Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Afghanistan from the Air Part II

I've only been in Afghanistan for less than a month, but I've already been on two helicopters! Today I was treated to a two hour Black Hawk ride over southern Nangarhar and the Spin Ghar foothills. We looked at a dam the PRT built two years ago and at future development sites. I was the only passenger in the helo who got to wear the headset and I told the pilots where to fly so we could get a good look. It was awesome! But honestly I was not too concerned with work. The scenery took my breath away! I think the pictures will speak for themselves.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Six Percent Complete

I know it's a terrible thing, but I am already starting to countdown how many days I have left. It's not that I don't like being in Afghanistan--I really do. And if I wasn't married to the best man in the world I would probably stay here as long as I could. I really believe in what we are doing and that we are making a difference. Unfortunately the media does not report all the good things that are happening here. True, there still are bad guys out there intimidating the population, but there is resistance and reconstruction.

I've added some more pictures. A couple days ago we went to one of the more dangerous parts of our province and were met by children in the street waving at us and giving us the thumbs up sign. It was a good feeling.

We were also fortunate enough to be invited by the Jalalabad Mayor to his compound for dinner. The Afghans treat their guests very well and I received a beautiful purple dress and green head scarf. The Mayor also presented a beautiful dinner with enough food to feed a village. I tried goat for the first time and it was wonderful!

On the roof of the Jalalabad Mayor's guest house

I think this picture is pretty self explanatory

The guest house grounds at night; it's a big deal to have electricity in Afghanistan

The spread for dinner

Me in an MRAP during one of our missions

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My First Letter

Yesterday I received my first letter in the mail from Aunt Margie! Thank you very much, I really enjoyed the picture and I will hang it in my office. I also appreciate all the comments on the blog. I'm glad people enjoy reading it and sharing my experiences. A lot of people have also been asking what they can send me in a care package. I am compiling a list and I will send it soon.

A couple days ago we attended a ribbon cutting for newly paved streets in Jalalabad. It was an interesting event, but the best part was talking to t
he little kids in Pashto. A little goes a long way and I'm excited to learn more. The only thing about little kids in Afghanistan is that they all want attention and if you're talking to one or two kids the next thing you know you are surrounded!
This little boy wanted a picture of the two of us and held my hand!

This is a picture of some of the kids who surrounded me, I couldn't fit all of them in the photo

Here's a picture of our security forces (SECFOR) after the ceremony with some "flair"

This is one of the footbridges under construction; holding up form work with sticks is very common in Afghanistan

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Yesterday I went out on my first mission. We went to Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province. We looked at four different construction sites: justice complex, civil service commissioning training center, girls school and pediatric wing. It was so much fun! I was very nervous about going outside of the wire, but by the second site visit I stopped being afraid because I know this is where I am supposed to be. Going out in Afghanistan is like taking a step back in time. As soon as we rolled outside the gate there were all these little kids and tons of animals! Goats, chickens, ducks, cows, sheep. The children are adorable. Wherever we went a crowd would gather and the children would cheer and give us the thumbs up sign.
Pictures of the justice complex

The first site visit was to the justice complex and as we were walking out two older women in head scarfs came out of nowhere and walked up to us. Lisa (the girl I'm replacing) and I talked to them and they told us that they want to be soldiers and do what we do. They even said they were strong enough to wear our
body armor.

At the girls school we met the principal, who is also a woman. She was very kind and appreciates the school we are funding. We took a picture with her and all the teachers before we left and I am promised to come back and have chai with her.Working on the black board and meeting the principal and teachers for the girls school

Next stop was the hospital where we are funding a hundred bed pediatric wing to the main hospital in Jalalabad. I inspected some form work and got to meet some of the children.
Lastly we went to Duranta Dam, which was built by the Russians. Our guys got some time with the crew served weapons while we chased away little kids who kept on creeping closer and closer to us.It was an amazing day and I was wiped out when we returned. The hot weather doesn't help at all but I can't wait to go out again. Today I have meetings all day long with contractors. Should be fun!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Old Pictures

Here are some of the pictures I promised from our journey to Afghanistan!We flew via World Air from Indianapolis to Manas Air Base. We stopped in Germany to refuel and get beer. It was my last drink for several months, so I didn't mind drinking at 4am. We were allowed to take guns on the plane, so that was pretty cool.This was my living accommodations at Manas. There's a big tent for all the transients, but there weren't too many females in there. It was a little eerie at times to see this big ocean of unoccupied beds.This is me after we loaded all our bags onto the pallet for our flight to Bagram.This is a picture of the load yard. It doesn't even include all the bags on our flight. The load yard was a busy place!Here's a picture of me and our senior medic on the C-17 to Bagram.
And this is the inside of the C-17. It was strange not being able to see outside of the plane. I got to sit in the jump seats, which looked a lot more comfortable than the seats in the middle.

Right now at the FOB we are doing turn over and it's going well. There's really nothing too exciting to talk about. I will take lots of pictures of the FOB and post them on the site soon. I will also be heading out on my first mission soon, so I will let everyone know how that goes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Afghanistan from the Air Part I

Today I arrived at my new home for the next nine months. We took a chinook from Bagram to FOB Finley Shields. I sat right next to the gunner and got a great view of Afghanistan. The below picture is what most of Afghanistan looks like.Now this is what Nangarhar province looks like! We live in a fertile valley and there's lots of greenery, which is really nice. It's also hot. Today was 115 and it gets as high as 140.Here's a picture of me on the chinook.
And here's a picture of my current living arrangements. This is only temporary until I move into the hotel (old Russian R&R complex) which is actually very nice for deployment standards.Even though I'm excited to be here and excited to start work, it was hard to leave Scott, who is still stuck at Bagram. We may be able to see each other at Bagram in a month or so for a conference, but we're not holding our breath.
I have more pictures to share from our flights to Kyrgyzstan, but it will have to wait for now. It's almost my bed time! :)

Friday, July 3, 2009


I finally made it to Afghanistan! The flight was not too bad. We stopped in Germany for an 90 minutes then we landed at Manas Air Force Base in Kyrgyzstan. I really like Manas! It's small and quiet. I stayed there for two days and then took a C-17 to Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan. I arrived last night and I'm trying to get my bearings. Bagram is huge and we are staying on the other side of base, in what looks like a refuge camp. It's very wind, dusty and dry here. I should be heading out to FOB Finley Shields soon. I am excited to leave Bagram and set-up my new home. I have a lot of pictures to share and I will post them as soon as I can.