Another three-round burst of blog-filled goodness this Friday morning:
ONE MAN'S AMMO CAN IS ANOTHER MAN'S FUEL TANK According to an Army public affairs article posted via DVIDS this week, a Vermont Army National Guard soldier from the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (I.B.C.T.) resurrected an Afghan motorcycle. In his civilian job Spc. Skyler W. Genest, part of the 1st/172nd Cavalry Squadron in Ghazni, works on the University of Vermont police department. The kid sounds like equal parts MacGyver, Mad Max, and Judge Dredd:
"The fuel tank really stands out," said Genest. "When we got it, we saw the original tank was completely rusted out on the inside. So our innovative idea was to take an ammo can and put it where the rusted tank was. We just have to scrounge to get anything to keep this running. [...]
"It started life out as a Honda," [he said]. "It is a 125n, a early 1970's model, but it has some aftermarket parts on it. The engine has been replaced and the exhaust is not original, but it is the typical bike for this area. It has been beaten up, but these things are pretty incredible. They can take a beating and they still run."
Genest plans to bequeath the bike to a soldier replacing him on a future rotation. I plan to point that out to MauserMedic, who writes the witty and gritty "Mausers, Medicine & Motorcycles" blog. Given the possibility of some wheels, it sounds like Mauser should look Genest up, if he's ever in the neighborhood.
PICTURES (AND SOUNDS) OF BAGRAM
On his "Deployment to Afghanistan" blog, Army Lt. Col. Richard Phillips has posted some pix of some Bagram "B-huts." I know the comparison is a bit of a stretch, but there's at least one image that evokes for me the crowded urban street conditions found elsewhere in the Middle East. But hey--that's the architectural geek talking now.
In an earlier post, he describes the sights and sounds of Bagram Airbase:
The sound of Bagram is jet noise, 24/7. All manner of aircraft come and go, all day and all night. There are many other sounds, but they are all routinely drowned out by the sound of jet engines. Sometimes even conversation between two people standing side by side is impossible for a few moments. [...]
The "buildings" range from tents to containerized buildings to "B" huts to "brick and mortar" structures. An indoor, porcelain toilet is still a luxury. Most residents of Bagram live in a tent (with about 100 of their closest friends) or in one of our infamous "B" huts, which is basically a wooden shack housing from 4 to 8 persons.
Note to self: Bring a cordless drill and other power tools on the deployment, as well as a video camera. We'll shoot a pilot series about extreme B-hut remodelings. Call it ... "This Old Hootch?"
MINNESOTA RED BULL TO RETURN FROM AFGHANISTAN EARLY
Finally, I'm both pleased and sorry to say that Minnesota Army National Guardsman (and "Red Bull" alumnus) Capt. Mark Martin is coming home to attend to some family issues. Even though he may have fallen a few days short of his blog's title, he promises to continue to write about both Afghanistan and Minnesota in "270 Days in Afghanistan". Here's an excerpt of his most recent post:
Recently, I received some difficult news from home. My mother, who has been ailing for some time took a turn for the worse. Long story short, a couple of days and one Red Cross message later, and I am packed and bound for the States. Due to the nature of the situation, and the proximity of the conclusion of our mission here, I will not be coming back to the 'Stan with this particular mission.
I visited with all my Afghans today and said goodbye. I told them that I admired their courage and their willingness to stand up for their country against those who would snuff out democracy. I congratulated them on the progress that they have made, and I assured them that it has been my honor and my priviledge to serve alongside them here in Afghanistan. The friendships and memories I have from this place will forever change how I look at things.
Martin's blog has consistently been plain-spoken, well-reasoned, and easy-to-understand. Afghanistan is no doubt a slightly better place than when he found it; I am, no doubt, a slightly better person for having learned from his words.
Godspeed Capt. Martin and his family.
Godspeed Capt. Martin and his family.