When they are in the US, they call Rome, Calhoun, Cedar Town, Canton, and Dalhoun, Georgia their home. Now these troops have been activated and assigned to various Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) in Afghanistan. Spit and polish soldiers would be a misnomer for this group.
But don’t let their rough and rugged veneer fool you. This tight knit team from Georgia Army National Guard’s 108th BCT, 48th Brigade, Alpha Troop are some of Georgia’s finest combat warriors. For brevity, I’ve nicknamed them the “Georgia Boys.” I was honored when they asked me as the camp Public Affairs (PA) representative to accompany them on an overnight outing to Combat Outpost (COP) Rocco in the dangerous Uzbin valley. However, they would have to make a concession and let me drive. My appendages are too long to be crammed in the back of an armored 1151 HMMVW as a window licker (passenger). My wish was granted.
Today’s mission was to resupply COP Rocco with 120 mm High Explosive (HE) and illumination mortar rounds. Apparently they have been expending their supply with the persistent Taliban insurgents who have targeted them with rockets lately. Due to the windy conditions an air drop was out of the question. During the last air drop the winds caused a barrel to land 5 feet from an Afghan’s house. So to improve our public image, we would truck the munitions up through the Uzbin valley and replenish their stock.
As we wound down through the J-Bad pass our convoy stopped rather abruptly. Typically livestock or a broken down vehicle is the usual cause. However, today’s short halt is was for a small rock slide. Considering the height of the towering cliffs, we wanted to avoid our gunners in the turret from being knocked out by a falling rock. Besides this would be embarrassing to visit the TMC for being knocked in the cranium by a rock.
Our next stop was to a strategically positioned outpost in the wealthy (by Afghan standards) town of Serobi. This sprawling farm village sprouted up around the rapid flowing green river that eventually empties into a large lake. Here they have an abundant supply of water unlike the villages rooted in the remote valleys that depend on snow melt, rainfall and deep-drilled wells for their irrigation and survival. Similar to Genghis Khan the Taliban have periodically destroyed dams, irrigation systems, etc. for villages who are uncooperative to their ideological beliefs.
Anyhow, out of the blue a young dog comes pandering up to greet our group. It was Emily! How did she get down here I pondered. Perhaps the French kidnapped her from COP Rocco. I’m a bit suspicious of those bushy mustached French men. Needless to say, I was a bit perplexed and before I could accidentally drop some beef jerky, she found a meaty bone and ran off.
We arrived at COP Rocco and offloaded the mortar and illumination rounds. Each green metal container weighed about 100 pounds. After a few photo ops, I pitched in and got my daily dose of PT. Afterward I joined the “Georgia Boys” in setting up cots, ate an MRE, and positioned myself for a much needed nap. However, I was pestered by annoying flies and the thumping of the Apache helicopters scouting the mountain ridges for armed Taliban. But as I lay in my cot and gazed at the blue sky void of clouds, I noticed a 1/8 th crescent of the moon was visible and it was only 3:00 pm in the afternoon.
Before dinner I accompanied the ANA and my teammates to the top of a ridge to expend some munitions.
The ANA fired our crew serve weapons and reciprocated by allowing us to shoot their RPG.
The Taliban are infamous for launching rockets and shooting at our air drops from the ridge line. But not tonight, because the ridge line was the target area for our Mark-19’s, M-240, and 50 cal. Machine guns.
We accidentally launched half dozen 40 mm explosive rounds over the ridge where the Taliban like to hang out. The ANA also joined in with their RPGs and cannon on the Armored Personnel Carrier (APC).
After target practice, I was offered some BBQ chicken made on the new grill. This grill replaced the old stone pit which subsequently has been filled in with soil. Upon closer inspection there was something unique about this homemade grill. It was constructed from a metal drum, HMMVW parts and an old bed frame. The supporting base is welded attachments from an old bed frame “acquired” at my camp. The main body is a 55 gal diesel fuel drum that was cut in half and attached by the hinges from a HMMVW door.
The exhaust pipe is actually a HMMVW tailpipe and the cooking surface is the screen from the HMMVW engine grill. These “Georgia Boys” get an “A” for creativity and ingenuity.
After eagerly consuming the BBQ chicken, I squatted down in my cot and stared at the sky for hours. I witnessed 3 shooting stars before dozing off to sleep.
Note from Liisa, SMSgt Temple’s wife: These some additional photos Rex managed to send home. There undoubtedly are stories that go along with these images but the Internet connection is so bad tonight Rex thought none of his photos came through.
Our Skype call lasted 3 minutes with understandable sound and then even instant messaging died.
He did manage to mention something about his team being able ot save the lives of a local Afghan family whose car when off a cliff and the American troops happened to be close enough to come to their aid. Hopefully he’ll post that story tomorrow!