Sunday, 1 April 2007

Week 11--Life on the FOB

Well, another week has passed. And Spring has finally sprung here on FOB Salerno. The tree outside my "hootch" (our generic name for our living quarters) went from buds to leaves in just a few days. And the weather is spring-like. Saturday was a beautiful day all day, until a thunderstorm blew in and blasted us with high winds and rain. Stuff went flying all over the FOB, including our new satellite dish! Fortunately no one was hurt on the FOB and no major damage to equipment was reported. And Sunday was back to clear skies and sunshine. It was a nice day to relax and get ready for another long week.

This week my travels took me to some different areas of the FOB. It's easy for me to forget that not everyone has it as good as I do, on this FOB or on the many smaller, outlying FOBs. In fact, most of the Soldiers on FOB Salerno still live in the "tent city" pictured below. The tents sleep 8 to 12 Soldiers; the fewer the better, of course. All have wooden floors and many are sectioned into cubicles with wooden walls or curtains.

And Soldiers decorate their areas, each according to his or her own tastes. "Hootch Art" is a popular way to decorate. The wooden walls make a perfect canvas. I thought this picture would make a good tattoo; then I found out that is was a reproduction of the artist's own tattoo, so I guess I was right! As time goes by the tents are being replaced by "brick and mortar" buildings, so the quality of life continues to improve for Soldiers on FOB Salerno.

The FOB is not big, but it's still too big to walk everywhere in a timely manner. And of course sometime you need a truck to carry everything from point A to B. For the Salerno hospital we have only two ways to move things; our gators and our Hillbilly Hummer. The John Deer gators are the most common method of driving on the FOB. But when the load is too big, it's time to use the Hillbilly Hummer. It may not look like much, but it's big and it runs and it's all we've got. Of course, I'd never leave the FOB in it, but it's great for around the FOB. I'll have to do an entry on all the different vehicles I see here on the FOB. Toyota pickup trucks, up-armored Hummers, gators, Land Rovers and Land Cruisiers all compete for space on the dirt roads of FOB Salerno. But the most common way to get around on FOB Salerno isstill the most basic; walking. It's great exercise and it doesn't require a license or helmet or ground guide.

Finally, the hospital construction continues. They started with big holes in the ground, and now have progressed to a "forest" of columns. It won't be long before we see a foundation and floors and walls and a roof. I have no doubt now that the Soldiers who replace us will move directly in to a brick and mortar hospital and that we will be the last occupants of the hospital in the tents. It will be a great day, but a little sad when you think of the hundreds of staff and patients who have worked and played and lived and died in the existing hospital. We'll need a suitable ceremony to honor those who have gone before us and all they were able to accomplish with so little. I'm proud that we've been a part of that legacy.

As always, thanks for reading the blog and supporting the Soldiers and families of our Armed Forces. If you have any questions or comments or suggestions, I welcome your input.


Anonymous said...

From SGT Catie Cejka's Aunt Doris and Uncle Bob - and all her family that we share with, especially her grandmother Cejka!
As a military family (Vietnam, Iran and Iraq among others) we appreciate the growth of communication. Thanks for sharing! We admire what you are doing, not only for the "troops" but for the Local Afghanis! Our prayers are with all of you each and every day!

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