TEN YEARS LATER
#4 Helmand Province Afghanistan
February 22-23, 2012…Kandahar Air Field to Helmand province
Afghanistan…It is now Thursday, February 23, 2012. I have arrived
at my destination, Helmand province Afghanistan. This is where I
feel best to have been brought to in Afghanistan.
I left the Media Support Center on Kandahar Air Field at 1030 hrs on
Wednesday, February 22. The public affairs folks at this place were
superb and took exceptional care of me. They are a reserve unit
from South Carolina. They did a wonderful job arranging things for
me. Specifically Sgt Booker went above and beyond the call of duty
for me for the past two months helping me arrange things.
Captain Justin "Judd" Douglas, from Arizona greeted me and briefed
me on where I was going and what was up. He educated me on the
current locations of where I would be and the missions being
performed. He and I hit it off quite well and we joked about our
favorite TV show back in the day…"A-Team". Both of us hang onto
the line, "I love it when a plan comes together". No doubt, this
would be the day that my plans did come together.
We loaded up on two Blackhawk helicopters and in short order I
found myself flying over the Afghanistan landscape below. It looked
more rugged than I had recalled and I could see where farmers had
prepared their fields for spring. What they would be growing is the
subject of many a topic.
Our first stop was a FOB called, Edinburgh, or "Eddy" as it is known.
It is a small place, rough living and operated by the USMC. It is also
the place where all the action is concerning medevac operations. It
is where I will return to soon, after spending time at my first
destination, Camp Dwyer. We unloaded supplies, mail and bottled
water. While we were unloading, a voice came over the FOB loud
speaker, "medevac, medevac, medevac". Game on.
I watched as crews from two USMC Cobra Attack helicopters
launched as the medevac crew from the followed immediately
afterwards. All of this took place in about 8-minutes. None of this
was done lightly. It was serious, prompt, professional and on the
money. I had been told that "Eddy" would be busy. It is.
We then loaded into our aircraft for the next stop, FOB Deleram. We
remained running while things were unloaded. Then, we headed for
our final leg, Camp Dwyer. This would be home for us while on this
leg of the journey. We arrived around 4:30-5:00 PM in the late
afternoon. During the flight I was pretty cold with the air blowing
from side to side. Dressing a bit more warmly would be in store for
subsequent flights. Thankfully, I had gloves, three shirts, one coat.
What I would do next time is add long johns to the mix and bring the
We landed and I was introduced to the acting commanding officer,
Captain James Mitchell. Mitchell just happened to be a classmate of
my son Jimmy while at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, NM
back in 1999-2000, and was also a classmate of his in flight school
at Ft. Rucker, Alabama in 2004. I presented Captain Mitchell with a
New Mexico flag from Governor Susana Martinez and a certificate
bearing her signature. I had hand carried this flag the entire
journey. It had flown over the New Mexico State Capitol Building on
February 10, 2012. The Governor arranged for me to take this flag
and present with honor to C-Company, 1st BN, 171st AVN
Regiment's commanding officer upon my arrival. That just happened
to be Captain James Mitchell at the time. A friend of the family.
As the rest of the day wore on, I began meetings "neighbors" of mine
from the west side of Albuquerque. Here I come half way around the
world to meet basically lots of my neighbors. It is really funny how
things come to pass. It is clear to me now that I have been "brought"
to this place called Helmand province, Afghanistan to be a part of
history with friends and neighbors of mine doing extraordinary
things on a daily basis. This is a "saving lives" journey. We will see
in the days and weeks ahead what there is to see.
I love New Mexico and New Mexicans. There is no way to adequately
describe the sense I have being here this time. It is New Mexico's
100-year anniversary now. This to me is a fantastic way to celebrate
this event…with soldiers from the New Mexico National Guard, C-
Company, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment, in Helmand
All photo’s and Website © 2012 JimSpiri.com, All Rights Reserved