Our team was informed we would have to stay in tents for the next 3 days for inprocessing before moving on forward to the FOB. We arrived at our tent and off-loaded our bags from the trailer. Tent #4 would become our home for the next days. Inside the tent there are two rows of bunk beds and the floor is made of warped plywood covered in a thick layer of dust. Most of the lighting is intact and are systematically linked to each other like extension cords. They are supported by binder twine affixed to the tent ceiling. The gray metal bunk beds were probably constructed locally and are crude in nature and poorly welded. We were all exhausted and dumped our bags on empty beds and on the floor. I draped my poncho liner on one side of the bed and attached the liner on the other to create some personal privacy. While lying down on the bed, it made a screeching noise every time I moved. I wasn’t alone and many of my teammates had the same problem, but we were too tired to care. Almost simultaneously we all crashed and fell asleep in our racks.
I woke up a few hours later to the sounds of a creaking symphony producing a bad tune. It seemed all of the beds were creaking and in badly need of oil to quell this bizarre music. It would have to wait another day until I would resolve the issue. My body was still trying to decipher the time zone as my biological clock had been tossed for a whirl. I didn’t even care that the crouching space under the bunk bed was smaller than what I had at Fort Riley.
The next morning we endured a long day of informational briefings. We like to affectionately refer to this as “Death by PowerPoint”. One of the safety briefings caught our attention about the indigenous hazards of Afghanistan. We were informed about the poisonous spiders, scorpions, and snakes that call this country home. There are 3 types of scorpions that possess the ability to be fatal with their sting. In addition, there are cobras and Kraits.
The venom of the Krait is 15 times more potent than the Indian cobra. Untreated, death can occur in 6-8 hours as a result of respiratory failure. Just recently a Krait was found in a latrine at another FOB. So we were briefed to look before we sit.
Later that night I returned to my tent to inspect my bed. The bolts attaching the frame were finger loose and some of the brackets were missing bolts too. I used a general purpose tool (Gerber) to tighten them and resolve the noise problem. It also added stability to my bed and I no longer feared my bed of falling apart while I slept.
I made numerous attempts to contact my Mother for Mother’s Day. Apparently half the United States was doing the same thing. As a result the DSN telephone system was overwhelmed and unable to reach an operator. I even tried calling using a commercial calling card and the operator said there was a technical error and to call back in 30 minutes. I tried in vain for hours and was unable to make contact. I will try again today and ask for forgiveness. Twenty six years ago I departed for the Air Force on Mother’s Day.
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