Monday, October 25, 2010

One step at a time...

For those of you who have never been in this situation one of the things we deployment-prone folks do while on deployment is set a few benchmarks when we get here. Most tours are 12 months long and during that time there is certain to be quite a few things missed, but with each missed birthday or anniversary is just one more benchmark passed. The Team left on 10 April 2010 and for me the marks that I was looking for were as follows: birthday anniversary season
late-November...Thanksgiving...just kidding, Alabama/Auburn game!
mid-December...R&R (leave)

I really haven't given a whole lot of thought to the milestones past R&R, I just want to get there first. I assume a good mark will be the Super Bowl, after that we'll have less than a month left here.

My reason for discussing this is because tomorrow marks 200 days of deployment...only 50 more until R&R. We didn't plan for 250 days until R&R, it just worked out that way. By the time we get to mid-tour leave we will have been gone from home for over 8 months and 1 week...entirely too long.

Our office has gotten busy again after the two-week lull that we had for end-of-year closeout. Between work and Alabama football the overall deployment is going fairly well, no complaints outside of the typical Army complaints. It has been interesting in the sense that we are co-located with Air Force and Navy troops, which means that I've had to learn a new language or two. For a while I was in an office that was completely split...1 Army, 1 Air Force, and 1 Navy. We were constantly having to remind one another to stop using acronyms since no one understood them outside of our own service component.

The next exciting thing that is going to happen here is a back-up taping for ESPN of the UA/Miss. State game. ESPN plans to do a live broadcast from Bagram for that game, but just in case there are problems they will be taping ahead of time for the sake of redundancy. Apparently The University sent some Bama gear that we are going to get and there are quite a few Tide Alumni scattered around post. Hopefully I'll be on camera giving a shout-out to my wonderful family!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thank goodness I'm not paid to blog...

I have realized that if I were paid to blog then my family would go hungry very quick, or Loni would have to remind me to write all the time. It's been just over two weeks since I last updated my blog and there haven't been too many new occurences.

The end of the fiscal year came and went without any major malfunctions. It seems that when it's that late in the game everyone has an emergency need that must get purchased before September 30th...which happens for the most part. When we say "no" a General will often get involved and our no quickly becomes a "sure, I think we can squeeze that in."

We had a pretty amazing BBQ last Sunday to celebrate our end-of-year. SSG Martin and I did most of the prep work and cooking with some help from a couple of our Air Force buddies. We were able to grill steak, chicken, and even lobster really was wonderful. One of the guys said that day, "if it weren't for all this dust I'd think I was at home." We had a great time cooking out and I think everyone enjoyed their food. In the end there were probably 40-50 people who came and ate, we were literally on the grill for over 4 hours and you can definitely tell it by my sunglasses racoon tan. The good thing about that tan is that everyone else looks just like me, nobody walks around outside without glasses due to the sun and sand.

Today, Daniel and I had the opportunity to go meet a local vendor at our entry control point (ECP-1). The ECP goes right into the town of Bagram and we were able to see some things that we hadn't yet seen on this deployment. Even though we were not together on our trip to Iraq we did much of the same tasks with a lot of convoying in/around the country as a primary occupation.

I was just telling Loni last night how I hadn't seen a child in 6 months; I finally saw a few today. This one little boy walked right up and in the best English he could muster he asked for my pencil, which I gladly gave to him. He gave me a huge smile, a thumbs-up, and then ran off screaming about the pencil to his friends...too bad I didn't have enough for them all. It was the same situation in Iraq, the kids wanted to crawl all over you and wanted anything from pens to water to whatever was on your uniform and shiny. It's amazing how many of these people have so little that a child is overwhelmed by the gift of a pencil.

I find that it's easy to become somewhat jaded dealing with the locals and having to endure their business practices and lack of the English language...I'm not saying they should know English, I'm simply saying that their lacking English is a huge source of frustration. Seeing those kids today helps to put things into perspective quickly. I don't directly see the good that happens outside the wires of Bagram, but I pray that my being here helps these children in some way in the future.

That's about it for now...the Tide is 5-0 and they are coming on tomorrow night at midnight so we'll be having a big party (cokes & chips) to watch them roll over South Carolina on the way to #14.