High Comedy in Low Places

War means something different to every person, especially every participant.  We did manage a few laughs here and there in Afghanistan.  We took our missions seriously, but that didn’t mean we had to take ourselves seriously every second of the day. A Peck of Afghan Peppers Early in 2003, my engineer team frequently worked directly…

On the Water with Patriots

“Do you want to come on a sturgeon fishing and kayaking trip on the Columbia River with us?” Reading that email from Micah stopped me mid-click during my daily grind of paperwork. Sturgeon? The giant, sometimes 10-feet-long monster river fish? I had heard and read about fishing for those but never thought I’d get a…

Fresh Air Poisoning

“Fresh air poisoning” is a running joke in our house, and most outdoor recreation enthusiasts of all types know it well.  “The Outdoor Cleanse” or “Soul Candy” or whatever you want to call that endorphin-fueled peace you attain after being outside for sometimes just a few hours.  Playing outside isn’t for everyone.  But I believe…

You’ll Never Guess Who I Ran Into

We’ve all had those conversations where someone tells the story about how they were somewhere weird and ran into a friend from home. Then the next person tells their story about when they were somewhere a little more odd and met someone they knew. I have a trump card for those conversations. In early ‘04…

A Teaching Moment

It has been eight years now, but I still get asked what Afghanistan was like. And I still don’t have a good quick answer, usually mumbling something to the effect of “I learned a lot.” One of those pearls of wisdom I did learn is spelled out here. My engineer team of six officers was…

The Infidels’ Bible

infidel — in – fi- del [in-fi-dl, -del] —-(in Muslim use) a person who does not accept the Islamic faith It’s really not derogatory at its basest meaning. One of my favorite quotes from my whole tour was when Wahid, one of my regular interpreters, said at then end of a particularly long day, “You…

A Christmas in Afghanistan

I wrote this in December 2009.  It originally ran in the Black Hills Weekly Group, Rapid City (South Dakota) Journal and the Denver Post Online.  Many thanks to those publications for picking me up. Santa’s Security Detail, Christmas, 2003 Brown.  Nearly everything in Afghanistan is brown.  The dirt, the buildings, the vehicles, the equipment, even…