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Monday, September 29, 2008

Greek Festival

Yesterday, I went with my mother to a Greek Festival at the local Orthodox church. The first surprising thing was there were any Greeks who lived in this part of the US. The second surprise was that they had retained so much of their culture. My mother was primed for the event since she had recently seen the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding!" I was primed because I had lived in Greece for several months and was already familiar with many of the things I saw there. There was traditional dancing, Greek food, etc. but the best part was the church tour. The priest asked us what we first noticed when we entered the church. One person said a lot of lighting and another said a lot of gold coloring. I wanted to say the church was very 'iconic' but decided not to draw any atttention to myself. Fortunately, I refrained from this because the priest went on and on explaining the purpose of all the icons. Had I said what I wanted to, I would have felt I had put him on the defensive. Anyway, I had a great time and it brought back many memories from my time in Athens.

I'll try to post some pictures of the festival when I get back to my computer in Texas.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Off to West Virginia

I'm off to West Virginia to visit my family for a week. I'll try to take some pictures for posting. Please keep checking in.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thailand '97 (2)

Here are some more pictures of my '97 trip to Thailand. I have to resort to pictures taken 11 years ago since I'm currently NOT traveling. I hope to rectify this in the next few months.

Anyway, these pictures include shots of the Burmese railroad, the Bridge over the River Kwai (Remember the movie?), and a cemetery containing prisoners who died building these structures. It was a very informative tour.

http://picasaweb.google.com/mccoy4984/Thailand972#

Monday, September 22, 2008

Trip Recap

It's Monday morning and I'm still a bit jetlagged although I slept well last night. The return trip was tiring but also satisfying in a way. On the flight, there was a certain cameraderie that existed between myself and the military guys because of our shared experience. Everywhere we stopped, people expressed appreciation for what we had done. At the Baltimore airport, people were actually waiting at the exits to applaud us upon our return. It was a good feeling and I imagine very different from that experienced by Vietnam vets. It shows our country has matured in some ways. Or, perhaps those who might protest us were still in their respective opium dens!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Back Home!

Well, I'm in Baltimore and will fly to San Antonio today. It's good to be back. I'll give more details once I get settled in.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Adana, Turkey

I just landed here and am awaiting reboarding for the leg to Ramstein AFB. The trip from Kyrgyzstan took about five hours and went a little slowly even though I slept a lot. Keep reading this blog for updates on my trip home.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Killing Time

I'm still in Kyrgyzstan just killing time. My roommate and I are having sleeping contests, but I think it's a tie. He's from the deep south so I know I can trust him. Anyway, at least he doesn't have arguments with the TV like my roommate in Afghanistan did.

Should be leaving on Saturday morning and arriving in Baltimore Saturday night. I can't wait to get back!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kyrgyzstan

I am now in Kyrgyzstan. I can't say much about the country since I'm not allowed to leave the American Air Force base. Still, I'm enjoying the downtime here since I got very little of it in Afghanistan.

I departed Kabul early Sunday morning on a small prop plane. The flight to Bagram AFB was only about 30 minutes and the scenery below was beautiful. I wish I'd had more of a chance to explore the country. Anyway, I dreaded arrival in Bagram because it was so difficult the first time through. Bagram's terminal is notorious (according to a Major I traveled with) for being the worst in the country, kind've like O'Hara in the US. Sure enough, getting through Bagram proved to be as difficult as before. No one to guide you upon arrival. People giving you answers in an uncertain tone. The worst was when I returned to the terminal for my next flight. We had to file into a room and dump all the contents of our suitcases into bins. Then, MPs inspected the contents item by item. At least the German Shepards were friendly. It took forever and I wonder what with all its money, why the US can't buy one x-ray machine.

To add insult to injury the flight was delayed three hours. But, what can you expect. The military personnel are thrust into positions they haven't been properly trained for and only stay in for a few months so no expertise can really be acquired. I hope that's my last time through that place.

So, I'm flying through the night with my body armor on (I hope it protects me from plane crashes) and pretty exhausted. Finally, I arrive at Manas AFB and civilization. Efficient and professional compared to the reception I received at Bagram. I'll be here for several days and then rotate back to the US. In the meantime, I'm catching up on this site and trying to explore a little.

More in a few days . . .

Friday, September 12, 2008

Almost at the End!

It's 8pm, Friday evening, Afghan time. I will leave early Sunday morning on a flight out of here. I'll spend approximately five days in Kyrgyzstan awaiting my rotator back to the states. I can't believe the end is almost here. I regret I wasn't allowed to see the countryside but not enough to return. The Afghan people are wonderful and this country deserves our help, but it's someone else's turn to provide it. I'm outta here!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Last Day of Work

Today was my last day of work in Afghanistan. Everyone said their goodbyes, some I will miss and some I won't. I will miss the trainees who have the best attitude of any I've ever met. This country is definitely worth saving based on the people I've known here.

We have a meeting on Friday but pretty much nothing to do for the next three days except prepare for departure. I leave Kabul on the 14th.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Eastern Kentucky

I just thought I'd throw some pictures in of the area I grew up in. These are pictures of my father's farm in Eastern Kentucky. He doesn't live on the farm and it's a bit unkempt, but I like it because at least it's green. I haven't seen much green in the last several months!

http://picasaweb.google.com/mccoy4984/EasternKentucky#

Afghanistan (4)

Just a few more pics of aircraft in Afghanistan. I probably won't post much else since I'm leaving in a week and can't get outside the base. I regret that I had absolutely no chance to see the country. However, I think it's a good idea for us to have a presence here because these are great people and they deserve a chance to succeed. I don't know if I can say the same about the Iraqis from what I've heard. Anyway, check out the pictures below.

http://picasaweb.google.com/mccoy4984/Afghanistan4#

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Earthquake!

Not only do I have to deal with occasional rocket attacks, I also have to worry about natural disasters. Around 1015 local time, the building begin to shake and we evacuated immediately. I had experienced a minor earthquake last year in Japan, but this one was very strong. One more week, am I going to make it out of here?

Friday, September 5, 2008

One More Week . . .

. . . and a few days. I begin my last week tomorrow. We plan to work for four days and then begin outprocessing for four more days. After that, I'll catch a few military planes out of here to Kyrghzstan where I'll have several days to kill. I liked Kyrghzstan on the way over so it will be nice to have a few days to look around. I should be back in San Antonio on the 21st.

Goodness! There are so many things I want to do when I get back. The first thing I want to do is enjoy the privacy. It was tough having a roommate in a conex for three months. After that, I'll take a hot shower that lasts more than two minutes. Finally, I'm going to get out and take a long drive. It will be like paradise.

Just a few more days now!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Afghanistan (3)

Here are the last of the pics from the MI-24 sighting. I wish I could have taken more but I was always confined to our base. Check them out and let me know what you think.

http://picasaweb.google.com/mccoy4984/Afghanistan3#