|30 NOV 2010 - Dawn Patrol|
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
This photo was taken in April, 2010 and shows a platoon of 173d Airborne soldiers moving out for a dawn patrol. Let this serve as an image of what our men and women are doing. Day in and day out, no matter what the weather, they are doing their job.
I have often struggled with the cliche' phraseology that we're out "protecting your freedom" or "defending the constitution". It's too easy to say and lacks any relation to the individual motivation of most of our troops. I certainly never felt that way at 18 when I first enlisted. I didn't reengage at over 40 years of age and deploy to Afghanistan with those sentiments at the top of my mind. BUT, I do have a better understanding of the truth behind those words. That is, by the very ability of our nation to harness the individuals of our society to engage in the responsibility to serve as part of a voluntary military force is what constitutes the fact that we are indeed "protecting your freedom" and "defending the constitution". In other words, there's not a direct line that you can draw from our actions in Afghanistan or Iraq or any other theater of conflict. But rather, its the fact that you do have these men and women voluntarily willing to do what their nation asks of them. They answered the call. They don't do it blindly. They question their leadership. They are not robots. They are people just like you and me, trying to earn a living and find happiness. This is what it means to defend the constitution. It means that you're willing to answer the call.
Monday, November 29, 2010
|29 NOV 2010 - Vapor Cone|
Sorry to get off topic, but yesterday's photo reminded me of another photo I took at the 2009 Fort Worth Alliance Airshow. The above photo is an F18 Hornet displaying the so-called "vapor cone" effect. Otherwise known as the Prandtl-Glauert singularity, AKA shock collar, AKA shock egg. It's a fascinating thing to see and even more cool to read about. The easiest read is, of course, at Wikipedia. You can see more images of this F18 flight here.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
|28 NOV 2010 - Fast Mover|
Yes.. I took this picture.. but this wasn't in Afghanistan. I took this in 2008 at the Wings over Houston Airshow. HOWEVER, F-15s did fly over FOB Shank often. Sometimes we would see them on a daily basis, orbiting the FOB in a tactical loiter, waiting to be called for close air support (purely assumption on my part). But they would never fly over the FOB at this low altitude. I would guesstimate that they generally flew at altitudes well over 10,000 feet (FOB Shank sits somewhere around 6,500 feet elevation).
The F-15 Eagle is an incredible aircraft who started life on the McDonnell Douglas drawing board in the 1960s. It entered the US Airforce toolbox in 1976 and is expected to remain flying past 2020. That's a heck of a shelf-life!. As I grew up through the 70s, I would dream about flying this exact aircraft. There was something about this puppy that really caught my eye. But... speaking of eyes.. my vision was less that 20/20, and thus, I had to call "no joy" on that dream and I ended up becoming a glorified ground pounder.
In the photo above, we see the F15E Strike Eagle. You can usually tell the "E" model by the dark gray paint scheme (I'm told). As fate would have it, my brother (who had no clue what an F15 was) went to work for McDonnell Douglas (MD) in the 80s and lucked into a position that would ultimately have him flying multiple times as the back-seater for the F15E. Can you believe the irony? Anyhow... when Desert Storm was over, he gave me a publicity poster from MD. It featured the F15 Eagle, the F4 Phantom, the F18 Hornet and the AH-64 Apache (all MD aircraft). I think the poster read something like this: "Every enemy aircraft shot down during Desert Storm was downed by a McDonnell Douglas aircraft. EVERY SINGLE ONE". I thought that was a pretty cool poster. I think I still have it somewhere.
So... I digress wildly. The ADHD is in full swing. What I meant to post for educational purposes was the story that airstrikes are up in Afghanistan, along with increased surveillance flights from drones. You can read all about it here at Danger Room:
|UAVs in Afghanistan (photo from Wired.com)|
Saturday, November 27, 2010
I had a little bit of time between crying babies and rambunctious little boys (eg vacation time at the FaST Surgeon house) to fiddle with some video and stills from the first few months of the deployment (January - May 2010). I present to you, never before released video along with some photos that never made it to the blog. Its filmed in HD.. so go ahead and crank it up to 720p if you have high speed internet. Hope you enjoy:
Friday, November 26, 2010
|26 NOV 2010 - Black Friday|
Well... I had to break with tradition of not posting any images of me since my departure from Shank... but this was the only good picture I had of the "Shank Shopping Mall" :). I am sure there are lines of soldiers and contractors waiting to crash the doors of the bountiful Shank stores.
Turns out we have heard a little iddy-bit more from are Shanksters this week. They are doing well and have had a good Thanksgiving. In fact, you can check it out at CRNA In The 'Stan. We are now counting the days to their return. Let's hope they can start heading back soon.. but we just won't know when they're coming home until they're in the air.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
|24 NOV 2010 - Red Crescent|
I bet you didn't know that the red crescent is an international sign for emergency aid workers (Well... I didn't until I went to Afghanistan). Of course, we are much more familiar with the red cross which is the symbol of The American Red Cross, the designated U.S. affiliate of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The red crescent was adopted in 1929 and was first used during the armed conflict between Russia and the Ottoman empire in 1877-1878. It is now recognized as a protected symbol by at least 33 Islamic states.
|Jean Henri Dunant - Founder of the International Committee For Relief To The Wounded|
Henri Dunant is credited with founding the International Committee for Relief to The Wounded in 1863. In 1867 this became the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and remains unchanged to this day. Five years later, the American Red Cross was founded.
To add a little confusion, there is also the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, born from the League of Red Cross Societies which was founded in 1919. This federation has more than 40 nations and 22,000 volunteers that provide relief for victims of natural disasters.
Finally, there are a number of symbols that have been created, including the Red Crystal, the Red Lion and Sun and the Red Star of David (Magen David Adom). Go read about them here. It's all very interesting.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
|22 NOV 2010 - Burqa|
This image is just outside the wire of Forward Operating Base Shank. Often you can see women and children carrying items across the barren landscape to and from the qalats. The burqas they wear are made of any number of different colors, but brown or blue seems to be what I remembered seeing most. The word "burqa"
Saturday, November 20, 2010
|20 NOV 2010 - Brawler|
On 15 NOV 2010, TF Brawler turned responsibilities of conducting air-operations over Logar, Afghanistan to TF Knighthawk. Read all about it on the CJTF-101 website. The 909th salutes all those of TF Brawler.
Friday, November 19, 2010
|19 NOV 2010 - Blue Skies|
I saw a comment from someone online once that claimed the skies in Afghanistan were never blue. This photo should put that claim to rest. There are most certainly many days with skies that are so beautiful, you can't help but pause and feel the peace. On this day in April, 2010 it was like God painted the clouds with wisping strokes of the brush.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
|18 NOV 2010 - Shepherd|
A shepherd tends his flock in Logar Province, Afghanistan. Sheep and camels are common throughout this area. I suspect due to the fact that they are able to subsist off of this rather inhospitable land. Its a wonder that they survive through the barren winter months.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
|16 NOV 2010 - The Herd|
Above, members of the 173d Airborne prepare to depart on a mission in Logar Province Afghanistan. The photo was taken in June, 2010. I post this in honor of SSG Salvatore Giunta. Today, 16 NOV 2010, SSG Giunta of the 173d Airborne will be honored as the first living Medal of Honor recipient since Vietnam for his actions as a rifle team leader on October 25, 2007 while deployed with 173d Airborne BCT in the Korengal valley, Afghanistan. Read all about SSG Giunta and his actions on that day here.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
|14 NOV 2010 - MRAPs|
I post this photo mainly because I like the colors, composition and moon in the day sky. However, I can add a little this morning and give some factoids about MRAPs (AKA Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles). MRAPs are not a single vehicle type, like the HMMWVs (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles) of old. MRAPS come in many shapes and sizes, from the sexy looking M-ATV, ostensibly created to maneuver through Afghanistan's smaller bridges and roads, to the gargantuan Buffalo for engineering / IED operations. But one thing is for sure, the MRAP is certainly saving lives. In my opinion, and limited experience, I don't think that we are seeing as many of the horrific injuries that our troops suffered in Iraq while in HMMWVs (up-armored or not).
As I understand it, Defense Secretary Gates was the driving force behind getting MRAPs deployed into Iraq and Afghanistan. And when I arrived in January, 2010 the MRAP numbers were growing rapidly. Of course, there was a huge reason behind the need to deploy these vehicles. From the Center for Strategic and International Study:
Unfortunately, no matter what the vehicle, the bad guys can build explosives effective enough to wound or kill. Therefore, ultimately, the best plan is to disallow the enemy the ability to deploy IED's at all. The next 12 months will be the most telling of all.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
|13 NOV 2010 - Lock and Load|
The Czech Republic PRT maintains their firepower readiness with a wide variety of weapon systems, ranging from the 7.62mm assault rifle to the automatic grenade launcher and just about anything in between.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
|Entry To The National Infantry Museum - Fort Benning, GA|
President Wilson commemorated November 11th, 1919 as the first Armistice Day following World War I. Interestingly, the term armistice is derived from the Latin arma, meaning weapons, and statium, meaning a stopping. In other words, the war was not over, just that the warring parties agreed to stop fighting. It wasn't until June 4th, 1926 that the US Congress passed a resolution officially declaring the end to World War I. In May 13th, 1938 another act was passed, officially declaring Armistice Day as a national holiday.
After America committed troops to armed conflict during World War II and again in the Korean war, veterans organization urged congress to replace to term Armistice with Veterans. The act of 1938 was amended on June 1st, 1954, officially changing the term to Veterans Day.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
|10 NOV 2010 - Baneful|
The AH64 Apache is one of the most ominous helicopters ever fielded. There's just something about the way it looks. To me, I imagine it to be some kind of fierce stinging insect from the jungles of South America. But that's just me.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
|09 NOV 2010 - Combat Cameraman (photo taken in April, 2010)|
Above, a US Navy Armed Forces Network cameraman exits a Black Hawk MedEvac helicopter while filming the transport of a wounded soldier to the Forward Surgical Team at FOB Shank in Logar province, Afghanistan.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
|01 NOV 2010 - Happy Halloween|
Yes... I know Halloween was yesterday. But I was in a writing mood yesterday. Today is just a day for laughing at an old photo of our "Czech Soccer Star".