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BLOG - On the Frontlines

By Amy K. Mitchell
USO, Vice President, Publications

"My List"

April 26, 2009, Part I

We were behind schedule even before we began today due to mechanical issues with our plane. Out here, when something is broken it is not like just calling out to the main wing group and requesting immediate support. Every mission is a priority and safety always come first. So, we are in debt to the 41st Airlift Squadron for coming to our rescue, looking out for our welfare, and safely sheparding us to our next destination. We were headed into central Afghanistan again -- and one of the "hottest" insurgent provinces.

FOB #10 is over the mountains and is literally built around Afghan qalats -- square mud structures that hold up against centuries of time due to their unique composition of mud, hay, and rendered animal fat. An open courtyard area is used for housing structures or a bazaar. There are two qalats on this FOB and our concert was held in the open air courtyard with a view of the snow-capped mountains just above the high walls.

On the surrounding hills, more of Alexander the Great's castles dot the landscape. It is an ancient country, and it would appear that Alexander might have had as many "castles" as Saddam had palaces.

This is home to members of the 3-17 Cav unit and they take pride in their unit's steeped history. At the end of the show, they presented a pair of spurs to Toby, affixing them to his boots and then hoisting him into the air!

Every FOB we've visited has given Toby a gift that comes from the heart and is something that has a special meaning behind it. They view Toby as one of their own, so each unit has inducted him into their club with a gift that is unique to that group of men and women. It's been wonderful to see the excitement on their faces as the gifts are opened and a smile appears across Toby's face because he knows the significance of each and how hard each worked to do something in return for him, as unnecessary as it is.

Toby is here to be here with them, and that's been the greatest gift of all.