If you have never flown in a full on military aircraft – flying on a C-130 could be quite a shock. The middle of the plane has some metal cylinders with a red thin material – probably polyester – like what you would find on a folding chair – what we refer to as sling seats. There were seat belts – but I’m not really sure what good they did. So we settled in. The heat felt great – at first, but after a couple hours, I think my skin actually started to cook and I became very uncomfortable. This had to be one of the longest rides of my life. The flight took just under 5 hours, with heat on me full blast the whole flight.
As we unloaded from the plane onto the tarmac at KIAK (Kabul international airport), I took a moment to take in the scenes. It looked like we had landed in a 3rd world country, as we had. Small buildings – looking like they had been built in the last century, sparse settings, snow, cold, etc. Not much to see.
We walked over to the airport and found an empty room we could hole up in – so we did. We hit the latrine, and unloaded our luggage from the pallet, and took in the sites. There were soldiers from every country I could think of – Italy, Germany, Finland, Poland, Sweden, we even talked to a doctor from Norway that had been in the civilian areas doing surgery on Afghanistani folks. He stated that he had saved more lives in the months that he had been there, than he would the rest of his career. He was beaming, and very proud of the work he had done. Very cool.
We waited, and made some phone calls to see if we had a ride coming, and were told we did. We waited for about an hour or so, and our ride showed up – 2 Land Cruisers with 4 Brits driving. We loaded up our gear on top, and told we had an hour to kill. We decided to check out the multiple PX’s that were around the airport. We hit the German and Italian – as well as the US stores. Very interesting stuff – all different types of camo’s, the German px had the german military full leather over coats – nice. The prices were all in Euro’s – of course, and the selection was limited – but there were iPods, stereos and nice watches all about. I picked up some Swedish chocolate – very good. We body armored up, loaded our weapons, and climbed in the trucks for the 2 mile journey.