Once we were on the ground in Afghanistan we waddled off the plane in our IOTV, helmets, and backpacks (easily an extra 50 lbs of weight). Despite being tired and a bit out of it due to the time difference, the first thing I noticed were the awesome mountians surrounding the base.
Team 28 came to pick us up at the PAX terminal. We collected our duffels and made our way to billeting. We were assigned rooms in b-huts which are ply wood buildings that are separated into sleeping areas. The divided into 6 or 8 sleeping sections which are best described as cubicles with doors. The “cubicle” walls don’t quite reach the ceiling so that the heat can disperse throughout the builidng. We quickly organized our gear and settled in. With 3 duffels of stuff it really doesn’t take long to unpack.
Of course with any move, it takes some time to learn the new neighborhood. In this case it was important to know where the closest bathrooms and showers are located. We also needed to know where the second closest locations were just in case you happened to need them when they were closed for cleaning. Just as important as where these facilities was located was the insider information on which showers were hot and stayed hot!
As we settled in and got aclimated to the 9.5 hour time difference, we spent the next days shadowing Team 28. It was important for each of us to learn what takes place on each shift, when the case load is heaviest, and when various meetings are held.
Team 28 did a wonderful job of introducing us to the rest of Motel 8 (the building where our office is located), the Red Cross team of volunteers, and the respective unit contacts for emergency message delivery. We also received a crash course on the locations of the DFACs (dining facilities) and their hours.
As a part of the tranistion, we had a Hail and Farewell where Bagram said goodbye to Team 28 and welcomed the newcomers from Team 29. It was a great time to recognize volunteers, the service members we work with, and to celebrate the start and end of deployments. Representatives from the units we serve, the others who work in Motel 8, and friends of the Red Cross all attended. It was a great time for us, Team 29, to meet a lot of the people we would be working with over the next 4.5 months.
Within a few days of our arrival, Team 28 had shared as much of their Bagram experience as they could and were packed and ready to head home. Team 28 made it home it time for the holidays and Team 29 is settled in and enjoying life here at Bagram Air Field.