We left Texas to travel overseas not knowing exactly where our flight would take us, only knowing that at the end of our few day journey we would end up in Afghanistan. As we boarded the plane it still had not really sunk in what lie ahead. After several hours in the air we found ourselves at Bangor, Maine and for such a small community they sure care about the soldiers. With people at the airport in the early hours of the morning lining up to greet us and even offer free pictures to be posted online for our family members to see we are doing fine. We were able to get some food, coffee and take some time to stretch and relax while the plane was refueled and cleaned for our next trip.
When we boarded the plane again we knew it was the last time we would be in our wonderful country for months to come and the old familiar feeling started forming in my stomach. The few days before the big game feeling. Nothing extreme but just the feeling that in the near future something big is going to happen. As we boarded we were sent off by the same people who greeted us with a hand shake a thank you and a god bless. When we got on the plane we found out that our next stop would be in Germany. Excited to see foreign land we settled in for the trip. Landing down in Germany I began to think about home and how its strange that halfway around the world can look so much like Montana. Maybe it was just the cooler temperature and actual vegetation after being in the Texas desert. We found out that we would be on about 24 hours layover and began to claim our areas for the long day in the airport. We had a room full of 3 layer bunks to rest and 3 areas with power outlets. Needless to say the power outlets were camped on by someone posting guard on multiple computers, cellphones, ipads/ipods and anything that people wanted charged up for the next trip.
The 24 hours was a good chance to talk to family and friends on the internet and some brave soldiers even called home on the pay phones. Not the cheapest but its always worth talking to people at home. Germany was full of fun items for everyone to get a kick out of and I plan to take more pictures should we travel that way again. We loaded up the next day and once again unsure of where we were off to. After getting situated on the phone we learned we would be flying to Kyrgyzstan. This would be the last destination of our regular flights and we would have a couple days there to adjust. This was where my thought process began to transition from every day training to the reality of what lie ahead.
I took this chance to get some pictures of the local attractions such as the garbage can that you are not allowed to throw hand grenades or ammunition in. I thought to myself does that really need to be explained? But obviously someone at some point thought a hand grenade in a garbage can would be just fine. I also had a chance to take in some of the coffee that my friend had told me about called Green Beans. Even more specific the M.O.A.C ( Mother of All Coffee). If it does not give you the coffee rush you are looking for then i believe your bedtime was 2 days ago. I got my coffee and headed to a covered area to enjoy it and finally had a minute to get on egriz.com to check up on the latest news. I read about the reporter taking shots at egriz.com and could only think to myself that here is a reporter complaining about the very right she is entitled to and uses on a daily basis. Our first amendment freedom of speech/press which i know she is clearly familiar with. Its no surprise I am far from being a journalist but trashing a site that gives me the chance to keep up on Griz Nation while fighting overseas for such rights, well…..thats your right. After reading that article it was a great surprise and honor to see my little buddy Ravis as we prepared to leave Montana. I shared the article with the rest of the guys in the 260th EN CO and we carried on to prepare for our next flight.
The flight that would take us to our temporary home for the next several months. The flight was much more stressful then the previous for obvious reasons. This was a military flight taking us into a combat situation. No in flight meal no extra pillow. Combat gear on M4 in hand and stuffed in a giant plane. This is where many different emotions showed on different faces. The excitement of doing something so big, the worry of what will happen, the bond of a company growing from one weekend a month soldiers in Montana to 24/7 route clearing soldiers in a foreign unfamiliar country. We touched down in Afghanistan and the feeling of something not so familiar came over me. A new “game day” feeling I had not felt before.
Its great we are finally here to get our missions going and get back to our loving families, our friends and of course Griz Football.
SPC Bret Hellyer
Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan