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Ten Years Later #19 "Go…!"
March 25, 2012…Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Helmand  province, Afghanistan…One minute, you can be in the MWR  catching up on a phone call and the next minute you're running  to the helicopter because you heard the words over the radio,  "medevac, medevac, medevac." That is exactly how it happens.   No matter what you are doing or where you are, the call comes  to get to the helicopter and get on it and fly to a place where  the helicopter is needed.  I never spend any time figuring out  where we are going, what it is we're picking up or what the  extent of the injuries are.  Soon enough I will find out. Whatever  I need to know, the crew will tell me in due time.  Other than  that I just watch and take photos.   Watch.  Look.  Listen.  I was headed out today but had a sense to stay back a couple  days.  It's all the logistics thing of getting from point A to point  B.  I will get to where I need to be when the time comes.  It will  be soon, but not yet.  It is not so easy to leave a place where  the work never stops.  I'm not done yet.  But I will be soon.   There is today, and one never knows what today or any day  brings.  That is how I pretty much have been approaching most  everything in my life lately over the course of time the last  decade or so.  Too many things to explain.  Better to just take it  all one day at a time.  It is what my wife has been telling me for  nearly 38-years now. I am good at watching and looking.   Listening is not one of my great skill sets.  I can hear, but I  don't listen often.  Once in a while, however, I do.  I heard the call for medevac.  I was listening for it.  The crew  and I all converged on "first up" and buckled in.  We headed out  over the FOB and came to the river.  The water looked blue and  enticing.  The fields around are really beginning to green up.   As we approached, it looked as though we were going to land  very close to the water.  The red smoke marking the LZ came  into view out my window.  We were on the ground quickly. The door was opened and I saw a familiar site.  Marines in  position.  I knew what they were doing.  Something had been  happening.  The look.  I know this look.  Where we were is in a  rural area where houses and farms all blend.  Apparently a  Marine patrol base was close by.  Something had happened that  made the Marines react accordingly.  They do not mess around,  which is exactly why I choose to hang around them.  A patrol  base is very remote and exposed.  It is usually the front of the  front lines.  The Marines in these places are always on top of  their game.  No one ever gets complacent.  One's life depends  on it.  I looked and saw a scene that just screamed 1968.  It was  green.  Marines were all around and bringing us a person that  had been shot.  Turns out this guy may have been the particular  problem that caused the Marines to take action.  The now  "patient" was brought to the aircraft.  As he was brought to us, I  kept looking and watching what the scene was.  Here it is once  again.  Another place in Afghanistan near a river where  something was going on.  Somebody got shot and the medevac  came in and picked up the patient.  Marines kept an eye on  things.  It is not friendly territory.  There is always something  going on.  And the Marines are always busy taking care of  business.  It apparently has been this way here, near this river,  for ten years now.    The patient was now on the deck of the helicopter.  Sgt. Papp  began working on him as Spc. Martinez kept a close eye out his  window as the helicopter began to ascend. It is the crew chief's  responsibility to watch and look.  If there is something out of  the ordinary it then is his job to "sing out' so to speak.   Everyone has a job and everyone does their job.  Everyone  listens to one another.  This is the way things are done.    It works well. As we departed the LZ, I looked out the window and saw the  scene disappearing before my eyes.  Yet, not before I took  photos of the vanishing sites below.  The Marines took their  positions.  They went back to business.  We climbed and  skimmed the now hilly terrain as we headed for the medical  facility that would patch up the "patient".  Deep inside, I wanted  to go back and be there with the Marines.  I feel sometimes that  I'm supposed to be there telling their story too.  It would not  happen though today.  I would tell their story via a few photos  only.  That will be enough.  But I wanted much to be there at  that patrol base.  It is where it is at, also.  I am thankful that  Dustoff took me there today.    This is a good journey.  The Helmand river area is a place that the USA has been dealing  with since the latter 1950's.  In those days, we were building up  an irrigation scheme around here to counter the then Soviet  domination of the region.  Somewhere along the line some  brainiac came up with the idea that we would win lots of hearts  and minds here in Afghanistan and turn them into a big  headache for the Soviets. I don't know where that guy is now or  if he is even alive anymore.  But, if he is still around I would  give him a free ride to the patrol base I was at yesterday and let  him stay there a while. Is a matter of fact, I would send him  outside the patrol base all by himself and see how many hearts  and minds he could win today.  The day ended with a few new faces coming around the FOB.   Some folks came to work on the generators.  It's always good to  strike up fresh conversation with new kids on the block.  Being  nice to the folks that make sure there is power here is easy.   One of the guys is a NY Yankees fan which is always a friend to  me.  As long as there are no Red Sox fans, things will be fine.   It was a good day today.    I'm glad I listened for the call.  When it came, I heard it.  As I  watched today's scenes unfold I find myself still looking at the  photos.    Jim Spiri jimspiri@yahoo.com
The flags of USA and NM at FOB Edi The MWR ten at Edi The MWR tent at Edi The river we landed near Red smoke marking the LZ Marines in field that we landed at Marine at LZ that I saw. Marines bringing person that was shot to helicopter Another view of patient being brought to helicopter
What the LZ looked like as we began to prepare to leave
The LZ as we began to lift off.  Marines taking up their places
The LZ scene
More of the LZ
Having lifted off, the Marines begin to disappear from view of the helicopter.
Final view I saw of the Marines as I left
The compound everything took place at as I see if from the air leaving
A better view of the compound
#19 Go...!