I wrote this a few days ago in my journal and decided to share it early.
27 Sep 2011, 0556
I’m sitting at one of the helo ramps near the flightline at Kandahar to make sure that some Soldiers are able to catch a flight back to their FOB. There are a lot of other people also waiting on the flight, so I moved to an area near the parking lot to just be alone. Haven’t been in the mood to talk to many people lately. But, I’m standing here against a short t-wall watching military and civilian aircraft, fixed and rotary wing, take-off an land. It’s an awesome sight to behold.
I took note that while most of the aircraft have the same starting point on the runway, they each have varying lengths of travel before actually leaving the ground. I was surprised at how much runway some aircraft needed. Some I thought would be shorter and others longer.
The idea of freedom came to mind as I found myself entranced with following the aircraft as they negotiated the runway.
We sacrifice a lot of it in the military. Our every move is nearly dictated to us. We are not free to come and go as we please, unlike the people on some of these civilian aircraft. For 12 months, we turn over every aspect of our lives and forsake those freedoms we may take for granted in order to secure them.
Back home, if I wanted to drive to Montana or Utah or wherever for a weekend I could just go. As long as I have the financial means to get there, I could just take off. If I were going a certain distance, I would need to inform my chain of command for accountability purposes, but for the most part I’d be free to go.
But, right now, I’m stuck here within the confines of a chain-linked fence for the next 10 months of my life. I’m not complaining since I fought to get here; just making observations. The various aircraft coming and going are off-limits to me. The brief couple of days I had when I went to Manas to receive Soldiers and check up on operations there highlighted the fact that there is no escape by the manufactured controversy it created. Everything is controversial here, I guess. But, that’s to be expected with people filled with self-importance and a lack of awareness of others outside their field of vision.
It’s a claustrobic feeling sometimes when you really stop to think about it. I will often just stop on the side of the road near the fenceline when I have a few minutes or downtime and just stare into the vast desert. But, the truth is that it helps me to appreciate the freedoms this claustrophobia is protecting.