Saturday, September 11, 2010

Another Day in Afghanistan

I know that it is weird that I went so long without a post and now there are two in one week. Well, I am back to speak my mind.

First thing I want to talk about is the Pastor from Florida. I cannot believe that he was considering burning Qurans after knowing that doing so was going to put so many of us over here in danger. I am glad that he changed his mind, for whatever reason. There is one thing that I heard him say yesterday though that I have to agree with. Americans and Christians do not go killing people because they burn a bible or a US flag. I am not sure if that shows our lack of dedication, or we are more civilized. I will say that over all, I agree that Muslims are a peaceful people and that a handful of people ruin it for all the others. I know that as Americans it is hard to remember that after so many things negative have happened that were done in the name of Allah. I have worked with, and sat for hours and talked to Muslims. One that our ANA (Afghan National Army) counterpart stressed to me was that Muslims are peaceful people and it is a small number of people that are ruining it for the rest of them. We as Americans know how that is when it comes to racism and other sterotypes that we experience in our culture. For example, there are people that think that Soldiers are alcholic womanizers and are no good when it comes to relationships. I will not even go into the sterotyping of African-Americans. That would could get me yelled at or in trouble. We all have an opinion and are entitled to it, but we have to remember that all people are not bad if they are associated with a certain group or race. The Afghans that I work with and talk to on a daily basis are great people. They are dedicated and hard working. The dedication does not lay with the US though. I talked to a few and hard of others talking to Afghans that admitted that if the burning happens, then they would not know where they would side because they are so dedicated to their religion. Any religion that has people pray multiple times a day and there is nothing that will stop them, is something that I would take serious. I can see both sides, although I am not siding with either. I am siding with the safety of me and my brothers and sisters in the military.

I think that is enough on that for now. I can go on forever on that one. I want to complain about life here now. We had about 350 people on our FOB (Forward Operating Base) until last week. They sent about 80 more to live here for a months until they can move them to another location. That is not the bad part. The bad part is that we have limited number of computers to use and phones to use for MWR. Now, you add 80 more people to an already crowded situation, and it only gets worse. It is doable, but not fun. Now take all those people and add them to the line in the chow hall. It is already bad enough without having to add to that. But the worst, is the showers. We currently have 12 shower stalls on my side of the FOB, which is where about 70% of the people use. 12 shower stalls would work on a normal day, but are down to 6 usable showers. One building with 4 showers in it has been being renivated for over a month now. That means we cannot use it. Then there is the other building that has 4 shower stalls and only 2 work. As of this morning, we are looking at one of the two going down. You would think that some one would really make an effort to fix these issues. I am sure they are, but it is really causing a lot of mad soldiers when they have to wait 20 minutes to get a shower or there are 4 people trying to use one sink. I know this is bitching and I do not have the details, but I am sharing what is going on here.

Lets not forget the fact that we are out of space for people to live on our FOB and now we have to find space for even more Soldiers. The Army decided to send all these extras troops over here, and they have nowhere to but them. The situation in Bagram is even worse. I have heard stories of Soldiers having to find places on the floor to sleep when they are leaving for R&R and returning as well. A Soldier that returned a couple days ago informed me that she slept on the floor for 4 days. They want to up the forces here, but there was not enough planning to make it happen. Bagram has gotten insane. I am glad that I am on such a small FOB and do not have those worries.

I have complained about some things that Soldiers are complaining about all the time, but overall, this has been an easy deployment outside of the drama that I have to deal with in my office. There are some things that I do not agree with and would love to change, but I am not high enough on the totem poll to make that happen. Why make complaints to high command when it will come back down that I complained and then life only gets worse for me hear? I would rather keep my mouth shut, do my job, and hold my head high. There are some things that have happened to help keep my head high, although there are some things to make me hang my head. I do my best to do like my says and not let it show they get to me. I have found ways to vent and also found ways for my Soldiers to vent and it stays with me.

Lets jump to something else before I go on too much about that. Last night about 2am I woke up to my lips tingling and my body feeling very hot, and I was feeling really sick. I got a little worried and went to the JOC to sit so that I was around people in case I got bad or something. I was feeling bad enough that I was worried. I sat there for about 30 minutes and felt better. I went back to bed and woke up about 4am feeling the same way. I sat up in bed and waited until I felt better. I decided not to have them wake a medic to check on me, although now I know that could have been a huge mistake. I was talking to medic and found out that I was having an allergic reaction to the Amoxicillan I was given for a sinus infection. I also found out that it could have been very bad for me. So now I know that I cannot take penicilan for the rest of my life because it could possibly kill me. That is always great news when you are having a great day. I could go on about the way nothing with the convoy right today, but that will be another complaining session on here.

I am glad that there are people that are following the blog and I thank you. I am glad to have such a wonderful family.

I get to talk to Courtney some now and then, but not as much as I would like. I can't wait to get home and see her!!! She means the world to me and I have a year of spoiling to do in a short amount of time in Nov.

Thank you to everyone for the support and God bless you all. And to do not forget what happened 9 years ago today that has but so many of us over here for you!

Thanks again for all the support

SGT John L. Strader


Monday, September 6, 2010

Been A While

I am sorry that so much time has passed since the last update. I am still here in wonderful Afghanistan. There have not been many changes with the exception of several new rules on the FOB. I would go into detail and give my opinion, but you never know who will read this and make things that much harder on me.

Other than the soldiering issues that I had, things are going pretty good. I am staying pretty busy and getting a lot done. Some weird things have happened too. There was a snake in the dining facility a week or so ago. I guess it took quite some time to get the snake, a cobra, out where they could kill it and get rid of it. Of course there are still hundreds, if not more, lizards running around. They are everywhere you look. There is no getting away from them. I cannot tell you how many I have caught in my office. They are on the walls in the dining facility as well. There is a wall that I walk past at night and they are covering the wall. Last night I took the time and counted 25 on a 16 foot long wall and there were many more, to many to count. I said forget it and went on to my room.

The lizards are not the only thing there are plenty of. Mosquitoes of course, but there are these HUGE beetles that are all over as well. It gets worse when it rains, but it is bad all the time. I have never seen a bug that is this big in my life.

I was going to tell you it was boring here, and I still can. It was not there for a week or so ago, it would have been a really boring blog entry. We were directly attacked with small arms fire (guns aimed at us) and a few rockets twice in a week. The first night they hit a guard tower, which has since been rebuilt, and shot at us with machine guns. No one was hurt and the tower had to be rebuilt. That is one reason that I was waiting to write. I did not want to come here and say we have a tower that is destroyed and out defenses are weakened, attack now. That would have been crazy. A couple nights later we were hit with a couple rockets, but no real damage and no one was hurt in that either. That was the first time since this FOB was built in 2006 that it was directly and deliberately attacked. I hope it does not happen again, but I am sure it will with the elections coming up soon. Ramadan is ending soon was well. Ramadan ends and then it is time for the elections. I just with that it would cool off some here. I am over the heat and do not need any more of it.

I am not sure if in the last update I gave on my goal to lose some weight, but I am currently down 25 pounds and I have been for some time. I cannot seem to get the ball rolling to lose the last 25 and reach my goal. But one goal that I am getting closer is getting a Harley. I have been watching online and I am hoping to get a Harley VROD when I am home on leave. I have found a few that I really like on eBay, but I have not pulled the trigger yet. Hopefully it will work out for when I am on leave, speaking of which, will be in early November when I head home. I cannot wait to get home and see my wonderful daughter and get to go deer hunting in WV. Those will be the trip highlights.

Well, I hope this gets some of you up to speed on the events over here. I do have one request. We lost a friend, brother and Soldier a few days ago. This is someone that I knew personally and that makes it a little harder to accept. Please pray for his family that they have the comfort they need.

To all of you out there that support us, thank you and God bless you!!