Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Job!

This is what being a firefighter is all about.

Good Job Brothers!

Way back when I had the occasion to spend a nite w/ the brothers from Engine 50 & Ladder 12 and the 8th Battalion in the city. They were all spectacular guys who treated us very well and were true professionals. At the time Ladder 12 lead the city in working fires and in rescues. Looks like not much has changed.

Traditional Memorial Day

Yesterday I had to honor of attending the Traditional Memorial Day ceremony at a a local memorial. It was a great time, chatting with so many vets, many with Purple Hearts from WWII & Korea, these men are truly American Hero's. While the politicians tried to turn it into an Anti-War ceremony (Yep, you Joe!), there were plenty of others who were only there to recognize those who have given their lives for the freedom of others.

Many of the vets seemed genuinly surprised when we thanked them for their service. They in turned were thanking us for ours as well. It was a nice occasion and the weather even cooperated.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

Today we remember all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice so that we may remain a free people. That sounds cliché but in reality there are many who are currently putting their lives on the line to maintain the free world as we know it today. While I was deployed to Kandahar I had to sad opportunity to witness several ramp ceremonies. These solemn occasions are when all of the military personnel gather on the flight line and form a long line many rows deep behind the aircraft in which a military member will take their final flight as they are taken back to the states to be buried. I stood in the darkness and in the heat of the day to honor my brothers in arms from the US & Canada while there. Today I will remember those hero’s and the others who have given their life for my freedom. My flag will fly proudly from my porch and Vicki & I will attend a memorial day parade in our area. I know that I will leave there frustrated by those who fail to stand when the colors pass by and those who seem to have forgotten the real meaning of this day is not the unofficial start of summer, but the day we remember those who have died to preserve our freedom.

Please take a moment today to remember those who have gone before us to protect us. As the Marine’s always toast, “A Toast my friends, to absent companions.” Those in attendance reply with “Absent Companion” then drain their glass and turn it over on the bar or table.

So I will toast my absent brothers and sisters today, and remember that Freedom Is Never Free!

Please check out the following links

Project Never Forget

Blackfive’s Fallen but not Forgotten

Blackfive’s Bagpipes Crying Post – Check out the Video Below

Our rememberance should not be limited to only those who have served under the US Flag in this war, I remember a particularly sad day in Afghanistan when we stood to honor 6 of our Canadian Brothers who gave their lives in support of freedom. Please join me in remembering.

Corporal Brent Donald PolandPrivate David Robert Greenslade
Private Kevin Vincent Kennedy
Corporal Aaron E Williams
Corporal Christopher Paul Stannix
Sergeant Donald Lucas

They gave the ultimate sacrifice to defeat those who would rule the world by terror and fear on 08 April 2007 in a IED attack just west of Kandahar City in the Sagin District.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Afghan Chronicles Part II

OK, back to our regularly scheduled program. Vicki is home now and doing better so hopefully I can continue with my trip info.

Arrival at Kandahar was interesting, we were met by one of my guys from DE and our commander. They helped us get out luggage and stuff and took us over to Camp Palamino where we would live and work. We moved our luggage into our hooches in our tents. I ended up with a small one on the back end of the tent but it was only temporary, once the guy I was relieving returned home I took over his hooch. It was much more spacious and even had a fridge in it.

After putting our stuff in we got the lay of the land, got our ammo and got something to eat. Then we settled into our ground hog day routine for the next month.

The following day I started working and started to do some of my paperwork to get a restricted area badge and other stuff I would need to do my job each day. We visited our headquarters area named Camp Samek named for Airman First Class Jesse Samek a flight engineer on an HH-60 helicopter assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron. A1C Samek died during a medevac mission on Oct 21st 2004.

At Camp Samek we met the various people in charge and took care of some of our paperwork etc. Once this was done we enjoyed a nice lunch and took some time to shop at the BX. Then it was back over to Palomino for more work.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Vicki Update

I guess the hospital you go to makes a huge difference. This morning the Doc’s at Christiana looked at her films from the cardiac cath done @ Chester County, they decided to do another cath to look around and see what could be done before making a decision to do a bypass. They had trouble with the artery in her leg so they ended up going into her other arm so now she has big bruises on both arms. They found some blockages of several arteries and did confirm that the original stent was 95% blocked. So they put in a new stent in that location and another in the other artery that was blocked. Vicki is doing much better, there will have to be some serious lifestyle changes for us both, but she is doing much better and she didn’t need bypass surgery after all. While I really like my cardiologist and I respect the crew that works with him I am glad we decided to change hospitals and go back to the folks who originally took care of her heart attack. She most likely will be released tomorrow morning sometime then will be resting at home. Thanks to everyone for their prayers and concerns.

Vicki Update

Vicki is back in Christiana hospital. We started out Tues at the Cardiologist for a routine echo cardiogram. When they heard she has been having occasional chest pains they were concerened, this combined w/ some things they saw on the echo had them admit her to Chester County where they are affiliated with so they could do a cardiac catheterization. They did that this afternoon, and found that the stent they put in back in Jan was nearly completely blocked already and the other artery which was about 60% blocked in Jan was now over 70% blocked. Their plan was to do bypass surgery on Tues after getting her off of the Plavix. Well the folks at Chester County are nice and I really like my cardiologist who is now seeing us both but we didn’t feel comfortable with such a serious procedure at Chester County, we both felt that Christiana was a better choice and that our experience there when she initially had the heart attack was very favorable. They are a Trauma center and a teaching hospital so they have docs on staff 24/7 and their cardiac care is much better. From our experience before they have a cardiologist, not a resident but a fully fellowed Cardiologist on site 24/7, so we had her transferred there this evening by ambulance. So I will keep everyone advised on where we will go from here. The docs there have all of the video from the cardiac cath so they will determine their plan of care.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Time Out

I will be taking some time off from writing about my adventures in Afghanistan.

Vicki is back in the hospital. We went to the cardiologist yesterday for an Echocardiogram. It has been scheduled for a while but she has been having chest pains off and on since the heart attack. Nothing serious in our eyes though. When we told the staff this they said we had to see the doc, he read the echo data and took and EKG then decided he wanted to do more to be sure she didn't have another heart attack so we were off to the ER. Well like every other hospital in America they have no bed space. So we sat in the ER from about 1:15 yesterday afternoon until nearly 9pm. She is now in a room and they plan on doing a cardiac catheterization sometime today. Hopefully if all goes well she'll be back home in a couple of days. Once we are back up and running again I will resume my regularly scheduled program.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Afghan Chronicles Vol 1

Well now that I am back home I will try and recap the trip and it’s highlights for everyone. I appreciate everyone’s thoughts, prayers, and comments during my incredibly short time overseas.

I left BWI late on April 1st on a large commercial jet, we stopped twice before reaching our final destination of Ganci AB which is near Bishkek Kyrgyzstan. There we got more goodies from Uncle Sam (chemical suits, body armor, etc), and waited for some military transport. After a bit we were lined up on a C-17 to Bagram Afghanistan. It was not a long ride, which is fortunate because as you can see above we were cramped in there pretty tight.

Once we arrived in Bagram we had to find a ride onward to Kandahar. I was traveling with a group of folks from a Rescue Squadron from Patrick AFB FL. They were great to hang with and were able to quickly secure us a ride on a C-130. the only problem would be the room on the C-130 for our luggage. They could only take one pallet and we had two. So the amazing folks at the Aerial Port set to work and consolidated all of our stuff onto one pallet which would fit on a C-130! I still have no idea how they did it but it was amazing to watch.

It took a bit to get airborne though as there were a flock of birds at the end of the runway creating a hazard so we had to wait for someone to clear them away. Then were were airborne and off to our final destination, Kandahar AFB Afghanistan, our home for the next 30 plus days. I’ll include more of that later though. For now I hope you enjoy the photos.

Settling In

Good day,
I am settling back into the routines of life and making up for some lost time. Sat we went to a wedding reception for a good friend, Sun was a nice welcome home party, and Monday found us running errands. Tues we headed for our favorite farmers market in Lancaster PA, where we spent an enjoyable day then had a nice anniversary dinner at the Bird In Hand Restaurant. It was an enjoyable day and a nice meal.

I am working on compiling some thoughts from my trip and some photos for a future blog post. I know that some of you are waiting for info and I promise it will come soon.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My World Tour Continues

I am in Turkey now and hopefully will be returning to Dover AFB soon. It's been a long strange trip and I even got to experience my first inflight emergency which is why I am here now. Everything worked out well but I hope to never have to do that again.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Heading Home?

            I am hoping to be heading home in the near future, however travel issues may delay me a bit. So far this has been an interesting trip, I have experienced rocket attacks, dust storms, and many other events. I have witnessed the military brotherhood in full force and have had the pleasure of working with military folks from Canada, Australia, and the UK. I have taken a load of photos and gotten many more that others have shared. Unfortunately I haven't been able to put them up here, because I can only e-mail my posts to the blog. I will put some up whenever I get home and also plan on doing a video with a number of photos on it.


            I truly appreciate the warm comments, e-mails, etc that I have received wishing me well over here. While it has only been a short trip compared to many others who are here or in other garden spots of the world, it has not been the easiest trip for myself or my wife. We have managed though and I think it has helped us on several levels. My sacrifices for this trip pale in comparison to her's. She has taken on the entire management of the household, the pets, and anything else under the sun while at the same time completing a couple of projects including repainting & recaulking the shower stall so that it would be ready for me when I return home.


            This trip has allowed me to see that our job over here is important, regardless of what many in our country will tell you we are doing it right and we are making a difference. There are a few thousand less bad guys on the face of the earth because of our efforts, but we are far from finished. Until the people here are free to govern themselves and are free from terrorist scumbags who do things that even Hitler would probably find disturbing, our job will not be complete, we owe them that much at least. For those who say this isn't our job, than who's job is it? At the very base of it all, it's not about politics, countries, or religions, it's about helping a fellow human being realize the dream of being free to live their life w/out fear of armed men dragging them from their homes simply because they are there, or of having their pr operty taken from them for no reason other than someone with a guy and a bad attitude wanted it. Many of the information I have seen I cannot share, however I will say this, you can take me at my word, we are winning and there are a number of men and women out there in harms way every single day living in absolute crap conditions who would not trade places with anyone on this earth. They know the real reason behind the job we do and they take comfort in the fact that they are making a difference so they will not have to fight the bad guys on the streets of smalltown USA. Many of these men and women are not even old enough to legally drink in the US but they are putting their lives on the line so others in this world may know the freedoms so many of us take for granted everyday. Before we started this fight to elimina te the Taliban and other assorted a$$hats from this country they ruled it with an iron fist, if you didn't follow their religion to the letter, if you didn't do exactly as they said, or if they just didn't like the way you looked, it was over. You were killed, no trial, no judgement, nothing, just Bang or Slice and you were dead, if your family was there to witness it so much the better. If your family complained or attempted to stop you, well they received the same fate or worse. So, the next time someone tells you that we have no business over here or that it's not our problem, just tell them to google Taliban and see for themselves some of the things that we have saved these people from. The Afghan people are good hard working people and all of those who I have had the occasion to meet have been friendly, courteous and appreciative of our efforts here.