Time is moving along quickly it seems. Here it is 0600, Friday, 28 SEP 12. I arrived home around 2230 on Monday, 24 SEP 12. It has been a busy week, but busy in a good way. It is good to be home.
Here is part two of the chronicles of my trip west.
The flight from FOB Apache to KAF was uneventful, but crowded. They picked us up in two Blackhawks. There were ten of us plus a few others. By the time they stuffed our baggage in, there was scarcely room to change your mind. I was fortunate enough to be sitting next to the door, allowing me to do my last aerial shots of Afghanistan (pictures coming in a later post).
From FOB Apache we flew to FOB Wolverine. Which didn’t make a lot of sense to me because we did not have room for anyone else. We landed & they had us unload and repack in the hopes of squeezing another person in. It worked, because after we had repacked all the bags in the front compartment and the people in the rear compartment, we did have one open seat. However, they stuffed the guy in the other helicopter and we took off and headed to KAF.
Once there we checked into the passenger terminal to find a flight out. As luck would have it, there was a flight out the next morning. Our check-in time was 0700 for an 1130 flight. We only had about 13 hours before reporting back for the flight. I will admit, I was slightly disappointed, because I did have a few things I wanted to do at KAF before never coming back there again – for instance, I wanted to go to the British area and eat a potato dog at their little cafe. In addition, I had one more box I wanted to mail home rather than dragging it along on the plane. I was not able to have a potato dog, but the post office was open until 2200, so after waiting in line for almost an hour, I was able to send the box home.
Before heading to the post office to wait in line, I went to the Boardwalk to see if there was anything I couldn’t live without…I didn’t find anything. I am probably one of the few people who have spent time at KAF without buying anything besides pizza on the Boardwalk. OK, a few months ago when visiting KAF, I had a hamburger & french fries, but I never bought any ‘stuff’. Now, there is a store behind the Boardwalk, it is like a small European department store, I bought some stuffed animals for the kids there. But other than that, I left Afghanistan without the seemingly obligatory bazaar crafts – no rugs, no gems, no rocks, no scarves…nothing, no souvenirs of the material kind. I have lots of pictures and even more memories, but none of the ‘stuff’ and I am ok with that.
It was time for bed by the time I finished at the post office. I woke up at my usual time and headed down to the MWR to have my very last Skype home session from Afghanistan. After that I spent a little time wandering around, looking for something to take a picture of, but I didn’t have much luck.
I headed over to the infamous Poo Pond to see what the creative souls of KAF had left at the banks. Sometimes there are some clever signs, sometimes they are pretty lame. Today was a mixture of both. I liked the overstuffed fisherman, kudos to the person behind that prop.
We reported in to the PAX terminal at 0700 as directed and began our wait. After a couple hours sitting outside, they ushered us through security to the upstairs ‘lounge’. This is the same barren concrete room that I waited in a few months back I may home on leave. Hanging a few TVs on the wall & dividing a large room into 3 smaller rooms with uncomfortable plastic chairs is not the image one has when they are told they would be waiting in the lounge…
They do have an overpriced little coffee kiosk up there. For about $7 I had a hot dog and a blackberry slush. Neither one was even marginal convenience store good. But hey, why leave KAF with a good taste in your mouth, right?
They called us out to board the aircraft close to right one time. They gathered our little group on the tarmac to lead us like little ducks to the waiting aircraft. before we began our walk, they informed us that we would be flying a C130 and the only other passengers were a 3-star General and his small entourage.
They lead us down the tarmac, but stopped short of the aircraft. There was a short conversation on the 2-way radios and then our mother duck turned to us to tell us that there would be a very short delay as the General needed to to something. They herded us into the closest building, which was the inbound terminal. We waited there for about 30 minutes or so. They then told us we needed to move back down to the outbound terminal to wait. They lead us back down there and we spent another 45 minutes or so before finally being brought to the aircraft. and the second leg of our trip west was underway. Well, except this leg of our journey west was actually traveling northeast.
After a few hours in the air we landed at Manas, Kyrgyzstan. We would spend less than 48 hours there before beginning the long flight west. It was refreshing to step out of the aircraft to cool, fresh air. I looked around and thought it looks like we landed at Grand Forks Air Force Base…stay tuned for part three
Thanks for looking!
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