July 16, 2007
Since I returned from Afghanistan, the endless series of chores and distractions at home have a way of making me forget to write, or too tired to write. After two weeks of recovery time I was back at work, and it’s been very busy. I am happy to report that I am back in the deployments business (which is what I did before leaving), and I enjoy it immensely. In my office of seven people, three are new and one had just arrived when I deployed, so I am getting to know all the new folks, who are a good bunch. I have been assured by the powers that be that I will be allowed to spend my final year and a half here at Arnold AFB, and then I retire. On the very small chance that I get promoted to major, all bets are off, and I’ll have to move again. We shall see.
I mentioned to Jancy this morning that the toughest transition for me was going from having very little to do at our hut to the endless series of chores around the house. Once we got back from our day at CMA, the hardest things we had to do were haul laundry to get it washed, and clean our weapons.
So what has been keeping me so busy?
1. Finding a car for Ryan (my son)
2. Finding a job for Ryan
3. Staining my fence (17 gallons of stain required)
4. Shopping for carpet, moving all the furniture, getting the carpet installed, and moving the furniture again
5. Shopping for a new stove/oven (our old one looked to be as old as I) and getting it installed
6. Building an Adirondack chair
7. Various repairs around the house
8. Buying all sorts of stuff at yard sales for Elise (my daughter) who is getting an apartment for her five-year stint working on her PhD. We’ll be hauling it all out there next month
9. Having the in-laws visit for a week
I had a Welcome Back lunch and was also interviewed for the base newspaper. As I talk to people the same questions keep coming up, so I thought they’d make a good posting:
Would you do it again?
I would never volunteer to go away for a year. I could never look Jancy in the eyes and tell her I had volunteered to leave her for a year. Further, I don’t want to be away from her for a year again. If I get picked to go, fine, but I won’t be volunteering. But assuming I was single, would I do it again? Probably. I felt we really made a difference there, despite all the frustrations we faced. I am a better person for having gone, and I think it would be interesting to go back in a couple of years and see what progress is being made. Besides, my blog is far less interesting now that I am home.
What was the worst moment you had over there?
That one is easy. The night of 10 September we were all told that there was a high threat level for the next day, the anniversary of 9/11. We assumed we would not travel on the 11th, yet we were told we would be going to work as normal. Everyone was furious. I got it in my head that I would die the next day, and I went to bed sure that it would be my last night alive. It’s a miserable feeling, and easily the worst time I had over there.
What is your happiest memory?
There were so many, it’s impossible to pick just one. I loved my conversations with Hamid and the friendship we developed. Christmas Eve when the four amigos sang Christmas carols to Mike’s daughter. Winning the best Air Force Blog award. Playing soccer with the French and Romanians. Standing on an Antinov 124. Poker on Saturday nights. The camaraderie with my hut mates.
Was it worth it?
Yes, I think so. CMA make huge progress while we were there, and by the time we left, they were hauling 100% of the Afghan Army’s cargo. Pretty impressive, when you consider that when we arrived, they were hauling zero!
The deployment was a grueling, tiring experience that probably aged me ten years. Yet I am proud of what we accomplished there, and we did do something special. I am pleased to have been a part of it, but I am happy to be home, enjoying all the incredible luxuries that we take for granted.