Last in country radio conversation

Rex with his MRAP on a mission in Afghanistan.

From Liisa, SMSgt Temple’s wife: Rex is on his way home; he’s made it to Ali Asaleem, Kuwait. Before leaving his camp in Afghanistan Rex did one last “in country” interview with WUSF Radio’s Bobbie O’Brien about his deployment year, which aired last night in Tampa during NPR’s “All Things Considered” and again this morning during “Morning Edition.” You can hear the chat by clicking on this link

4-15 MLT Rex Heads Home

or if you’d like to read the entire transcript, it’s available here.

This week’s radio interview

Reporter & Producer Bobbie O'Brien

Here is a link to this week’s chat with WUSF reporter Bobbie O’Brien. We talked about the latest school supplies delivery mission, the preparations for it and how the children reacted. To hear the story, click here.

Anchor, producer and editor Joshua Stewart

Also congratulations are in order for Bobbie and her editor Joshua Stewart; the pair has won a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for their work on this radio series. Now their entry moves into the national finals. If you would like to listen to the winning entry from WUSF, click here.

Licked By A Lamb

Baby lamb licks my face.

From Liisa, SMSgt Temple’s wife: Due to slow Internet connectivity, Rex is unable to send his blog entry for today.  But he managed to send one picture and the first two lines of the entry:

Over the past year, I have taken many photographs of sheep in Afghanistan.  I never got very close to them.  But on today’s mission, not only did I get close, but a baby lamb got quite “intimate” with me.  Check back tomorrow (connectivity permitting) when the rest of the mission entry is posted.

(Liisa again: Rex did manage to talk to WUSF Radio’s Bobbie O’Brien for their weekly chat – if you live in the Tampa Bay area, you can catch that chat today on 89.7 FM between 5 and 6 pm or around 7:30 am tomorrow morning during NPR’s Morning Edition. Or you can listen here.)

This week’s radio chat

From Liisa, SMSgt Temple’s wife: Rex is out on a mission and asked me to post this chat he had with WUSF Radio’s Bobbie O’Brien earlier this week – it was a time consuming production as they lost Internet service in the middle of it and had to conduct the rest of it on the phone …. the wait for the phone was 1.5 hours. Thanks to Bobbie for being patient and waiting for Rex. You can download the audio here 3-10 MLT winding down

If you want to read the entire transcript, click on the link below:

My Last Tour: Winding Down

This week’s radio interview

Here is this week’s conversation with WUSF Radio’s reporter Bobbie O’Brien, which aired yesterday during “All Things Considered” and will air again today during “Morning Edition“; the conversation focused on more corruption with the ANA and the lack of consequences for it. 3-2 MLT Bad Water Flows

If you want to read the transcript of the entire radio presentation, click on this link

My Last Tour: An Old Dari Proverb

Education & ANA Discussion – Part Two:

Attentive ANA classroom.

My conversation with the ANA soldiers continued.  I relayed a conversation I had yesterday with the ANA Mullah about Taliban Mullahs; the ANA Mullah had told me the Taliban Mullahs are not really Mullahs and use this title to their advantage to control the uneducated followers and villagers.  As such, out of fear and respect for the title, the people are easily influenced.  Every week, coalition forces are capturing or killing Taliban Mullahs who are often serving as Taliban commanders or province shadow governors.  Even the Pashtun ANA soldier I asked about agreed with this fact and said, “They are not Mullahs, they are only using the name of mullahs.”

ANA platoons practicing marching drills and learning discipline.

Running out of time, I opened up the floor so the ANA soldiers could address questions to me.  Admittedly, it’s much easier to ask the questions than it is to answer them.  But I was feeling self-confident and I was curious to see what they had on their minds.  The first question asked of me was concerning whether or not we [Americans] are trying to help rebuild Afghanistan.  I explained my country and other foreign nations have donated millions and billions of dollars for this purpose to build up the ANA and ANP so they can take back the national security of their country.  I also remarked that “We can’t do this by ourselves and it’s important we work together as a strong team and together we can beat the Taliban.”  I explained how important it is for them as soldiers to learn about tactics, weapons, and education so the Taliban can be defeated.

The last soldier I interviewed wanted to know my opinion about the Taliban since I had asked the classroom so many questions about them.  “The Taliban are extremist Muslims and trying to take over your country and want to implement their own Sharia law” I responded.  I explained that I can’t “look at an Afghan and tell whether they are Taliban unless they point a weapon at me and shoot at me.”  I also explained the importance of talking to the villagers so they will tell us who the Taliban are and the location of the IEDs.  I made it clear that IEDs are not just killing US and NATO soldiers, but they are killing the ANA and ANP as well.  In fact, more ANA and ANP soldiers have been killed by IEDs than coalition forces.  Lastly, I shared with the class my personal experiences of being exposed to enemy gunfire, mortars, rockets, and RPGs, but how that hasn’t deterred me from helping.  And  then I  reiterated: “Together as a strong team, we can defeat the Taliban.”

Attentive ANA classroom.

The questioning session was over and the Religious Officer thanked me for my time and for everything that Americans have done for them.  Now it was time to hand out the notebooks, pens, pencils, and sharpeners to the ANA soldiers.  At first it was an orderly process, but then it turned chaotic.  Some of the soldiers thought we were going to run out, so they started swarming around the Mullah and the Religious Officer handing out the supplies.  At one point until they got order, I backed away and stood behind the table using it as a barricade to keep my distance from the unruly crowd.  After a few barking commands from some officers and others, the students returned to their seats and we personally handed out the supplies ensuring everyone got an equal share.

ANA Mullah passing out pens before the class converged on him.

We left the classroom and returned to the Religious Officer’s office.  There was still a large bag of pencils and pens left over and he was handing them out to other soldiers like candy.  He also shared with me about my conversation the other day with the ANA Mullah.  The Mullah thanked him for helping to answer my questions, because apparently I make him nervous at times with the difficulty of my questions.  I had suspected that, but now I had confirmation.  I just hope this doesn’t deter the Mullah from attending future conversations, because our dialogue is always educational.

Fat Boy is trying to climb out, while Runt Runt and Bonnie sit inside their box.

Upon returning to camp, I stopped to get an update on the puppies.  The interpreters returned Fat Boy, so now all three of them including Runt Runt and Bonnie were in the box together.  As you can see by the size of Fat Boy, it’s understandable where he got his nickname.

If you would like to hear the full audio from the meeting click here ANA Education Discussion

If you you would like to hear the radio story about this meeting with the ANA soldiers/students by WUSF reporter Bobbie O’Brien, click here My Last Tour: Educating Afghan soldiers

Interview with WUSF Radio

Here is a link to the latest interview with WUSF Radio’s Bobbie O’Brien. We talked about my visit with the Afghan soldiers’ literacy program where we had a lively exchange about Americans and why U.S. troops and the coalition forces are in Afghanistan. The piece aired on the NPR affiliate in the Tampa Bay area yesterday during “All Things Considered” and this morning during “Morning Edition.”

My Last Tour: Tough questions from Afghan soldiers

%d bloggers like this: