Greetings From Afghanistan "Have a seat"

Greetings From Afghanistan "Have a seat"

A Story by Calwarr


Howdy friends and neighbors! I'm Shawn Kent, and I would like to share for you a series of letters, and emails I sent home from Afghanistan during my deployment there with the US Army. Years ago I spent a fun filled year in sunny southern Baghdad. I noticed that a lot of soldiers were writing home about their manly exploits, that seemed specifically designed to scare the pants off their loved ones. So I decided to throw gritty reality out the window and write a fun, semi-factual series of letters home to keep my family and friends smiling Well, here we go again. This time our destination is Afghanistan, and I'm showing up a few miles from the Pakistan border, a complete stranger to a unit already deployed. Hopefully there will be a lot of action to share with my readers, but not to worry, I can always make something up!

So without further ado, I give you..........

Greetings from Afghanistan, world record holder for most grown men

riding on a motorcycle at the same time who were not performing in a

circus!! (four) I would like to take this time to welcome some of our

newer readers to the GFA Family... um...welcome! All of us here on the

GFA staff (it's just him) would like to extend our personal thanks for

reading, and our sincere apologies for any resulting personality

disorders. (Please insert, your own “staff” and “extend” jokes here, I

will not lower myself.) It seems like only yesterday when greetings

readers were only immediate family, and now we have branched out to

torture members of other families, in the sincere hope that our brand

of insanity will soon conquer the world, saving the sick, robbing the

poor to feed the rich, and striving to highlight the importance of

beer in a responsible society.

The last few days have been highlighted by the conspicuous lack of

people trying to kill me. As I write this, it has been almost three

days since someone has shot, detonated, or lobbed, anything in my

direction. I have chosen to fill this lull in combat with leisure

pursuits, including but not limited to: Guard duty, paper work,

cleaning my weapon, trying to get my soldiers to clean their rooms,

trying to get my soldiers to clean their weapons, moving to a new

room, featuring ...Drum roll!

When the action here grinds down a bit, I find my mind drifting to all

the little things we take for granted at home, things that when you

are deprived of them for any length of time you gain a great

appreciation for, little things that fill the empty places of the

soul, enriching our lives and the lives of those around us. Here I am

referring to clean bathrooms.

Each branch of the military has it's own name for the bathroom. The

Navy and Marines, refer to it as “The Head” apparently this has

something to do with the “bulkhead” of a ship. However they also refer

to bathrooms on land as “the head”, also they call any random piece of

ground “the deck” further convincing me that anyone who spends a

significant amount of time in the Navy is a blithering idiot. The Army

refers to the bathroom as a “latrine” this term is derived from the

French; “La”, meaning “a place”, and “trine”, meaning “to poop in”. I

hear the Air Force also refers to the bathroom as latrine, but who

cares, they are so spoiled they probably have butlers handing out

scented towelettes and gift bags with loufas in theirs.

Here in Afghanistan, specifically COP Penich, going to the latrine,

like going anywhere, here is a dangerous affair for several reasons.

The first reason is that COP Penich is mortared constantly, meaning

you have to weigh the need to poo, against the threat of violent

death. Ha ha! The second reason is the latrine itself. Our latrines

are wooden structures (heavily perforated by shrapnel holes like every

other wooden structure on the base) they are slightly raised off the

ground to form a crawl space for the plumbing, they have a row of

showers and a row of toilets that do not work.

Let me stress here that there have been an endless string of

engineers, plumbers, rocket scientists, nuclear physicists, and one

McGyver out to COP Penich to attempt to get the Latrines and showers

working, all to no avail. Apparently there is a small vortex

surrounding these buildings wherein the laws of physics, and basic

plumbing cease to function. One of theses experts will show up with a

few workers and yards of PVC pipe, sprockets, gromets, golems, hoses,

clamps, blowtorches, and a small but functional proton accelerator.

They will “roll up their sleeves” and “get down to business” using “

elbow grease” and “good old fashioned know how” in order to produce a

finished product that “still does not work”.

So for the soldiers of COP Penich the latrine is like a mirage, you

see the toilets and showers there, glimmering in the distance, but

when you finally reach them, they evaporate leaving a smelly building

with holes in it, water bottles for a shower, a bucket to haul water

in to flush the toilet, and toilets that are really comfortable as

long as you do not sit on them. ( They only occasionally crash through

the plywood floor dropping you into the crawl space, which is a place

so horrible, the rodents and cockroaches steer clear.)

So when people ask this soldier, what he is looking forward to in

returning home, of course family friends, kids, and peace come to

mind. But in the secret places in my heart I long for gleaming

porcelain, a fan, a door to shut, something to read, and a flush when

I'm done.

© 2011 Calwarr

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Added on June 19, 2011
Last Updated on June 19, 2011
Tags: war, soldier, journal, comedy, satire, afghanistan, letters, army, US army



Clarksville, TN

Greetings and salutations, it's your friendly neighborhood Calwarr here. I am a professional soldier, father and snappy dresser. I have always had the writing bug and lately have decided to spend more.. more..


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