Monday, May 28, 2012

Now you see you don't!

 I am now in far Western Afghanistan on a FOB called Farah. There is both a Farah River and a Farah city. Farah city has about 100K residents. The city is about halfway between Herat and Kandahar. I flew in on a regular fixed wing aircraft this time instead of a helicopter. Farah has a dirt runway.When I fly fixed wing (which we call the DASH because its call sign is DHS 8) I have to show up at the bus stop at 4AM with my baggage and my battle rattle (helmet and vest with 30 pound ceramic plates) to go out to the flight line.

Usually, I am a very light packer - 2 pairs of pants, 5 shirts, 10 pairs of undies and 5 pairs of socks, night wear (because of possible incoming you have to sleep in something you don't mind wearing to the bunker with everyone else in the middle of the night, so I generally sleep in underarmour peddle pushers and a comfie, old, too big t-shirt) and my dop  kit with shampoo and stuff. We are allowed 50 pounds of luggage on the DASH not counting the rattle. In addition to my clothes and personal hygiene items, I must carry sheets, pillow and blanket (or sleeping bag) because they often don't have them at the FOBs to issue to visitors. I must have my computer, projector, external drive, Kindle and camera and a few other odds and ends. I am never over 50 pounds! Never. I have a big old Marine drag bag with offroad wheels on one end and a strict rule not to bring more than I can carry. Sometimes, it is a very long walk from the flightline to my assigned billet an it is always a walk through crushed granite.

Normally, most of the FOBs I go visit have a PX for snacks, drinks, shampoo and stuff like that. Sometimes they are well stocked. Sometimes not. FOB Farah has a 40' truck trailer serving as their PX. It has a VERY limited selection of inventory. It is also closing June 1st, so the folks on my team that got here before I did sent requests for stuff they wanted me to import for them from KAF. There has been an ongoing theaterwide shortage of potato chips since the closing of the Pakistani/Afghan border crossing but finally the flow of Pringles has resumed at KAF - still no corn chips though, LOL. Anyway, so I packed and brought a huge bag of Jolly Ranchers, a case of Cup o' Noodles, 6 bags of mini Snickers, 2 bags of Werthers and 4 cans of Pringles along with a couple of Ritter Sports, 2 movie size boxes of Sugar Babies and several packages of Japanese chewy Starburst-like candy. My baggage has NEVER been that heavy before! Fortunately though, it still was under 50 pounds.

So the pictures above are of the mountain right beside the runway at Farah Airfield. About 3 days into my stay here we got a doozie of a dust storm. The first picture is how the mountain normally looks. The second picture is how it looks in a dust storm. It is amazing how poor the visibility really is during a dust storm.

1 comment: