Tag Archive for 'Kabul'

AfghaniStan Diego

Chaper 1; Misery and the Death of All Things Good

I did not have the faintest clue what the future had in store for me as I loaded my bags into the Chinook. I had heard several stories of my fellow sailors spending a total of 6 days waiting and transferring from airport to airport in route their final leave destination. The itinerary included stops at Kabul International Airport, Bagram, Kuwait, Germany, Atlanta, and San Diego. I expected to encounter hiccups; hell my experience with military matters had at least taught me that. Still, looking back I wonder what I would have done, or how things would have changed if I knew then what I know now.

The trip started out ordinarily enough. The helicopter ride was uneventful with the exception being me losing one of my 80 dollar gloves while assisting others with unloading their luggage. I was a tad bit upset about that, but quickly decided I would attempt to find a replacement when I got back in Theatre. I sat around the TERMINAL for awhile waiting for a lift to the R&R tent without knowing that I would soon spend some of the most grueling days of my life there. The person in charge of the R&R tent swung by to pick me up. Halfway across base we drove past my LNO, and our driver took the opportunity to stop in the middle of the road to speak to him about getting me the requisite briefs for the next flight out. He responded that he will get back me later that night at the tent. Little did I know that was to begin the catastrophic snowball that was my leave transit.

I looked around for him the entire night but did not find him. Though I knew where he worked, I declined to pursue the issue further as I figured he would have notified me if there was anything he could have done to expedite things. I decide to take advantage of the time and threw my 200 pounds of gear on the only remaining bunk in the tent. Again, if only I had known.

Wednesday, 10 December

I could not sleep. I tossed and turned and swapped positions, but nothing I did seemed to provide me any escape from the blow-dryer like heat that had been assaulting me since midnight. I sat up, looked around, wondered through the tent, attempted again to sleep but eventually gave up the matter all-together sometime around 4 AM. I suppose I should describe the R&R tent to give a bit of perspective on my surroundings. It is almost like a miniature circus tent, and sleeps about 100 military members. In it are a theatre and a small internet usage station. As my unbelievable luck would have it I slept directly across from the world’s most roided-out heat machine; a 30 inch diameter blow dryer chucking out an unlimited supply of hot air to counter the tents lack of insulation. I reluctantly checked my watch to get the exact temperature. That first night it hit a sweltering 91 degrees. As the sun came up one of the tent admins walked in and turned it off as it had warmed (outside of my area) quite nicely. It was only then that I was able to sleep.

I awoke at 10:00 in the morning and began to inquire about the brief that I needed to attend in order in catch the earliest flight. As it turned out it had already been held at 8:00 that morning. Of course I was not informed of any of this whatsoever. I sat around wasting time and packing to pass the remains of my day.

Thursday, 11 December

I woke up on time despite suffering through another night that would make the average Haitian run to the nearest walk-in freezer. I threw on my uniform, and sat outside waiting for a ride to the briefing location. 8:00 rolled around and I was still alone. At 8:30 the situation was the same. Who was running this show anyhow? Why is the military so horrible at disseminating important information, yet so proficient and micromanaging things? Isn’t that a bit of an anomaly? I sat outside for hour thinking about seeing Laura and the kids. I went through every foreseeable possibility as I imagined how we would spend our first day together. I had barely noticed that the sun had taken what would become a symbolic second seat to the smog and clouds that filled the valley.

I eventually found the wizard who apologized and assured me that the next day I would have a ride to the brief. Better yet, I had company in another couple of sailors who would eventually share much of the same fate I endured. I decided to pass time by reading The Kite Runner.

Friday 12, December

It is the middle of the night and again I suffered as I did the previous nights. I am Bill Murray from “Groundhog’s Day”, sans sleep. I listened to “I got you babe” playing itself in my head on repeat mode. My bed was again soaking with sweat. Still at some point of time in the middle of the morning, my body gave in and I fell asleep. My alarm awoke me at 7:30 and I quickly threw on my clothes. I ran outside just in time to jump on the bus along with me three comrades. Ten minutes later we found ourselves at the gate of hell again; the PAX TERMINAL.

We wondered throughout the TERMINAL looking for any sign of life. It was eerily quiet. Eventually we found somebody who worked there and asked them where the R&R brief was being held. “There is no R&R brief on Friday” we were told. Once again, I felt entirely alone and uniformed. The whole process from there on out would be solely in my hands. There obviously wasn’t anybody on base who knew about or assisted with the transit process. Again, I made my way back to the tent. I finished The Kite Runner. I had nothing else to do but attempt to catch some early sleep before the heat plague of biblical proportions would once again set in.

Saturday, 13 December (When I was scheduled to be home)

Again, I could not sleep. Again sweat. I found in my stupor I would mutter loudly “what the fuck”, and “are you fucking kidding me”. Needless to say I was awake when it was time to catch the bus again to get to the brief. When we arrived at the TERMINAL the entire area was jammed-packed with wannabe leave candidates. We were all eventually ushered into a holding area where we were informed that there were only 90 seats available on that day’s flight to Kuwait, and that there were 140 of us there. I began to feel uneasy. They told everyone who had leave dates beginning after the 14th of December to leave, so those that were scheduled before them would have priority. I looked around and noticed very few people left. I overheard 3 young kids next me discussing their situation. “Mine starts on the 16th, when does your start?” one douche-bag muttered. “15th” the other replied. “Fuck it, let’s stay here and see if we can get on” said the head-douche.

In case my writing has betrayed me, and I have failed to properly communicate my mood at the time, I was bordering on a good old fashion Kramer shit-fit. Still, I decided to remain calm, and have faith in the system. About 30 minutes later the people running the show returned and informed us that they would be calling out social security numbers. If your social security number was called you were instructed to bring up your leave form. I heard several people liken the situation to the lottery, Battleship, etc. I sat back and took a deep breath as she began to yell out the last four of the first SS#. Midway through my number had still not been called. My head was aching from anger. 0756…..I fucking hate this place….. 5412….I swear to God I am going to lose control and frag this entire terminal……9739……how the fuck are they doing this to me …….9127……..the douch-bag in front of me who’s leave day started on the 16th jumps up high fives his friend and runs up……5623……his friend follows suite…….I am close to erupting……and on and on. She reached the end of the list, and my social was never called. The selected few were high-fiving each other and smiling. I sat visualizing how I would end the lives of everyone in the room. The ring leader stepped up once again and announced, “If your name was called you are not flying out today, as we show that your leave dates are not what you claim them to be”. Hells yes! I was loving life, the system actually worked. I smiled as I watched head-douche and his minion attempt to re-collect their leave forms to bypass the humility of explaining why they stayed when they were told to leave earlier based on their leave dates. Looking back, I think this single solitary upper, may have saved me from going Columbine on the base during the trying times that would follow. We were told to report back later in the afternoon for our flight. At this point I would be lying if I said I recalled what time our first flight was, but I do remember our call sign for the route,” Moose 76”.

I reported back on time and sat around waiting for information, instructions, anything pertaining to our flight. Eventually somebody came out and collected our identification cards. Afterwards we waited around for another hour or so waiting for information. Eventually somebody came out and informed us that the flight to Kuwait had been canceled. Apparently there were no contingency plans, or additional flights leaving to Kuwait for the remainder of the day. We were told to report back in the morning. This would be the catalyst for yet another Groundhog’s day routine of trying to sleep, reporting, waiting around all day, and being told my flight was canceled. By that time any optimism I may have had towards the situation had long since left my mind. As I walked outside attempting to resign myself to my newest fate, I noticed that the sun was entirely hidden by gloomy, winter looking stratus clouds.

Eat Fresh?

Subway in KabulI felt adventurous a couple of days ago and decided to try Kabul’s verison of Subway. To my surprise it tasted exactly the same as any other Subway I have eaten at. Now I should first explain that my lack of interest in Kabul’s versions of American fast food is not unwarrented. The Burger Kings, Pizza Huts, and Dairy Queens here do not even remotely taste familiar to the Burger Kings, Pizza Huts, and Dairy Queens I grew up eating. So the lesson learned: Subway has franchised their product in such a fashion that even remote establishements share the same product quality as those in mainstrain urban areas.

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