Saturday, January 19, 2008, 9:43 AM
This is your local cool Captain Jason Carter coming to you live from exotic and very cold Afghanistan with this weeks’ exciting tale. Shall I? Let me start with the temperatures. It has been very cold for the past 2 weeks and this past week was no exception. The highs have been in the teens and low 20’ during the day. The lows each night have been from -4 to -11. This is Fahrenheit. Brr… I am not used to the cold weather but I still love it. It makes for wonderful snowball fights. Growing up in Louisiana, we would have pinecone and bottle rocket fights instead. It’s a wonder that I did not get hurt too bad doing that. (Mom and Dad, that was 33-38 years ago so the statute of limitations has expired on that so you can’t ground me. Haha)
Ok, we got drove over to Gardez last week to re-supply, drop off PAX and pick up new PAX (Personnel) and planned to go back to Jaji Monday. Well, since we were down here we decided to get our vehicles worked. Come to find out, one of our vehicles needed a new starter and ignition switch. No problem, there was a convoy going to Phoenix on Monday. We figure ok, get the part, 2 hours to put the parts on and we can go, right? NOPE!
They put the starter on but they get the wrong switch. We needed to go up to Jaji so we tell them to get another switch (from that day’s convoy) and we will just borrow a vehicle to go to Jaji and we will be back Friday.
Well, we get the borrowed vehicle and get the mail, a new fuel pump for Jaji and we are off. We leave late but still can travel over the pass at Ahman Kheil.
We get about 2 hours out and all of a sudden, the borrowed truck stops. I figure that he needs a security halt but this is different. Me and the Major go up to the truck and find out that all electrical systems are dead and the headlights are very dim. The dang alternator went out. After discussing our options and not wanting to risk traveling the pass with a dead truck, we decide to turn around and head back to Camp Lightning. The new truck makes it back OK but now has no headlights or anything. We figure that this is OK, just tell maintenance and then we can get our regular truck back and travel on the next day. Well, what a surprise when we find out that they got the wrong switch again! We let them know that we need that switch and to get it on the convoy going up the next day. (The reason for so many convoys is that people were RIPing out and others were getting in country). We borrow another vehicle and prepare to travel to Jaji Thursday. Well, do you think that we left? Nope. This time, it was for snow. Yep, it snowed another 4” but add that to the 8” that is already on the ground and it makes for a trip that is cancelled. Air assets cannot fly so we make the decision not to leave but to leave on Friday.
While we cannot travel to Jaji, the convoy travels to Phoenix to pick up more personnel and supplies. Do you think they get the switch this? time? NOPE!!! They forgot about it, so I guess that we have to get it ourselves when we go up there next time. On this convoy though is one of our men returning home from leave. He is glad to get back to the team and his family’.
I make out the convoy requests every day and the risk assessments for them but we are still snowed in. The pass is too dangerous to travel and we can’t use air since we have our vehicles down here. Boy, what a mess! During this time in Gardez, before the weather got bad, we got several jingle trucks to load up some connex containers to bring to Jaji for us to use there. We send up 3 jingle trucks full of gear, supplies and other items that we need to use at the FOB. These connexes contain plywood, bags of cement, wood stoves and personal gear that we can’t bring in the Humvees.
Well, we see them off and since they have to wait 48 hours at the gates before they can enter the FOB, we let them go and figure that we will see them in a few days. The one thing that I have learned about Afghanistan is that the weather can change in a minute and with it comes change in your schedules. The major, 1SG and I discuss our options again. If we do not leave by Friday, we will just stay the night and leave Monday.
Well, on a much lighter note, the snow is still very pretty and I still love it so much although when your boots get saturated and your feet get wet and cold, it is not too much fun then. I love it but do not like slipping and falling down. Especially when you land on your weapon and it leaves a nice bruise on you. (Yes, I have fallen down already today).
One of the guys that left this past week was a very good buddy of mine, an SSG in the Air Force. He is active duty and the Air Force only has to serve a 6-month tour here before they can leave compared to my 15-month tour and the new guys’ 12-month tour. He and I became very good friends and we always talked not as Officer/NCO but as Ron and Jason but we still maintain our military bearing.
One of the things that I have learned here is that Dari and Pashto are two different languages. Everyone knows that I talk about White Mountain a lot so that is what this week’s lesson is about. In English, we say White Mountain. In Dari, you say Koh Safid (Koh is mountain, safid is white). In Pashto you would say Spin Ghar (Spin is white, Ghar is mountain).
Let me tell you about the attached pictures. One is of me and SSG Ron and the other is my team posing with some shirts that were given to us from the 354th Fighter Squadron. They are a unit of A-10 Thunderbolts (Warthogs) that I called in one night for close air support. They made us honorary members of the unit. From left to right, SFC Flott, CPT Carter, 1SG Beard, SPC Peterson, CPT Rushing, SPC White and SGT Nesmith. Not pictured are CPL Thompson, SPC Wesley and Major Brooks.
Well, that is about all this week. I’ll talk to you later.
-Lieutenant Colonel, Jason Carter
Jason lives in Hazel Green, AL with his wife, Linda. He has served for over 21 years and had a total of 41 months active duty deployed after 9/11/01. He is a senior buyer in the electronic manufacturing industry and serves his country proudly in the Alabama National Guard. In his spare time he likes to metal detect, not only to stumble upon a few treasures, but to learn about the history of a place as well. “My greatest hope is that we all remember the sacrifices soldiers make to each other