Thursday, 23 August 2007

Just Another Day at the FOB ......

Sometimes I wonder why I am so happy here. But when I think about it, most Soldiers I work with here are happy. The media seems to highlight the disenchanted, unhappy Soldiers but in my experience they are in the minority. For me, sometimes I feel guilty for being happy here, for enjoying life on (and off) the FOB. I know this deployment is harder on my family than it is on me. I’ve got free food, free laundry, free movies, free gym membership and free time. Back home they’ve got to deal with real life and all the complexities that involves. And they have to worry about me.

I think about the past, where I came from to get here. I think about the future, what I’m going to do when I get home. But I live in the present and enjoy the job I’m doing here, even on the hardest days. And for us here at the hospital the hardest days are those where we lose a fellow Soldier. We’ve lost a few patients recently, some to enemy action and some to accidents. That takes a toll on all of us here at the hospital. There was a time when I could remember all the deaths in the hospital, by face if not by name. That was some time ago now. I have learned the hard way that at a trauma hospital in combat not every patient will have a good outcome.

But for me, the best days on the FOB are actually off the FOB. Recently I had the opportunity to visit our local Provincial Hospital in the city of Khowst. I’ve been there often enough that it feels very familiar to me. We were visiting the hospital director and conducting some training. Our relationship with the Provincial Hospital is good, and getting better all the time.

It’s also the site of the suicide bomber in February. In fact, I took a picture in front of the wall near where the bomber detonated. The damage has not been repaired so you can see some of the effects of the bomb. I’d like to say that he was the last suicide bomber in Khowst, but unfortunately that is not the case. In fact, he turned out to be only the first of many suicide bombers in 2007.

But Khowst offers many more entertaining and safe sights and sounds. Right outside the hospital I followed a few goats wandering in the road. Since my daughter raises sheep I thought she would enjoy this picture of goats wandering in the road. It is a common sight; goats and sheep and even cows and donkeys. Mostly they are guided or herded, but sometimes they are just wandering.

And we spent some time at an old fort just outside of Khowst.

The locals told us stories of the fort’s role in the war against the Soviet Union back in the 80’s. In Germany or France it would be a tourist attraction. Here, it’s an operational fort, a garrison for Afghan security forces. And a great place from which to take pictures.

Here’s a view of the mosque in Khowst, Afghanistan.

It's huge, and beautiful.

I’ve seen it from the road outside, from the air above and now from a hilltop in town.

And even from inside, the views of the surrounding countryside are great.

Like all castles, it’s got a tower from which you can see everything around and below.

I don’t think I’ll be moving to Khowst anytime soon, but like the rest of Afghanistan it’s got a lot of potential. It could be a lovely place, much like a resort town in Arizona, if it weren’t for the suicide bombers and ambushes and rockets and mortars.

Mostly, I’m very happy. Mostly, I work with happy people.

We all look forward to going home,

but most of us enjoy our jobs,

enjoy the adventure

and enjoy the camaraderie of being here and serving our country.

As always, may God Bless you all.

Phillips, out.


Anonymous said...


Glad to see you in such good spirits. What a blessing you must be to those who aren't in the same place. I am sure there are many legitatmate reasons and yet you find the positive.

I am slowly getting sucked into a steady correspondence with my Marines in Iraq and way too much time on sites like Michael Yon's. I am as a civlian as green where all this is concerned-- as grass. If it could grow on me I am certain I could qualify for some sort of Ag exemption with the local appraisal district. I am shocked at what you all see and how much you mentally adjust to be who you are to those that need you the most. I am humbled and reminded to channel my anger at what is going on there and in Iraq and to have hope as you do. May the angels watch over Salerno and bring you all safely home to us.
Blessed be to you all!

Katrina Reid said...

Great to hear you're in such high spirits! That is true I hear from Wes from time to time and he says everything is great except his milk and juice were stolen by the taliban! What's up with that! They couldn't find anything better to do for that day, Silly Taliban! Keep your chin up you'll be home before you know it!

David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 08/23/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

Cass said...

Hey Rich,

Thanks for the upbeat tour of Khowst! I had a friend who spent some time at Salerno, fortunately only for the FOB services and not the hospital, and he had a similar way of seeing the good around him and not focusing on the bad. He loved the castle and took a lot of pictures of it as well. Y'all are doing good things there, keep up the good spirits! I think of my friends there in your area all the time. Be well.


Rich - we are so glad to hear from you and that all is pretty good right now. A wonderful tour of Khowst... thank you for taking your precious time to show us all here in the states! God Bless You and Your Troops... as always, in our thoughts and prayers for your safety there and to be brought back home safely to your families here in the States! THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SACRIFICES FOR THE PEOPLE OVER THERE AND FOR OUR FREEDOM HERE IN THE GOOD OLD UNITED STATES! Y'ALL TAKE CARE AND BE BLESSED! Sherri

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