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A few pictures from Helmund and Kandahar


Guest Connors

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Guest Connors

Hows it going folks,

 

Thought it might be nice if I posted up a few photos from my time in Afghanistan back in 2010. Perhaps it will help some of you get a feeling for the environment there, and the sordid lack of trees or greenery (and my god how you come to miss that)

 

Anyway, enough blabber, hopefully you enjoy, I'm not much of a photographer.

 

airfield.jpg

Heres the first sign you see coming on, or last sign you'll see going off, of Camp Bastion In helmund province. Met a ton of Royal Air Force, and Royal Marine Commandos there. It's funny how as an American Marine, we could instantly get along with the Royal Marines... good men, every last one of them.

 

runway_sunset.jpg

This is a picture taken of Camp Bastions anterior runway from the East facing, just outside of the perimeter. Despite the wasteland surroundings, its funny how beautiful order can be, and how untainted the sunset was in that place... regardless of how tainted the day previous.

 

cobra.jpg

This was a picture I took of the Marine Corps pride and joy, the AH1Z, returning from a fire mission. That was a hell of a day, near the close of the Marjah Offensive... the sky tells alot about that day, it was a dark day, but it helps to remember from time to time.

 

AH1F.jpg

Yes, I'm an afraid I'm a bit of a bird-lover, but can you blame me when it's this close. This was an AH1Z near the helo ramp. It was preparing to escort 2 UH1-Z helo's filled with marines from 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines heading out to Deep south if I remember correctly. Those boys had a hard time ahead of them... there were too many CASEVAC's, and my prayers still go out to their families.

 

Me_Ticked.jpg

Here's a lovely picture of your truly 'enjoying' a little off time at fabulous Kandahar Air Base in Kandahar province.. it was a bloody waste of time. Those NATO bases we're always full of plush niceties, such as a burger king, one could never enjoy. You were always too busy feeling guilt at the knowledge of your comrades in the field whilst you we're forced to rest up. I think this was taken at around 0100 after a 12 hr entry control point post turned into 26 hour post when a VIED decided to rain on my parade.

 

I still curse those cowards.

 

SAM_0066.jpg

It wasn't always sunny in the desert, believe it or not. The short rainy season that did exsist in the barren place was filled with lightning that sounded more like mortar rounds. This was a living area that I stopped to take a picture by on my way to an entry control point, the pond behind me.... is a road.

 

SAM_0049.jpg

This is a picture I took of a staging area for AV8 Harriers, it used to be a staging area for F/A18's but that changed when one caught fire and almost blew up it's 2000 lbs bomb payload... I actually have a funny story about that, ask me sometime.

 

RES01056.gif

Oh my, don't we look thrilled to be taking incoming again. The FOB I was on at the time become a target range for the insurgant indirect fire personell I swear. for three months we took incoming mortars and 108mm rockets, every day, at least 5 times a day.. I still have Tinnitus in my left ear from those bastards trying to land one in on me. Pictured are two fellow Corporals from my unit, I miss those guys.

 

Anyway, thats the end of my slideshow, hopefully you enjoy. It's nice to take the time to look at pictures and remember, although it's something that you never really forget.

 

I look forward to seeing you all in the field,

Pte Connors

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Guest Connors

Not a problem gents, It's true you only see the death and destruction aspect... nothing about the '6 hour march to the 6 minute battle.'

 

I'll search around for more eventually, they're hidden away in my warchest which is sadly in a storage unit right now.

 

S/F

Pte Connors

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Guest Connors

Seeing the AV8 staging area keeps making me laugh so I'll tell you guys the story,

 

It was roughly midday one fine afghani day and I was unloading some gear near a staging area with a few of the marines in my charge. I sent them in to get a few mikes out of the sun, and sat back on a crate to watch the flight crews work. After a few minutes I get up to stretch my legs and take a walk around the tents, as I walked out to retake my throne a young junior marine, barrels past me sprinting in full flightline gear (which is kind of like watching darth vader run), he sees me but is too preoccupied sprinting past me to the perimeter gate to say much of anything. I blink a few times, usually it's customary in the marine corps for a junior marine to give the greeting of the day to a NCO such as myself, but in a warzone, you tend to let those things slide for the sake of the tension already present, and it helps with "Espirit de Corps'.

 

Anyway back to the running Darth Vader, he had made his way far into the distance. I raised an eyebrow but shrugged and went back to my beloved perch, only to discover yet another Marine in double-time approaching my position. This one, while still obviously distracted, had the good graces as a fellow NCO to speak to me.

"Run!" was his greeting to his comrade in arms.

right about now, I started to get that feeling around the back of my neck and felt it might be prudent to head his advice. Upon looking to his place of origin, I realized a mass of Marines running, and what appeared to be an F/A18 FULLY LOADED (several 500 LBers, 2000Lber, fuel tanks, etc) fully engulfed in flames.

 

halfway to the gate I stopped as though I had just walked into a minefield, if my boots could smoke from rapid halts, they would have obliged. 'The TENT!' my mind screamed as I turned and sprinted toward the tent, and subsequently toward the thousands of pounds of exposive on fire. I skidded in front of the green plastic flap and shoved it open in more of a tackle then a smooth transition.

 

"Run!" was all I could muster, as 5 of my Marines stared at me as though I'd gone batshit insane.

 

With that said, I felt in a better position to run like hell. I turned around bolted out of the flap, and naturally the securing cord nearly hung me, tossing me to the ground as a final kick to the groin. Luckily this gave me enough time to realize my Marines weren't reacting.. I openned the flap again poking my head in to see them complacently grabbing their flak's and assorting belongings.

 

"NOW!" I yelled, as my eyes nearly exploded out of my head. This seemed enough to spur them and they bolted behind me as I sprinted toward the perimeter gate and away from the fireball looming behind me.

 

We watched that bird burn to cinders, luckily the bombs never went off. A 2000lb bomb in the center of the ramp would have easily obliterated half the squadron, and the ramp for the matter. The fuel tank did explode as if to justify our flight.

 

Anyway, sorry, that story always makes me chuckle, just the thought of those men's faces as they ran past me, and my sheer oblivousness to the situation.

 

S/F

Pte Connors

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Guest Connors

Well, It's actually fairly simple, bad electricals.

 

Aircraft function on 120 Volts of Alternating current on 3 different phases for voltage stability. If one of the grounds is poorly maintained, the resulting arc of current can easily catch fire to the bird. If any of you have ridden on navel vessels, or naval aircraft, you'll know the old term 'If it's not leaking, it's empty.' What isn't powered by electrical current on an aircraft, functions on hydraulics, and the fluids for these systems leak ALL THE TIME. I have uniforms and gear completely covered in the 'red death'. Hydraulic fluid is particularly nasty business, not only is it extremely toxic and cancer causing, but it has a nasty habit of being extremely flamable under pressure, when the pressure is in the hundreds of PSI... well, you can put two and two together.

 

Alternatively, if it just came back from a flight, the accumulated static charge on a jet can kill a man if they ground it, and is therefore more than capable of starting a fire. They actually have to use special grounding hooks to ground the charge from the aircraft before the pilot can disembark. (darn ARMA, theres no realism mod for that!)

 

I happen to know from the report and debrief that circled the units in the area that is was indeed faulty wiring.

 

Oh, btw my occupational specialty aside from being a riflemen, was as an aviation electrician/hydraulic/pneumatic technitian. seems like alot of stuff, the Marine Corps is pretty good at cramming it all in your brain housing groups.

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Guest Connors

Oh right, haha. Well uh, -cough- don't worry, I'm sure they're properly maintained... if anyone has a fear of flying, kindly disregard 'flying deathtrap on the ground' explanation.

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Great picture and story, Connors. I'm glad no one was seriously hurt in the F/A-18 event, except for a really nice aircraft.

 

My view on flying things is a bit the opposite of Taylor's. To me they're one of the greatest statements of human ability, and their safety record is an even greater one. It always amazes me, given how in abstract the thought of doing something only natural to birds, and doing it at speeds much greater than anything we ordinarly do is terrifying. Yet, for as long as I've been alive (1988) aircraft travel is one of the safest activities a person can engage in.

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Guest Connors

as much as it will negatively impact my indimidating aura (haha). I feel obliged to post one more.

 

40465_436288433944_689818944_4684294_725158_n.jpg

 

My wife and I (of 4 years) the day of my return... I don't remember much of anything, it was a bloody long flight from Krygyzstan to California, and it kind of leaves you in a stupor.

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  • 2 weeks later...

And boom goes your intimidating Marine-vibe. Just wanna ruffle that hair now, and smile!

 

Brilliant pictures. Now I wish I could find that 1st Place picture in this FDF photography competition. 's a patrol in Tchad (if I recall correctly) walking through a sandstorm. The effect of the sunlight through the trees and the sand being kicked up was excellent. Come oooooon, Google... Damn you pv.fi for your crappy archiving!

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Guest Connors

I have an excellent sandstorm picture somewhere, those bastard things we're god awful, and at night it seemed like they would come out of no where. We lost an entire tent compount to one, it was an excellent addition to an already lovely atmosphere.

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