Military stories from past to present, both wars.

“INCOMING!!”

August 22nd, 2008 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

Hey guys,
It has been awhile since I’ve had the time to write. Actually, the things I’ve written will be posted when I return home one day. Crazy stuff all the time, lots of papers to write, last minute meetings and trips out to the field. The Afghans celebrated their Independence from the Brits last week and I was stuck sleeping in my office because they shut down the roads between my base and where I sleep. It’s not so bad, just flip your underwear inside out and sleep on the conference table. Actually, I enjoyed it a bit; the protection of a building with two foot thick concrete walls gave me a great sense of security in case a rocket or mortar hit our position. The other guys had the big voice go off at 0330 where my hooch is at the other base and they had to scramble for the bunkers. No big deal, not like the night I was hit about three months ago.

There I was, sitting at my small desk, in my can, skyping with my parents. Well, I was talking on the phone and looking at them via the video due to the lack of bandwidth to do both. We were chatting away and my foot was sort of doing that restless limb syndrome thing when apparently, my right foot connected an empty USB cord and my Ipod cord on the metal ends, together. Normally I don’t think that would be the end of the world, but evidently it is when they are both plugged into an AC powered six plug USB Hub. The initial arc not only shocked my foot causing me to lurch backwards, but the bright light exploded in front of me as my computer blew up in a big ball of smoke. Still holding the phone I scream “Oh Shit!!!” about six octaves higher than normal and hung up on my folks. I’m now putting out small fires, unplugging my tangled network of wires in the back of my desk and crying over the loss of my computer. Meanwhile, my poor folks only saw the video connection go black and me yelling over the phone before that went dead as well. They thought I was in the middle of a fire fight (I was sort of) and worried all night. Since my computer was toast, I had to wait till morning to email from work and tell what happened. I think they were waiting for the chaplain to arrive that night…
Needless to say, I have been out of a computer for the past two months and if not for my Squadron mate and great friend “Dollar Bill” I would have been totally up the creek with no paddle. I mailed him the laptop and he sent it off to Dell to get fixed. She is working well and hopefully I will be able to put some readable stories out here.

A couple of the guys were telling stories the other night and I mentioned the near death experience I had with my electricity experiment when Tim, a reserve Army LtCol from Nashville TN told me how his wife figured out how to call his cell phone here in Afghanistan. I guess she saw his number on the bottom of his email and figured she would give a shout out to him. He was on a mission on the Pak border at the time when the phone rang. The guys were all giving him crap in the tent, so he moved outside to chat uninterrupted. She asked if he was on a dangerous mission and of course he lied “oh no honey, we’re just out checking on the boys, no big deal” See we don’t want our wives to know half the junk we do or they would be sitting at home with a giant ulcer and calling us on a 24/7 basis. She asked where he was and he replied “You know, some valley in Eastern Afghanistan.” At this point, he is more wowed by the fact that the reception was so clear and also thinking “this must be costing me a fortune for her to call” that of course is when the mortars start dropping in all over the camp. The explosions send him to the ground with the phone still in his hand. “Honey, I love you, gotta go!!” She is screaming “Are those bombs going off in the background?” Tim, calmly says, “Yes honey, they are attacking us, I think I better go, love you.” I bet she didn’t sleep well that night since he couldn’t call back as you can imagine.

I have to say that I’m impressed with our ease in communicating with the outside world. But with the access to loved ones comes the possibility that it can cause great unrest when you are not immediately available and the ticker tape on CNN or Fox is reporting casualties in theater. In Iraq, we had a thing called “River City” and when there was a death or serious injury, all phones and email was shut down back to the states to keep a guys wife from finding out the news before the proper notification was made. What made it hard was the fact that you could receive emails from your wife, but couldn’t reply. This went on for days sometimes. The first time it happened, I promised her that all my information was up to date and if God forbid something happened to me, they would give her a visit inside of 6 hours or first light depending on the time of the incident. The hard part is when the spouse is on a trip or staying with relatives and they have to track them down. This is the double wammy for the Officers sent to pass the horrible news on.

I don’t know how I got onto this, kind of morbid but something we face, especially with the current activities in Afghanistan and the loss of the 10 French Soldiers a few days ago. I guess I’ll leave on that note and just ask that you say a prayer for all the fallen guys here and in Iraq. We are still in the fight and doing some great things. Now that I have my computer back and all the wires are separated, maybe I can write some more for you.
Semper Fi,
Taco

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