Monday, May 28, 2007


Have you ever seen those clips of people in starving countries just sitting around as flies crawl around their faces and they don't seem to care? I don't know what it is, but recently the fly population in Afghanistan seems to have quadrupled. Everywhere you go there are flies circling around you waiting to land on you and make you flinch. I am trying to work up the nerve to let them crawl on me without swatting them away just to see if I can do it. It may be a while. For now, not only am I armed with my M9 pistol and M4 rifle, but I have my fly swatter with me. I bought a handy little holster for it at the bazaar. Every time I think of flies, I get the image of the movie "The Fly" not the newer one, but the classic one with the scene of when the half-man, half-fly is caught in the spider's web screaming, "Help me!"

(Editor's Note: For those of you not like the Wade's (who have seen every movie ever produced, and who have certain movies quotes committed to memory to insert in every day conversations)... here is what Pat is talking about: The Fly (1958). A Canadian scientist has a horrific accident when he tries to use his newly invented teleportation device. As he attempts to transport himself, a fly gets inside the machine and the two are hopelessly scrambled together. The scientist emerges as a half-man, half-fly hybrid— a human with a fly's head and insect claw. Pathetically he tries to reverse the process and return himself to normal, but fails and, his mind overtaken by that of the fly, ultimately commits suicide. In the famous twist ending, the scientist's brother (Vincent Price) hears a tiny voice coming from a nearby spider's web; he makes the dreadful discovery of a tiny creature with the scientist's emaciated head and the body of a fly, shrieking, "Help me! Help me!" as it is about to be devoured by a spider. However, a policeman then casts a stone into the web and kills both the human head and the spider, ending the suffering the head would have ensued had it been eaten.)

We have been making good progress at work getting a good handle on resources and priorities. There are still the fire fights, but we are handling all the business. I am thankful I have such a great team of people to work with; they are really doing great things. We had a visit this week from the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Logistics and Material Readiness, the honorable Jackson Bell. That is quite a title. We did our usual tour of the facility and fortunately LCDR Steve Parks, the Public Affairs Officer from Kandahar, was in town to take some pictures and will write up a story about our facilities.

I attended some regular meetings and spent some time with our ANA counterparts at the Logistics Command which is the ANA headquarters for logistics. It is truly a learning experience to work with the Afghan military and gain a deeper understanding of their culture. This week we also had a big meeting about reorganization. Our US military organization is changing to better support the combined security forces made up of both the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police.

Did you know that the Afghanistan is the number one exporter of poppy seeds? This is an area of concern for the US as Poppies are used in the production of heroin and the Taliban gains part of its funding from this source. For those who want to learn more about Afghanistan and poppies, here is link to an article.

Here is an interesting story about one of the gate guards at Camp Phoenix. His name is Rambo, so named by the American soldiers, and he is an Afghan who has worked at the gate for years.
A couple months ago while we were still at Fort Riley, we heard the story of how Rambo stopped a car bomb from getting into Camp Phoenix. Here is a link to a story about this unique individual.

Back on the homefront, my nieces Kathleen and Elizabeth are visiting for the summer from Boston.
(Editor's Note - This is Grandma Dill's Ford Contour with MA license plates in our driveway in San Diego. This is the car that our nieces, 19 & 20, drove across the country. Thomas cannot understand how they made it in such a small car without XM radio and, heaven forbid, without a DVD player.)
They made the long drive across country and hope to have summer jobs soon and of course enjoy the sunshine and the beach. Rebecca organized a big crew of people (19 total I think) to go to the movie Pirates of the Caribbean III. They make an event of it going to Disney's El Capitan Theater in Hollywood with VIP tickets to watch the movie and I am sure they will be wearing their pirate t-shirts. I will have to catch the movie sometime while I am out here.

Well that is my world for this week, I hope you are all well.

Peace to you all,


Sunday, May 20, 2007

I Love This Game

Every few days some of us get together and play basketball in the gym. Now you get the "I love this game" title. We enjoy getting some exercise and competing. For the most part the games are friendly and everyone has a good time. Well, I guess I am not as young as I used to be and this last time I played was Thursday this week. I use the term "last" because I am out for a while as I sprained my ankle pretty badly. There I was going up for the rebound (I did get it by the way) and came down on someone's foot which caused my foot to roll completely on its side. You can guess what happened, all my body weight hit on that foot and twisted my ankle in unnatural ways. The pain was severe, but I managed to get off the court and someone called the medical people. They took me on a short ride to the medical facility where my ankle was X-rayed and found I had no break. That was the good news. The bad news was it was a pretty bad sprain and my ankle swelled up and is bruised all around. I am out of basketball for a while and I also can't convoy so I am staying here on Camp Phoenix recovering and working from my office. I spent the first day of recovery in my room and fortunately my good friend John Z came to my rescue and got me meals while I rested and iced my ankle. The next day I was able to get around with crutches and go the short distance to my office. Getting injured really is a pain in the ankle. I am taking care of myself and I should be able to get around with a limp in a few days. Interestingly, the basketball court causes more of the injuries around this place than the Taliban, that is a good thing. Do they give purple hearts for basketball injuries?

So this gave me an opportunity to sit in front of my computer and catch up with e-mails and task many people with all kinds of interesting things I could think up. I was also able to do some planning for our operations and take care of some unfinished business. There is always something going on around the warehouses and serving the ANA, whether it is filling orders or tracking down shipments or working up ways to improve operations. It keeps us all busy.

This week I received a great surprise. WD-40 Company sent me 4 huge packages of stuff. The boxes weighed almost 50 pounds a piece so our mail clerk was none too happy with me. They loaded me up with magazines, snacks, baby wipes (they are for cleaning your hands because there is not a lot of running water at the warehouses), cards, puzzle books, soaps, shampoos, chapstick, WD-40 Smart Straw post it notes, and some stuff for kids like pencils and lollipops. The greatest thing in the packages were notes written by the employees saying how they respected what I was doing and missed me, oh yes and Happy Birthday. It was my birthday (May 3rd just in case you want to put that in your calendar for next year, where of course I plan to celebrate it at home). It was really a great surprise and I thank all my WD-40 family. (Editor's Note - We also received a box at home, toys and candy for the kids and a Starbuck's gift card for me! Thank you WD-40!)

I also received a package from Rebecca with a some requested items. Although there are stores here, there are things that are truly hard to get. She has actually sent me four packages; all things that have made my life a bit better. I now have a web cam so I can do video calls with Rebecca and the kids and also my 2 brothers and their wives. My sister is not very tech savy, so she has yet to join the webcam revolution. I believe she still has a rotary phone, she likes to think it is artsy. I remember trying to use it once, it took forever to dial the number and I made several mistakes. Rebecca also sent me a Tempur-pedic mattress cover and pillow to match, it is just like home now. She also sent a couple of 2 GB memory sticks, it is hard to believe they are storing so much in a little stick. I also received a balance board and stability ball so I can do a little workout in my room when I am up to it. I am pretty well set up now, and basically have everything I need.

Back on the homefront, Rebecca and the kids are doing pretty well. They keep busy with school, Rebecca's work, church functions, and they recently went to a Pirate show and then to Knott's Berry Farm. They seem to be having a lot of fun without me. I also forgot to mention in my last update that Thomas received his First Communion, I wish I could have been there for that. He looked very handsome in his suit. Fortunately family friends, Annie, (Editor's Note - I added Annie because really, Clare and Kristin will agree she did all of the work) Clare, and Kristin were there to help with the celebration afterwards. There always has to be a party. Madigan is doing well and has begun to speak in "tongues" it is interesting to hear her on the video call, its almost as if she is saying something. She is quite a character. I miss them all and can't wait till Christmas when I take my leave and see them again.

Until next time, this is "hop along" Wade saying watch where you step.

Peace to you all,


Sunday, May 13, 2007

What's in a name

So what's in a name? When we are expecting a child, we spend months laboring (pun intended)over a child's name looking through books, studying family histories and remembering people who mean something to us. And ultimately, we choose a name that has some meaning and significance for us. I mentioned last week I would share some of the thought process that went into naming my blog and I would also like to share something about the name "Camp Phoenix".

First my blog. As you all know it is Well the www and the part come as part of the site. The wadeaminute part had some thinking behind it. It started with a few people getting together virtually over e-mail brainstorming names. Many great ideas surfaced, such as something to do with the desert or sand or the Navy. As we thought about it those things were limiting in the fact that they only dealt with things happening while I was deployed and this too shall pass. So we looked at names that had a family twist to them and had staying power even after I returned home. Our name Wade seemed like it had to be in there and so it is. Wade sounded a bit like "wait" and then there was Wade a minute. Most of you know I love movies and one of my favorite movies is "The Sunshine Boys" starring Walter Mathau and George Burns. A great line that Walter Mathau uses when George Burns knocks on his door is "Wait a minute" said sounding like an old Jewish man's voice. It's a funny line you have to watch the movie. The words Wade a minute also sounded a bit like Wade in a minute. A brief recap of what is going on with the Wade's in a minute. Yes, I know there is no possible way to read these things in a minute and of course it takes me many minutes to write them. In any case it had a little bit of a news cast sound to it, you know, "News of the Wade's, up to the minute". So that is how it all happened, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Now a bit about the name Camp Phoenix. You might think it comes from that city in Arizona. It actually comes from a saying about Afghanistan, "Rising from the ashes".

Rising from the ashes, Camp Phoenix and its mission are local symbols of rebirth and renewal following the horrific impacts of Taliban rule and the chaotic aftermath of the U.S. led war on terrorism. With a compliment of around 700 U.S. and International troops, Camp Phoenix is dedicated to the support and training of the new Afghan National Army as well as significant public outreach/humanitarian programs such as building and supplying schools and assisting orpahanges. Camp Phoenix is a relatively small outpost located at an elevation of ~6100 feet, surrounded by 15,000+ ft mountains and is well within the western outskirts of Kabul, the largest city and capitol of Afghanistan.

For you Harry Potter fans, Dumbledore has a pet Phoenix, named Fawkes, that appropriately symbolizes the rising from the ashes saying.

Well it was a pretty busy week. I am really starting to get into my job and it is keeping me busy. It was my first full week on my own without Andy telling me what things meant. So far I am getting the hang of this thing. I have been doing a lot planning and setting priorities because there is so much to do and we can't do it all. And yes, there is plenty of fire fighting with emergencies that come from headquarters. It is funny how work is the same all over the world. It is a little more challenging here due to the culture of the Afghan people. They lived under Soviet rule and the Taliban and they have learned to hoard and basically live day to day. Long term vision is not something they think about a lot. It does make planning a bit more difficult, but we are making progress and that is what counts.

The excitement this week was a visit from two American Generals, Major General Durbin (that's a two star) and Lt General Dubik (a 3 star general). They had a nice tour of our facility along with their entourage and then were off again. It was nice to have some time with them and then it was nice to have them leave. There is always a lot of stress when Generals visit.

I thought I would leave you with some more items to keep with the name theme. In the military we have lots of words that most people wouldn't know the meanings of and overseas there are a few pertinent to here.
Watch your six = That is watch your back, when you use clock designations a 6 o'clock is your back.
Comms = Radio
SAW = Semiautomatic (squad) Assault Weapon, a 249 machine gun
Peddle to the metal like a slinky that is alive = you drive as fast as the slowest vehicle and vary the distance between the vehicles so the enemy can't time their IED
Warlock Systems jams radio/wireless activated IED (Bombs)
Crew Serve Weapons = weapons that need two people unless mounted on the top of a vehicle such as 240B and M2 (50 cal) machine guns.
Head by a Rhino = a boom that sticks out in front of the lead vehicle to trigger trip wires & laser trigged bombs (IED) or a 5 ton gun truck
Until next time, "watch your six".

Peace to you all,


Sunday, May 6, 2007

Afghani Stan Sand Squid

Here is a tune you might remember, I have changed the lyrics to fit my situation.

Afghani Stan Sand Squid (sung to the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies)

Come and listen to a story about a man named Wade
an old Navy man, nearly put his papers in.
Then one day, he was working on some bills,
and out from the phone came a jingling sound

Call that is, recall, Augmentee.
Well the first thing you know old Wade's an active guy.
Reserve folks said, "Wade move away from there."
Said "Middle East is the place you out to be."
So he loaded up his bags and moved to Afghani

Stan, that is, desert sand, Taliban.

It's kind of interesting how life here is like a TV show, only it is in reruns. There is a saying here regarding deployment, "Groundhog Day" because pretty much most of the days are the same. We get up, we work, we eat, we sleep, try to entertain ourselves and then we do it all over again just counting down the days. I do get the benefit of having a pretty dynamic job however, so there are many opportunities for me to keep very busy trying to solve the problems of the supply system over here. It is much different than being in the states where we can get supplies relatively quickly. Here the lead times on getting goods can be 6 months due to the need to contract for everything. There is much to do if we are ever going to get Afghanistan to be a world class supply chain. Of course, we are here to make it better and every day that is what we strive to do, make it better, one step at a time.

I was sipping on can of Diet Pepsi (they don't have Coke Zero here) and I wondered when was the last time you saw a pull tab on a can of soda in the states. I think we got rid of them back in the 70's. Here in Afghanistan they still have the pull tabs and it does make you have to think for a second that you have to throw the pull tab away. Everyone here does a pretty good job of making sure they end up in the trash can. I would hate to see an old Afghan guy with a tear in his eye. (So that is an old reference to the commercial in the 70's where a Native American watched people polute and a tear came to his eye). Of course here in Afghanistan, I don't think anyone really cares about pollution. The streets are a mess and the air is filled with pollution. Those people at CARB (California Air Resources Board) would have a field day with fines over here. Not that anyone could ever pay any of them.

My week was filled with my continued learning process as I take over the operations of the Central Supply Depots for Afghanistan. I have been looking at reports, reading e-mail, taking care of problems and continuing to build my team here. It sounds like I am back at WD-40. There is so much to do and only a year to do it in. I certainly realize I can't do everything and that is not really my mission here. I am here to do my part to raise the bar a bit and make the Afghan Army operate a little better. It will take some real focus here as there could be so many priorities. I am still travelling all over Kabul going to various warehouse sites and headquarters buildings. I am being safe and I make sure that my team is doing the same.

(you have to sing again, you remember the tune)

Well now its time to say goodbye to Wade and all his thoughts.
And he would like to thank you folks for kindly droppin' in.
You're all invited back again to this reality
To have a heapin helpin of some more verbosity

Narmy life, that is. Set a spell. Take your shoes off.

Y'all come back now, y'hear?

Peace to you all,

Next week I will give you the origin of my blog name. We in the business call that a teaser, so you will come back next week.