I planned a Farewell Party for my guys (and me, of course).
I had Shoaib bring in a Kabob guy from downtown Herat. Had the whole Afghan Kabob platter. Cucumbers, tomatoes, lamb, beef and chicken. Nan (Afghan bread). Apples and Oranges. Soda and water. The meat was grilled right there on Camp Zafar by the Kabob shop owner. He knew he had to get it right because of our guests. I don’t reckon it would be good for his business to piss off the Regional Police Commander. lol
That morning (18 Feb), Shoaib was dropped off downtown. He picked up the fruit, drinks, the kabob shop guy with all of his supplies and meats and such. Yama drove them all to the gate.
At about 1030, I headed for Camp Zafar. 15 minutes later, Shoaib calls from the gate. The ANA (Afghan Army) didn’t want to cooperate. They wouldn’t let the kabob guy into the base. I jumped into one of our vans and raced to the gate. We were running late. I had expected everything to be set up and smokin’ by 1030. I rolled up to the gate like the Po Po in Miami Vice and started my routine. Talking loud. Shaking hands and walking straight through to where Shoaib was being held up outside the main gate. I stormed up to the ANA sentry and loudly proclaimed: “Hey, these guys are with me!” I pushed them all to the gate and started walking that way myself.
No problem. It’s fairly easy to deal with the ANA if you are an American.
Finally, my man was on the scene and ready to start cooking.
Fortunately, the ANP are always late. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them on time. It’s that whole “insha’allah” mentality. Things happen according to God’s will and timeline. It’s just part of dealing with Muslims in general.
We got the kabob guy set up and cooking. I had told Shoaib to have different types of meat. I wanted an Afghan style party. All we needed was for someone to get up in the middle and dance and we’d have been on it.
MG Ak and COL Zahir arrived with about 20 ANP Officers and the security detail at 1200 hours. We greeted them at the side of our class room building and brought them inside to start the party.
I got everyone seated and then stood in the middle to get everyone’s attention. It was time to give out certificates to my guys ~ Milton, Wahid, Farhad and Shoaib. I gave a short opening remark then brought my guys in along with MG AK and Al, our MPRI Team Leader, and we gave each of them a Certificate. I also gave Milton an Afghan Flag on a marble mount with Herat, Afghanistan 2007 ~ 2010 inscribed on it.
I gave a little speech in effect saying that all of my success was due to these guys and that it was an awesome opportunity for me to have worked with them and the ANP as well as all of the MPRI team members. Over all, Afghanistan has been an excellent experience for me. I feel honored to have been able to take part in this grand adventure in some small capacity.
MG Ak stepped up next and presented me with another Cert and a beautiful carpet that I’ll probably have framed and hang at home. It depicts the Minarets and the Ghowharashad Masjid. It’s quite colorful as well. I liked it. He gave a little speech and saying that he’d enjoyed our time together and that I was a true member of the team and had become a part of the Afghan family. So much so that they had given me the nickname “Dawood Khan.” Everyone got a laugh out of that. He presented Milton with a Cert as well and talked him up a bit.
Milton spoke a bit after that. Thanking everyone for the successes out here and saying that the Herat Team was his favored place of the teams with which he had worked. And this is true. We’ve had our squabbles. Some ongoing. For the most part, though, we’ve got on like family. To include the squabbles. lol Some of it reminds me of sibling rivalry. Some of us just want to do the job. We don’t care about recognition or awards. Some want to be heroes and want to be recognized as such. All part of the game.
We had a good group out here. And it was a joy to work with these guys.
I gave a few last remarks and then said; “Alright, time to eat!”
Then I walked out and started pushing the guys to get the food in to our guests.
At some point, I sat down to eat with MG Ak. We talked about my plans after Afghanistan. He asked me if I’d be coming back at some point. I told him that I didn’t plan to do so, but, that only God knows the future. Of course, sometime during the conversation he told me to take care of my health because I’d gotten a bit heavy since I’d been here. lol I laughed and told him that Unny was making me join a gym in Bangkok. He got a kick out of that. As always, he asked after family. Wanted to make sure that I was keeping in touch with Momma. I told him that, of course, I was.
I have to say that Shoaib did a most excellent job with arranging everything. The guy has been key to all my endeavors out here. I’m lucky to have had such a great friend and co-worker. Gods blessings.
Everyone ate. We joked. Laughed. It was a good time.
I stood up to ask MG AK for a last picture together. Called COL Zahir over for the pic.
As soon as MG AK stood, the whole of the ANP stood and started filing out.
We took pics with the General. All of us together. Before COL Zahir got away, I grabbed him for one last photo. He started talking about Bangkok and told MG Ak that I was soon to be married. lol MG Ak asked me about Unny. I showed him a picture of her. He complimented her effusively saying how pretty she was and that I should take care of her. Not let her get away. Get married and have a family. I told him that this was in my plans.
Then we said farewell for a final time. MG AK wished me well in my future endeavors and told me to give greetings and his thanks to my Mother for sending him such a “fine young man” to mentor his Officers. COL Zahir started joking on me and we exchanged a few last jibes.
Then it was over. As sudden as it started. In with a bang, out with a bang.
It was a great end to my time here in Herat.
That night and the next day, all of the MPRI guys kept stopping by to tell me that it was a great party and they had appreciated being a part of it.
They had to be a part of it, though. They were part of my time here. It’s only fitting that they be in on the end.
I’ve had a great time here in Herat. It’s been a joy to work here with my American colleagues as well as the ANP and ABP. They’ve been a great bunch and have helped to make this “tour of duty” extremely rewarding for me.
Below are photos of the event. There are a bunch, though. lol Enjoy and Khoda hafiz.
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