First glimpse of Afghanistan

Palletized seats in a C-17 cargo plane- courtesy of

The C-17 was full and the 4.5 hour ride was cramped- if you thought you had no legroom on an airliner, try sitting on the palletized seats made for this baby! We were required to wear our IBA (body armor) during the flight and the seat rows were only wide enough to get your legs in as you shuffled to fill all the seats. I had a middle seat (of course) meaning my backpack would sit in my lap the whole flight and act as an upright pillow while my knees were against the seatback in front of me. All the snoring and other noises heard while trying to sleep in the tents in Kuwait had us pretty worn out- we were only getting a couple of hours of sleep a night so sleeping upright in the cargo area of a C-17 wasn’t a problem for me. The problem was getting up to use the one bathroom at the forward bulkhead.
Everyone to my left or right had to stand up and move into the side isle in order for me to get out- and in. I didn’t enjoy waking the people next to me and making them get up, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
We landed normally in the late evening which was strange to me since I was expecting a combat approach- spiralling down from 15,000 feet directly over the airport to avoid ground fire, passengers puking from the steep banked decent and 2,000+ feet per minute drop but thankfully we were spared the experience. I didn’t see any airsick bags in the seats so it wouldn’t have been pretty.
I started getting used to military accomodations by this point. Sleeping in multi-person tents while F-15’s take off from a runway that seems like it is on the other side of the wall, walking a couple of hundred feet to use the bathrooms and shower areas, eating in a REAL DFAC (cafeteria) that had pretty decent food and an ice cream bar! Luckily I was also working out a lot or I would have looked like some of my middle-aged collegues. I could have gotten used to living like this, but that place was just the staging area. After three days, we found out our future was going to have a more European flavor.


About John Sep

Former Space Shuttle aerospace technician and private pilot now looking towards the next great adventure. Soon to be heading home from my overseas assignment! Transfered my blog from MySpace to here so check my older stuff for info and pictures from my days in space shuttle processing- lots of behind the scenes stuff! He drew pics, flew planes, fought fires and helped launch people into space - what will he do next?
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5 Responses to First glimpse of Afghanistan

  1. Good luck, and stay safe! I’ll be watching your blog.

  2. kafoodie says:

    Welcome to Afghanistan. I’ve been over here for three years helping the Canadian and Australian armies “find bad guys in the mountains of Afghanistan.” It’s not clear from your post but I assume you’ve flown into Bagram? I’m down in that garden spot, Kandahar. If you want some insight into what you’ll think of DFAC food after being here awhile you can check out my blog.

    • jcabsep says:

      They do a pretty good job in Bagram’s DFACs- Warrior is a little nicer to eat in. Haven’t been to K-town, but I’ll check out your blog. Thanks for reading!

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