TEN YEARS LATER
#5 FOB Edinburgh
February 26, 2012…Forward Operating Base Edinburgh…It is Sunday.
Skies are cloudy and it is a bit windy. It's possible that weather could
play a factor in today's events. This is a Marine base. The Army
medevac unit from New Mexico that I am with services the USMC as
their customer. It is a unique relationship and one that has received
high accolades from all involved. I love being here.
Looking back on my previous embeds, it is always the Marines that
train me how to live in a war zone. I had landed here a few days
earlier en-route to my first destination Camp Dwyer. We stayed
about an hour as we unloaded supplies. I knew at that time I would
return. Yesterday was that time to return. The folks at Dwyer had
asked if I wanted to visit "Edi" as it is called and I affirmed that
Saturday would be good for me if it was good for them to have me.
A couple of phone calls were made and in short order, I was
approved to embed to Edi. The birds were headed there for some
resupply and mail drop off and I was allotted a seat. Saturday
morning had me up early and ready to be staged at the flight line by
0800 hrs with gear ready.
After a stop in Kandahar, we proceeded to Edi. The view outside was
excellent and I was rather comfortable in the Blackhawk. Most of the
load was taken off at KAF so there was ample room on the ride to
Edi. Kind of like first class seating, war zone style. We touched
down at Edi and began unloading supplies and my gear. A forklift
appeared out of nowhere and that was a welcomed site for there was
plenty of stuff to unload. Upon my arrival, the medics had been
given a heads up that I was coming. They had arranged a make-shift
luxury "condo" in their supply room for me and upon seeing it I was
startled beyond belief. I also had a grin on my face ear to ear as
these guys were awaiting my reaction. I knew from this very first
moment this place was it. It was like my very own version of the TV
show "MASH", and I was the guest of honor. And to top it off, most
everyone is from New Mexico and those that aren't have been
surrounded by the Land of Enchantment's "mi casa es su casa"
hospitality. So that means, the folks that are here from Minnesota
and Arizona, working in conjunction with the folks from New Mexico
are all family. It is a good place to be for an observatorianist.
After getting my things in place I spoke at length with Capt. Kevin
Doo who is an Asian American from Hawaii. We had much to chat
about and the aloha from his home has now reached all the way to
forward operating base Edinburgh. Once again, I am amazed at the
constant coincidences of this journey. Of course, I know it not just a
coincidence that keeps popping up. It is surely the result of much
prayer from a wide range of folks back home. As it is in the military,
nothing is done individually. Everything is done via the "team". So it
is with my journey here. The prayer teams are in full swing back
home for me and all those I come in contact with.
Once I got settled in and shown around camp, the first call of a
mission came down. I would go on this mission. Missions are
described as A-alpha, B-bravo and C-Charlie, according to urgency.
This mission would be classified as bravo and it would be to retrieve
a working dog attached to the USMC that had some injuries, not too
serious, but needed attention. Working dogs in the war zone are as
important as Soldiers and Marines. I would go on this mission if not
for anything else, for my little sister who raises working dogs in
Virginia. This mission and photo is for her. She has supported given
moral support to my journey and provided me a warm coat that I
wear at all times on every mission.
We launched and arrived at our location in about 15-minutes. It is a
small USMC FOB and soon the handler and dog arrived and were
loaded onto the helicopter. The dog is a black lab and just full of
loyalty. He found himself being treated by the medic and then made
himself at home with the crew chief peering out the window. I really
like this dog. Black labs are great and this working dog does his part
in the war on terrorism. Many folks just don't know this. So, first
mission for me is to pick up and drop off a wonderful dog and get
him back to full strength. All the crew love working dogs in the war
After returning, very short time later, another call came in. It would
be an alpha mission and it was to pick up a local national that had
been in a motorcycle accident. Approval had been granted from
higher ups and the mission was a go. We returned to the exact same
FOB and picked up an injured person with a broken clavicle and in
much pain. Treatment was administered and the patient was
brought to the FOB. That would be the end of the day for me.
I got settled in and had evening chow. It was edible and I prepared
my cot with the red wool blanket my neighbor Ed had loaned me and
a comforter I had acquired in Dwyer that had been left behind by
someone. I bedded down relatively early, 9:00 PM. It had been a
long day. I slept well in my "condo". It's morning now. I've had a
bowl of cereal and two cups of hot coffee. I'm good for the day.
We'll see what today brings. I love being on this base. The living is
hard, but then again, many have it much harder than I. I am blessed
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