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Afghanistan Pics

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hug lady

Meet Elizabeth Laird, affectionately known as "The Hug Lady." Ms. Laird has given out over 500,000 since she started back in 2003. She recently passed away and her funeral was attended by hundreds of troops whose lives she touched so deeply. I was so honored to recieve a hug from this angel on earth. She is now an angel in Heaven, no doubt greeting us at the Pearly Gates with hugs.

keni thomas

On the plane ride from Kyrgystan (can I buy a vowel?), I had the privilege and honor to meet a true American hero, Keni Thomas. You may have heard that name if you've read the book or watched the movie Black Hawk Down. Keni is an Army Ranger, writer, motivational speaker, country singer, and recipient of the Bronze Star with Valor. He was on his way to visit and play for troops in Afghanistan as a part of the non-profit, American 300.

outback founder trudy cooper

This is Trudy Cooper, the Founder of Outback Steakhouse. Every year, Outback and Bonefish Grill bring steaks and lobster tails to troops in Afghanistan at nearly every FOB and to nearly every troop (about 40,000 per year on average). You can read even more about Operation Feeding Freedom on my blog here.

my uncle

One of the coolest people I got to meet up with in Afghanistan was my uncle! He was a contractor and was working out of Kandahar, so I got to spend more time with him than probably the rest of my life combined.

michael yon victims

I guess I'd be remiss if I didn't thank Michael Yon for bringing me together with these patriots. These warriors were targeted by Yon after he threw a tantrum because he wasn't getting his way and being treated like the royalty he thinks he is. Yon then claimed that I sent them to "assault" him when I'd never met these guys. Yon was kicked off his embed and I got a chance to meet the guys I didn't know that I had supposedly sent to attack someone I'd never met.


zeke ptsd dog

Kandahar was the home of Regional Command - South, which was alsohome to the therapy dogs that flew around the battlespace cheering up Soldiers and helping them cope with their battlefield experiences. You can read a personal story about how I met Zeke here.

poo pond

Okay, you're probably asking yourself, "why is CJ standing next to a biohazard sign? Well, this is the famed "Poo Pond" on Kandahar Airbase. It is the central processing place for all of the bases, um, poo. It even has its own Facebook group with nearly 900 members. It's a popular (and probably the only) tourist spot on Kandahar.

gas mask at poo pond

Well, it REALLY stinks here. Depending on where the wind is blowing, it embeds itself in your clothing, you bedding, EVERYTHING! One of the temporary housing tents is right next to this pond. Whoever thought that was a great idea is braindead. Anyway, I thought this was a funny picture to take. No, the mask didn't help the smell.

poo pond closeup

Warning: DO NOT CLICK ON THIS IMAGE! It may look innocent, but once you click on this picture, you can't unsee what you will see: the Poo Pond in all its glory!

poo pond puns

The great part of the Poo Pond - if there is one - is the prevalence of Poo Pond Puns. Every day it seems a new display is added near on its banks. So, I decided to create a few of my own. I asked a friend to send me some blow up aliens and some paint to create this. As a prank, she also sent me something else that was designed to be blown up, but I won't share tht picture. You can see more photos on my blog here.

my poo pond sign

I tried to make it as alien like as possible for this pic.

christmas poo pond display

Christmas display 2011. This didn't last as long. Someone took it down within a day, never to be seen again.

merry christmas from kandahar

Christmas in Kandahar 2011 with my Texas flag proudly displayed above my workstation in the TOC.

care packages

Because I had a large following on my blog, I was able to coordinate care packages that I put on the convoys that came to KAF for a little R&R or other meetings. So many people gave so much of themselves to make life for troops a little better. Every time a convoy rolled in, I made sure they had plenty of things to take back to the troops on the front lines. I also got dozens of packages for PTSD dog Zeke from dog lovers across the country.

flooding on kandahar

We had a major flood in KAF the year I was there. It rained for a few days and the flash floods came quickly. This was one of the staging areas I was trying to acquire, but after seeing how it flooded, I looked elsewhere. Our staging area was too small that we were given.

more flooding on kandahar

Another picture of the floods on KAF that washed a few vehicle off the road and into each other.

mortar round

Not sure if you can tell, but the bigger image may be easier to see. In the middle of the road is small pothole. It was made by a mortar that landed there. You can see the shrapnel on the concrete barriers in the background. This landed in the road in front of the PX...where I was at the time.

night picture of moon

As I was walking home after my shift one night, I couldn't help but notice what a cool silhouette all the antennas made against the nearly full moon. This is one my favorite pictures I took at KAF (right behind the main image on the military page.

tgi fridays at kandahar

KAF had a TGI Fridays, but I only ate there once. The food is about twice as expensive as here at home. I just wanted to say I ate at a TGI Fridays with my rifle. Little did I know, I'd be doing that with a bunch of my new friends all over Texas when I got back!

chapel on kandahar

This is the plywood chapel where church services are held. Because there is a 24/7 operational cycle, our church had two service per week. Most of the time, I was able to make both services. My time in Afghanistan proved to a huge spiritual boost for me...until the end.

some friends from church

This was taken right after church. The cool thing about this picture is that we're attending church (I'm LDS) in Afghanistan, but attending with me are Australians (middle guy) and Canadians (far right), along with other nations. It was proof that the church is the same no matter where you find yourself in the world.

killer bunnies

There were days where there just wasn't a lot to do. I heard about a game called Killer Bunnies and I ordered all the sets so we could have a way to pass the time. The most dangerous thing in a combat zone for a Soldier isn't necessarily the enemy - it's the boredom. Soldiers do stupid things when they're bored (like make Poo Pond signs). We had a running tally of who won games so we could crown the ultimate winner at the end of the deployment.

killer bunnies patch

I had this patch custom made for the ultimate winner of the Killer Bunnies champion at the end of the deployment. I was kinda bummed that it wasn't me because I thought it was a pretty cool patch. And only one exists in the world!

mrap destroyed

MRAPs have saved many Soldiers' lives. Thankfully, no one was hurt in this IED except the vehicle.

camel

Say "cheese!"

camel

What are you looking at, Infidel?! There were a lot of camels, sheep and alpacas outside our fenceline.

more camels

Grazing on what little grows in the desert. Although, thanks to our Poo Pond, there was a lot of vegetation near our base.

college class photo

While on Kandahar, I had the opportunity to take some college courses through the University of Maryland. This was my class on Business Communications. I actually wrote a really good pitch to the Army on a way to help troops with PTSD that wouldn't cost a dime. No one wanted to listen to me about it. I still have it, though. I got a 100% and it was the most detailed presentation my teacher had seen.

guns in class

I don't know why everyone is freaking out about campus carry. We took fully loaded, select fire rifles to our classes and never had a single issue.

my hooch

This was my little cave while I stayed at Kandahar Resort. I tried to make it my own.


Christmas Photo 2008

no story

No story behind this picture.

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