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March 29, 2012…Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan…Edi  is now in the rear view mirror.  I am gone but the  mission goes on. In fact, as I sat in the helicopter that  would take me to Camp Dwyer, I saw the other  helicopters get a mission and the crews run out to the  aircrafts.  That was a hard site to watch.  I did not like  being in the one helicopter while the others were  leaving on mission. That is the pain I don't like to  encounter.  The only solace I find is that all the others  who are actually doing the missions have to go  through it as well.  Just don't look back.    On Sunday the 25th, there were a couple of missions.   I went on them.  There was a Marine who was out on  patrol and ended up inhaling some toxic fumes while  searching the bad guys place.  He was having much  difficulty breathing and we picked him up in the field  as the other Marines pulled security for the medevac.   Later, there was an ANA soldier that had broken his  leg and had an eye injury from an IED blast.  He was  lucky.  Usually a human does not win against an IED  with all his limbs intact.  Those would be the last  missions I would do at Edi.    On Monday the 26th, some helicopters came on the supply route and  brought some new faces to the FOB.  There was lots of juggling of old  items out and new items in.  It took much longer than expected.  I was  undetermined whether or not to catch the helicopters back to Dwyer.   From Dwyer, helicopters had been scheduled to go to Kandahar which  is where I needed to be.  I was manifested on that run.  However, by  the time things got finished at Edi, and we departed, the Kandahar run  left Dwyer without me on board.  So, I would be in Dwyer and would  figure out a fix wing flight to Kandahar.    I arrived around the early afternoon to Dwyer and hooked up with  some of the guys I knew from Edi that had been sent to Dwyer for  assistance.  My flight was scheduled for me to show up around 1900  hrs (7:00 PM).  It ended up getting pushed back and eventually,  amidst a dust storm and rain storm, the flight finally came in around  0300 hrs and took me to Kandahar.  I got settled into my quarters at  Kandahar by about 0500 hrs.  By this time, I was pretty tired, dirty and  already missing FOB Edinburgh. The part of these journeys that is always hardest on me is the getting  around from point A to point B.  It is just not simple.  It would not  matter so much except for the fact that I am tied to a non refundable  airline ticket.  It is the reason I have to give myself some cushion on  either side of traveling in the event of such things as dust storms, rain  storms and all the other kind of unexpected things that I always  expect.  As I have said before, if the Air Force would stop being so  difficult with me, I would be able to fly mil-air into and out of country  like everyone else.  Remember the mainstream media all get to fly that  way.  Little unimportant folks like myself are left to fend for  themselves.  It's a silly system.  By the morning of the 27th, I was in familiar territory and I began re-  organizing my things.  I needed to get rid of some extra weight and  shipped a few things back including one malfunctioning camera and  lens.  Equipment failure is always a problem.  I am also having some  trouble with one of the two cameras I have left with me.  I went to the  post office which is very close by where I stay.  I obtained a box and  then packed it and brought it back for mailing.  After standing in line  for 90-minutes while the civilian contractors that run the post office  took their sweet time, I was finally brought forward to the inspection.   The lady working there who had one of those, "I don't give a damn"  attitudes, told me that because I did not have a CAC card, I could not  mail my things. I explained to her that I indeed can mail my things  and we had a small discussion about it.  Eventually, the supervisor  who had a very good attitude, came and explained to the lady that a  US citizen who happens to be a photographer is not the Taliban.  She  then was told to take care of me.  Eventually, I got my box mailed.  It  was such a hassle.  Being back on a gigantic base such as the one here at Kandahar, is  really not fun after having been at Edi for an extended length of time.   There is just a mentality of what I call, "the Wal Mart parking lot  syndrome" on such a big base.  Those that have been here understand  what I am saying.  Those that have never been here will just have to  compare it to Wal Mart and get the picture I am trying to paint.  Just  for the record, I hate Wal Mart.   On the evening of the 27th, I was contacted by the public affairs  officer who works for Col. Frank Tate, the brigade commander for the  helicopter missions that the medevacs fall under.  I had mentioned to  the PAO guy that I would like to chat with Col. Tate if time permitted  on his end.  Turns out, they had set aside a time in the evening for me  to sit down and talk shop.  The public affairs officer, Captain Barker,  came and got me and we walked over to the facility where they have  their operation. I was taken up to a room in this big wooden structure  and introduced to Col. Frank Tate.  Immediately after I got there, they  had some things to give me and I noticed the PAO guy had his camera  at the ready.    Turns out, they had been reading all my stuff from the get-go and  noticed that I had a "tragic" event in the loss of my favorite hat, the  yellow one with the New Mexico state Zia sun symbol on it.  They  somehow had gotten a hold of a new one and had it shipped to them  to give to me.  It was hilarious and I was all smiles.  It was the best  gift I had ever received doing this type of thing.  Then, to top it all off,  they presented me with a certificate of appreciation for the work I had  completed at forward operating base Edinburgh.  I was very humbled  and thankful.  Someone was indeed reading my stuff.   After a while I did an audio on Col. Tate and then talked at length with  him about the medevac mission.  Much was discussed about Dustoff.   I was treated with much respect and learned much more than I had  anticipated.  I believe Col. Tate listened deeply to the things I brought  out about my experience.  As the conversation ended, Col. Tate  informed me that he would be going to Dwyer the next morning and  invited me to tag along to attend a promotion and award ceremony for  members of the New Mexico National Guard.  So, here I was.  Twenty four hours earlier, I was struggling to get from  Edi to Dwyer to Kandahar.  Now, I am invited to go right back to  Dwyer for the day and then return to Kandahar later that afternoon.   "Yes sir!" I said with a big grin.  "I would be quite honored to attend  and take photos".  Deal done.    The next morning, the 28th, I was taken to the helicopter ramp where  we had a briefing and soon thereafter loaded up and headed to  Dwyer.  It was about a one hour journey via helicopter.  Upon arrival, I  got out and met up with lots of the guys who said to me, "what's up?   We thought you had left.".  I quickly explained that I was invited to  return for the day and when invited by a Col., it's a good thing to go.   Plus, I loved being back while I had the time before moving on to  Kabul.  The ceremony got under way and many received awards for their  service.  The big event was the promotion of Major Holland, who  commanded the C-171 guys for the past year, to Lt. Col.  I was able to  take many photographs and conduct several interviews.  The new Lt.  Col. Holland, was unable to give me an interview.  He was just a little  uncomfortable with all the fan fare going on and was a bit pressed for  time.  I had tried to interview him on several occasions while he was at  Edi for a brief time, however each time I brought the audio recorder  out, he would vanish.  He and I both went to Eastern New Mexico  University in Portales, New Mexico, and I had wanted to do a kind of  alumni interview on him while he was here in Afghanistan on mission.   Perhaps another time probably in New Mexico.  I hope I don't have to  wait until his next promotion to full bird.    As the afternoon came around, we all loaded back up in the helicopter  and departed for Kandahar, another hour long trip across the desert.   We would come back and land around 3:00  PM and I caught a ride  back with a Chaplain who had gone along for the ride.  He and I had  some good fellowship in the car on the ride back and I was glad to  have gotten to chat with him.  Always a surprise around every corner. That afternoon, once back in my quarters, I gathered up my dirty  clothes and walked over to the self laundry.  It took me two hours to  do one small load of clothes.  Had I known it was going to take that  long, I would have just washed them in the sink here.  I washed  clothes under much more difficult circumstance on these kind of  journeys.  It did however give a chance to just sit still and rest after  such a long couple days of traveling.  Eventually, my clothes were  done and dried.  I returned to my quarters, had dinner at the chow hall across the street and began downloading all my audio recordings and  sending them out to my web guy in order to post right away.  I've spent a little time talking to some of the TCN's here at Kandahar  when I come among them in the chow hall.  I met two Sri Lankan guys  close to my age who were in the Sri Lankan Air Force for most of their  lives.  Now, they are working for KBR on the flight line here.  They  make $1200 a month, for seven days a week, 12-hours a day.  They do  all the work.  They are supervised by a whole host of American KBR  workers who pretty much sit around and tell the "servants" what to do.   These KBR workers, make no less than $140,000 per year each.  It is a  strange system this war has created.    I have also come to know some Kenyans who are nearly my age and  work at the Post Exchange.  They make about $800 per month.  They  too are supervised by someone making much more than that.  What I  have noticed here on KAF this time is that there are many more TCN's  from Kenya and Sri Lanka than I noticed before.  There are still a lot of  folks from the Philippines doing the same kind of work.  I have also  noticed that there are all kinds of civilians running around with new  companies all looking for something to do.  It is evident that the end  of all this gravy train is in sight and there is much scrambling for jobs.   It is just a part of how things get done when there is a war that lasts a  long time, like for ten years.    It is now the afternoon of the 29th.  I will be leaving in a couple of  hours to head to Kabul.  I will be stuck there for a few days with not  too much on my plate.  I am sure I will find something interesting to  write about.  In the mean time, I will think about how to wind up this  journey with all that has come across my path.    That will all have to wait for now. Jim Spiri jimspiri@yahoo.com
Ten Years Later #20  Having Left Edinburgh
The award from brigade Sgt Heath Petty looking over the upcoming LZ another view that Sgt Petty has prior to landing at LZ At the LZ, picking up Marine who was having much trouble breathing after inhaling toxic fumes. At the helicopter ready for loading.
Sgt Heath Petty looking over the upcoming LZ
another view that Sgt Petty has prior to landing at LZ
At the LZ, picking up Marine who was having much trouble breathing after inhaling toxic fumes.
Sgt Petty loading the patient. What the field looks like after we are ready to leave Treating the patient in the helicopter as we are just in the air
At the helicopter ready for loading.
Sgt Petty loading the patient.
What the field looks like after we are ready to leave
Fueling at Camp Bastion, which is run by the British Sgt Heath Petty, awaiting ANA to be brought to helicopter.
Treating the patient in the helicopter as we are just in the air.
Fueling at Camp Bastion, which is run by the British.
Petty readying for treatment of the ANA soldier.
Sgt Heath Petty, awaiting ANA to be brought to helicopter.
Petty readying for treatment of the ANA soldier.
The new operations building in Camp Dwyer named after the New Mexico National Guardsman who passed away while deployed. The New Hat!!!
The new hat!
The new operations building in Camp Dwyer named after the New Mexico National Guardsman who passed away while deployed.
Mr. Brandon Seay catching a few rays on his day off.
#20 Left Edinburgh