By Nandy Perillo
This deployment has been the most rewarding for me. I have deployed over a dozen times on a Navy carrier in my 22+ years of Naval service, but this seven month is a true life experience ….
The only hardest thing about this deployment is the pre-deployment because NOT knowing what to expect and the uncertainty of what’s ahead. You hear good news and bad news from the press. You hear good stories from people who came back from deployment. But until you’ve gone through it, your mind plays tricks on you.
From this deployment, I bring home lots of memories. For instance, I observed that Afghans are a bit different people. I mean they love different types of animals.
I remember at my work site as the contractor was clearing the area, they disturbed a mice den. Several mice ran between my legs. As I readied for a kill (to step on them), one local national, my shooter, said, “No, No, don’t hurt them.” At another site, I saw an Afghan chewing on his bread and spitting it out to feed a colony of ants. I told them, where I come from, we kill mice and ants.
Afghans are a very hard working people, too. They make do with the very few things they’ve got and they are very resourceful. They are very good in building stonewalls and digging pits.
Again at my project site, they built this beautiful retaining wall that I called the “Afghanistan wall” that was not even in the scope of work. They dig pits 45 ft deep, 80 cm diameter with just a pick.
The children work hard, too. They start working at a very early age. I watched this Kuchi (nomad) herding the flocks of sheep, staying the whole day under the heat of the sun. He was no older than eight years old and he kept pace with his bigger sister.
I have other memories but the two that will stick in my mind most h involve knowledge and a lack thereof on my part. One is the good learning experience I had at the rifle range, qualifying the M-16 as sharp shooter. I want to thank Lieutenant Colonel Joe for teaching the course on his free time.
The other was, during a delivery of goods to a refugee camp, my task was to give out candy to the kids. As the goods distribution got out of order, we were directed to mount and make a fast exit. I was one of the first drivers to drive away and the others were to follow. But, since we had plenty candy leftover and the children were running by my car, we dumped the rest of the candy on the road for the children to pick-up. When we got back to Qalaa House (the Afghanistan Engineer District Headquarters) during the debriefing, I found out why the rest of the cars didn’t follow me. They didn’t want to run over the kids. I told my wife about this episode and she laughed. What I called lack of knowledge; she called “stupidity.”
I had a great time in Afghanistan. Thanks to all everyone……… I love you all!