My team’s bags finally arrived, and I held out hope until the last minute that mine would come straggling in, but no such luck.
The PX was small, with limited inventories and almost no clothing for women. I purchased a towel, a pack of men’s t-shirts, socks and two pair of men’s trousers right before we went on lock-down for the flight to Afghanistan.
My laptop, good boots and stacks of neatly ironed Mossy Oak RedHead shirts with matching tactical pants would never find me now.
I learned a lot that day. Lock-down simply meant being locked in a very hot, large tent with all your belongings and a whole bunch of other sweaty people for a couple of hours while someone in the front screamed orders so fast I couldn’t understand a word. Thank goodness Lt. Col. (ret) Lew Deal could interpret the announcements for me.
Someone tipped me off that the seats along the sides of the plane were the best, but they were all full when I boarded. Far be it for me to argue over a seat, especially when the occupant has a 9-mm and I’m just wearing a boat anchor in the shape of a vest.
But there is justice. I found a seat in the cramped front-middle of the plane and soon struck up conversation with a young man in a tan jumpsuit. He was a hunter so we hit it off immediately.
As the cargo was loaded, he asked if I would like to ride in the cockpit with him and the other pilot as we flew from Kyrgyzstan to deliver the load of passengers and gear. He didn’t have to ask me twice.
The sky was crystal clear, which gave me an eagle’s eye view of the mountains below.
We landed somewhere in Afghanistan, and about a dozen passengers loaded on a C-117 along with a menagerie of pallets, fuel tanks and things I couldn’t identify. But that left all kinds of against-the-wall seating on this flight.
We arrived at Camp Bagram sometime before midnight. Our contact assigned us a bunk. This place had none of the casualness we found at Camp Manas.
The obvious fortifications spelled war zone.