Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Another Update

Well, it has been a little while since I wrote anything that was worth reading. Now I am going to see if I can keep your attention for a little while.

Tomorrow is Courtney’s birthday and she will be six. SIX!!! My little girl is six. Where in the hell did time go? Oh wait…that’s right…I spent a year of that in Afghanistan and now another one. Being a father and in the military is not easy. You miss a lot and it hurts at times. Oh and she is graduating Kindergarten today as well. I am so proud of her and wish her mom would answer the phone for once so I could tell her. It drives me crazy.

Life here isn’t too bad. I have been doing the best I can, but of course I keep screwing up. It is little stuff that is adding up. OK, one was very important. But I fixed it. My room is pretty crappy. It is not as nice as Bagram but the only thing I do there is sleep. The rest of the day I am in the office. Hopefully it will get better. Oh and I get my first day off is tomorrow as well. I was not expecting one, but I got one. I plan on running a lot and getting caught up on some sleep. I am really starting to feel it now and when I get tired, it is not good. Mom says I get grouchy, but in this environment, it is different.

Mom and dad are doing good. It is weird for me to be gone like this and Jeremy at home. Last time we were gone together. He just better not leave when I get home. I will kick his ass!!

We are starting our R&R in Jul and I hope that I do not get stuck going so early. Mainly because I have not saved for a bike yet and I have been dropping all my money on bills and not ready to go on leave. It was not be too much fun to get stuck this early either. Only time will tell.

People ask about life here. Well, we have the biggest and nastiest beehives I have ever seen in my life right outside our door. There is also a small garden out here too. Not much, but enough to drive the sinuses insane. The heat…oh man the heat…its crazy. At 9am today it was 97 and the high was 107. Pretty sure it was well past that today. The food is not that bad but the Afghan Kitchen is pretty good. For $2 you get a lot of food and it is good. I ate it once, but I want to eat it more. With it being cash only here, I have to conserve my cash. We have no ATM or “Eagle Cash Card” systems here. Finance comes once a month and we can get cash then. The outgoing mail is only once a month as well. We do get mail every day but Wed though. Overall, I would rather be here than Bagram. Like I said it is not too bad here. The hardest part is getting used to the air here. I am trying really hard to get a PT Test score though. I need it so that I can get ready for the board and hopefully get promoted. I am trying to get to SSG before Jeremy does, but I doubt that will happen.

Once I get the PT test done, I will be able to start planning my reenlistment. I am not sure how long for this time, but my plans are another 16 years on Active Duty. I want that retirement. I am praying a lot about how to reenlist. I can choose to stay at Fort Campbell, choose a reclass into another job and hope I get Fort Campbell again, pick a location (out of the question because I want to stay at Fort Campbell for now). If I take the chance of reclassing, I would not know where I am going until I finish the school. The job I want, with computers, is about 6-8 months long at Fort Gordon, GA. The Army will send me where they need me. If that happens, I will have to put my house up for sale and not sure how that would turn out. So many things to decide on. I wish this decision was easier.

Oh, I cannot forget the mosquitos here. Holy crap are they bad. I have never seen like it before. We are required to take malaria pills here because risk is so high. The last unit that was here had 3 cases. One was actually taking the medication.

I typed this up on the computer at work and emailed it to myself so that I could copy and paste onto the blog quickly when I got a chance. Well, I have plenty of time and I added to some things.

Well, I am calling it a night and headed off to my room. God Bless you all and thank you for the support.

SGT John Strader

PS: Not sure if I posted my address or not, but here it is:

John Strader
APO AE 09310

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Find me on Facebook. I am sorry the posts are limited on here, but I don't have time to get on here. I will work on an update soon. It is VERY hot here and the local food is pretty good too.

SGT John Strader

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Short and Sweet

Well, nothing sweet about it. We are in a HOT dry climate that is killing us. Not literally....yet. I ran about 2.5 miles this morning and thought I was gonna die because I pushed it too hard and ended up puking all over my self and almost my soldiers. It was rough one this morning.

I am writing to tell you and I am finally in a long term spot and can start receiving mail. I will give you my address and a few things we know we need. We do not have a PX to speak of and rely on a convoy to take us down the road or a heli flight to another FOB. The PX we do have is only open for 2 hours a day. I have yet to make it in there to see what they have. I have no desire actually at this point. I am pretty set except for a things. I already made one trip to FOB Fenty to take care of a few things and pick a little bit of stuff I needed.

I will make a short list of things we could use. I could put the things I want, but will wait for Christmas on those things.

John Strader
FOB Finley-Shields
APO AE 09310

Here are some things we could use:

clorox wipes or something to wipe toilet seats with
pre sweetened or sugar free drink mixes
Tobacco-only if you know some one will donate it. Smokeless is so hard to get it is limited to one can a day when they have it.
small junk food items-beef jerky or nuts or something halfway healthy
Other than that, the normal stuff you send soldiers.

I am sorry this is so short, but I have a chance to catch some sleep and I am going too!!

Thank you again for the support.

Oh and pray that Courtney's mom will answer the phone for once so I can talk to my daughter.

Out here in middle of nowhere.....
SGT John Strader

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Another Deployment, Another Year of Fun

On 26 April another deployment to Afghanistan began. We were supposed to leave on 20Apr, but due to weather, and over things out of our control, we played the game of showing up every morning thinking we were about to leave, until the day arrived that we finally did leave.

Before that wonderful trip to Manas to start the trip, I had to enjoy life to the fullest. A few weeks before departing, I took some leave to lay my grandmother to rest in Akron, OH. She had been sick for quite some time, and it was a matter of time. I went to OH to say my goodbyes in December and then again in Apr for the final goodbye.

After spending my time in OH with family, some that I had not seen in years, I decided I needed a real vacation, something I had not had in several years. Sonya, my roommate, invited me to Destin, FL with her family for a week, and I took her up on the offer. Being my first trip to Destin, I was very impressed and a great time, not to mention that I met Russell from the current and last season of Survivor at a local bar. The beaches were beautiful along with the water being clear. We had some rough seas to begin with, but the last few days it calmed down and was great. It has to the best trip I have ever had to a beach. I cannot wait to do it again. Oh and of course I went deep sea fishing where we caught some Amber Jack. Talk about some good eating fish!! I also hunted sea shells for two, trying to some to impress Courtney, and boy did I!!

Speaking of Courtney, my last week that I was home, I got to spend it with Courtney. I did have to work a little while she was there, but it was still great to spend so much time with her before leaving for so long. After talking to her teacher, it seems that going to the parks on post were the highlight for her and the most fun. That over the zoo and going horse back riding. It was great getting to see so many smiles on her face for a week. I was also blessed with mom, dad, and Jeremy and his new fiancé, Leslie coming for a visit. Courtney was glad to have them there as well. She rode back home with Jeremy and Leslie and I was told that she was a perfect angel. Well, its hard to be bad when you are sleeping the whole way. That week was over way to fast and there were so many more things to do. Hopefully when I get home I will be able to make up some of that time, granted that Christina grows a heart and is willing to let me see her.

Well, on to the trip here. We left Fort Campbell, and of course there were going to be stops on the way. The first stop was in Shannon, Ireland, where we were delayed for 6 hours. That was a lot of fun. Sitting around with nothing to do. We had the terminal to roam around in, but there was still not that much to do. After we finally left there, the next stop was in Romania. That was good place to stop. I have never seen so many gorgeous women in one place. That country is blessed with beauty. Of course we were delayed again. We sat in a very small terminal for about 5 hours this time. After that, we were finally on our way again to Mana, Kyrgyzstan.

We arrived in Manas on 27Apr. The stay in Manas was better than my previous two times. Mainly because we were not stuck in the huge tents and put in small ones, but we will pay for that later.

After a few days of Manas, were on our way to Bagram, Afghanistan. Once we arrived in Bagram, we got the payback for having nice accommodations in Manas and stuck in a huge overflow tent. The rest of unit left within a few days, I was there for over a week until I got a B hut last night and finally moved into my current room. Now I just have to get it set up like I want it.

I have been very busy since I got here receiving soldiers from my battalion and sending them on to their final locations. There have been several 24 hour days so far and many more to come. Last night was one and I was lucky that I got about 3 hours of sleep this morning. Now I have to get settled in and start working out and getting back in shape.

I know that this all short and sweet, but I had a lot to cover. I don’t want to bore everyone to death yet with details. Mom mentioned that I really needed to get on posting and she is right. Hopefully I will find out in a week or so if I staying here or if I am moving on to another FOB. When I know, I will pass it on.

Thanks to everyone for the support!!

SGT John Strader