Life in Afifjon
7/14/04 -- SPC Colon has been through a few operations in Germany, has been joined by his wife, and will be moved to Walter Reed Medical Facility in DC. His length of stay is questionable, but it's estimated to be about one year. I'm sure his spouse will move to that area to be near him. I do apologize for telling you about the event in such graphic detail. I see that that part was edited out of the Roanoke Times section of their web site (the first edit cut I've noticed), and I was relieved to be honest. When I looked back at my letter a second time today, I cringed. Also, just to let you know, the families of SGT West and PFC Wilson were notified, and our Family Support Group in Germany is helping them with the monstrous task of preparing for life without their husbands. But SPC Colon is going to make it, and we are so thankful for that.
As far as life here in Arifjon, our jobs are nearly completed. The biggest hurdle here is getting our vehicles through the customs wash rack. We were lucky and went to an "opportunity" wash rack, where your entrance is based on a first come, first serve basis. We took all but a couple of our trucks there last night and eventually were all granted access. We arrived around 2200 and I was able to get my vehicle on at about 0130. My driver and I napped in a crooked and uncomfortable manner up until that point. We were given a pressure washer and regular hose and some general guidance as to the procedures. Our vehicle finally passed the third inspection at 0630, and we were able to move it to the sterile yard, where vehicles are lined up to be moved to the ship.
Yesterday, I rode to the port with some friends who had commandeered an SUV. We stopped by the entrance office and signed out the required hard hats and reflective belts and started wandering around. We were impressed to see how they shrink wrap the helicopters before loading them. The large military vehicles looked like children's' toys compared to the massive size of the ship that they were sitting on. All six of us starting walking towards the long plank to get on the ship. We speculated whether or not we could sneak on and check it out. We just walked towards it like we were supposed to be there. A man with a clip board approached me and asked, "Are you all with the aviators?" pushing the clipboard towards me. I said, "No, but we're with the inspection team. Do you need me to sign in?" And he stepped back and said, "Oh! Ok! No, you don't have to sign in. Go on up." YES! So, we were authorized to go on in.
As the day closes here, everyone is coming out of their tents and buildings to wander around. Each day, there are different events for those of us that have finished all of our military tasks. There's salsa night, country music night, karaoke, spa day (free massages), etc. etc. The PXs are nice, all the dining facilities are well-stocked and have televisions with CNN, and there are lots of commercial places to spend money like Subway, Baskin Robbins, Starbucks (but of course!), Pizza Hut, Hardees, Burger King, and other vendors as well. Then there are libraries, the Internet cafes, phone center, gym, and so on and so forth. I think that I'll try and take full advantage of it since I have a good week left here. I can hear live music being played outdoors here, and I'm going to go investigate it.
I hope that all is going well for you. I will try and phone again soon.