I decided a fun way to share my deployment would be through sharing Afghanistan through pictures. At the time I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have a Public Affairs (PA) team with us on every mission. I have so many pictures from my deployment. Many of my friends have less than twenty pictures and they are not in most of them. But instead, I have pictures from almost every mission and beautiful shots from our amazing PA team. It has been fun years later to look back at my journey captured in pictures and the letters home I have sent. Want to learn more about Afghanistan and its people, keep reading.
There were approximately 150 Americans on the FOB around a thousand French service members including the French Foreign Legion. Along with a small group of Afghan forces. The FOB was approximately a half-mile in diameter and we would regularly take evening walks around the FOB to get some exercise and enjoy watching the sun slowly drop. We lived in tents call triple S or Alsakans which had a concrete floor and bunkbed inside. Luckily they also had an HVAC unit attached to it. I worked in a small building the room we worked in was 12′ X 25′. There had been a wooden divider between the middle of the building and another office was on the other side.
We had makeshift bathroom and showers in trailers. And the ground was covered in gravel. It was a blackout FOB (which meant there were no lights on the paths and windows were covered. I learned where most things were at night and had a flashlight just in case. In the middle of the FOB was a Helicopter Pad. All throughout the night, we would hear helicopters flying in and out of the FOB. I flew to Bagram and back to the FOB two to three times during my deployment. Once to go home for my midtour during the day. A night flight to get back to the FOB after I returned home from my midtour. And lastly, I flew on another night flight to get home.
Occasionally we had Distinguished Vistors
This is my office where a 3-Star General came to visit. I really have no idea why he came into our office. The Lt Col he is talking to was my commander. The good one, not the one who got fired. The other two people in the background are there to support the General. To help decorate the office we had drawings we had colored and a picture of a cat who has to pee. Luckily, it looks like we had some official documents on the wooden board. My desk chair is right next to where the General is standing.
Can you find the crowns we wore on a rough day? The bubbles we blew when we needed a good laugh? The artwork we colored when we needed a break? The fake award declaring how awesome the Civil Engineering office was?
This is the way most of our project sites looked like.
Out in the middle of nowhere with a group of thirty or so kids. No matter where we went in the Northern section of Kapisa there were always kids around. When we went South of the FOB we would rarely see any kids. And the day we got attacked we should have been more prepared because no one was around the school. The pink building was the school we were inspecting. Not yet completed.
We had a meeting with the local elders and a few other people decided to show up.
Our road contractors would knock down houses in the path of the road without compensating the people who lived in the house. This became a huge issue because we had to work directly with the Afghans to help come up with a solution. I wasn’t sure if they Afghans were smart enough to ask for road compensation every few years. But we didn’t have any record of road compensation and the contractors couldn’t provide documents either. So we worked with local shura leaders, the district leaders of Nijrab (district within Kapisa) to come up with a plan. Then we had days set up when they came to the city center in Nijrab to come and pick up their road compensation money from the contractor.
This is meat from the local market.
Yep, those little black things are flies. Luckily, we don’t get our meat from the local market. But I have been offered food by Afghan contractors and you have to say yes. It always tasted good. So, I tried to not think about this picture. We thought we had discovered the best place to eat was the French Dining Facility. Especially after this meal.
But then one day we had something strange and it was hard to go back.
Another thing we would see often while out on missions is camels and nomads along with a beautiful mountain backdrop. Did I mention the scenery here is beautiful? There are so many crops of corn and pomegranates in Spring. And the mountains are beautiful in any season.
But all we really wanted was to go home.
Nine months of my life were spent in Afghanistan. I have a lot of memories from that experience. And a friendship with three amazing friends who I keep in contact with regularly even today. It is something I never wanted to do but did. And not only did I survive, but I also thrived.
Have you ever done anything you didn’t think you could do? I’d love to hear about it.