18 Jul 2009 @ 11:41 AM 

This is what happens…


This is what happens when you go downrange as an individual; you are forced to meet new people. You can’t predict what these brand spanking new relationships will look like a year from now. It forces one to live in the moment and to really try to do your best.

And hope that it’s good enough.

It’s a new test, a new challenge. It’s also a bit unnerving. It’s strange how you can spend years and years proving over and over that you can meet new people, be put into a team with them, and thrive. There are those, like SFC (soon to be 1SG) O, Jacques Pulvier, LTC Stone Cold and some others from my last tour that I will keep up with for the rest of my natural life. There are others that I don’t care if I ever see again. That’s the way of it. It’s not the ones that I don’t care to see again that matter. It’s the ones that I have bonded with so strongly that we will keep in touch over the course of years. Some with regularity, some with irregularity… that doesn’t matter, either. It matters that you do reconnect.

The chances are good that I will have some of that here, too. It doesn’t always happen. Usually that is a bonding that is driven by stress and shared danger. There is no telling if there will be that level of bonding gel applied to these newly developing relationships. Who knows?

That’s the point; nobody does. It is just time to let go, live in the present, and let these things go which way they may. Arriving alone on a new team has a familiar feel to it. One difference is that the team existed before I got here. I am the FNG. They are a good bunch, though, and I feel absolutely welcome.

Many things here are familiar, if a little more worn. The ghosts of the last deployment hover over old landmarks and haunt new developments. There are changes in Kabul, and in the camps my friends and I knew then. The new mosque that was under construction is finished and beautiful. The lot in front of the building with the big body builder sign on it is empty of the trash pile that choked it. Phoenix is a crowded ghetto. There is new construction here and there in the city. A gleaming new office building is nearly complete. It would fit right into any city in America… at least by looks if not by amenities. There has been some visible progress here.

Out in the provinces may be a completely different story. Kabul is to Afghanistan as New York City is to America; a whole different reality, detached and different and self-absorbed. Unrepresentative of the reality of the rest of the country, like New York it is convinced that it somehow represents the country symbolically. Kabul does not reflect the reality of Khost or Helmand any more than New York City reflects the reality of Cincinnati or Iowa. It’s good to see some progress in this age-old city, but it does not reflect the state of the nation. Some of the news from the provinces is deeply disconcerting. The increase in manning levels and the mandated change in behaviors will take time to manifest themselves.

Tactical patience is required.

There is one thing that I may share with rest of the world. For those of you who know him, Rambo is still at the front gate of Phoenix. To him, I am just another American Soldier passing through that portal; but to me, he is an icon and a symbol of how dedicated an Afghan can be. Seeing him there forced a smile from me. So, if any of you wondered, Rambo is present and accounted for.

The average American doesn’t know about Rambo. If anyone has a Rambo story or two, please share it either in comments or email it to me. The guy is truly incredible.

Tags Tags: ,
Categories: Afghanistan, development
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 18 Jul 2009 @ 11 41 AM


Responses to this post » (6 Total)

  1. alexakim says:

    In fact I am happy to tell you I believe I do already know of Rambo. If he is the man who wields a pipe with fierce certitude and intolerance for misbehaving entrants, then I do remember hearing of him years ago. I’ll have to double check but I think it may have been Bouhammer who first told of him.

    I am so thrilled to know he endures! Should the opportunity present, please tell him that indeed, he is known in America, where we hold in high esteem his dedication, courage and spirit. (How does the greeting go, Insh’allah?)

    You remain on my mind and in my heart, forever. Watch your 6.

  2. Mezzo D says:

    I’m enjoying reading your blog. Its great to be able to hear what things are really like from you and a few others who are there doing the work and writing about it. Hang in there….

  3. David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 07/20/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  4. membrain says:

    On January 16, 2007, Rambo saved Camp Phoenix from a suicide car bomber.

    “Since he can’t have a weapon, he found a big red pipe. So he stands there at the front gate in his US Army ACU uniform with his red pipe. If a vehicle approaches the gate too fast or fails to stop he slams his pipe down on their hood. Then once the gate is lifted the vehicle moves on the 2nd gate where the US Army MP’s are. So he’s like the first line of defense.

    “Last Thursday at 0930 hrs a Toyota Corolla packed with explosives and some Jack Ass that thinks he has 72 Virgins waiting for him approached the gate. When he saw Rambo he must have recognized him and known the gig was up. But he needed to get to that 2nd gate to detonate and take American lives. So he slams his foot on the gas which almost causes the metal gate to go up but mostly catches on the now broken windshield. Rambo fearlessly ran to the vehicle, reached thru the window and jerked the suicide bomber out of the vehicle before he could detonate and commenced to putting some red pipe to his heathen ass.

    “He detained the guy until the MP got there. The vehicle only exploded when they tried to push it off base with a robot but no one was hurt. I’m still waiting for someone to give this guy a medal or something.

    “Nothing less than instant US citizenship or something. A hat was passed around and a lot of money was given to him in thanks by both soldiers and civilians that are working over here. I guess I just wanted to share this because I want people to know that it’s working over here. They have tasted freedom.

    “This makes it worth it to me.” – JOHN W. HUNT, CPT, US ARMY

  5. […] now that they figure that they have some sort of stake in it. I’m referring to the “progressive” left attempting to get a grip on the issue of Afghanistan. It appears that they may be asking some relevant questions, but the […]

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