it’s
not crowded. It also gives me a good
start to the day. I cleaned up, shaved,
got my teeth flossed and generally just got things back into order hygenically
speaking. I also had time to do a final
re-arrangement of my things so as to minimize clutter in my belongings. I also went to the chow hall very early and
had a great bowl of oatmeal with nuts and raisins as well as a couple of
glasses of cranberry juice. I then was
able to have time to go to the MWR facility and catch up on emails and send a few
emails stateside to keep everyone abreast of what’s going on. Then, I came over to the PAO offices and
began to chat with the folks there. This
became my most productive day yet on the journey.
I met a man there who is
from this country and works in the office with the media folks. His name is called, “Walli” and
he is 30-years old. I began to speak to
him within close proximity of a large map of Afghanistan. He told me
where he is from and where he was born.
His English is excellent. I asked
him many questions about his country relating to agriculture and language. He began to open up rapidly when he realized
my sincere interest in his country. As I
sipped on my cup of black coffee, I inquire about the production of pomegrantes
in his country and he readily became excited and told me where they are
grown. Then I asked about pistachios and
once again he became excited and pointed on the map where these things are
grown. And then I asked about the raging
rivers and the mountains and more about growing things. He got more excited as did I and once again I
realized that I had come to this land to see much more than meets the eye. It looks so much like New Mexico yet the mountains that I can see are much
larger. Much, much bigger. It is going to be an exciting journey.
Then, as the PAO folks
began to see how I am with people they started showing me what is going on in Afghanistan relating to agriculture. I was told of the ADT (agribusiness
development teams) which is operated by National Guard units and is dedicated
to increasing the properity of Afghanistan by agricultural means. It facinated me right from the get-go. One of the PAO’s here then showed me
some of his own photos and I was once again intrigued. I’ve been wondering exactly how my
third embed will take shape, but I am leaning towards at some point to go see
this operation. But as always, there is
much more in the buffet before my eyes than I can fit on my small plate. However, I defenitely want to see the
agricultural side of this country.
Cannot come this far without seeing that.
In short, I’m
ready. I want to see where the fight is
and then, what the battle is for. So
far, it is encouraging to see and hear from a local resident that hope has a chance
to turn into reality. I am most blessed
to be an observer at this time. We will
see what next days have for me. I will
push forward now and not look back. But,
I will come back at some point in time and then I will push in a different
direction. First, I must go with the
infantrymen of the 101st whom I know are working hard to give the
folks in Afghanistan a chance to make it.
Then, I will go with the Marines in Helmund province who are battling it
out daily for the same reasons. After
those two things are accomplished on my end, I will then go see the fruit of
all this labor. It’s a big task,
but, I’m up for it. If it’s
going to be The Last Journey, then it has to be done well.
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