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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Life Is Cheap Over Here

All of our trainees have a sad story to tell. When I first arrived, I couldn't believe the number of funerals they were attending. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has lost a relative to the war. The odd thing is that they go about their business the next day as if nothing had happened. I guess I would be desensitized to it as well if I had experienced as much death and destruction as they have. It really makes you appreciate the stable life we have in the West. I imagine the fight is worth it just to preserve that.

15 days to go!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Afghanistan (2)

Finally, I got to be proactive and see some action instead of just waiting for the rockets to drop on my head. A friend and I assaulted this MI-24 and took some pictures. Actually, this wasn't too hard to do since it had been shot down years before!! Anyway, these pictures are of me getting some much needed rest on the way out. The other two are of me with body armor and weapon standing by our trophy. Will add some more pictures in my next posting.

Russ

http://picasaweb.google.com/mccoy4984/Afghanistan2

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Note on the Ads

Some of the ads popping up on my site recently have had questionable content in them. In my defence, I do not choose these ads. Google randomly assigns them based on keywords in my postings. So, for example, if I write about Thailand, something pertaining to 'Asian Brides' may pop up. I just wanted everyone to know this!!

'Taliban Tim'

Do you remember the episode of M.A.S.H where a North Korean pilot named 'Five O'Clock Charlie' dropped bombs in the area every day at 5 o'clock? Although he never hit anything, he still created a lot of havoc for the members of the 4077th because they had to stop what they were doing every time he appeared. Well, we have our version of this in a person we have dubbed 'Taliban Tim.' He interrupts our sleep every Thursday night/Friday morning with his rockets that never come close to hitting anything. I can't wait to get back to the world where I don't have to worry about being called on alert. Geez! I'm seeing more action now than when I was in the Army proper!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

They Strike Again!

Let me tell you, there is no worse feeling than being asleep for an hour and then hearing there's been another rocket attack. You have to get up, put on your gear, and then hustle down to the bunker. I really don't see the point of rushing though. The rockets have already hit wherever they were aimed and it takes another 10-15 minutes to send out the alarm. Also, whoever launched them knows that for every additonal one they fire, there's a better chance of them being located and targeted. It's senseless for us to run for cover after the fact.

Anyway, I'm starting to get the feeling the enemy is becoming more active. This is the second attack on our location in one week whereas, there were none my first two months here. Oh well, I'll be out of here soon.

Thailand '97

Here are a few pictures of a traditional village outside Bangkok taken in '97. I eventually returned to Bangkok in '01 and worked there for a year. It was a nice respite after Saudi Arabia.

The pictures include traditional dance, Muay Thai boxing, and a temple.

Enjoy!

http://picasaweb.google.com/mccoy4984/Thailand97

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I had a dream!

The other morning, I was in a deep sleep dreaming about being in a room. In the dream, I imagined someone knocking on the door violently. The knocking kept getting louder and louder until I woke up shaking. Later, I found out that a massive explosion had occured at 0330 about a kilometer away. It seems that the Taliban are on the offensive again. I've heard travel is extremely hazardous south, east, and west of the city. 24 days to go!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Afghan Independence Day!

Lo and behold, we finally have a day off! Today is Afghan Independence day. You're probably wondering, independence from whom? Well, from the British although I think the holiday would be equally applicable to the Russians, Taliban, and probably Americans in the future. Anyway, it's good to have a day off in the middle of the week.

I'm also looking forward to the month of Ramadan. I experienced this several times in Saudi Arabia but I think it will be less stringent here. We'll probably be working half-days because the Afghans are fasting and can't endure work for the whole day. I'll miss the Eid (festival) unfortunately because I won't be here at that time.

Speaking of which, I began packing a storage trunk today for shipping ahead of my departure. That was very cathartic. I expect to depart Afghanistan around mid-September. It's been a long haul but I can see the end in sight.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Italy (1986)

Here are some photos from Italy in 1986. The first group are of the area around Hadrian's villa. The second includes a shot of one of the canals in Venice and the Pope giving his papal address on Easter Sunday. The final group shows the Forum area in Rome. Looking forward to my next trip there.

http://picasaweb.google.com/mccoy4984/Italy1986

Rocket Attack!

We had a little bit of excitement this morning. At about 5am, alarms went off and we had to deploy to the bunkers. Apparently, three rockets had been fired into our compound. We had had a practice alert before but this was the real thing. I was surprised at how calm both myself and the others were. I guess that comes from fearing death from boredom rather than rockets.

28 days to go!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Perception of the Russians

One thing that really surprised me when I first came to Afghanistan was how many of my colleagues viewed the Soviet occupation as a sort of 'golden age' for them and their country. I had always believed the Afghan people had suffered so much under the Russians and could not wait for them to leave and/or be driven out. Of course, this was true to some extent but not everyone felt this way. To my surprise, many Afghans had studied in Moscow and even met their wives there. Essentially, they view the Russians in a similar way to how they view the US, a foreign entity trying to help their country improve but also making some egregious errors. It's very intriguing for me to hear this perspective as my preconceived notions so clearly differed.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Athens, Greece (1985)

This is a blast from the past! Here are some pictures from Athens, Greece 1985. My best friend in the military was Greek-American and invited me down to Athens for a visit. I fell in love with the place and lived there for a while before I returned to the US after my military service. I think my experience was much different than most tourists because I was able to meet 'real' people rather than those working in the tourist traps.

Anyway, these pictures were taken during the Christmas season of '85.

#1 My friend's relatives showing me around the Acropolis and the theater below.
#2 A picture of the Parthenon and Christmas Eve in the Kato Patisia neighborhood of Athens.
#3 Christmas day with more relatives and an imitation of Zorba the Greek!

The quality of these pictures is not good obviously. This was before the day of digital cameras.

http://picasaweb.google.com/mccoy4984/AthensGreece1985

Travelogue Slovakia (15) Roznava

I'm running out of pictures of Slovakia which means I need to take another trip there asap! Actually, I think I have some more but they're at home while I'm here in Afghanistan. Anyway, here are three pictures of a castle and the area near Roznava, Slovakia. As a bonus, I'm going to include some old pictures from Athens in the mid-80's in the post above this one.

http://picasaweb.google.com/mccoy4984/TravelogueSlovakia15Roznava

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Not Much Longer Now

I received word the other day that I will be departing Afghanistan on or about 12 September. I really can't wait and have been recently thinking of all the things I can do that I used to take for granted. The first thing I want to do is take a long, hot shower. Then, I want to take a drive not having to worry about IEDs or other assorted dangers. Finally, I look forward to an uninterrupted night of sleep with no roommate snoring in the bed next to me. I will appreciate life to the fullest!

37 days to go!