A young man's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk...and apparently, back again.

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Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

The details of my life are quite inconsequential, really. Summers in Rangoon...luge lessons...

Friday, June 30, 2006

The Lumber Yard

Late afternoon light at the lumber yard outpost in the Korengal, and blackhawks are still busy. There was a constant pace of activity as Marines and soldiers (even the occasional sailor or airman), supplies and weapons, building materials and everything else were shuttled to points throughout the mountains of Kunar in support of the massive operation...

And man, did they rearrange the dirt of the place every time they did!

Morning sun created a daily haze over the valley, which would then burn off. It was already heating up significantly over the first few days of the operation, which still featured some bitter cold nights.

Afghan workers were signed up for each day's work, which in this case meant retrieving contents of an aerial resupply drop. It was quite an event - the drop, that is - though organizing locals was always an event as well.

And the pallets are off! (the cluster of dots on the left) It's an impressive process to see those seemingly tiny bundles ejected by a large cargo plane way overhead, then remember that those dots are actually tons of supplies...are those cows out of the designated landing zone yet? If not, we eat good tonight!

Drifting to the earth (nowhere near the giant zone marked by green smoke and orange tarps) were the bundles, bringing needed supplies for the planned MEDCAP and humanitarian aid distribution. No cows were harmed in the conduct of this aerial resupply.

"Ayyy, I make you an offer you can't refuse!" So goes the motto of our trusty payments officer, Al the Sicilian. He had a ton of great stories, including golfing with every recent Commandant of the Marine Corps and lots of other top brass. Which is funny, because it really is fair to say that he's "connected."

"C'mon, little you go..."
"Dude, you are NOT taking my water bottles!"
Capt. Tim Kelly offers to show some young Afghans the photo he took of them, to no avail.

The ANA brigade also had their own command headquarters at the outpost landing zone...though they trusted in Allah much more for protection than we did, eschewing the double layer of blast wall.

Much to my amusement, one unit brought along a little friend. And who doesn't love monkeys? Unfortunately, the hairy biter was deemed a bit of a health hazard and had to be sold to the Afghan soldiers...

So here he is getting a bite to eat with his new friends, outside the wire this time. Monkeys actually seem to be everywhere in this country, though they're not employed as trained killers as often as I imagined.

Far more common, and far less entertaining, were the cows that wandered through the outpost. It was when there were no herders in sight, like this time, that the scene became puzzling.

See, here's one doubling back...there were a few times they'd have to be led on their way by Marines. All this is probably not that interesting to any of you who grew up with cows around, but for me it was hilarious.

"Brother, can you spare an afghani?" (that's the national currency, though US dollars are gladly accepted everywhere) Locals wait for the start of the first MEDCAP held in the Korengal Valley.

The first patients arrive as the medical tents were now open for business. A team of doctors, nurses and medical support flew in from Bagram to provide the staff needed to host such a large clinic. More on that later...

One of the battalion's mortar teams poses for a group shot. They kept us, and the smaller ground units, safe by suppressing the enemy, often striking their movements late at night. Great weapon to have on your side, though when there's no heads up, nothing quite prepares you for that eardrum-shattering shot out if you're dozing a couple hundred meters away!


Anonymous Agnieszka O. said...

Did you have to hike to retrive the supplies? It looks pretty off from that green spot :-)
Great story and pics as usual.
Thinking about you and troops this Independence Day!

July 3, 2006 at 9:38 AM  
Anonymous gooby's other brother said...

That monkey's name didn't happen to be "Handsome Pete", now, did it?? Because I've heard that he dances for nickels ....

July 3, 2006 at 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say Thank you for your service on this the Fourth of July!!!!

July 4, 2006 at 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Janet said...

More fantastic pictures, in particular, the tree framed one of the outpost and the one of the early morning haze over the mountains (I almost thought I was there!) and again an incredibly interesting post. Many thanks for yet another set of winners! Finally, my thanks for your service on this Independence Day holiday. We are the "land of the free" because we are "the home of the brave". God bless you, Capt. Dan.

July 4, 2006 at 4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Handsome Pete got in a knife fight. He ain't so handsome no more.

July 6, 2006 at 5:07 PM  
Blogger PatrickMead said...

Incredible. Thanks for your service, the photos, and your wit! My son is a poolie as of last week. OOO-rah from Michigan.

July 6, 2006 at 6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! I think you were there the same time my son was, 2nd plt, 10th mnt....!

August 22, 2006 at 8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The monkey's name was simply "Monkey." After we got rid of that one, we picked up another one at Camp Blessing. His name was "F$%^er" after he bit our LT

October 13, 2006 at 12:51 AM  
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Blogger Mytee Products Inc. said...

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May 3, 2010 at 11:52 PM  

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