I know I am getting closer to Bagram now because with each stop, the conditions get a bit more austere. Beyond fuel and crew issues, I think they must stage the flights like this (U.S. to Germany to Turkey to Manas to Bagram) on purpose so that the adaptation from first to third world is as gradual as possible! Ramstein was a modern air terminal with good internet access (if you can’t tell, a major priority for meJ) and even a German bakery across the street. Incirlik Air Base in Turkey wasn’t bad but a bit cruder than Ramstein. The internet bandwidth at the Incirlik terminal was designed for perhaps a single seat F-16 arrival but certainly not for 300 folks on an MD-11. I am currently at Manas Air Base, which is in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. Manas is the final deployment destination for several on our flight but for most of us, the staging area for our final trip into the theater. Actually, Bagram from what everyone says is not all that bad.
Also, just when you want to start moping a bit and do a little “woe is me” dance (my adult version of Lily’s unexplainable tantrum, which I can relate to about right now in fatigue!:)) about the time away from Amy and the kids, you get confronted with a new perspective. While in Incirlik, I ran into a classmate of Amy and mine from USAFA who is also getting deployed non voluntarily but for a year and has 4 children similar to us (I know, Amy, we have 5, but it’s close:)). It’s moments like this, and unfortunately more moments to come when I am up close with our soldiers getting severely wounded and worse yet dying), that make me realize that my situation “ain’t” exactly all that bad. Again, please know I am not trying to undermine the gravity of our team’s mission (and who knows, we might be doing the jitterbug when our B-huts get mortared!), but on the whole, it pales in comparison to those doing the “dirty work” of war. Whatever the case, missing chunks of your children’s lives is just plain hard whether it be 6 months or a year. Many on our flight have deployed numerous times (I am the “weenie” who has never deployed), unfortunately missing most of their children’s younger years. Nevertheless (and certainly by no accident of chance), God is more than able to cover the gaps and use these moments for His greater purposes, however difficult it seems in the immediacy of the moment to understand the logic of it all.
It’s 5:00 am local time so the jetlag is getting ready to hit as sleep has been hit or miss over the last 24 hours. It’s also extremely cold here (negative 13 degrees F)! I am hoping to get out of Manas quickly and will pass along another update once I have finally arrived. More soon, and hope everyone has a great weekend!