Saturday, April 30, 2011


FOB HOPPING is the process of getting from point "A" to Point "B" here in Afghanistan by helicopter. It can be both tedious and exciting....most of it depends on what happens along the way.....I've done quite a bit of this while in Afghanistan and it never goes exactly the way you anticipate.

I got tossed around by prop wash one time when I was getting off a helicopter in Herat but that is a different story....

The latest version of this occurred over the last few days...the typical delays occurred - show time was 1500 - then got pushed back to 1900....I waited until evening and then got dropped off at the PAX terminal where you and the others who are lucky enough to be going through this process wait.

Soon we knew this was not going to be a good time because the flight time got pushed back several times from 1900 hrs to 2100 to 2300 and then ultimately until 0130...the whole time you are waiting in a room that has a large TV playing the crappiest programs imaginable (AFN - Armed Forces Network)...the programs are the worst situation comedies, commercials talking about basic military info and other public service announcements. Imagine TV so bad it would cause small animals to go into seizures....yes, it is that bad.

Finally, we get the word that we need to grab our gear and line up for our flight at 0130, flying out at 0215. When we get outside, we line up by location, and mine is the last one they will get to, which means I get to get on first...consequently, we will get to go to all the other locations before we get to our place.....I find out that means we will make 8 other spots....I am not a happy camper.

We get on board take our seats and the two side gunners are there suited up for is at that point that I realize we will be flying through the mountains with the windows open so we can defend ourselves if we get attacked. The air gets pretty cold at altitude and I only have a light jacket on. If you would like to replicate this experience, try tooling down the highway sometime in the winter with both your windows wide open and you'll get an idea on what the next three hours will feel like.....part of the fun is that it took three hours to get from point " A" to "B" on this journey.... Brrrrrrr.

During the course of the trip, we had to refuel, so they ask all of us to get out while they do so.....we step out of the helicopter and walk over to the side of the is pitch black out, there is a very small crescent moon and other than that, the entire world beyond where we are is pitch lights, no walls, no idea of where we are or if there is a base there.....we are in the middle of no man's was creepy as I had no idea if it was a good place to be or not...a few of the soldiers had their weapons ready so I stood by and waited. the refueling was done and we got aboard.

Finally we get to the last place, where I needed to get off. By now, the sun is coming up, the base is there and me and one other guy depart the helicopter. They take off and we call our POC. He comes over and escorts us to the basic qtrs. where we can plot our stuff down. I am exhausted as I had no sleep at all. I get in to the place, and basically try to climb into my rack for a few hours of sleep before the day begins....30 minutes later, the other guys who share the place turn on the lights and start their day...wonderful. I try to get an hour's sleep but it is useless. Tired but now also hungry, I get up and make my way to the showers to see if that will help....just another fun day of " FOB HOPPING" in Afghanistan...

Next time someone tries to tell me about how bad their commute is back home, I will have a story to tell them about what that same process involves over here....FOB Hopping....just another part of the fun and frolics here in Afghanistan. We are glad to have the soldiers and those who keep us safe while we travel in this dangerous place....The guy who said, " Getting there is half the fun.." obviously never participated in FOB Hopping.

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