On the morning of 13 Sep I posted this to my Facebook account:
in case anyone wondered, despite the fact that I've been there twice, to include an in depth tour and videotaping the view from atop the building, I was NOT anywhere near the consulate in Herat this morning. I did wake up about 0530 hearing a loud explosion, louder than the normal controlled detonations. I'm still not sure what that was because I'm too far from the consulate for that to have been what I heard, but I am safe! — at Camp Stone.
When you live in a war zone conflict would seem to be inevitable. Yet living on the Afghanistan Riviera has been very low-keyed and laid back. The morning of 13 Sep changed that. I woke up wondering if I would go back to sleep or start worrying about work.
An unfortunate consequence of living 50 feet from your desk is that sometimes it's real hard to stay in bed. Within a minute of waking I heard a loud rumble. It sounded like a detonation.
For those that haven't been to a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Afghanistan, there is an interruption we call The Voice, or sometimes The Big Voice. Now, this isn't a reality show with cute swiveling chairs and out of work singers, this Voice tells us sometimes important things. Such as, "The range is now hot." This lets us know that someone is on the range qualifying or just target practicing. Otherwise we may get concerned that the enemy was at the gates. Whenever there is a cache of stuff found, there are controlled detonations. Again, The Voice warns us so we don't crap our shorts thinking the end is near. The timing of the warning is often off, such as coming hours before or minutes after, but the warning is there.
There was no such warning on the morning of 13 Sep. I woke up and shortly after heard an explosion. Low, muffled, and far away.
If you want to know how lonely feels, wake up in a building where there are no people moving around. No sounds from the room next door, no flushing toilets, only the sound of air conditioning units, generators, and the low rumble of diesel engines. No movements, no human sounds. But a detonation. No one to ask, "What's that sound?" Not even someone to ask, "Are you okay?" Just the background noises that will be present after the rapture.
It is much more lonely to wake up at midnight, same situation, no human movement or noises, no one to call because it's midnight, but you hear the heightened pitch of helicopters for 45 minutes. Peeking carefully around the door you see rotor washed dirt streaming up in a huge plume behind the buildings in the next compound over. But that is a different story.
About an hour later I was told about the Consulate bombing in Herat. That was the sound I heard. From over 20 miles away. A place that I've been to and by multiple times. I toured the facility and recognized the angle of the pictures on new websites showing the aftermath. It was a reminder that I am in a war zone.
A lot of people who I talk with by phone, email, or Facebook comment about my safety. I constantly feel safe, Consulate bombing included.
On the way home from the Consulate I used my Roshan to call a guy in the other vehicle. Roshan is Dari for AT&T I think based on the quality (or lack of) cell service. The first time messed up, but I got through the second time. It was only when we stopped that I heard the security team being told to fix the cell phone jammers that are supposed to keep any remote detonated devices from exploding as we pass by. What's more important, safety? Or just feeling safe?
Fast forward to the night of 23 Sep. The Voice came on to tell us there was an exercise. This is where we train/act/whatever as if there were an actual event happening. So far, this is the only reason I have had to spend time in the bunkers at Camp Stone.So, about 2230 we all shuffled out to the bunker. We laughed, we joked, we complained about being in a bunker. And then I fell asleep.
I took a nap for an hour, during an exercise of what to do when the enemy crosses the wall. Safety? Or feeling safe? Which is more important?