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Goodbye Ft. Benning, Hello Afghanistan!

Duffels packed and ready to go

Duffels packed and ready to go

After a week of briefings, medical exams, and deployment paperwork at the CRC (CONUS Replacement Center) at Ft. Benning, we were ready to fly! They didn’t tell us exactly when we’d be leaving, so we made sure we were packed and ready to go whenever the time came.

Each of us were allowed to bring 3 duffels (the green Army style) and one carry on, which for me was a back pack. National Headquarters gave us each big Red Cross patches to sew onto our bags to make them easy to find. At Ft. Benning, the Army issued us some of the gear we would need including boots, uniforms, cold weather gear, and protective equipment. I learned that deployment packing is a fine science and had plenty of help from the rest of the team. We made sure to pack things according to what we would need. We certainly didn’t want to have to dig to the bottom of a duffel to find something en route. The issued gear took up about 2 duffels so I had one left for personal items.

As we waited for our flight we called home and passed the time by reading, watching tv, or chatting with the soldiers and civilians traveling with us. Finally, we were briefed and went through security.

The first leg of the trip was an 8 or so hour flight to Germany. After a quick stop to refuel and view of the sunrise, we were on our way to Kuwait. The longest stop along the way, Kuwait is where we said goodbye to the 3 man team stationed at the Red Cross office at Camp Arifjan.

Waiting for the flight into Afghanistan

Waiting for the flight into Afghanistan

While waiting for the flight into Afghanistan, our team split up for a bit. Two of us were determined to stay up so we’d sleep through the flight and hopefully get adjusted to the time change. The other pair showered and got some rest in the temporary billeting tents. I called home, got some food, and watched bits of the Army Navy game at the MWR.

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Before our flight into Afghanistan, we collected our duffels and donned our IOTV (body armor) and helmet. Our bags were put onto pallets to loaded onto the plane while we took buses to the air strip.  Lined up, we boarded a C-17 with military and civilians on their way to Kandahar and Bagram. I fell asleep shortly after takeoff and only woke up as the plane spiraled into a combat landing at Kandahar Air Field. We stopped long enough to unload the passengers who were staying in Kandahar and add those heading from Kandahar to Bagram. Always curious, I stuck my head out of the plane long enough to catch a glimpse of the air field and surrounding base.

One short flight later, we landed at Bagram Air Field concluding a blurred 48 hours of traveling!

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