Tuesday, December 07, 2010

NO discussion of military Freemasonry.

The masonic society, closed down a discussion I started about getting Masonry underway in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(material removed at request of author)

I am sorry that you have seen fit to close this topic. I will NEVER give up, trying to get a mainstream, F&AM, USA Grand Lodge sponsored, Masonic lodge in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

If you think there is a regular, F&AM, USA Grand Lodge sponsored, working masonic lodge in south-west Asia, (OTHER THAN Prince Hall or Canadian), you are wrong. Why do you think there are regular lodges operating in SWA? If there is one (other than Prince Hall or Canadian), please let me know. I get emails every day, asking me if there a lodge here.



end quote.

I agree. I have done no such thing. I have made no request to any lodge, to change anything in any lodge. I cannot go to a USA lodge, I am in Afghanistan. This admonition is meaningless.

I belong to three (3) Grand Lodges. Kentucky, New York, and Massachusetts. I have not made a request to GLKY to charter a lodge here.

The Grand Lodge of New York, came to me, and asked me to take over the lodge project. Even though I was not a member of the GLNY at that time, I was delighted, and agreed. I later joined a NY lodge, so that I could contribute more directly, and also serve as an officer in LSA#1.

The only direct request I ever made of a USA Grand Lodge, to set up a lodge in Iraq, was to the Grand Lodge of Nebraska. The GL Neb, has a program called "swisher kits", where they provide a complete "lodge-in-a-box" to ANY mason, (provided the requesting mason is a member of a GL in communications with Nebraska). The GL Neb ignored my request. I have found out, that no swisher kit, has ever been issued. I also found out, that no USA Grand Lodge will agree to accept any of the degree work, performed in any of these temporary lodges.

Other than this one(1) request, I have NEVER made a direct request to any USA Grand Lodge, to charter a lodge in SWA.

I did make a request from the United American-Canadian Grand Lodge of Germany, which charters lodges in Germany, and other countries (including Saudi Arabia). The UACGL charters lodges on USA/Canadian military bases in Germany (and elsewhere). They also charter lodges in Saudi, for the oil workers. The UACGL told me, they were not interested, and suggested that I try my home Grand Lodges. (When I lived in Saudi in 1991, I was a member of Arabian Lodge, Dharhan Saudi Arabia, chatered by the UACGL). The lodge uses Minnesota ritual.

Masons from other jurisdictions, often work with other Grand Lodges, to get lodges underway. A group of Masons in Huntsville ALA, requested the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, to charter a lodge in Huntsville. (This was back in the early part of the 19th century, there was no Grand Lodge of Alabama). Huntsville Ala lodge #1, was chartered by GL of KY, until the GL of Alabama was formed later.

A group of Masons in Hawaii, requested the GL of Calif, to sponsor a lodge in Hawaii. The early lodges in Hawaii were sponsored by the GL of California, until Hawaii got their own Grand Lodge in 1989.

Freemasonry was formally established in Hawaii by Joseph Marie Le Tellier, Captain of the French whaling barque "Ajax" when he warranted Lodge Le Progres de l'Oceanie No. 124, of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of the Supreme Council of France on April 8, 1843, in Honolulu. This was a French lodge, operating in a Pacific island kingdom, which would later be an American territory, and then a US state. No one seemed to lose any sleep over jurisdictional lines.

The first operating lodges in the American Colonies, were British military traveling lodges. During the revolutionary war, lodges operated on American military camps. Military traveling lodges have operated on military camps both in the USA, and overseas. Land, Sea, and Air lodge #1 (new York) operated in WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. It could operate anytime, if the GL of NY would issue a new operating charter. The charter now hangs in a museum in New York City.



end quote.

WHERE? Where are these lodges? I have been working in Iraq and Afghanistan since February 2004. I serviced computers at every base in Anbar province (Iraq), and I worked in Baghdad and Kabul. I have installed video cameras at every base in Khost province (Afghanistan). I have met masons all over these two countries, and I have made hundreds of inquiries. In six (6) years, I have never found an operating regular lodge anywhere in SWA. I have lived in Kabul and Baghdad. I have flown about 130 missions to different bases all over SWA. I have never found an operating lodge, anywhere, other than Prince Hall or Canadian.

Why do you, who live in the USA, think there are regular lodges operating here, when I, who have been to about seventy different bases, in the past six years, tell you there are not?



end quote.

This happens all the time. Masons who were living in Alabama, from many different jurisdictions, got the GL of KY, to charter a lodge in Huntsville ALA. A French Mason set up a lodge in Hawaii, and later the Grand Lodge of California chartered lodges in Hawaii, until Hawaii got their own Grand Lodge in 1989, thirty years after Hawaii became a state.

Masons work across jurisdictional lines, all the time, for the benefit of Masonry. The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts charters Stability/Concorde Lodge number 19/42 in Paris France. The lodge meets in the building of the National Grand Lodge of France. The lodge uses the California ritual. If masons did not work together, across jurisdictional lines, there would be no American lodge operating in Paris France. ( I was a member of this lodge, when I lived in Paris, France).

Please listen to me, and you can take this to the bank: I will NEVER give up trying to establish a working lodge in South-West Asia. I was stationed at Al-Asad Iraq, and a mason there was killed by a roadside bomb. He was torn in half from the crotch to the neck. We wanted to have a lodge of sorrow, but because our charter was hanging in a museum in New York City, we could not.

I will continue to work with Masons both here in SWA, and in the USA, and in other countries, to establish a working military traveling lodge. I will work with any Mason, anywhere, from any jurisdiction, who is willing to extend the Gentle Craft, to our soldiers and civilians here.

The soil of Iraq and Afghanistan, is red with the blood of Masons, who have died here in the war on terror.

Traveling military lodges have existed on military camps and bases, almost since the beginning of Masonry. People attack me, like I am starting some radical new idea, that is contrary to the landmarks of Masonry. All I want to do, is to continue in our splendid tradition.

I even dare to dream, that Masonry could take root in Iraq and Afghanistan, and remain here, and thrive, once the military action is completed. The establishment of working lodges on the bases here, even though local nationals are forbidden entrance to the bases, and cannot participate in the lodges, might help in the future, for masonry to have a permanent presence here.

I am sad, that the forum has chosen to stifle discussion, on this important topic. No matter. I will continue to work to establish a masonic lodge in SWA, with anyone who cares to assist. I am continually astounded, that the Grand Lodges in the USA, choose to let Prince Hall and the Grand Lodge of Ontario, take the lead.

You must realize, that not all Masons here in SWA, belong to Grand Lodges, that have fraternal relations, with Prince Hall masonry. If a mason (like myself) even goes to a masonic dinner, and does not attend a tyled meeting, he is in danger of being brought up on Masonic charges, and could get suspended or expelled from Masonry. If a KY mason attends a tyled meeting, he will be permanently expelled from Masonry. If a man takes the degrees here at a PH lodge, when he returns to the USA, he might not be able to join a non-PH lodge.

Some have suggested that I request my own Grand Lodge, to get a charter. Well, I can tell you, that ain't gonna happen. I once set up a Square and Compasses club, just to have fellowship. The word got back to some Masons in my home state, and they were furious. I got word back, that I was going to be brought up on Masonic charges. If you think that the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, would consider setting up a lodge in SWA, you are in fantasy-land.

The Grand Lodge of New York, asked me to work with them to continue with their lodge in Iraq. Then they asked me to send the charter back, to be displayed in a museum in New York City. I sent it back in December 2005. The charter is still in the museum. I asked for a replacement, but it will never come.

I have never requested a charter from the GL of Massachusetts. Maybe I should.

So, in closing, I will continue to work, to establish Masonry here in SWA. (Outside of Prince Hall and Canadian). I believe that the USA Masons here, military and civilian, have the right to enjoy Masonic labor and fellowship. Of course, we can have our Square and Compasses clubs, and our cigar clubs, but it is not the same, as a working, chartered, degree-granting lodge.

I have met several men of good will, both here, and on other forums, who have given me some good counsel and advice and assistance. I was once disciplined, just for making a phone call to a New Jersey Mason, to get some advice. I was accused of using the Grand Lodge of New jersey , to solicit money. The charge was ludicrous, but I got "spanked" anyway.

Masonry will come to the troops and civilians here. If I can help, I will. Trust me on one thing, I will never give up. When my time is concluded here, I will continue to work with anyone, who wants to bring mainstream USA masonry to the heroes and civilians here.

I have been pushing to get Mainstream, USA Masonry, to set up a lodge for our heroes, for almost six years. I have found some support and encouragement. Mostly I have met with indifference, discouragement, criticism, and outright hatred. Some even claim that I have "set back" the cause. These men never get specific.

"Never Give up. Never, never, never, give up". Winston Churchill, Freemason

"The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference". Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, Nobel Prize winner.

"If you do nothing, you get nothing" Aung San Suu Kyi. Nobel Peace Prize winner. (20 years under house arrest).

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds." Samuel Adams, revolutionary.

DO not ask me to give up. Do not ask me to be indifferent, Do not ask me to do nothing. Do not ask me to stop setting brush fires.

Respectfully Submitted,

Charles E. Martin
Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Masonic lodge at Kandahar, Afghanistan

If this lodge is in communications with my home Grand Lodge(s), I will be delighted to participate!

"...Canada Lodge held our first Ceremonies of Initiation on the evening of October 7, 2010 here at Kandahar Air Field. Initiated were Major Robert Kelly and Corporal Satraj Toor. As you can see from the photos, our lodge is now beautifully furnished thanks to the generosity of the brethren from back home. Due to operational requirements we did not (all who had parts) have the chance (though try we did) to do a complete run through before the big night. If I may say so myself, the ceremony was done as well as any I have seen back home (in my limited masonic experience, mind you). All of the parts came together seamlessly and it was quite evident that all of the brethren had put their heart and soul into the perfection of their work. I am truly honoured to have been a part of this historic masonic event. Our evening ended with a truly Afghan flavour as we were posing for photographs we came under rocket attack and had to hit the floor (pictured). [JCW] I have posted the pictures and captions on the website at the following link. A recent lodge installation in Courtenay was interrupted by a power outage. It seems a rocket attack is considered a similar annoyance. "Where two or three are gathered together..."

__________________Gord Vokes,
Prince of Wales #100, Landmark #128; GL BC&Y

Posts: 348
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 5:42 pm

Sunday, November 21, 2010

For the record: I am NOT a soldier.

For the record: I am a CIVILIAN technician, working in Afghanistan. I do not want any confusion, nor anyone thinking that I am a soldier. I served in the US Air Force, 1973-1978, and I was honorably discharged. I am proud of my military service, but I am now way too old and too fat, for military service. I consider it an honor to work with our fine soldiers and Marines. (The US Navy is in charge of the project I am on). But I am not fit to wipe their shoes. Please, do not assume, that because I work in Afghanistan, that I am a soldier. Thanks.

Ten days in Kandahar

I have been here for ten days. I have a decent tent, the chow hall is fine. The work is OK, still learning. I have connected with some Masons here, but I cannot participate in the lodge, as it is Prince Hall affiliated. So there.

I should be on this project 5-6 months. The work is excellent, I really like it. I am not crazy about the schedule 7-7 7days a week. At least the tent is quiet.

Winter is on the way, the nights are cool, the afternoons are spectacular. After all, this is a desert, and the skies are not cloudy all day.

I do miss television, I never get to watch TV. I have to pay $100 a month, to get internet service. Even then it is slow, and I cannot watch YouTube.

I have been getting some interesting emails, from masons. I got a nice email from a woman freemason in Nigeria.

If anyone wants to donate items to the troops, I will be more than glad to distribute the items. Christmas is coming. We could use tobacco, coffee, candy, snacks, beef jerky, etc.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Been here less than a week. I was very stiff and sore from the trip. My butt is still sore. 13 hours in a small airplane seat, will do that to you!

Just now, I am trying to get over the jet-lag. It is 3:45pm, and I want to sleep.

I am grateful for everyone's kindness at my dad's passing. He is up in heaven now, probably playing bridge, and eating chili. That was his idea of heaven here on earth.

I am continually amazed at the quality of the chow hall food here in Afghanistan. it is light-years ahead of anything I ever had, when I was in uniform 1978.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

2d day in Kandahar

Been here for two days. Food in chow hall is good. Had polish sausage and sauerkraut. No eggs will be served here, though. I have a decent tent, but the air conditioning is on 24 hours a day. It is much hotter in the day, than I had planned for. I will need some more hot weather clothing. My supervisor is very nice, he will be heading out for the USA in a couple of days.

I am still stiff and sore from the travel, I got some pain medication, and a shot today!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Kandahar Afghanistan

I am safely in Kandahar. The flight over was not terrible. Small seat, lousy food, only curried vegetables. I spent the night in a hotel in Dubai, and flew to Afghanistan this morning.

I am living in a tent, eating in a chow hall.

I will begin my work orientation next week.

Kandahar Afghanistan

I am safely in Kandahar. The flight over was not terrible. Small seat, lousy food, only curried vegetables. I spent the night in a hotel in Dubai, and flew to Afghanistan this morning.

I am living in a tent, eating in a chow hall.

I will begin my work orientation next week.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

In Dubai

I left from Dulles Airport (WashDC), Saturday night. I flew to Dubai (UAE), where I arrived Sunday night 6pm. It was cold in DC, but warm in the UAE. The aircraft picked up a tail wind, and we made the trip in 12 hours.

I got my luggage, and cleared Dubai customs. I then got a shuttle ride to the Primier hotel. I am in my room now.

I got soup and a salad in the hotel restaurant. I am going to get some shuteye, and get an early flight to Kandahar in the morning.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My father has passed to the Celestial Lodge

Last Monday, October 25, my father passed to the Celestial Lodge. I was with him in Bowling Green, KY. We put him in the Hospice, after 30 days in the hospital. He was in the Hospice for four days. I stayed in the room, with him, that final night. I got up at 0400am, and I could not hear him breathing. I reached over, and checked the carotid pulse. He was gone.

I shall miss him terribly. He was 80, and he had a full long life. He had a laugh, like roaring thunder. He would not want us to cry.

I will be leaving for Afghanistan, next week. I will be too busy to miss him.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Traveling on to Afghanistan

I have been assigned to Kandahar, Afghanistan. I will depart next week. I am grateful to be working, and this is a fine company. I am grateful for all of the wonderful comments and e-mails sent by the readers, these past years. I hope that my blog has brought you some enjoyment. I am flabbergasted, that I am approaching the 10,000 hits mark! I can't believe that 10,000 times, someone has read this blog.

I will be doing unclassified work, documenting electronic circuits. I am excited about this project, we are saving lives.

I will try to keep you informed of what I see and do there. The schedule is rough, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, but I should be able to get some blogging time in.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

At work

I started this new job on Monday August 9. I have doing my in-processing, and getting my ID badge, etc. There is always a lot of paperwork and procedures, when starting a new job.

I will be here in Lorton VA, for some weeks, and then I will be returning to South-West Asia. This assignment looks to be challenging and rewarding. For the time being, I will be learning, and getting my orientation, and getting up to speed on the project.

The people here seem to be fantastic. I must say that my first impressions have been extremely positive.

Monday, August 02, 2010

August 2, 2010 Alexandria VA

I was working in Afghanistan, and the contract ended. I got back home 18 Jun, but I just never got around to making any new blog posts. I interviewed with a firm, and the firm hired me. I will begin work August 9, if the paperwork is all in order, and the employment is approved. I signed the offer letter today.

I have been working in Iraq/Afghanistan for 6 (six) years, and it is a long time. I have not been there continuously, of course, but it is a hard grind.

I have been spending the past several weeks, relaxing, watching TV, cooking my own meals, and taking long relaxing baths. It is great to sit down in a tub.

I do not have my assignment yet, but I will be going back to South-West Asia.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday night in Afghanistan.

Went to work this morning, 12noon. The chow hall served chicken fillets, and french fries, also chili. Supper was fried chicken, rice, green beans. I am eating so much less here, no ice cream, my belt is down two notches already.

I am running out of clean clothes, so I will do laundry tonight, when I get off work at midnite.

Work today was unusual. I had to go up on the elevator truck, and I get vertigo real bad. I guess that I will get used to it. I took a spray jar of soapsuds, and sprayed some inflated plastic, to check for leaks. I found some, and marked them with a felt tip pen. Tonight in the wind, I went out with adhesive and patches, and patched the pinhole leaks. Similar to patching a bicycle tire.

I am on garbage detail this week. Two days ago, I put on rubber gloves, and got on my knees, and scrubbed out the bathroom. This, after 5 1/2 years in college.

This is undoubtedly, the worst contract I have ever had.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Where Masonry stands in Iraq and Afghanistan

There is both good news, and bad news about Masonry in Iraq and Afghanistan. (I have been working in South-west Asia for six years). The bad news, is that after all these years, there is not one working F&AM lodge, chartered by any mainstream Grand Lodge, anywhere in South-West Asia. Not one.

There are a number of working Prince Hall lodges, operating on the various military bases in Iraq/Afghanistan. Most of these are chartered by MW Prince Hall Grand Lodges of Oklahoma and Texas. Victory Base Complex (Baghdad), has four working lodges, and two Eastern Star chapters, all Prince Hall affiliated.

The Grand Lodge of New York F&AM, holds the charter for Land, Sea, and Air Lodge #1 (UD). This lodge was first chartered in 1917 (World War I). The lodge was de-activated, and then brought back for WW2, Korea, Vietnam, and its most recent activation was Sep-Oct-Nov 2005. (Send me a PM, and I will send you the link). I volunteered to assist in the administration and activation of LSA#1, in November 2005. I had the traveling charter with me, at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. In December 2005, the Grand Lodge of New York, directed me to return the charter to New York, so that it could be displayed in a museum in New York City. I was promised, that a new traveling charter would be issued, next year (2006). I never received a new charter.

If a military or civilian Mason, serving in this part of the world, wishes to participate in Freemasonry, the only route is through Prince Hall Masonry. If a man holds membership in a Grand Lodge, which does not recognize Prince Hall Masonry, he risks suspension or expulsion. If a man holds membership in more than one Grand Lodge, and all of his memberships are not in communication with Prince Hall Masonry, he risks suspension or expulsion.

There are a number of informal Masonic assemblies here in SWA. I started a “Masonic Square and Compasses Club”, at Al Asad. It was not a working lodge, just a bi-weekly meeting, where we would drink a soda, and fellowship.

The Grand Lodge of Nebraska F&AM, developed a program, to enable Masonry to be practiced in Iraq/Afghanistan. They produced a “Lodge in a box”, which included all of the working tools necessary for Craft Masonry, including a charter. They called these portable lodges “Swisher Kits”, named after the first Nebraska Freemason to be killed in Iraq. The program never got off the ground, because several Grand Lodges made it known, that they would not accept degree work, from any of these temporary lodges.

It has been a real disappointment to me, that I have been working in Iraq/Afghanistan since 2004, and I have never been able to attend a lodge meeting. I am also disappointed, that not one Grand Lodge in the USA, has shown any initiative to issue a traveling charter, for a military lodge in this part of the world.

“The opposite of love, is not hate. The opposite of love, is indifference"- Elie Wiesel. Nobel Prize winner, and holocaust survivor

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday afternoon

I work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. We have our slow periods, but Thursday was awful. The food in the military dining hall is usually pretty good, but today was a loser. For lunch they had hot dogs and macaroni and cheese. I ate a bowl of Special K cereal. For lunch, it was shepherd's pie, shredded lamb with mashed potatoes on top. I ate a salad, with ranch dressing, and a bagel with cream cheese.

The nights are still cold in Afghanistan. I feel like I will never be clean again. This place is so dusty, and the garbage pit, where the garbage is burned produces smoke.

May 20, was the bloodiest day for dead soldiers in 2010. A contractor was killed at Bagram (I was stationed there for three months).

Today was not too bad, I drove the forklift truck, and moved some lumber and building supplies around. I also helped on a project, where we prepared a cable for shipment to the USA. I had to wear rubber gloves, and smear epoxy sealant on the work. I enjoyed it.

There was a new pair of boots that no one wanted, so I latched on to them myself.

Keep up with my progress on the blog!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saturday night in Zormat

The day started out quite beautiful. I got up, and walked down to the chow hall. The lunch was four tortillas, with ground beef, and salsa. I made a couple of enchiladas. I walked back to the office. The sky was clear and blue. The sky in Afghanistan can be quite spectacular.

I watched the TV screen for a while. Then I helped haul the balloon down. The sky looked a bit threatening.

Supper was unusual. The chow hall served meat loaf. It was little blocks of ground beef, about 2 inches per side. I ate some with strawberry soda.

Evening is quiet. When the balloon is down, there is little to do. My co-worker is refurbishing an old motorcycle. He also does some carpentry work. When the Army needs something sawed or cut, he is always there to volunteer.

I wish I had some leisure activity. I work 12 noon to 12 midnite, 7 days a week. When I get up in the morning, it is all I can do to, put my clothes on, and go to the office (about 100 yards away). This morning, there was some gunfire, the Army must test their big guns, so BOOM every 15 minutes or so.

Got my first paycheck with the overseas bonus. I got no serious issue with the pay. I am certainly no expert on this technology. What the hell do I know about balloons? And the weather? and how to spot wind drafts at 1000 feet? I feel like a real idiot, bending my neck back and staring at the sky.

I am only here for my in-country orientation, Then I will be transferred to another base. It will probably be another small base like this one. I just hope that all of their equipment is installed, I dread having to take a set of this equipment from the crates, and then installing everything.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday night in Zormat

Like the film "Ground Hog Day", this place never changes. I work from 12 noon to 12 midnite. We have busy periods, and slow periods. Today, I took an air compressor, and blew the dust out of the air conditioner. Somehow, the filters were installed backwards. I cleaned the same air conditioner last week, and the filters were installed properly.

I had to assist in filling the balloon with more helium today. It was interesting, to haul the hoses, and assist. We brought the balloon down, and it was about my fifth time here, helping on a down-haul. I am getting the hang of it, I wish was more expert.

After completing the re-fill, I helped hang some protective blankets on the balloon platform. The blankets are industrial plastic, with metal fillings, imagine a bullet-proof vest that is 20 square feet. The blankets are heavy, I strained by hands, holding them.

I am charged with garbage removal, and it is amazing, how much garbage 6 men can generate. I collect it during the day, and then at 1000pm, I haul it to the base dump, to be burned.

I don't know if I can stand 12 months in this dump. I am at Zormat for training, and then I will be pushed on to another base. It will probably be a small forward operating base, like here. If it is really terrible, I will have to re-think my employment situation. There are a lot of jobs in the USA, they do not pay so much money, and they do not have the tax-free status of overseas work.

Food here is about what I expected. I was in the chow hall at 1130, exactly when they open up. For lunch, there was chicken nuggets, cold, and french fries, also cold. I ate some, and they felt like lead bricks in my gut.

Dinner was good roast beef. Thoroughly marbled and stringy, with big globs of fat hanging off it. Also mashed potatoes and peas and carrots. A decent salad, also. Dessert was sara lee pecan pie, and M&M candies.

Back to the office after dinner, slow today. I did a cross word puzzle and a cryptogram. This base is entirely gravel. The rocks do a job on my feet, I must wear combat boots. Someone left a brand new pair of boots in the office, so I decided to "glom" them. ("glom" is a Yiddish word for "take"). I used to live with a Jewish woman, and she taught me a bunch of Yiddish words.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Saturday night in Zormat

Fairly pleasant day here in Zormat. The guys decided to grill some burgers, and I had two, and they were delicious. The weather was clear, so we flew the balloon for some hours. In the afternoon, we hauled it down. I am getting more practice with raising and lowering the balloon.

Dinner tonight, was cajun rice, and fish fillets in spicy sauce. I ate some salad. I could really use some decent desserts. I will lose weight here, I always do.

Biggest hassle, is the depression. I am working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. When I get off at midnight, all I can do, is go back to the trailer, and try to sleep. I get up around 1100am, and get dressed. The dining hall opens at 1130, so I eat, and the get to work at 1200noon.

Summer is coming to Afghanistan. At least I will not freeze, working outside.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Three days on the site

I am at Zormat, Afghanistan. Possibly the bleakest outpost I have been assigned to since I have been working in Iraq/Afghanistan. I flew in by chopper, on May 1. I have a decent trailer, clean and quiet. One other man is in the trailer, he works 12 midnite to 12 noon. I work 12 noon to 12 midnite, so I have the trailer all to myself when I am off duty.

This is a rough assignment. I have to learn new technology, I work the balloon. I also work the electronics and cameras. I never even saw a balloon until 13 April in Akron Ohio. I now must be proficient in operations.

I also have to learn how to work on a lift-truck. Today,I drove the lift-truck around the camp, and ran the elevator up 40 feet. I am not used to heights. We were caught in a cloudburst, and I was soaked, the rain was like needles. We brought it down, and I got in out of the rain, and changed my clothing.

I enjoy hearing from readers, if you have anything you wish to comment on, please feel free.

Charles E. Martin
Forward Operating Base Zormat

Friday, April 30, 2010

in Afghanistan

I flew from Fort Benning GA, to Ali Al Saleem, Kuwait. I stayed in the tent city there, and I flew to Bagram, Afghanistan two days ago. I flew from Bagram to Sharana Afghanistan, where I am now (Friday nite, 730pm Afghanistan time).

My duty station is Zormat, Afghanistan, I will get a helicopter ride there soon. I am glad to finally be near the end of the long journey!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Looks like we may be leaving

I have been cooped up in this airport terminal for a week, waiting out the volcano eruption. What a hassle. Sleeping on a cot, no hot water in the shower. The army brings in food in plastic tubs for us to eat. Really awful.

But the rumor is that we can fly tomorrow (Friday 23April). The Army tries to keep such things as schedules, confidential, but you cannot keep a civilian airline flight a secret, when it is published all over the internet.

I am glad to be getting out of here. But I am apprehensive on this new job. I do not know anything at all about balloons, I never saw one up close before two weeks ago. Now I will have to drive them. I guess it will all come clear to me in the field.

This schedule is going to be rough. We have to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. I would like to have some time off, I need it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stuck at Benning

Well, I started my new job on 14 March. I flew to Cape Canaveral Florida, and started training there. After two weeks in Florida, I flew to Akron Ohio, for balloon school. I had never seen a balloon up close before. I learned how to drive the cables, and raise and lower the balloon.

I then flew to Fort Benning Georgia, to catch the plane to Afghanistan. The day before I was to leave, the volcano blew in Iceland. I have been stuck here at the Airport for a week, sleeping on a cot. The Army brings in food three times a day. I need a shower, but there is no hot water in the terminal building.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I need to post more often

Hello everyone! I was working in Iraq from late January through early March. I was picked up by another firm, and I flew back to Alexandria VA. I have been here at my home, getting my paperwork in line, and getting medical/dental exams,etc. Starting a new job in Iraq is a hassle. I should know, I have been working there for six years.

I will fly down to Orlando FLA on Sunday 14 March. Then I will rent a car, and drive to Cocoa Beach FLA. I will stay in a hotel in Cocoa Beach, and begin a two week training course in Cape Canaveral FLA. At the conclusion of the course, I will go back to Fort Benning again, and then fly on to Iraq (or Afghanistan).

I have been feeling depressed, I should be feeling all right, but I don't. I do not like just sitting around, waiting for a new job to start..

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A week in Iraq

I have been here for a week. After the usual jet-lag, I am getting more or less into a routine. My feet, legs, and back are in pain constantly. I have to do a lot of walking, and standing, I am not used to it yet. For two months, I have been sitting on my behind, in the house, surfing the net and looking for work.

I live in a trailer, it is called a "Containerized Housing Unit", or "CHU". The chow hall food, is typical of Iraq, excellent. I am amazed at how well our people are fed here.

This is a short-term contract, I will be here only 2-3 months, thankfully. My firm, will roll me into a contract in Afghanistan, when this project is completed.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Safe in Iraq

I flew from Dulles Field (Washington DC) Tuesday night. A 12 hour flight from Washington to Kuwait City Kuwait. The flight was ordinary, a long ride in a tiny seat. Food OK. Landed at Kuwait, and transferred to Gryphon airlines for the two hour flight to Baghdad.

Met at the airport by a company rep, and taken to transient barracks. Slept soundly. Got up next morning for lunch. Drove to a couple of sites. Then back in the bed for a long sleep. Getting over the jet-lag is tough.

My Iraq cell phone works, I can text back to the USA.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Heading back today

I am scheduled to fly to Kuwait tonight. I will fly on to Baghdad, then to my duty station. I am anxious to return to work, hanging out at the house, is tiresome.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Heading back soon

I am still an unemployed person. My previous contract completed on 8 November 2009, but I got severance until 28 November. On 8 Dec, I signed a new contract for work in Afghanistan. I still do not have a start date, here on 16 January 2010. I have a chance for some temporary work, and I will accept it, and do a project that lasts about 3-4 months, this is for a Florida firm.

I am anxious to get out of the house, and let the wife and her mother have some privacy. The MIL (Mother in Law) gets on my case all the time. Something always has her in a snit. It will be good to put some distance between me and the MIL.

I sent my TV link around to some of my friends, and they all got a chuckle out of seeing me on TV.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I was interviewed for the local TV station See


(Cut and paste this link into your browser, or click on the link in the suggested links over here --->)