Sunday, December 20, 2009

Single digit midgets...

All of the new team is here and we have begun turnover. I have just over a week left in Kabul, then I begin the long journey back to the states, and eventually home. It has been a busy week.

Last Friday, we drove to KAIA after dark (supper time) to pick up half of the new team. When we got there, we learned that the team had been delayed in Bagram and wouldn’t get to KAIA for a few more hours. We drove back to NKC. I drove lead with Dennis as my TC. It has been a long, long time since we have driven in the dark. Needless to say, there aren’t many streetlights in Kabul.

On Saturday, we drove back out to KAIA in the morning to pick up the personnel from the previous evening, with me in the lead vehicle and Dennis as my TC. We brought them back to NKC and helped them move all of their gear into their rooms and showed them around our little FOB. The new team trained at Fort Polk instead of Fort Riley. Fort Polk has taken over the METT training mission.

On Saturday night, I was able to go out for a few hours. I was lucky enough to go to one of the NGO’s house, Dr. Larson. He has been coming to Afghanistan since 1970, doing various missions as a civilian. It was Joe, Dennis, myself and 2 others from Camp Eggers who got invited to his house to have supper with Dr Larson and his wife. We had an appetizer (ashak), followed by borani and the main dish of quabeli. Dr. Larson’s wife is an excellent cook and we ate like kings. We then had fresh fruit for dessert and sang some Christmas carols before leaving for the evening. It was the best Afghan meal I have eaten here in Kabul. They rent a house and Mrs. Larson goes to the local market to purchase their food.

On Sunday, we were treated to another meal, this time at NDS hospital. The CO invited the mentors to have lunch with him. There were 12 of us who ate with the CO and other members of his team. It was another good meal, but not as good as the previous evenings meal. After we got back to NKC we killed some time, then we had to drive to Camp Eggers to pick up the rest of the new team. They convoyed from Bagram, but got dropped off at Camp Eggers. I know, it doesn’t make sense…

On Monday, we began turnover with the new team. They have 22 people compared to our 15. The RFF (request for Forces or the manning document) has changed somewhat. They have additional corpsman and technicians but fewer providers. WE had a team meeting to start off the morning, then they toured NMH as a group. After lunch, we began individual turnover. There is both an OR nurse and a scrub technician on the new team. Hopefully, they will be able to accomplish more than I have. The Afghan nurses can learn a lot from the scrub tech. Marvin is a senior first class from Portsmouth, VA and the nurse, Brian is from Jacksonville, FL. We worked together when I was in Portsmouth.

Tuesday was our first day in the OT. I introduced them to the mentees and we did a basic orientation to the OT. The new team got a “Welcome to Kabul Afghanistan” when a SVBIED detonated around mid-morning. It was within a kilometer of NMH. We all felt and heard the explosion. The glass in the windows shook, but none broke. The new team got to see the mass casualty response. We received 4 patients in the OT. We finished by lunch. My interpreter, Walid, gave me some traditional Afghan clothing. I can’t remember the Dari word for the clothes, but everyone calls them man-jams. Here is a picture of me standing next to Wais:

Wednesday was another day of turnover. On Thursday, the new team had to go to Camp Eggers for more checking in and driver training. We had to convoy them there. It took us 2 trips to transport them. This time, I got to drive an up-armored Chevy Suburban. Dennis and I stayed with the new team to help them at Eggers. We came back to NKC for lunch, then the old team had to go to Eggers for our monthly “All Hands” meeting. The new team was “hailed” and the old team “farewell”. We had one of the chiefs at Eggers help us get everyone back to NKC so it only took 2 trips to move both teams. We can fit 7 people in the suburban.

Friday was not a regular jumma. We had to go to Phoenix for vehicle maintenance and to start training the new team on driving. Instead of me driving the lead vehicle, I was the TC. We had the new team drive. We spent 10 hours at Phoenix waiting on the vehicles. Before they would work on them, we had to take them to the wash racks. Of course, there were lots of MRAPS in line in front of us and the temp was below freezing. The wash rack was icing up. It was “fun” power-washing the trucks while standing on ice. Once the trucks were finished, we drove back to NKC. Of course, it was dark on the return trip, so the new drivers got to learn in the dark.

Saturday, was another day of turnover. The entire team had a meeting with the CO of the hospital. After that, the nurses went to the OTSG to have a meeting with BG Rhazia, the Commander of the ANA Nurses. We met her when we first started our tour. It was another combination meeting. The new nurses were introduced, and Holly and I said our goodbyes. The tour is winding down and the goodbyes are beginning. Only another week, and we leave Kabul…

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