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...

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Qandahar, pt. 3

Disneyland Qandahar? Why, no - it's an Afghan Army HQ, of course!

Among the more noteworthy aspects of my visit to Fob Lindsey, Camp Atal and Kandahar Air Field: There were no rocket attacks (they knew to back off!), and our Canadian allies remind us that they enjoy putting their stamp on things even more than we do.  Canuck creature comforts even surpass the over-fed US Army, in fact.  And like a few other stops I've made, it's another Epcot Center in the sprawling airfield, with dozens of nations playing a role.  The cynic in me sees the point that others make about much of this participation being that of a 'feel-good' nature...but it adds more than it detracts, in my humble opinion, to interact with Slovak gate guards, Romanian air terminal staff, Dutch colleagues, Aussie hosts, and of course the occasional fellow Devil Dog in my journey.

A lovely spot in the shade...where it may only be hitting 115 or so.

Little Australia, Fob Lindsey...but instead of shrimp on the barbee, we threw on kielbase and bratwurst that night.

The old medical clinic at 205th Corps, while the new one is being readied.

Chow time. Or, nan-e chaasht.
Scenes from (barely) beyond the wire follow.  In a way, the ramshackle village which sits outside the gate is simply an Afghan version of a standard American base town...there were what appeared to be auto repair shops, barbers, laundry and money facilities, though of the startingly poor variety.  Children, stray dogs and goats cross the road without fear of approaching vehicles, and a barren wasteland stretches out from it.  There was one little girl, not pictured unfortunately, who was simply adorable as she jumped up and down in her dirty green gress among her relatives...all 3-foot-nothing of her.

This was taken directly after the large goat here, which could easily have been mistaken for a pony, crossed the road on her way to nose around 'gargbage trench' with the others...

Bon temps - the French Bistro at KAF. I'm sure the croissants are amazing.

I had to see the infamous Boardwalk to believe it...a large square of wooden walkway around a large dirt playground. Jersey Shore it ain't, but it is interesting.

THIS is the hardship of Qandahar??

O, Ca-na-da! The main reason I had to see the boardwalk...a roller hockey rink in Afghanistan.

Note to self: return to KAF by Aug 14th. Not that I'd be any help to the US side, but just to see this grudge match. Screw the Olympic gold medal, THIS is for all the marbles!
Excuse me, where is the Tim Hawton's? Why, follow the maple leaf flags, of course!

Our dear server was way too bubbly and enthusiastic for this place, God bless her.

Yep, two dozen fat pills for the crew was what the doctor ordered. There was no way I wasn't going to grab coffee & donuts from the legendary boardwalk Tim's before it moves from its location.

No cover, no kind o' rules. Especially since I lost mine on the flight down.

I did not patronize these two, but had to marvel at them regardless.

The story goes that all of these franchises dodged General McChrystal's fast-food guillotine by virtue of their Canadian ownership (thanks again, canucks!).  But still, the message sent by having chain restaurants here is confusing, at best...and I have to say that I can understand either point.  It's nice to provide comforts when available, especially to those regularly out on missions, but what kind of logistics footprint does it take to keep it running?  (i.e. that stuff has got to come in to Afghanistan somehow)  And why is it easier to find a greasy batch of fries on our bases than a local kabob or melon?

Finally, an honest-to-God remembrance of sacrifice set amidst the decadence of the Boardwalk and its shops, sports, restaurants and other funhouse attractions.

Leaving, past the front side of "Taliban's Last Stand", with its classic architecture of arches.

In the foreground is a propeller from my civilian-like Dutch transport back to Kabul - a very fortunate flight that popped up when it looked like we'd be waiting days for a C-130 seat.

The next few photos are of Qandahar province, as seen through a grimy window on a day of thick cloud cover and almost no sleep.  So it's not my finest work...but it may show how drought- and wind-sculpted the land appears, though it holds cultivated farms and crop patterns.  Provided those patterns weren't done by space aliens...

Back down from the cloud layer, and approaching Sunni Kabul (get it? Sunni?)

I never did get a decent pic of the Berlin bear, which threw me for a loop when I first arrived here...only having seen it in Berlin for the first time 6 months earlier. Alles gut!

The flags of the airport camp were a-flutterin,' as we waited...

We simply sat, most of a day, for the last leg of the journey back. Our convoy could have been delayed even longer, since a tragic accident scene (and the actions taken by those involved) resulted in a riot on the very road we take back to camp. It's always something like that greeting my arrival in Kabul.

That's all she wrote. Or did I leave one last photo from Qandahar out...?

What, you didn't think I'd let down my brothers, my hockey fan buddies, and anyone else who just knew I'd jump the boards and stand in the rink, did you?

(You can take the wise guy outta Jersey...)


Anonymous Sully said...

Hey, I know the Isles need a better arena. Looks like Qandahar has a rink that's better quality than Nassau Coliseum.

August 9, 2010 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger yomistast said...

Does the Casanova Cup have a new home rink?

August 9, 2010 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger John Cocktoasten said...

Typically people in the states send stuff to deployed servicemen, but I was hoping to turn this tradition on it's ear--any chance you could send some Tim Horton's donuts our way? Those..are..awesome!

August 10, 2010 at 9:44 PM  
Blogger David Stanford said...

Greetings! I found your site via JP's post at I'm the editor of a milblog called's The Sandbox ( and would like to correspond with you about posting some of your work on our site. When you have a chance, would you please send me an email?
With thanks and best wishes,
David Stanford, Duty Officer
Doonesbury Town Hall

August 11, 2010 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

Sully- the Qandahar Sand Isles has a nice ring to it! Timmy- yes, if I can get Jeff down there. Wood- spoken like a true goalie. David- I'll be in touch. Thanks all!

August 11, 2010 at 4:19 PM  
Anonymous LT Goo said...

Leave it to the Mayor to go to Afghanistan for most of 2010, and STILL finding pieces of hockey! (albeit would be tough)
Did you grace your fellow officers and Jarheads with ferocious tales of your past between the pipes?!
As always, love the pics and commentary bro...

August 11, 2010 at 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Slappy said...

Fantastic, bro! All that's missing is a mini Elsinore Brewery and an Afghani Don Cherry!

Note to Glen Sather: head over to Qandahar to scout talent for open 1st line center role ... (and don't come back!).

Keep up the great posts, Deuce.

August 14, 2010 at 7:10 AM  
Blogger Francois said...

Good post Dan
Too bad you had some issues to get in touch with your Canadian brothers... If you are extended, let me know!

August 18, 2010 at 9:43 PM  

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