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Justin M. Stoddard

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Dispatches From Afghanistan #19
October 26, 2009 — 8:03 am

Subject: Update from the Stan…

Hello, friends and family;

I suppose it happens to everyone that deploys but yesterday I just kind of hit an emotional brick wall. I don’t know if it’s the long hours or what’s going on over here, but things just were not “clicking” for me. I miss my daughters. I miss my apartment. I miss Joe’s Crab Shack. I just….miss. Thankfully, a bunch of you rallied and responded to my request for emails from Facebook. That made me feel a lot better. Thank you!

A little about what is going on here: We are headed into a recount of the national election that took place in August. The recount will happen on November 7th. There is already a lot of tension surrounding the subject, but thankfully there hasn’t been a notable rise in violence. As we get closer to the date, we’ll see how everything falls into place.

Today was the second worst day for casualties for coalition forces here in Afghanistan. 14 U.S. soldiers and a number of other coalition members died in three separate helicopter crashes across the country today. The detail still aren’t clear but we know that one helicopter went down supporting a mission in the north and two others collided in the south.

It gets kind of hard to walk past the flagpoles here on base only to see at least one of them at half staff. The two that are usually down are the Afghan and U.S. flags.

There have been pretty big but thankfully rather non-violent protests here in Kabul for the past two days. The protests erupted around rumors that a U.S. soldier burned the Koran on a recent mission. I can assure you that it never happened. Any soldier caught doing such a thing would be out of the Army and possibly in jail in very quick order. Intel suggests that the Taliban started the rumor to create anti-American sentiment before the elections.

Today as I was walking to chow I saw about four or five hundred boxes with tens of soldiers swarming over them in the road way. The boxes were filled to the brim with care packages sent from people stateside…not for the soldiers themselves but for the children in Kabul city. Once a month, volunteers go out and distribute these supplies either directly to the kids or to the schools they belong to. I saw box after box filled with winter clothes, toys, games, etc… Imagine lining up for a convoy brief in order to go out into the city to distribute all this cool stuff. A typical convoy brief includes what you should do if you’re engaged by the enemy. What you should do if your vehicle is hit by an IED. What frequency you should call if you need to request a medivac. These convoys go on for 20 or 30 minutes, filled with this stuff. But still, people volunteer to go out and bring a little joy and warmth to children out in the city. Not to alarm anyone, but I’m volunteering for the next excursion out.

And, that’s why it can be so frustrating at times. You can actually see people risking their lives to distribute clothes and toys. It’s tangible. It’s reality. But, people that should know better (university students) fiercely protest a rumor that is so easily disproven.

Not that I’m against protests…but, you know…

Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t one of those “I can’t believe how ungrateful these people are” emails. I have made some wonderful Afghan friends over here and my thoughts immediately go to them whenever something happens in the city. I always hope they and their family are OK. I really do like it over here. The culture is fascinating and the people are some of the most generous and friendly you will ever meet…anywhere.

I just wish all this violence would stop. I’m not being overly naive by saying that. The people here deserve peace and prosperity, at long last.

Anyway, that’s about it from here, for now.

Again…thank you for keeping me in your thoughts!

— Justin M. StoddardComments (0)

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