This is the story of my first mission in Afghanistan. I spent nine months in Afghanistan and four months in Indiana for training. I almost spent the twenty-fifth year of my life training for or being in Afghanistan. When I left for training when I was two weeks before my twenty-fifth birthday and came back home a year later two weeks before and I turned twenty-six. This is the email I sent home to family and friends after arriving in Afghanistan.
Friends and Family,
This is a quick run-down of how my team got to Afghanistan and my first mission “outside the wire” (off-base) to interact with the local Afghan people and inspect three of the projects that our team would soon be taking over.
We left Indiana and flew to Germany.
We were in Germany just long enough for the plane to refuel. Next, we headed off to Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. We landed around two am and then went straight to do all the paperwork required to get paid tax-free and other military paperwork. Our team finally got to “bed” around 8 AM. It took a day or two to get out of Manas. On a side note, I’m glad that the bathrooms we have currently are better than the bathrooms we had a Manas. They were disgusting. They continually clogged up, I won’t share more details, but it was gross.
Next, we flew to Bagram AF, Afghanistan. We arrived somewhere close to midnight and once again went off to do paperwork. We finally got to bed around 0400 only to be up again at 0900 ready to start the day.
The first day we had more in-processing to do.
There were a number of tasks that had to be completed before we could go to our final location. When we had downtime we would head out with the Civil Engineers and meet the people we would be working for payments and project approvals at Bagram. Once we were given the all-clear it was time for our first mission.
My First Mission
Our team went to the capital of Kapisa, Mahmoud Raqi. It was a five-minute drive from Bagram to the first inspection site. Our team saw a gabion basket wall built by local Afghans to help prevent flooding this Spring. (Gabion baskets are a common retaining wall tactic used in the states.) It was an adventure getting to the site because we had to cross a creek bed to get to it and we all got a little wet. This was an exciting project though. The US paid for the supplies and the local Afghans provided the labor (free) to build the wall.
Next, our team headed to inspected a boy’s school for its final inspection.
There were a few minor things that needed to be completed. Once complete the school will be ready for children to start attending within days. The last project we inspected was a small hospital repair project. The “hospital” was really just a group of buildings labeled as a hospital. Nothing like what we would call a hospital in the States.
One thing to note about Afghanistan is how beautiful it is.
It has a beautiful landscape. It is amazing to see the mountains, valleys, and rivers that are throughout Kapisa Province.
Thanks for the thoughts and prayers,