Wednesday, January 26

Well, I’m back in Afghanistan after a couple of weeks rest and relaxation at home, and trying to adjust to the time change. Here’s how my trip back to Afghanistan went.

It was nice to have the family and dad there to see me off at the KC airport. The kids handled the goodbye much better than expected. I had a great time during my leave and am glad I had an opportunity to go home for a while. I flew on Delta to Dallas, claimed my bag and took a shuttle bus to another terminal with other Soldiers. At the other terminal, I checked my bag in at the military check-in desk and had a half hour to grab a bite. I had a McDonald’s hamburger with LTC B, the Infantry Battalion Commander from Fort Riley that I traveled with going home. Due to the short amount of time, I didn’t make it over to the USO lounge. However, when we were waiting to board a lady came over from USO to hand out newspapers, magazines, and candy to the Soldiers. Again, everyone in the Dallas airport was extremely friendly and appreciative. When we boarded, the USO handed out care packages with lots of snacks, a small desert camouflage toiletry kit, a comic book, phone card, etc. The airport Chaplain was also there handing bibles out as we boarded. She also gave each of us a hug. Then before we departed, she blessed us and the plane. You could tell it meant a lot for her to be there for our departure.

We had a two hour flight on a chartered L-1011 to Atlanta, where we had about a two hour layover and picked up more Soldiers coming off leave. I had a Starbuck’s coffee and cookie while there. The people in the Atlanta airport were fairly indifferent about the presence of uniformed Soldiers, which made the people we encountered at DFW stand out even more. I also tried calling Melissa with a free ten-minute phone cards I was given a while back. The pay phone charges ten credits to connect a call, so immediately after connecting I was notified that I had only one minute! I called again with a different phone card. I’ll save the ten minute cards to use in Kabul, where there is no connect charge. When we reboarded, again there was an Airport Chaplain there to hug us and give a blessing.

We had a nine-hour flight to Frankfurt. There was enough room on the plane that nobody had to sit elbow to elbow with another. It was a smooth flight. We had about two hours on the ground at Frankfurt for a crew change and to get the plane serviced. I was able to check email at the USO lounge and call to Afghanistan. We also picked up about twenty more passengers, while an Aviation unit going to Kosovo got off the plane. The next leg to Kuwait was about six hours. We arrived at about 10 p.m., took a bus to Camp Doha, went through processing there, and were parsed out into flights going various places in the region. The Bagram flight got about four hours of sleep before we had to load up in buses again to go back to the airport. At the airport we loaded our bags on pallets and waited a couple of hours in a tent eating MRE’s until they announced our flight was getting ready to leave. We flew on a C-130 for about six hours. I slept the whole way so the time flew by. The nylon web bench seats we sit on are oriented sideways and face each other down the length of the plane. Right across from me were a male and a female soldier sleeping against each other with arms around each other. I was pretty shocked until I noticed they had the same last name. I guess if you’re going to deploy, deploying with your spouse is the way to go!

I spent the night at Bagram and enjoyed visiting with the Kansas Soldiers there. The top Army General from the Kansas Guard General and the state Command Sergeant Major had been there a couple of days to visit our Soldiers in Kabul and Bagram and had just left to visit Kandahar a few hours before I arrived. Too bad I missed them. The Soldiers were glad they came out to see us.

On my return, my boss moved me from the day to the night shift here at the Operations Center. I’m the senior officer on duty at night. It’s kind of nice because there aren’t people calling and dropping in like they do during the day. We can concentrate more on our work. I don’t know how sleeping during the day is going to go yet. My roommates go to the room several times during the day to nap, eat, get stuff, take a break, etc.

Other than that, things haven’t changed here much. My boss told me that I’ll be moving to the Office of Military Cooperation soon to help them out. I would be with LTC M again, whom I worked for my first five months when I was filling an empty LTC position at CFC-A’s PAO office. She has since moved to the Office of Military Cooperation and is critically short qualified PAO’s in her office. The JOC, where I’m also filling a LTC position, seems to really like me and my work, so I don’t think they are too eager to enact the move.

It’s snowing really big flakes tonight. The entire city seems quiet. Soldiers are sliding down a small hill on the compound and throwing now balls even though it’s 2 a.m. It’s good to take a break from work and have some fun in the snow.

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