We touched down in Manas, and as I got off the plane I didn’t
instantly start to sweat. As I inhaled I remembered the feeling I had
when I touched down in Parris Island in 2003. It was like breathing
liquid. The air didn’t smell like the dead air out of a hair-dryer,
you could smell life in it. This is a ‘Stan no doubt, but I felt like
I stepped into the apogee of civilization.
We were trundled into busses and then into a briefing tent where we
were repeatedly admonished by an obese Airman-First class not to take
our rifles of pistols anywhere we went, not to the linen facility, not
to the smoke pit, and not to the gym, just lock them up and put a
guard on them (though we were also advised that females could not
guard male’s weapons in their ‘dorms’ as the USAF calls them). A few
of the Marines even tried to use the restroom down one of the halls
and were reprimanded by Air Force personnel. What a different world.
We had a brief from a US Army sergeant in workout gear about customs
and were told “when in doubt throw it out” and that our bayonets would
be confiscated if we put them in our carry-ons, though our rifles and
pistols were somehow fine. We were told that this was a salute-base,
but that transient personnel were not allowed off base because of the
threat from locals (though the permanent personnel go out in town in
civilian clothes routinely). Incongruously, the US Air Force
considers this a combat zone and all the pay accrued while here is
non-taxable and they get all of the same benefits we did in
Afghanistan. Most stupidly, we were briefed about the alcohol on
base, every other service branch gets to have a beer on the way home,
but not the USMC, the guys who really need a drink. It’s a different
We took our gear out, put it in big boxes for customs, and went to
chow, it was now 0500.
After chow I stayed awake for a while. I wanted to get back onto
California time. I didn’t got to sleep until 0700, I took a bunch
Melatonin. Woke around midday, took some more and slept until 1500.
I went to the gym. On the way I slipped out a side gate onto a
running path that had a view of the mountains which was constantly
patrolled by USAF personnel. The gym was packed and circadian rhythm
was all screwed up, so my workout sucked.
I came back and had some chow in the chow hall with the veritable
mountain of chocolate (I took a picture), and now I’m back catching up
on E-mails and writing this.
I am going to try to pull an all-nighter and keep trying to get back
on CA time.