Christmas ADT II Style

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Christmas Eve 2012, GA ADT II celebrated with a cookout/Dirty Santa party. I understand that the aforementioned type of event can also be referred to as ‘White Elephant’ parties, but given the events that transpired, I feel that ‘Dirty Santa’ is a more fitting nomenclature (Doug may have shown up in a Santa thong). We started the the evening cooking hotdogs, hamburgers and the COL’s famous homemade chili. Don’t ask where we got the cookout foodstuffs, however the National Guard Soldiers are known for their unique ‘acquiring’ skills. After eating, SSG Walker led us in a reading of the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke. Then Soldiers took turn reading holiday letters that US schoolchildren had sent to us. It was a welcome relief for some Joes to have letters that were written on their reading levels. “I have two dogs, three parents, and four cats” “We hope that you are the super-heroes of America”  “I was a cat this past halloween”  “We hope that you be safely return back to home soon” Just to name a few gems. After the reading[sic], the Dirty Santa gift giving kicked off. The Dirty Santa gifts include but are not limited to the following: Hot Topic t-shirt, Bear Grylls knive, 1lb Reeses Cups, gator-leather flask/shot-glass set, knock-off North Face jacket, hoodies, t-shirts, golf club trainers, beer helmet, crocs, whitey-tighties, Batman trilogies, N.O. Explod, chess set,  Butt Putt putting game, SpongeBob underwear, toolkits, weight-lifting statue, zippos, and numb-chucks. SSG Ives kicked off the gift stealing early, and it all went downhill from there. The North Face jacket, chess set and the Butt Putt were some of the hotly contended items. I have been to my fair share of Dirty Santa parties (Since this is such a big part of American culture, we should probably be past explaining the rules every-single-time. Oh well, maybe next year we can log that as common knowlege), I can honestly say that this one of the best times that I have ever had at a Christmas party. In lieu of my family and friends, my ‘second family’ makes a pretty good surrogate. GA ADT II is deeply grateful to SPC Green, and SGT Anderson for their tireless efforts in coordinating this whole shindig. Now if I can just get those images of Doug out of my head…

Kung-Fu Master

First Snow

Kung-FU“Hitch, I need you over here quick!” This radio call from my platoon sergeant worried me a little bit. As a linguist for the security platoon you just never know what you’ll have to deal with on any given mission. It could be anything from serious intel or a dude trying to finagle a job on our camp. I made my way over to my platoon sergeant, who is standing by himself looking over a fence. “There is an Afghan guy here who claims to be a Kung-Fu master…right now he is going to get his Kung-Fu magazines” Well as it turns out, this guy is a legit ke-rah-té master, featured on the cover of several prominent Afghan martial arts magazines (I guess there is more than one?). To top it all off Mr. Afghan Miyagi here is opening his own local Dojo next summer, and he is going to the head trainer. In keeping with counter-insurgency and cultural awareness  one of the guys was quoted as saying “Great. Not only is the taliban trying to blow us up, but now we gotta worry about getting attacked by ninja taliban”

In other news the first snow came early this year right after Thanksgiving. Will a water-balloon launcher work with snowballs: YES. Does the base ‘rapid[ish] response force’ have any idea where the snowballs have been coming from: NO.

Here is the ADT II NOVEMBER’12 Newsletter, the official look at the mission of the GA Agribusiness Development Team, Feel free to share with friends and family who care what we actually do. Also if you have missed any past news letters check out the Newsletters page.

October

The weather is getting colder in time.

My mom sent me a treat.

The taliban is losing their mind.

Our deck is now 100 feet.

MOvember…the ‘stache is coming back.

Just about everything else is OK.

Coming home in Feb is still on track.

Happy late Birthday MK!

Rennovations

Slowly but surely the weather is getting colder, and for many of us, winter can’t come fast enough. Lately we have been working on renovations around our tents and living areas as we prepare our tents for wintertime…mostly this consists of arguing about which way is best, and building mega-porches. Everybody here is enjoying football season, both NCAA and NFL. The only problem is deciding which games are worth waking up for at 0430 in the morning. Because of various NCAA affiliations, and UGA bandwagon fans, we built a flagpole display at the office so that everyone can fly their college colors, but as its is, my name is still on the blog, so only Georgia Tech gets to be in color. #gojackets #photoshop.  Recently on a mission, I met a deaf Afghan who couldn’t speak or talk, but he was able to read and write Farsi…so he and I hung out having a ‘conversation’ via notebook. He was stoked to have a buddy to hang out with and talk, much less an American soldier.

Jackalope

Here in Afghanistan we live in tents, nice tents but tents none the less. I say that the tents are nice because there is a wide range of possibilities for customization, and personalization. Recently a maintenance/camp staff worker was surveying one of our tents to see about repairing some damage. Imagine his surprise, when he walks into the back porch to see Brandi standing there armed with a boonie hat and her airsoft gun. Then while he is scratching his head over that one,  SFC Neal yelled at the guy for almost stepping on the Jackalope that was setting on the floor. I’m not sure what confused the guy more, trying to figure out if Jackalopes are real, or SFC Neal’s amount of emotional attachement to said Jackalope. I am pretty sure that all the maintenance staff involved left that day with a strong conviction that everyone in GA ADT II has lost their mind

When I got up this morning it was actually a little cold outside, granted I got up at 0430 to watch Georgia Tech play VT, but nonetheless Fall is in the air and it couldn’t come soon enough.  Here is the ADT II August’12 Newsletter, the official look at the mission of the GA Agribusiness Development Team, Feel free to share with friends and family who care what we actually do over here.

The Curious Case of the Playaway Station

My unit has a ‘multi-purpose’ tent. The powers-that-be do not know about said tent, and hopefully don’t read this blog. Inside we have the usual: flatscreen TVs, xBoxes, PS3s, refrigerators, book and dvd library, guitars, games et cetera. War is hell…I know. Anyways, a certain benevolent soldier (who shall remained unnamed) decided that she would procure for the unit a collection of Playaways, miniature audiobook players, with captivating titles including but not limited to, The 5 Love Languages, Emotional Intelligence: Redefining what it means to be smart, Sleep Sounds, Ronan’s Lover, Sleep Sounds II, and of course Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Healing Journeys. I imagine that there are many other titles out there, but only the best made it to our Forward Operating Base. The Playaway Station came with a nice display  that included a quote from a soldier who said, “Sometimes I find myself too tired at night to read for enjoyment, listening to these books is super awesome blah blah blah” I don’t know exactly what the sign said…I stopped reading a paragraph about somebody not reading but rather listening. Maybe because the sign was next to a 55′ flatscreen TV…I don’t know? War is hell. I digress…anyway…If there is one thing that I love about JOE, its that JOE speaks his mind. Maybe its something about life on deployment being boiled down to its bare essentials, life and death, kill or be killed, who knows. Either way combat units have developed a language and culture of bluntness and brevity that stops miles short of caring how you feel about the matter. Well it only took a matter of time before JOE decided to share his thoughts on the Playaway posterchild’s inability to read at night before bed. JOE promptly inscribed the the poster with the following poetry, “Stop Being a Crybaby” and removed the Playaway banner…and that is how this case found its way onto my desk. Aforesaid benevolent soldier felt that the ‘Crybaby’ graffiti was disrespectful to her efforts to provide quality, portable, recorded books for the soldiers of GA ADT II. Therefore the SECFOR Platoon leadership formed an emergency tribunal and commissioned the, now retired, GA ADT II Investigative Team to present their findings or the whole platoon would have to fill sandbags for 4 hours or something like that… The team  included Dr. Caleb A. Moore, PhD Forensic Motiveology, PhD Distal Forensics (Fingerprintology), MA “Bad-Cop”ology, BS Criminal Justice (Phoenix Online) Minor: Criminal Law~ish, and myself Dr. D. Brent Hitchcock, PhD Forensic Linguistics & Graphology (Handwriting Analysis), PhD Independent Film Studies / Production, MA “Good-Cop”ology, BS Criminal Justice (Phoenix Online). We are basically like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Although there is some dispute over who is Sherlock, I am the one with a pipe…just saying.

In the two hours after the investigation started, Dr. Moore and myself  initiated forensic fingerprint analysis, conducted extensive field interviews and handwriting analysis, found the perpetrator, obtained a confession, returned the Playaway banner, and solved the case in time to make it to lunch for Taco Tuesday…war is hell. See video for some of our funnier work:

Interviews from Brent Hitchcock on Vimeo.

 

Well let me sum up a long story, we presented before the tribunal, and chose not to reveal the identity of the perpetrator, under our conclusion that its better to fill sand bags than to dime-out one of SECFOR platoon (That and a little street-justice will take care of any future problems). We also discovered that you can actually pull a fingerprint with anti-fungal foot powder and packing tape…who saw that coming? We also concluded that the Playaway poster child  may in fact be a little bit of a crybaby…too tired to read at night? Suck it up JOE, war is hell.

Days In The Sun

Well its been another few weeks in the Afghan sun, days roll by, missions roll on…There is no denying that its a hard life over here, sometimes they run out of praline ice cream in the chow hall, and you have to settle for chocolate…again. Well that, and every other day somebody is trying to kill you, but despite that Afghanistan has this weird way of working its way into your heart. Just when you think all hope is gone for this country, you meet a few Afghan soldiers who actually give a damn, and on top of that know their job well. Just when you think that you can have a quiet afternoon reading a book, Meat-head and Brian Taylor come into your room and beat the crap out of you for 10 mins, then you chase them off and break Meat-head’s ankle (Still don’t feel bad about that one). Just when you  think that guard duty is the worst possible job to have, everybody else has to fill up sandbags tomorrow morning (Thats taking place as you read this haha) Just when you think you made some kids day by giving him a stuffed animal, you see that same animal on sale in the local bazar the next week. Maybe he used the money to buy some ice cream, then sold it to his buddy at a mark-up…I don’t know.

Hot off the press: The ADT II JULY’12 Newsletter, the official look at the mission of the GA Agribusiness Development Team. PS — Just a heads-up, the picture of SPC Nabb may not be safe for work, or small children (Also some things, just can be un-seen). Don’t say I didn’t warn you..

Do Work Son

Leave was a good time, but it was a vacation. Somewhere along the way in America we were taught to cherish the vacations, the breaks, as the ultimate. Working for the weekend. Saving up for the ‘big one’. Put in my time now, so I can relax later. The list goes on and on…but what about the 48 weeks of the year that I will be in Afghanistan? What about the percentage of my day that is spent working, what about the massive chunks of time that I am not on vacation. Seems like the vacations, the sabbaths are not the problem. I know how to relax on Sunday, I have no trouble figuring out to do with my vacation. What I need is to learn to love the 48 weeks over the 4, the 17 odd hours awake over the 7 asleep. Not to mention, when I go to work tomorrow, the ‘tools’ that I get to work with are what most people get for Christmas.

Chicken Changed My Life

While I was home on leave I was able to eat lunch with a good buddy of mine at the Chick-Fil-A Corporate office.  To put it lightly the Chick-Fil-A headquarters is an amazing reflection of its Christian values and their impact on the workplace.  The on-site daycare, running track, fish pond, waterfall, fitness center / racquetball courts, cafeteria (with free CFA milkshakes), breakout rooms, leadership books library, and inspirational quotes scattered across the campus are just a few manifestations Chick-fil-A’s commitment to have a positive impact on its employees. (The actual Batmobile in the Lobby however…too much? Nah, just go with it)  This got me to thinking…there are so many ways that I would change the way that I live and work if I were committed to excellence and impacting others around me. I honestly have no idea what that will begin to look like on a day to day basis, but I want to move towards being characterized by excellence and a care for others.

All that being said. Dan Cathy spoke out this week, and defended CFA’s anti-gay marriage stance. In the ensuing sh*t-storm that followed thousands labeled Chick-Fil-A as a ‘hate-group’, and have promised to boycott the company et cetera, et cetera. Well, one time when I was a kid my friend Matthew pissed me off so I stopped going to his house, and I may and or may not have called him a ‘doo-doo head’, but now as a semi-adult male, I would probably handle things differently. But is this really the culture that we want to cultivate in America? Do we want to be known as the country notorious for commercial boycotts over political differences? Do we want to be a nation where political campaigns are won and lost over who can dig up more dirt on the other candidate? (I don’t care that a certain candidate got arrested in college…its college! thats where you’re supposed to get arrested)  As a soldier who is fighting for and potentially dying for our freedom, I ask this of you. Steward our great nation while I am gone; vote, disagree, vie for change, but let’s be mature about this. I’m a nation, urination.

I don’t have too many pictures to share with you this week, but trust me…your baby is doing fine (Unless your special someone is Summerell, he is getting pretty fat) I’ll leave you with one of my favorite videos of Afghanistan that shows a side many have never seen.

Afghanistan – touch down in flight

Backstreets Back…Alright!

Ok…so I recently went on leave, and gave you all the silent treatment. Thats my bad, and I apologize. Thanks to everyone who reminded me that they missed the blog, I truly feel loved. On a good note…I am back, and the completely biased and impertinent portral of the deployment can continue.

Taking leave from deployment is a crazy experience. You leave your camp, go through a drawn out process of waiting at airports around the world, to include but not limited to Kuwait (also spelled p-u-r-g-a-t-o-r-y) where daytime temperatures approach 125 degrees, and everyday is groundhog day. One day you are in Logar speaking Farsi, then just a few days later you are at Chick-Fil-A in Macon, GA trying to explain to the cashier that ‘entree’ on the coupon means main-course, and not side-item. Leave was a good time but inevitably too short, apologies that I didn’t get around to seeing everybody…we will have to catch up when I get back next spring. I do have a good story about how Chick-Fil-A changed my life, but that will have to wait ’till next week.

This is running a few decades late, but here is the ADT II June’12 Newsletter, the official look at the mission of the GA Agribusiness Development Team, and this month has a truly funny letter from the LT. At one point I believe that some of the credit for our success is attributed to his mustache. Feel free to share with friends and family who care what we actually do over here. Finally congratulations to the latest additions to the ADT II family. Kody and Quatie Jorgensen welcomed a girl on March 9. Her name is Kuwayah. Brian and Stephanie Neal for their latest ‘dismount’ Luke David Neal. Additional congratulations to Aaron and Nichole Arthur for their recent ‘dismount’ Connor Arthur, and funnally Brian and Kate Felker with their latest Jayden Brooke Samelastname (its what he said) I was going to make a counting back conception joke, but  I can’t solve July – 9 = ?? off the top of my head. You see where I was going though…November heh heh. Backstreets back! Alright!