:: Monday, January 22, 2007 ::
This is becoming a nightmare
I'm still in Bagram after five days of cancelled flights and snowstorms. Here's what I wrote since last:
18 January, 2007
Bagram Air Field
I have finally escaped the connundrum of Camp Phoenix, but I now find myself bound by more than uniform violations and stupidity. I have arrived at Bagram Air Field, my gateway to the world. Well, Kuwait at least. I was set to leave this country right about now but instead I am nestled in an overcrowded tent with only my thoughts of home to keep me from going insane. I awoke this morning to a blizzard of sorts.
Four inches of snow in four hours. Can you imagine that? In Oklahoma we wake up to dustings of snow that melt by mid-morning. Here, we wake up to snow falling so heavily you can't the guy standing next to you. Snow so deep you lose your feet in it. Snow so blanket like that the Air Force decides not to fly. Thus our predicament. We are controlled by the Air Force now; they fly, we fly. They stay, we stay.
So we bed down for another night here at Bagram as the snow still falls gently on the roof of the tent. Maybe it will stop sometime tonight and we can fly out tomorrow. Maybe we'll be stranded here for a few days. Only time well tell.
But I am almost free. I am almost home to my wife and my family. My dreams will keep me company for now but soon my dreams will come true and I will be enjoying the freedoms we all here are fighting for.
I am ready.
19 January, 2007
Bagram Air Field
This morning I awoke to birds chirping, snow melting, and dreams of finally getting to go home to my wife. An hour later I came back to the holding tent with my dreams still dreams; the Air Force decided not to fly.
Clear blue sky, cool crisp air, and apparently too much fog.
So we wait another day. I lay in my bed dreaming about my wife. Remembering all the things we have gone through this past year. It was about this time a year ago we decided for me to come on this mission. I remember our long talks as we discussed our options, telling my parents and their dismay, telling her parents and their surprised looks. I remember our long five days apart as I went through SRP. Those seemed like the five longest days of my life.
I can't stop thinking about Ann. She is what motivates me. She is what keeps me going. She is what keeps me from screaming at the Air Force, from yelling at KBR for making the worst food in the world, from crawling into a corner and hiding while bombs explode at our front gate. Ann is my life. The love of my life. I thank God every day for the times we have spent together and the many times we have ahead of us. God brought us together in a unique way and he makes our marriage grow with each passing moment. Every morning I wake up and love Ann more than the day before. I never thought it was possible to love one person so much. God has showed me its possible.
So I lay back in my bunk and drift off to sleep dreaming of her.
20 January, 2007
Bagram Air Field
I should be either home right now or on my way. Why, oh Lord, am I still in this awful place?
At 0500 this morning, I had the sudden and unignorable urge to pee. So, being the smart soldier I am, I went to the latrine and brought my razor and toothbrush along to kill two birds with one stone. That minimizes my time in the cold. So I trudge the 100 feet or so to the latrine, sliding across the ice and snow trying not to fall and break my head on the winter wonderland. Much to my dismay, though, the heat pump for the latrine gave out long before my bladder decided to throw in the towel. Not only was the room just as cold as outside, there was no hot water and the door handle was actually frozen open. Thank goodness.
So I shaved with cold water and a dull razor. Burn on me since I had two days growth instead of just one (not so good soldier after all). Then I brushed my teeth with cold water (who doesn't) and turned to get a paper towel to dry my hands. Once again KBR has failed me and they didn't stock the latrine with paper towels.
Cool, no problem. So I begin my journey back to the tent when the unevitable happens. I knew it was bound to happen I was just hoping not at such an inoppurtune time as this. My feet slid out from underneath me, very similar to a cartoon gag. Feet in the air, I was suspended momentarily as my mind thought of the many options I had available to minimize my injury:
1. Just fall. Don't fight the fall like Bro. Danny always said.
2. Throw my hands down to try and brace my fall as much as possible so as to keep the ensuing pain in my back to a dull ache.
3. Put my hands on my head to brace it for impact since .... WHAM!!!
Once again I overanalyzed a situation.
My hands went down to brace my fall as was sure to be my most likely choice anyway. However, the movie "A Christmas Story" has taught us all an important lesson: wet flesh sticks to frozen objects (i.e. metal poles, spoons that have been used to dip ice cream, and frozen solid ground). Luckily my torso fell ontop of my hands and pushed them off the frozen ground and kept them from freezing too bad. I was wrong in my thoughts, though. My hands definately didn't dull the pain in my back and my kidneys got a good jumble thus making me have to go pee again. "Forget that," I said to myself.
So I slid and stumbled back into the tent and curled up under my blanket. I soon realized it was almost warmer outside than inside the tent and the heater wasn't blowing. Big surprise: KBR equipment doesn't work. So I shivered and shook until everyone else roused this morning at 0700 and we all began our preparations for leaving this hole.
As you can see, we were let down.
At 0500 this morning, the visibility was about a 1/2 mile due to fog. By 0700 this morning, the visibilty was quite a bit greater and the fog was quite a bit thinner. By 0830 we got "the word."
"ALL FLIGHTS ARE CANCELLED," announced the R&R NCO. Boos, hisses, and explitives quickly followed.
Were we given a reason for the cancelled flights? Nope. Welcome to the Army. We don't get reasons, we just get orders. Am I extremely demoralized and tired of this runaround crap? Absolutely. Have I learned that this is expected? You bet.
Maybe someday I will see my wife again. Maybe someday my dreams will come true and I won't wake up freezing cold with sore hands and very sore back. Maybe. But like my dad said, "Son, you volunteered."
God is still good. Even when I'm ready to quit and throw in the wool blanket.
20 January, 2007
Bagram Air Field
There is only one other thing in this world that I can think of right now that has made me happier than the news I just received and that is when Bro. Danny said, "You may now kiss the bride."
What news did I get, you may be wondering. The war is over? Your mortgage is paid by the government because of your sacrifice? Nope.
"All soldiers going to Kuwait, report to the PAX terminal at 0515 in the morning."
Looks like I get to keep my blanket tonight.
God is amazingly good. All the time.
22 January, 2007
Bagram Air Field
I didn't write yesterday because my anger and frustration overwhelmed me and consumed my mind too much to do anything other than sit and steam. I'm sure you can guess, our flight was cancelled.
At 0430 we were at the terminal. They told us we didn't have to be there until 0630. No problem. At 0830 they finally let us into the holding area for a plane. Hours went by and we were promised several times, "You will fly today." At 1530 we got "The Word."
So we went back to our lovely little tent in the corner of the post to find that several other people had been dropped off to go on leave and our old tent and beds were taken. So we (SFC Tarrant, SPC Weger, and I) went to the other tent. The tent with only one heater, the tent with big gaping holes in it, the tent with cots and no blankets.
I laid there and played some video games and wasted as much time as possible but eventually my anger overcame me and I just laid down to consume myself in dreams of Ann once again. I drifted off to sleep around 2100 and woke up at 0100. I had started drooling on my pillow, which started to freeze, which caused my lips to start to freeze, thus waking me. I quickly decided that this game wasn't for me and I bounced over to the first tent, the warmer tent, and tried to sleep in a leather chair.
Not much sleep at all.
This morning I woke up and was told, "The flight has been bumped up and its time to go to the terminal now." So we all gather our bags and go to the terminal only to be told we were four hours early. Then we were told that there were a limited number of seats and some soldiers were going to be bumped. Thankfully, I wasn't one of them.
About 30 minuts after that cluster and mess of frustration, we were told our flight has been delayed for over six hours. Thus, we sit and wait. We sit and wait for another six hours, expecting the Air Force to inform us of our flight's new status: cancelled. We shall see.
Test of patience? Most definately. What's my grade so far? C. C+. At first I was yelling and screaming and hollering like everyone else. Now, I just want to get home so I sit and wait like everyone else and pray that we don't get "The Word" again. Only time will tell.
Maybe, just maybe I'll be home before my birthday. Right now, its a toss-up. However, I WILL be home eventually, whether it be this week, this month, next month, or in four months when this whole mess is over and I home for good, Lord willing. It's all just another chance to praise the good Lord.
Soon, everyone. Soon.
God is still good. Even when I'm freezing my lips in a tent, sitting and waiting for hours upon hours for the Air Force, and even when my whole body aches enough to keep me from moving very far. All the time.
:: Ben 1:17 AM [+] ::