Saying goodbye

April 18, 2009

Today I said goodbye to my wife of six and a half years, my four-year-old son and my two-year-old daughter. I’m heading to Fort Dix, New Jersey for a month-long Combat Skills training with the Army — should be fun. And, by fun, I mean, “I joined the Air Force, not the Army. What the heck am I doing training with them?”

Let’s back up. Three weeks ago I received a tasking to deploy to a small forward operating base in Southern Afghanistan. I’m a photojournalist in the Air Force, but for this deployment I’ll be embedded with the Army. I don’t mind the Army, they seem like a good bunch, it’s just not what I signed up for. But then again, surging thousands of troops to Afghanistan requires some kind of joint flexibility.

Flashback to today. I’ve been sitting in the terminal for more than eight hours with about 30 anxious passengers and 100 plus deployed folks coming back from the desert, eager to get stateside. What’s the delay? Well, apparently the best air power in the world can’t figure out how to get us from one country to the next. In their defense, the plane is contracted out and it appears to be a maintenance problem. As much as the delay bothers me, I’d rather be on the ground alive then with my fingers crossed flying.

With that being said, it’s 7:30 p.m. and they are sending us home for the night. Looks like they’ll be flying a new plane in tomorrow to try this again.

The journey begins … painfully slow.


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