Sunday, October 28, 2007


My big news from Afghanistan these past two weeks (yes last two weeks, some of you may have noticed I missed getting an update out last week) was that I made a commercial. You might ask what am I doing making a commercial in Afghanistan? Aren't I supposed to be fighting the Global War on Terrorism and defending freedom? Well there are a group of people who have not yet begun to fight and they are the Midshipmen of the US Naval Academy. Each year the Naval Academy plays the Cadets of the US Military Academy in the famous football game called the Army - Navy Game. By the way Navy is 4 and 4, not even close to the year Boston College is having (Rebecca is a BC graduate so I am glad to see them doing so well). This year the game is December 1st and in preparation for the game, soldiers and sailors overseas prepare commercials from far away places to be shown during breaks in the game. For those who have watched in past years, you may have seen some of these commercials. This year several of us Navy folks in Afghanistan got together and made a short 30 second spot. My small part is a sailor in the barber shop getting a haircut when I see another Navy person enter the shop and exclaim, "Another sailor, here in Afghanistan!" My other line was "Go Navy, Beat Army!" Not much in the way of a speaking part, but in all fairness it was a short commercial. In any case, I am hopeful it will be shown some time during the game. I have to say the acting skills of all the Navy folk left something to be desired, but its the thought that counts.

I have been really busy these past two weeks. I went out for several site visits to check on operations and have meetings. I had meetings with the Ministers of Defense and Interior and made a trip to Bagram for a visit with colleagues. My big thrill was that I got to take a ride in a Blackhawk helicopter to go to Bagram. A relatively short ride but the view was great. Much better than flying in a plane or driving. We flew pretty low so you could really see the landscape from the aircraft.

Back on the homefront, the big news was obviously the fires. I am sure you are all aware of the terrible situation in Southern California and specifically in San Diego. Most importantly, Rebecca and the kids are fine. They did receive the reverse 911 call and did have to evacuate the house. Fortunately our good friends Mark and Annie took them in and they were safe. After two days they were allowed to return home and the house is fine. We are much luckier than so many people in San Diego and Southern CA. It is difficult to be this far away when emergency situations occur at home. I am thankful we have good friends to watch over us. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims of these terrible fires.

Peace to you all and Go Navy Beat Army,


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Evacuation - By Rebecca

We are fine, back in our house and the air quality is much better than it has been all week. Most importantly the Santa Ana winds are gone and there is only a light breeze. The fire that was threatening our area was the Witch Creek fire. When we went to bed at 11pm on Sunday night, it was a small fire… my friend Annie woke me up Monday at 6:30am, it had spread and the area above state route 56 (just north of us) had been evacuated. She wanted to send her husband Mark over to check on me, but we were fine and still sleeping! School was cancelled at 6:45am. That’s when I knew it was serious. The first “do you need help” calls came from WD-40 folks. Andrew who works with Patrick and Heidi (who works with Patrick but is also my friend because our kids go to school together) both called by 7:30 to see if we needed help getting stuff together and in the car. The next few hours were a deluge of calls from local friends offering to help. Funny thing, the Navy called at 11am – the next day! We ended up getting a lot of emails from Fleet and Family Support but honestly I’m going with local friends and/or the WD-40 folks if there is ever another emergency!

I was glued to the TV on Monday. You think you are prepared, but then when you have time there is always one more thing. I spent Monday videotaping the house (which I had done a few years ago) and taking pictures throughout the house. I burned both of those to DVD’s and I also did another backup of my files to a backup machine. I staged all of our non replaceable things in the my bedroom, the family room and the garage. By dinner time, it looked like we were staying and then during dinner my friend Heidi (who lives a few street down) called and said that we were being evacuated. I turned on the tv and started packing up the staged items. There was some confusion on the news as to whether our area “Torrey Hill” was being evacuated. The news anchors admitted that they were unsure but as one of them said… “Hey listen, if I lived in Torrey Hills I’d leave”. Good enough for me! While I was loading the car we did get the reverse 911 Mandatory Evacuation notice (about 8:30). We were out by 8:50pm and the whole street was almost gone by then. I think that without the reverse 911 and the confusion on the news, some of us would have stayed… but we didn’t stick around to wait for the police to come through with bull horns like people did in 2004. The reverse 911 is brilliant. A “Get out now” phone call is very effective. I registered my cell phone on it yesterday just in case I am not at home the next time. This fire is worse (size of the fires and number of homes destroyed) than the 2004 fires, yet there have been only 4 or 5 direct fire related deaths. All other deaths being attributed to the fires are of older people that died during or after being evacuated.

We drove north to our friends Mark and Annie’s. We were really comfortable, VERY well taken care of, actually slept really well and honestly the kids didn’t want to leave. We were recalled yesterday at 8:30am, but we took our time. I still have stuff packed, but the threat is over now that the winds are gone. Here is a picture that shows in red/orange where the fire has burned. I put aqua blue arrows to show the potential route that the fire could have taken. Our house is on the street above the aqua blue dot. The problem with maps is that you don’t get to appreciate the topography. There is a canyon behind our house that is a fire corridor… if that fire had gotten into the canyon system behind Santa Luz it would have ripped down the canyon to us…. It is very hard for the firefighter to fight in the canyons with a Santa Ana ripping through it. That’s the problem with Santa Ana’s – especially for us when they are sucking the air southwest to the ocean.
I did load all of my old photos, yearbooks and negatives into the car first… memories (and blackmail) first I guess! And then all of the kids artwork that I have saved throughout the years. And then the computers, cameras and a bunch of financial stuff. I left behind my Doug Flutie autographed Charger’s Jersey… and the Beach Boys autographed surfboard. That was hard. The kids packed the craziest stuff… but I let them chose what was important to them. Madigan did have a big moment of apprehension when she realized her 2 American Girl dolls were left behind. I assured her that I would buy new ones if they didn’t make it. We have a lot of work to do to finishing putting things back… and a whole lot of ash to clean up. Hopefully we can get back to normal by Monday when school resumes. Oh and Patrick, everyone asks if Patrick knew what was going on… yes I emailed his .mil account and he called right away. He had to register in Afghanistan that his family had been evacuated… I think that’s why the Navy called to check on us. Apparently if we had lost the house, he would have been sent home to deal with the situation. Hmm… where are those matches?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Happy Eid

This past month was Ramadan in the Muslim religion. This is a very high holy holiday and all Muslims fast during the day and pray a lot. At the end of the holy month there is a celebration called Eid which lasts for 3 days. Eid this year was October 12 - 14. This holiday and the period of Ramadan are never exact because it is all based on the phases of the moon. Yes, when the new moon in September is seen that starts Ramadan, when the new moon appears again, Eid starts. It seems weird to base things on the moon but that is how they tell when things are around here. So to all Eid Mubarik (that is like Merry Christmas to us).

This week we also celebrated the Navy's 232nd Birthday; it doesn't feel a day over 230. We had a couple nice speaches and of course cake. Some of the Supply Officers were able to take a picture together. I hope to get it into the Supply Corps Newsletter. To all of you Navy folks out there, Happy Birthday.

Work has been pretty routine, continuing our mission of equipping the Afghans and providing mentoring and training. We have had people finish their tours and move on and we have had others start their deployments. I also reached a milestone passing 6 months in country.

This week we also had a memorial service for a fallen camrade. He was hit by a VBIED while on a convoy. His name was Corporal Adam Quinn and he was a young Army soldier. He was doing his duty here in Afghanistan and was taken too early. The worst part was that his wife was expecting a baby and he will never get to see his child. Terrorist activity during the past month has been heavier than normal. We have all been extra cautious making sure not to go out unless absolutely necessary. I am hopeful that with winter coming soon, activity will slow down.

Back on the homefront, Rebecca and the kids have been getting ready for Halloween making their costumes and decorating. Rebecca has also volunteered in Madigan's classroom even though she said she wouldn't. Of course she was asked and she couldn't say no. So with work, the kids, and volunteering for school, life is still busy at the Wade household.

Peace to you all,


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Back to the Grind

Well I am back to the grind here at Eggers. Actually, it only took me a couple days to catch up and I am back in the groove. Of course getting back to Eggers was quite an adventure; let me explain.

On Sunday night I checked in at the R&R office at 8 PM. Following a short briefing, we loaded on buses to go to the air terminal. Then we began the check in process and then we waited and waited. We were warned that our planned wheels up time (that is lingo for departure) was 0100 (1 am) so I knew we would have a long waiting period. Well the time came to load up the plane so we loaded back up on a bus and were taken out to the aircraft. For those who have not flown military before, we flew on a C130 which is a prop aircraft built in the 70's.
And, oh yeah, there are no seats or at least seats that you would be used to seeing. We sit in cargo net seats stationed on the walls and down the middle of the aircraft. There is no first class, in fact I don't think this qualifies as coach either. In any case we loaded up and sat on the plane, which by the way did not have any airflow, so we all sat sweating waiting for the pilots to do their preflight checks. After an hour and a half the pilots determined that the plane would not fly. I am thankful they were cautious but I did wish they had figured that out before we all loaded up and were forced to soak our uniforms with sweat.

So we unloaded the plane and loaded up on a bus again and sat for another half hour while they found another plane for us. You can guess what we did next, that's right, we loaded up another C130 and sat another hour; sweating. We finally went wheels up at 0245. No sleep and lots of sweating and looking forward to a 5 hour flight back to Afghanistan. The flight was uneventful, which is good, and we landed at KAIA, Kabul Afghanistan International Airport, but we could not get off even though getting back to Eggers was only a half hour away because my weapons and gear were locked up at BAF (Bagram Airfield). We let a few passengers off who were destined for KAIA and then loaded up some other passengers, so another hour of waiting. We took off again and took the short 10 minute flight to BAF, where we were finally at our destination.

I was still not back to Eggers so Pat Meriwether and myself needed a ride. We both started making calls, fortunately Pat was able to get a hold of crew that was at Bagram and we connected with them a few hours later after collecting all our weapons and gear. We were on our way back to Kabul. Unfortunately the team was going back to Alamo, the FOB where Pat is stationed and so they dropped me off at Camp Phoenix. I started making a calls to get ride back to Eggers and a few hours later, I had a crew pick me up and get me back to Eggers about 4:30 PM. I immediately went back to my room and unpacked and think I passed out soon thereafter.

I went to work that night to try and catch up on e-mails and see what had been happening while I was gone. There was no chance of catching up but it was a start. The next day I had several meetings to get up to speed on significant projects going on and after a couple days, I was back in the groove.

Saturdays are the day I go to Mass at 4 PM, but this week I had a meeting so I missed church. That evening at 6 PM there was Christian service that was being ministered by someone I knew, so a couple of us decided to go that evening. I had not eaten yet figuring I would go to dinner after the service. That would prove to be a mistake. The service was more of a revival/gospel service which was quite good.

There were two gospel choirs and lots of singing and shouting and it was quite entertaining and uplifting. Now being a Catholic, we tend to get antsy when the Mass goes over an hour so when the service hit 3 hours, I was not only antsy, but I was really hungry. The Bishop who was the guest speaker and coworker had been speaking for about an hour and was very inspiring and then began laying hands on people predicting peoples' ailments and healing them somewhat. At that point the only healing I needed was a cheeseburger in my belly. My friends and I called it quits after 3 and half hours and immediately went seeking food. The dining facility was closed but we convinced the kitchen to make us a turkey sandwich and we enjoyed our meal and we were thankful.

Back on the homefront, Rebecca took the kids to Disneyland since they are so rarely there. (Editor's Note: Now that I am working and both kids are in school, it is actually becoming less frequent. Last Sunday was a special occasion because my friend Michael Lynn was celebrating his birthday and celebrating the premiere of his latest E! True Hollywood Story - John Stamos. There were 12 in our group, 6 of us went to Club 33, which is absolutley wonderful. Michael, as you may recall, was the guy that yelled "kiss her!" to John Stamos... and he actually did kiss me. The corollary to this story is that Michael put that picture in the show. SO during the end segment, if you watch closely this photo is in the John Stamos THS... I really, really wish I had lost that 15 lbs now!

Besides, it is Halloween Time at Disney and I suspect we will be back in the next few weeks.
They also had a visit from a good friend, Patricia Lee, who Rebecca worked with for a long time. Pat sent me a note talking about how nice her visit was and how wonderful my kids are. It is nice to know the kids behaved, but also to remind myself how lucky I am.

Peace to you all,