Monday, July 27, 2009

We Are A Little Spoiled

War is different, and war is the same. Back in the day, you hugged goodbye, and longed for letters that arrived days or sometimes weeks later

It's still really hard to send loved ones there.
But it's really nice that sometimes now, they get to phone home.

An FOB is a Forward Operations Base. Closer to the bullets. The closer you are, the fewer communications options, in terms of phones and mail delivery.

But the support teams who work out of the main camp have, astonishingly, access to phones and sometimes email. We feel so very, very lucky to talk as much as we have been able to do.

Zach talked with both his girlfriend and me over the weekend. She and I have an agreement to text each other when either of us gets a call. We tell each other the news from him. Even the littlest details are important to us. We share every word.

Well, maybe not every word. I mean, she's his girlfriend. But most words get shared.

The teams on Zach and Scott's helicopter fly back and forth to FOBs regularly. Their responsiblities are to take food, supplies, and precious mail and packages from home. They take soldiers to and from the FOB. They evacuate casualties, and carry home those whose lives are taken away. Sometimes they fly other people, such as journalists.

We know a little more about how hot it is there: the thermometer near the pilots' seats reads about 130 degrees.

It's, um, hotter in the back of the helicopter.

Nobody needs Paris Hilton to say..."That's hot."

Because that's really hot.

Now put on the fifty pounds of body armor, and the helmet, and get your finger on the trigger of the gun in the plane door, and fly for hours with your eyes peeled on the ground watching for any sign of flash of gunfire.

Hot, and exhausting.

We talked about how many people in Afghanistan are welcoming to the American and Allied efforts in their country. Many are also not at all. Just like our country, people have different opinions and beliefs.

Zach said it is so strange, so foreign a feeling, to fly low over settlements and see people moving around below them. Wondering if one of them will run into a building and run out with something to shoot at them. Wondering who of the people they see below are friendly, and who are not.

Many are friendly; but who do you trust? And how do you know to trust them? We who live in peaceful places do not understand the strain that that puts on human beings...on both sides.

Zach told me today that after he flew his last mission, he came back so very tired to his tent and said hi to Scott, who went out and came back five minutes later to find Zach sound, sound, sound asleep. He woke hours later in the same filthy clothes, astonished and wondering when he'd fallen asleep.

Despite the heat and the strain, they feel good about their work. They know that there are people at the FOB who are depending on them.

For us, it felt good to pack up some small things Zach asked for, and ship them to him. It just feels so very good to help people.

It doesn't solve the problems of the world...but it makes today better.

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