Monday, May 01, 2006

Afghan Images, Afghan Memories




There's one incident from my trip to Afghanistan back in May of 2005 that I love sharing. I went out on a patrol along the Pech River to survey an IED site. The battalion's executive officer was making his rounds of the various FOBs (forward operating bases) the previous week when his vehicle was destroyed by an IED set in the road that parallels the river. Miraculously, other than busted ear drums, no one was seriously hurt. One of the drawings with this posting is of the XO's driver.

This road, if you can even call it that, ran between Asadabad and Jalalabad. The narrow valley that the Pech River had carved over the millenia was deep and rugged. All along our way we were greeted by families coming out of their rustic stone homes, ragtag gangs of boys in baggy pants dashing up from swimming holes and farmers busy in their terraced wheat fields. The smells of dust, freshly sythed wheat, water from the spring melt boiling in the river, and Humvee engine exhaust filled the air like some exotic curry dish. I was standing braced in the rear of an open back vehicle holding on for dear life. This road was so rough that kidney stones were being passed, dental fillings loosened and major vehicle components dislodged and discarded by the roadside.....and we could only go 20 mph max! Village after village came out to wave and stare.

Just below one of these villages, from my vantage point standing high up in the back of the HUMVEE, I saw what I soon learned to be a new school house. What drew my attention, in this landscape of golden fields, rock walls and churning water, was a flood of blue and white pouring out of the school. Banging down a river valley at 10 to 20 mph gives folks a lot of time to stop what they're doing and see what the ruckus is all about. What greeted us as we slowly passed the school house were several hundred Afghan girls in uniforms of sky blue cerulean topped with snow white hajibs. They were waving as if waving was an Olympic event. They stood in windows, leaned over the courtyard wall and jammed the entrance way jockeying for position. Here's the best part, the part I tear up every time I re-live this moment; they were shouting in English "Thank You!"

9 comments:

GunnNutt said...

Oh, what a cool story!!! No wonder you love to share it. Thank you!

Renée said...

Mike:

This is just the way I pictured the girls in my mind when you shared the story on Sunday.

Thanks for you.

Carol said...

Cerulean Blue - not just any blue, but Cerulean. Simple and beautiful imagery. A wonderful post.

C.

EdoRiver said...

You may wonder why I am posting this. Your site is usually so confident. At this moment, I am thinking about a message I received news about a high school alum I once despised. We have to wait until it touches our own lives before we act, I suppose this is how it's supposed to be. Looking on the bright side can ALSO be a form of denial. Anyway the guy I once knew doesn't deserve the crap he's having to go through now. Who knows, you may be next? God bless you all. Let's pray for His mercy on our souls for what we are doing to others. I read my Bible, sometimes, more now than before. It doesn't say anything about us having the sight to separate the sheep from the goats. We are not almighty God, and as far as I know, He didn't invite us to be His partner and decide who should live and who should die.
Or maybe you have a different Bible from me?

"Of the 580,000 Iraq War 1 veterans, 56 percent have applied for disability treatment and benefits. Depleted uranium is the sin of the father visited upon the next generation, whether it’s parental illness, death, or birth defects and genetic damage inherited by untold generations. Brothers, if you’re going over, bank your sperm. Sisters, if you’re going over—have your babies first.

Iraq is a nuclear war. DU munitions are weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Yes, there are WMDs in Iraq."

Bag Blog said...

Great story! Great art!

Buck Pennington said...

Way beyond excellent, as always, Mr. Fay. Uncle Sam's Misguided Children are quite fortunate, indeed, to have you as their spokesman.

Please...don't ever stop doing what you're doing. And thanks, again, for all you do, and all you've done.

chtrbx said...

thank you for sharing with us...I appreciate your talents and your perspective...

HumanBeforeJewish said...

tell this story to the cindy sheehans of our nation!! michael, not only are you artistic with your pen(cil), but your words are beautiful too, capturing the moment and the mood oh so perfectly.
keep on keeping on.

tony said...

Your story brought back some memories. My son was at Camp Blessing with 1st platoon, India Company when the XO's humvee detonated the IED. Thankfully everyone was no worse the wear.

3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines is now in Iraq.

Your blog helps sustain us through another deployment.

Thank you very much....

Tony