Archive for October, 2009

We remember

Posted in In country with tags , , , on October 29, 2009 by jetgwot

Soldiers honor fallen hero

FORWARD OPERATING BASE WILSON, Afghanistan – Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment mourned the loss of a fallen Soldier during a memorial service Oct. 29 at Forward Operating Base Wilson.

PFC Devin J. Michel, of Stockton, Ill., died Oct. 24 when enemy forces attacked his platoon with an improvised explosive device. PFC Michel joined the Army in 2008 and deployed to Afghanistan on May 24, 2009. He leaves behind his wife, Anika.

“It is absolutely devastating to lose him to an incident like this after we have begun to make a difference in this critical area of Afghanistan,” said LTC Reik Andersen, 1-12 IN commander. “Our current successes on the field of battle can be squarely set on his shoulders as well as the shoulders of his valiant comrades of 3rd Platoon.”

Soldiers from the 1-12 IN Battalion Charlie Company, 3rd Platoon, remembered PFC Michel for his ability to make you laugh, his calm under fire and his unfaltering work ethic.

“Devin’s positive attitude, unwavering determination and courage are all qualities that he displayed on a daily basis,” said CPT Duke Reim, C-CO commander, as he recalled Michel in a firefight, firing his M4, radio strapped to his back, pausing to call up reports in between magazine changes. “Cool and calm, ‘The Rock,’” he said. “These I think will solidify his legacy among all who knew him. He is the very finest of America’s sons and we will always remember him.” Condolences

Friends of Michel — Soldiers who worked with him everyday — talked about the man they had grown to love.

“Devin Jay Michel was possibly one of the brightest, most courageous, dedicated men I have ever known,” said. PFC Robert Lyons, who talked about Michel giving up a basketball scholarship to instead join the U.S. Army and serve his country. “He was my best friend, my fellow Soldier, but more importantly, he was my brother. I love you Devin.”

SPC Tony Ruiz spoke of Michel as a friend who was always there for him.

“Michel was one of a kind, whose personality spoke for itself to those who knew him,” said Ruiz. “He touched our lives in his own way and became our brother. Until the time comes for us to meet at Heaven’s door, be at peace. Rest easy my brother, for the line has held, your job is done.”

The service ended with a 21-gun salute, taps and a flyover by two OH-58 Kiowa helicopters. Digital pictures of PFC Michel flashed on a screen before the memorial and as music played, hundreds of mourners moved in a long line in front of a set of symbolic remains to pay their last respects.

“Never drafted into war, Devin volunteered, in an America where things were good – no depression – he wanted to serve,” said Reim. “Michel gallantly approached his destiny with the family of C Company. Together, he has given selflessly to a noble cause. May God continue to bless us and guide our actions; and may he comfort Devin’s family in this, their time of need.”

 

This was written by SPC Tony Ruiz for PFC Devin Michel. May it comfort you during this difficult time. Please keep his wife Anika in your prayers.

I’m free

Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free,

I’m following the path God laid for me,

I took his hand when I heard him call,

I turned my back and left it all.

 

I could not stay another day,

To laugh, to love, to work or play,

Tasks left undone must stay that way,

I found that place at the close of day

 

If my parting has left a void,

Then fill it with remembered joy,

A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,

Ah yes, these things, I too will miss.

 

Be not burdened with times of sorrow,

I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow,

My life’s been full, I’ve savored much,

Good friends, good times, a loved one’s touch.

 

Perhaps my time seems all too brief;

Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief,

Lift up your heart and share with me,

God wanted me now – He set me free

The cost of war

Posted in 1 with tags , on October 28, 2009 by jetgwot

Sadly, the battalion has lost another Soldier. On Oct. 24, PFC Devin Michel was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device. PFC Michel served with Charlie Company, 3rd Platoon and was only 19 years old. I had just went out on patrol with PFC Michel and his platoon two days earlier and took quite a few pictures of him during that patrol. I’ve attached a few here. I’ll post more pictures after the memorial service. Please keep his family, friends and fellow Soldiers in your prayers.

E-mail me

Posted in In country with tags , , , , on October 23, 2009 by jetgwot

A lot of you have expressed the interest in high-res photos that you’ve seen on the site. Until I come up with a better solution, go ahead and e-mail me at justin.weaver@afghan.swa.army.mil and list the post title and pictures you would like to have. As soon as I can, I’ll e-mail you the higher quality photos.

As always, feel free to ask the questions I might have forgotten to answer. If you are curious about anything, send those q’s too.

Today the first signs of rain rolled in — clouds. One cloud actually looked a bit threatening for a few minutes before it dissipated. Winter is starting to wave it’s cold hand at us.

Posted in In country on October 22, 2009 by jetgwot
Soldiers on patrol in a village located near FOB Wilson

Soldiers on patrol in a village located near FOB Wilson

An Afghan boy sorts the good from the bad. The raisins were actually pretty good. I was one of the only ones brave enough to try them.
An Afghan boy sorts the good from the bad. The raisins were actually pretty good. I was one of the only ones brave enough to try them.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This boy just couldn't stop smiling. Too cute!

This boy just couldn't stop smiling. Too cute!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A group photo of C-CO 3rd Platoon

A group photo of C-CO 3rd Platoon

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Charlie Company commander, CPT Duke Reim, attempts to jump over a small creek.

Charlie Company commander, CPT Duke Reim, attempts to jump over a small creek.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
An Afghan man talks to the commander from Charlie Company

An Afghan man talks to the commander from Charlie Company

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Greetings everyone. So, it’s been dropping to the low 40s at night now. Bitter cold compared to the 100 plus temperatures we’ve been used to. Everyone is decked in fleeces, hats and sweatpants in the evening. Most of us have good issued cold-weather gear, but if you want to send that hand-knitted sweater to your Soldier, I’m sure he’d enjoy it — he just might not wear it in public.
 
The pictures above are from a patrol with Charlie Company’s 3rd Platoon. It was in a really nice village. The people were very friendly and I got to eat my first Afghan raisins. Don’t question the cleanliness of them. I was sure I’d be sick after the handfuls of them I ate while on that patrol, but my stomach seemed to work them out alright.
 
We’ve been busy here with various patrols/missions. The morale is still low due to basically no connectivity. Phones and MWR computers are still MIA. December is probably when we’ll still see something finally show up. You can tell it’s bothering a lot of Soldiers, who just want to talk to their spouse and kids.
 
I’m trying to get back up to Kandahar for a few days to pick up a few more supplies and movies. They have a nice bazaar there with all kinds of goodies.
 
We were out of water for about two days due to a burst pipe. No showers or anything — good times.
 
That’s about it for now.

Posted in In country on October 13, 2009 by jetgwot

Battalion panoramic shot

 

 

 

A nice panoramic shot of the Battalion during an award’s ceremony several days ago. Below, half of the hockey rink being built. I took some finished shots today and will try and post them tomorrow. Guys have already been spending hours playing out there.

DSC_0091

If you don’t ask, the answer is always no

Posted in 1 on October 13, 2009 by jetgwot

So most of you know that I grew up in Kenya, East Africa. My parents are missionaries and my dad has lived there most of his life. Well, growing up in a third world country you learn if you don’t ask, the answer is always no. So, I’m asking:

Once I return from deployment, I’m planning a trip back to Kenya for me, my wife and my two kids, Gavin and Ava.  Do any of you know a good travel agency, internet site or have any frequent flyer miles they may not be using during the mid-January timeframe. I’m stationed in Aviano, Italy, so the trip would go from Milan to Nairobi and back.

Thanks for any info you might be able to lend my way. Oh, I could probably throw in an Ostrich egg, Maasai carving or spear to anyone that helps!~ 🙂

Greetings everyone

Posted in In country on October 12, 2009 by jetgwot

Alright, here is some new news. First off, while they (the battalion) are trying to get MWR computers, I don’t see it happening until at least December. Until then, I hope your Soldier knows someone who has access to a work computer to use.

Phones: Right now, despite great improvements in technology, we are having bandwidth problems. Because of this, MWR phones are not projected for another month or so. So, while it is in the works, you are still out of luck unless your Soldiers don’t mind waiting hours to use the two Canadian computers open to us temporarily.

Onto other things … The FOB has been expanded to accomodate the majority of the Battalion. Charlie Company is living in what they like to call the “Concentration camp.” Big white tents with no AC currently. The upside is that the high is only about 80 right now, so it’s bearable. The gym has been moved to a concrete slab and is mostly enclosed by tents, which keeps most of the dust out. The downside — the fly infestation. For whatever reason, over the past week, the flies have multiplied by the thousands. Hopefully the cold will kill them off.

!!!!!!!!!!!!Hockey!!!!!!!!!!!!!Soccer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Basketball!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s the little things that cheer us up here. Tomorrow I promise to post pictures, but we are almost finished with a hockey/soccer rink, and the basketball nets are being put up just next to the gym. This will be huge for the sports fans here. If you know of anyone that would like to donate basketballs, jerseys, hockey gear, soccer gear or misc sports equipment, reply to this post and I’ll e-mail you privately. For any donations, we’d like to spray paint their logo on the court or arena and take pictures to send back.  These courts being built are going to be a much-needed morale boost for the FOB.

CHOW: So, tomorrow is the dreaded Starvation Tuesdays, but I think they’ve ironed out the kinks. I guess the Canadians have a contract until December that only allows them to cook a certain amount of meals. B/c of that, Tuesdays are a no-go. Well, breakfast is usually passable, toast, cereal, pop tarts etc. Lunch is finally going to be MREs, soup and whatever left-overs they might have. A big change from before. Dinner should be great — Steaks and hamburgers will be given to each company to cook up for their Soldiers. So, while it’s not ideal, it’s livable.

So, things are slowly getting better. I think some things could be done quicker, but in time, it will be night and day difference. Any donations of equipment would be a huge morale booster. Feel free to contact local sports teams, sports stores or professional leagues to see if they would consider donating old jerseys to some gung-ho sports players overseas.

Take care and talk to you soon!