Southpark Survivor Chapter Four: Homeward Bound

Final Chapter.

Previously: Part OnePart TwoPart Three

Ed. Note: Again, Most of the photos are ‘clickable”

1423hrs: Southpark DFAC

It was a long and winding road which led me home. As I was trudging along, sweating my ass off, I kept reminding myself of the New Yorker’s directions given to someone looking to get to Texas from NYC: “Head west until you smell shit. That’s Oklahoma. Go south until you step in it. That’s Texas.”

Bosnia Lovers

Bosnia Lovers

I found my way back to Southpark in similar fashion: Followed my nose to the ‘Poo Pond’; took a left—ran right into Southpark. Easy as pie. Poo Pie. As soon as I got back and kicked yet another Gomer outta my rack (What’s wrong with these people?), I went to Flight Ops to see if I could fly the hell outta here tomorrow. I’ll tell you what they told me: “We’ll have to get back to you on that.”

1738hrs: Sitting on my Rack

Shoo’d the Gomes off… again. I sent you an email few minutes ago, telling you my show-time is 0100hrs for my flight back to Dwyer. It believe it’s a Helo this time. They are slower, but it’s a short trip. Saturday, I could have walked here and gotten to the CAC office same day before they closed. The computers here have been acting stupid today, so I don’t know if you got my recent posts. Only thing left for me to do is update my time sheet at 1900hrs and eat supper. I stole a sleeping bag from the Billeting laundry box last night so I wouldn’t freeze (The A/C works really good in this tent starting around midnight). Problem is, not getting to really sleep much. I must confess something: I really like a routine. I do much better when I have a routine. You probably would never have guessed that about me. Hopefully Mike will not still be there tomorrow, but I had no email from Shannon, so I suspect he remains. Shannon surely would have told me if he finally did leave. I would hope so anyway.

 

1915hrs: Sitting on my rack

Supper was yummy. Roast pork and a chicken breast. Southpark’s population seems to have doubled today. Trying to find a spot to sit in the smoking arena is an exercise in futility. Time for me to leave obviously

What a Dump

What a Dump

I am really exhausted now. Tomorrow will be another Long Day, but at least at the end of it I’ll be back in my own bed and in my own hooch. “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” I’m sad right now a little bit ‘cause I have not heard from you. Hopefully a bit later before I depart for the flight line and most likely another long wait to get on yet another bird… I hope they fed the hamsters this time: “Helicopter Hamsters.” Sounds like a song: ‘Muskrat Love…’ (Lance, you need sleep Son)

2020hrs: DFAC

Tried to sleep. Failed. Ideas of what to show you and do with you and to you in Dubai race around in my head and look for a place to rest.

31 July Tuesday 0021hrs: DFAC – Strong coffee

Taster’s Choice instant. ‘twill serve. Just got off the computer a few minutes ago and had several emails from you. Happy Now. Some dude was very vociferous about some folks taking more than their allotted ten minutes (I’m not guilty of that. Not Much). Anyway, I had to go. Got a couple hours of death-like sleep until a Billeting Gome woke me up (very politely) tapping me on the shoulder, making sure I knew I was scheduled to fly. I assured him that “Yeah Baby! I’m flying outta here.” My alarm was about to go off, but I’m glad he woke me up just in case it didn’t. They have the Olympics on TV now here in the DFAC. I had forgotten about them and I suppose they are well underway by now. I do hope Texas brings home a lot of gold this time! Gotta go and grab my ‘kit’. See? I can speak Brit. Heading to the rally point. Rally Ho!

0315hrs: PAX Terminal KAF

Been successfully herded from Southpark.

0348hrs: Taxi Runway

Didn’t even have time to finish my coffee. Gryphon Airlines exhibited uncharacteristic efficiency today. I did manage to wolf down part of an MRE I had rat-fucked on the 28th. Not on a helo—thought I would be. A/C on this bird no better than the last one. Waiting to take off… Plane is full and we have two stops before Dwyer. Hopefully I’ll be home in time for DFAC breakfast, but not likely. Oh, plane holds about forty-six in case you’re wondering.

0404hrs: Airborne! Escape Velocity Breached! “Once more unto the Breach!”

On our way! Yippee Ki Aye! Captain is female, Michelle. I love her already.

0519hrs: FOB Shindan

Sitting here in Beautiful Shindan. Well, just sittin’ on the plane which is sittin’ on the tarmac in Beautiful Shindan. I have never been to Shindan, so I have no emotions one way or another about Shindan, but apparently I like writing the word ‘Shindan.’ It is just before sunrise here and this time tomorrow I should be back in MY Gym on MY FOB. But for now, next stop FOB Ferah. Shindan Gomes are boarding now… While they are settling in, I’d like to tell you more about this airplane. As I said, she seats around forty-six. I am semi-comfortably ensconced in a window seat, seated near-the-rear of this DHC-8-300, aka: ‘Dash Eight’ and we just dashed from KAF to here at twenty-thousand feet and I must assume at about 250 mph, but I’d have to verify that with Michelle, or her hamsters. This is a Four-Hamster plane: two hamsters per propeller which is in accordance with FAA, ‘Fuckin Afghan Aviation’ regulations. Our Flight Attendant, Gail, is going through her spiel again (poorly) and has informed us that “No one would like to hear the smoke alarm going off (ya think?), so please don’t smoke Schmuck.” I added the “Schmuck” because I am in charge of this letter and it made me happy to do so. Well, the hamsters are warming up their little legs, so I reckon, we’ll be departing presently. And in fact we ARE! I love my Life!

Airborne now and I see the sun just peeking over a mountain—very romantic. Why does Shindan get to have mountains and Dwyer does not? Shindan looks like Aspen on a bad day, and Dwyer looks like Lubbock on any day.

0613hrs: FOB Farah

Gotta get off here briefly. The hamsters will be taking on Hamster Fuel, probably corn, or corn nuts, or whatever it is that fuels hamsters.

0629hrs: FOB Farah

I love this FOB! Well, what little I have seen of it anyway. It is tiny and nestled in some really cool-looking mountains. As we were landing I was watching for the asphalt runway to appear. It didn’t. We landed on a dirt strip. How cool is that? Not my first dirt strip landing but it caught me off guard.

AMLOs in the fight

FOB Farah

When I first got to Afghanistan, I was hoping to be sent to a small remote FOB such as this, alas, I’ve been stuck at Dwyer for a year. Now that the hamsters have refueled and I’ve had a taste of my ‘Dream FOB’ nothing left to do but head back to Dwyer, which should begin in a minute or two.

0655hrs: Airborne Again

Gail told us we have thirty-five minutes to Dwyer and I believe her. Shouldn’t get over twelve thousand feet altitude, “And once again, this is a non-smoking flight.”

“Thank you Gail. It’s been at least thirty minutes since I heard that.”

0730hrs: Home

This concludes our Special Broadcast and we now return you to your regularly scheduled emails, already in progress. It’s good to be home.

Dwyer_billet1

Shannon & Lance

Shannon & Lance

My Lucy

My Lucy

Three Day Southpark Survivor Chapter Two

Southpark: Day The First

For those who may not have read Chapter One or Letter From a Southpark Jail,  This is a transcribed letter/email sent to my Girlfriend from Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Ed Note: Most of the photos are ‘clickable’

1820hrs: Southpark

Checked into Southpark and got me a bottom rack—With a Lockable Locker!

My Rack

My Bottom Rack (with I-Pad)

First time that has ever happened! Bad news is now it is too late to get to the CAC badging office and they are closed on Sundays. Therefore, I waste a day here. But at least I have you now (don’t I?) and can occupy my time with thoughts of us in Dubai in a few short weeks. And just in case I take a pause from that lovely daydream, I have fetched along Ishmael, Captain Ahab, and Moby Dick to keep me company: just a little light reading.

Sunday 29 July 0830hrs: Southpark Smoking Area

Sitting outside in the smoking area surrounded by Bosnians all on one table, Indians on another, Filipinos at yet another, a few Americans strategically placed, and on and on. Oh, and some Brits, also strategically placed. The Gomers have a ‘work detail’ list. They are dreaming if they broach this subject to me. I am Forced to Be Here; that is all they will receive from me: My illustrious presence and my promise not to kill anyone while here. Every morning at muster, we are forced to sign in on the Sign in Sheet. Lest we forget, there are signs everywhere to remind us:

“If You Do Not Make Muster and Sign In You Will Not Be Paid. And Furthermore: Not Making Muster Will Result In Disciplinary Action Up To And Including Termination (And An Ass Rendering Administered By Conan Our Resident Barbarian) Thank You for Complying and have a nice day…yada yada yada.

Don't Lose Your Head over SP

Don’t Lose Your Head over SP

I found DynCorp to be a little too subtle for my taste. I always like to know exactly where I stand with a company I am helping to fleece the Government on the backs of low-paid TCN’s. (OK, I promised I would not ‘dis’ DynCorp. Overmuch.)

0859hrs: Southpark DFAC (Dining Facility) Tent

Sitting in the Southpark DFAC, such as it is, having some coffee, such as that is. AFN (Armed Forces Network) is on the TV. Yes, there is a television (another first). This is all we ever see over here (was the same in most parts of Iraq, but when I was in Basra, I could watch Al Jazeera—in English–but that probably wasn’t looked upon too kindly) and actually, it ain’t bad. They pretty much broadcast the same shit one gets back in The States: CNN, Fox, ESPN, lousy movies, Andy Griffith, etc. The only way to know you are watching AFN, in fact, is by the ‘Commercials’: All PSA’s detailing how U.S. Service Personnel are expected to comport themselves and various other things mil-centric. Some of these “Made in the U.S. DOD commercials” are quite professional and slick as Baby Shit, while others are so bad as to be hysterical. I love watching the bad ones–the ones that look like High School Plays.

1015hrs: DFAC

More coffee. Regarding last night’s rocket attack: (Guess I neglected to mention that) My Dear, this is just routine for KAF. As far as I know, it has been at least two months since the Taliban Assholes have actually hit anything or injured anyone. In other words, they usually can’t hit shit.

Point being, please do not worry about THAT. (I just caught myself looking for the “Save” button on this steno pad. I must be losing my mind.)

1127hrs: DFAC

DFAC

DFAC

Just returned from PX Mission: Mission accomplished. No apparent casualties.

1134hrs: Picnic Area

Got kicked out of the DFAC so ‘they’ could clean it before lunch time (1230hrs). Purchased an alarm clock at the PX since I have to get up at 0345hrs tomorrow to go to the CAC badging office and I forgot to bring my Dwyer alarm clock with me. “Hell Lance! It’s only money.” I now have three alarm clocks plus my watch. “As God as my witness, I’ll never be late again!”

Picnic Area

‘Picnic’ Area

Ran into an acquaintance from Dwyer. His name escapes me, but he told me Dwyer was slated for closure in December. Hmmmm…. I may be out of a job soon. Maybe they did cancel Christmas after all.

1255hrs: Sitting on my rack…

…After I came ‘home’ and discovered two Gomers with their butts parked on same. They removed/relocated their butts as soon as I pointed out to them that I was not (in this case) a very nice person. In case you missed it, I am never a very nice person while I am stuck in Southpark. But then, I am not alone in this. Lunch, or as we call it in the Texas, ‘Dinner’, was eat-able. I had the chicken, as the other meat offerings were unrecognizable to me. Wasn’t bad actually, the chicken (yard-bird?) was burned to perfection.

OK, Not My Rack

OK, Not My Rack

While I was on my PX mission, I was also searching for the Gym that someone at Dwyer had assured me was ‘Close to the PX’ – didn’t find it and now it is too bloody hot to go on another reconnaissance mission.  If you’re wondering how I am able to move freely about, sans escort, it is because ‘they’ changed the rules once again. This time for the better: A First in all my previous Southpark experiences. Now, those in possession of a valid CAC card are no longer restricted in their movements, bowel or otherwise. Praise Be to The Great White Cat of the River Nile.

1313hrs: Sirens Again! Then the BIG VOICE:

*ROCKET ATTACK! ROCKET ATTACK! TAKE COVER! TAKE COVER!*

(Don’t these people ever give up?) Be right back.

1315hrs: Still sitting on my rack

ALL CLEAR! ALL CLEAR! Glad I didn’t get up. Probably a false alarm. How do they expect me to get distressed when the BIG VOICE is female with a soothing British accent?

1405hrs: Sitting on my rack

Waiting on the Gomers to finish cleaning the DFAC Tent so I can get another coffee. I seem to drink heavily when I am on-board (bored) Southpark.

Oh, I forgot to tell you… After I kicked the two Gomes off’n my rack, I asked one of them to take my photo (action shot of me writing to you) Look for it amongst the attachments. It will be the one what says, “Bad Mutha-Fuckah.”

???????????????????????????????

1435hrs: DFAC

I suppose it is time to explain why I use the term ‘Gomer’ when referring to TCN’s (and everyone else On Staff, for that matter). During my Iraq days, I had a good friend (Rick) who referred to the Iraqis as ‘Gomers’. Not sure how he arrived at that, but it seemed to fit at the time. Gomer, Gomer Pyle or Get Out of My Emergency Room (Really. Google it.) Anyway, the moniker took hold–took hold so well that all in our clique began using it to refer to all ‘others’. And let me further say it actually became, over time, somewhat of a term of endearment.

Gomer 1 and Gomette 2 Amman Jordan '07

Gomer 1 and Gomette 2 Amman Jordan ’07

We started calling each other ‘Gomer’. Since there were several of us, now all Gomers, things could get confusing. To prevent miscommunication, we labeled each other ‘Gomer 1’, ‘Gomer 2’, ‘Gomer 3’, and so on. I was, of course, ‘Gomer 1’ (and I can prove that, as I have documentation—and it was a high honor.) There were never more than four Original Gomers, or ‘Gomes’ for short, but we did have one ‘Alternate Gomer’, just in case one of the Founding Gomers got taken out by an Iraqi Gomer with a lucky mortar shot.

2002hrs: My Rack

Was wonderful to discover several emails from you earlier. Unfortunately it took forever to load Gmail and by the time I had finished reading them I had no time left to respond, as it was time for everyone to start entering their hours on the electronic time sheets. We must do this every day and management has no sense of humor if we don’t. (Up to and including termination…)  Supper tonight was turkey, which tasted very much like the chicken I had for lunch. Available also was some roast beast, but I had to take a pass on that. (My sense of self-preservation is quite refined).  I went on Walk-About for about an hour this afternoon, but of course it wasn’t the same as I don’t have my ankle weights with me. I’m proud of me for making the effort, at least.

2029hrs DFAC

Coffee. Hell, why not coffee? I probably won’t sleep much tonight anyway and I have to get up at 0345hrs anyhow. Ran into the aforementioned buddy again (still cannot recall his name), not that it matters. Well, he told me where the gym was and it is NOT where some other buddy back at Dwyer had told me. If fact, it is about as far removed from THAT location as is possible. If I am not too whacked out tomorrow after the CAC Badging office, I will check it out and report my findings to you. If all goes well tomorrow, then tomorrow will be my last full day here until I come through on my way to Dubai. I had an email from Shannon today, saying that Mike was still hanging on. Christ! Firing that jerk is proving more involved than impeaching Clinton (or Nixon). I was hoping he’d be gone when I got back, but now I’m not so sure. This DFAC tent is actually pretty squared away, now that I am really studying it. It is small, yes, but the Gomes keep it clean and tidy. Not really an easy task, given the scores of people who use it at all hours. I never leave a mess when I depart. I am good that way and am famous for cleaning my own hotel rooms before checking out. Does that make me weird? Don’t worry though; I’m not anal about it. One thing that strikes me funny about this DFAC tent is that there are three smoke detectors (that I can see from where I am sitting) that are all clumped together in relatively the same area—about six feet apart. Logic would seem to dictate that they be spread out a bit, but what the hell, right?

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Chapter Three Here

Comments, as always, much appreciated.