Afghanistan, September 23, 2007
Hello everyone! It’s me, Captain Jason Carter letting everyone know that I am safe and sound from our mission to the border. Over here, the phrase ‘make a run for the border’ has an entirely different meaning. I’ll talk about that in a little while.
This week was really boring until the last day, but that will be later. On Monday, we went to turn in our FOO money and if you remember, I was over $346 short on money so I was prepared to pay for it but when we counted the money, I was actually $14 over! Since we could not turn in FOO just yet, we had to wait until the next day. We left Phoenix and traveled to BAF (Bagram Air Field) and spent the night there. This is normally a 45-minute drive but it took us 2 hours because the lead vehicle missed the turn. For the record, I was NOT the lead vehicle. I was the 2nd vehicle. While we were driving, the Afghans would just stare at us; not like normal, but like ‘I can’t believe that Americans are in this area of town’.
So we get to BAF and we basically walk to the PX to look around. It is a big PX because there are over 7000 soldiers, mostly airmen, there. I buy a magazine, a stuffed animal and some combat patches that I am authorized to wear. The next morning, I wake up early and go eat breakfast and then walk down to the PX again so I can take my time there since we got there not long before closing the night before. So, I buy another stuffed animal and then I start to walk back to the tent we are staying in. On my way, I see what I am looking for the Exchange New Car Sales (ENCS) program. The army teams up with carmakers and offer soldiers deployed overseas good deals on new cars. Since I do not need a new car, I talk to the Harley Davidson guy. We talk for a few minutes and I ask him some questions and then I decide to place a down payment on a brand new 2008 model Dyna Glide Custom HD. Yep, made just for me to my specifications. It is a lot cheaper buying over here because there is no tax and I get to pick it up next July when I get back. (I picked the bike up in August 2008).
So, as I am walking back, I run into 2 men from the Alabama team. Capt. Beason and Maj. Hollar. They are up there taking care of issues and waiting for a flight back to Orgun-e. We talk for a few minutes and then I walk back to my vehicle. We eat lunch and then we head back to Phoenix to clear FOO.
We get to Phoenix and go to the FOO office. When we go to turn in our money, they count it and we are still $14 over. This is better than being short. They zero out our balance and then we are good to go. We go back to the PX where men are eating pizza from Pizza Hut they installed there. We sit around and relax before the 4-hour trip back to Gardez.
Since we get back late, we decide to go to the border on Thursday and come back Saturday. Yep, this means I miss my steak and lobster meal on Friday but it is OK.
We pack our gear and then go to Jaji. We have to pay for some items that we buy for the ABP and we also talk to the ABP about getting a generator fixed and more winterization issues. It is starting to get really cold up there now. Brr… We have some more men come up and stay with us Thursday night so they can visit our living conditions and then look at some more. They are getting an idea of what we live in and see how much work needs to be done before the winter sets in and it is too late. We go to BCP 12 the next day (Friday) and look at the OP’s up there. Our visitors also want to see Pakistan so we take about 6 more men with us (total of 9 +-) and we walk to the border. As we walk up there, I take my terp and we go talk with the border guard commander and ask him if we can meet with him and talk to him. He is a new commander and is very friendly. Of course, we are armed and there is a guard with his weapon aimed at us too. That was kind of uncomfortable.
I go tell the men that it is ok to talk so we go and talk to the commander for a few minutes. Since it is Ramadan, they are fasting and do not offer us dood. In case you forgot, dood is tea with milk. It is very good. We talk to them and introduce ourselves and sit with them. A few minutes later, we ask him if it would be ok for the men to take pictures. He says of course and the men get to walk into Pakistan and take pictures. A few minutes later, we start to leave and the commander invites us back to have dood with him when Ramadan is over. He is a really nice guy and very sincere.
We escort our visitors back to Chawney and then we go to Spina Shegha to stay the night again. We plan to leave around 11 on Saturday morning to go back to Gardez. As we are leaving SS, it starts to rain really hard and then it starts to hail. We are in another hailstorm. It quits raining and turns very cold. It rains on and off the rest of the trip home. We stop back by in Chawney to pick up outgoing mail and eat lunch. There we also pick up a 5-ton truck and bulldozer and 2 men to deliver some parts to the maintenance guys here. We leave around 1230. We drive back by the bridge the engineers are building and see that the bridge is almost finished. About 300 meters past the river, my gunner yells GO GO GO!!! I am like WTF? I step on it anyways and then I see an explosion about 5 feet in front of my vehicle. RPG’s! I yell ‘Contact Contact!!’ and then give a distance and direction of the gunfire. It is to our 3 o’clock. I hear my gunner start to engage the enemy and his machine gun jams. He immediately takes his M-4 carbine and starts to return fire. He can see the bad guys shooting at us. We step on the gas and go about 3000 meters. We plan to consolidate and reorganize when my gunner yells “GO GO GO!!! Get the F@*& out of here”!!! We are taking small arms fire this time along with more RPG’s. I hear the other gun trucks firing their machine guns and engaging the enemy. As my Team Leader is sending up the SIR (Serious Incident Report) I am telling the other trucks where the fire is coming from and getting reports from them to relay to my TL. I am talking to my gunner and getting updates to where the bad guys are. We step on the gas and get out of the kill zone. I am blowing the horn and we do not stop
Sunset on the Tera Passfor about a mile. The engineers hear the gunfire and are fully aware that this ambush was meant for them. (I think the enemy thinks we are the engineers since we have a 5-ton with us). We stop at one of the ANP HQ’s to drop off supplies and here we talk about what happened and the medic takes our blood pressure and heart rate. We stay here for a while so we can calm down. This is my 2nd TIC (Troops in Contact) since I’ve been in country. I’ve been here 4 months now.
We get back to Gardez and we have hot meals waiting for us. Not the best food but at least it is hot and not too bad. I try to calm down by playing Texas Hold ‘Em but I get out early and then I make some phone calls and wash clothes. I even get to take a shower and shave. Ahh…hot water. I get out of the shower and it is really raining hard and it is a cold rain. So I run back to my barracks to get my computer and run to the computer room and check my e-mails while my clothes are washing. I stay there until my battery dies (I did not bring my charger with me this time). I go throw my clothes in the dryer and then watch a movie. I am not really tired at all.
Today we spend recovering and then we have a class on PTSD and combat stress. After this is over, we have to get some more shots and as luck would have it, my records are not complete. I have to get another Anthrax shot and this is my 2nd one but they do not have the record so really it is my 1st one again. Does not matter to me. I have to get like 6 more shots before I leave next year. UGH!
The rest of the day I spend getting reports together and trying to get ammo to replace what we fired. Every time we get shot at, there is a lot of paperwork involved.
-Major Jason Carter
Jason lives in Hazel Green, AL with his wife, Linda. He has served for over 20 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 and their country.”