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BLOG ENTRY: Back to reality - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

BLOG ENTRY: Back to reality

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Pre-convoy briefing conducted by Lt. Willie Spears (second from right) Pre-convoy briefing conducted by Lt. Willie Spears (second from right)
Convoy out the rear window of an MRAP Convoy out the rear window of an MRAP
The 1-172nd Cavalry Squadron passes traffic while on a convoy The 1-172nd Cavalry Squadron passes traffic while on a convoy
Malik Kadory & Almas Udin meet with soldiers of the Vermont National Guard Malik Kadory & Almas Udin meet with soldiers of the Vermont National Guard
Lt. Sam Morse of Camden, NY listens to local Afghan leaders Lt. Sam Morse of Camden, NY listens to local Afghan leaders

Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan - August 9, 2010

We climbed back into mine resistant ambush protected vehicles again this morning. The MRAPS, as they're called, took us through several villages outside of Bagram. One village has been renamed by the Vermont soldiers in our convoy. SFC Tony Fletcher says the troops call it Hardwick. In fact, the soldiers have renamed many of the villages here with more familiar names of Vermont towns.
 
Most of the ride was smooth sailing. It was a secretive convoy to Panjshir Province, where Col. Will Roy would visit troops stationed there to announce a change in leadership. Secretative, because we were traveling with the Colonel. To get to Panjshir, we had to take Gladius Road. Most of the troops know this infamous road. They have not changed its name. It's the road where an IED claimed the life of Specialist Ryan Grady of West Burke. The convoy was silent after we passed the spot where the roadside bomb was detonated.
 
When we arrived in Panjshir, it took my breath away. In the middle of a war zone, you'll find an oasis. Panjshir Valley is one of the most beautiful places in Afghanistan. And one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. An amazing river flows rapidly through the valley. It's surrounded by steep, rugged mountains. There is peace here-- in many ways. And that's been the case throughout history. The residents of Panjshir fought back the Russians during that country's invasion of Afghanistan and kept the Taliban from taking over during its reign. It's so safe, we were able to walk around without our body armor. That was a first "outside the wire" for us.
It made me forget that Afghanistan is a war torn country... for a minute.
After a quick address to the troops, we headed back to Bagram Airfield-- and back to reality. En route to the base, the convoy received notice that an IED had detonated just outside the airfield, on a road Lance and I have taken a couple of times during our mission in Afghanistan. It's a main route in and out of the base for convoys and others. The roadside bomb hit a Coalition Forces' vehicle. Fortunately, no one was hurt.   
 
It's sad... that a place with so much beauty, has such an ugly side.
 
Darren Perron
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