Friday, December 31, 2010
Paul Riley and I out on the rifle range a few days back. Going to the range here means bringing an interpreter, a medic, riding out in uparmored SUVs with at least one rifle per vehicle, traveling with at least two vehicles, etc., etc.
It was the first range that I have ever been to where we didn't ensure that all of our weapons were unloaded and clear at the end, but we actually took the time to reload all of our expended magazines and ensured that all weapons were Condition 1 (i.e. loaded) before mounting back up for the ride home. Better safe than sorry, and this is Kabul, after all.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Made my week, just as I am sure that meeting me made his. Again, I can't say enough about how gracious they all were to us. And this was an additional show that they had not signed up for, wedged into a little space before their departure from Afghanistan (they flew in from Kandahar just this morning before the show). They could have said no, but they didn't. They stepped up to the plate and made a lot of people happy.
The USO did a great job. It wouldn't hurt to throw a little donation their way this holiday season. Between getting these folks over here (the funding goes toward transportation; the entertainers volunteer their time) and putting together gift packages and staffing reception rooms at a myriad of airports for troops coming and going, the USO - and guys like Lewis - are doing the Lord's work.
Funny as hell. Made fun of the voice of his Garmin navigation device, wished it had a Scottish voice, made fun of that, then realized these was an actual Scotsman in the audience, and then made fun of him. And the lady with the faux fur hat. And Afghanistan ("We landed and my cell phone said to set my clock back a half hour. I looked around, and said "#(*&, are you kidding?!? Set your clock back about 1000 years!""
Jumped into the crowd with both feet afterwards. They loved him, and he clearly loved them.
Tried to get to him afterwards to tell him that Godin says hi, but he was mobbed. He and Robin Williams were the clear favorites. Very funny in his own right, and very gracious. "When my kids ask me on the phone at night what I am doing over here, I tell them that I'm spending the night with heros."
The USO came today for a brief show with Robin Williams, Lance Armstrong, Lewis Black and a couple of other folks. Here for about 90 minutes. They were AWESOME. Did a great job in the very brief time they were on the ground, stayed for pictures and to autograph as many things as they were asked. Waded right into the crowd in order to do it. They made a lot of servicemen and women and DoD/DoS civilians very happy on a chilly Friday morning. This pic is of Ambassador Eikenberry introducing everybody.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Built in what looks like the late 1950s / early 1960s by... the United States!
Beautiful curves, classic 1960s architecture. Marble floors (still intact), very solid. Very strange to walk into it; felt like entering a time machine.
Except for the Predator UAV that I watched taking off as I stood outside. Those things were science fiction back when this airport was built.
The Afghan airport manager was really impressive, really sounded like he had a plan, and while he needed the help of ISAF to ensure good security, I didn't get the feeling that he was looking for a handout.
Monday, December 13, 2010
This rose was in one of the beds directly in front of the Embassy. It was HUGE - big as a baby's head - and the craziest pink/fushia (sp?) I have ever seen. The roses are cut down now for winter, but this was only last week. Got cut the next day, I believe. Damn glad I got the shot.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
However, I was not having my best shoot.
I am trying to get my Advanced Combat Optic (ACOG) battle-sight zeroed. It was a pain in the ass. First off, I am still used to iron sights (these new fangled optics are still pretty new to me); second, I had not BZO-ed my rifle since I got it, and it required a lot of adjustment; third, doing it with gear on - pretty important since that's how I would be coming to the fight - is not NEARLY as natural as I am used to. And finally, we were rushed for time to finish up before we had to go cold on the range. In short, while I had a great time, it was not my best performance.
But far better than ANY day in the office. And you can quote me.
Well, the Dirty Dozen we ain't, but there are definitely some shooters in our crowd. We got out to the rifle and pistol range a couple of weeks back to break some rust. The carpentry shop here at the Embassy built us some truly fantastic two-piece target frames that break down to fit into our vehicles; print off some targets on 8 x 11 printer paper,zip tie or duct tape some cardboard to the frames to mount the targets (that's what I need the staple gun for, Dad), add a can each of 9mm and 5.56mm ammo, and you have a happy office.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Some Marine who clearly needs to be on weight control at the head of the military formation.
(In my defense, I am wearing a sweatshirt underneath as well as a concealed 9mm pistol).
According to my friend John Piedmont (now back in VA, but here a year ago), he spotted me on the NBC TV news covering this event back in the States.
My 15 seconds of fame came and went and I didn't even know it.
At 0700 yesterday, visiting Senators McCain, Lieberman, Gillebrand, and Graham participated in the Embassy Veterans Day remembrance. Senator McCain gave a brief, but quite moving speech. It was the first time that I had heard that 2nd Lt Kelly, USMC, son of Lieutenant General Kelley, USMC, Commanding General of Marine Forces Reserve, had been killed in a roadside IED only two days before, serving with 3/5 in Helmand Province.
A hell of a way to reinforce the importance of both the birthday of the Marine Corps (10 November) and Veterans Day (11 November).
Saturday, November 6, 2010
The Marine Security Detachment threw one of the best USMC Birthday Balls I have ever gone to last night. Pictured are myself, LtCol Ian Brasure (friend from my Phoenix days 15 years ago), and LTC Paul Riley (one of my compadres in the L/EMB office I work in. It turns out that the Birthday Ball is one of THE biggest social events going in Kabul, period. What is normally a chance for brother Marines and their significant others to celebrate the birthday of our beloved Corps morphed into Ambassadors, Generals, every Marine in town, and quite a few good looking ladies from the Embassy and the Kabul area. Fantastic ceremony with Major General Mills (CG, I MEF (Fwd)) as the guest of honor introduced by Ambassador Eikenberry, followed by a tremendous meal, and dancing - all in an enormous tent floored with Afghan rugs. Marines in cammies, Marines in cammies armed, the Marines of the MSG in Dress Blues like myself, and a couple of Marines in Mess Dress. A crazy Ball, but a hell of a lot of fun. I prefer my deployed birthdays like the one I celebrated in Ramadi, but this one was probably the best I ever attended, in spite of the location and being dry for us subject to GO #1, and in spite of going "stag" this year (again).