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A World Away in Afghanistan

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Co-editor and chief photographer, Bryan Thompson, took a job opportunity as an air traffic controller at a base in Afghanistan.  He has been there since the Summer 2014.  The crew has done their best to uphold the standards of Cloud Orchid, and have managed to bridge the distance using email and social media.  Bryan has had the most difficult challenges, managing his family here in the States, managing the magazine, and of course, dealing with all that comes with living in such a hostile place.

Here are his thoughts.

Here it is 14th of December, weather still fairly nice, days are in the low 60s or upper 50s and clear mostly, nights just below freezing.

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Tonight a cold wind picked up and is making being outside miserable, reminding us that winter is coming. We are in a high desert climate, elevation 4,868 feet, surrounded by mountains with snow on them.

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Last week we got hit by another mortar attack and they finally got lucky and did some real damage. hit a small building attached to the dining facility (known as a DFAC here in Air Force lingo). Two people died and more were wounded. This is across the street from where I work and is also where we eat two meals a day when we are working, which is 6 days a week.

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We recently got assigned new rooms, the 3rd move since I have been here, averaging a move every 2 months so far. Each one a small step down in living conditions. Currently I have a little more space which is nice, but I have to put up with an air conditioning/heating vent that sounds like a jet engine above me. It either blows at full blast or is off. Think of a house that should have a 1 ton air conditioning unit, but some idiot installed a 5 ton unit and every time it comes on every door in the house slams shut from the increase in air pressure.

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To top it off, that Thursday that I was moving, for an hour the sirens and alarms were going off due to multiple mortar attacks. “Incoming, incoming, take cover” and the sounds of the C-Rams going off which sound like a loud burp as they try to shoot down the missle or mortar before it makes impact.

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Makes for an eerie scene as you go back and forth with your loads of personal items. Of course most contractors ingore the warnings and just go about our business. However tonight I noticed some of the controllers are now afraid to eat in the chow hall and get meals to go rather than sit there waiting for the next mortar to hit. I ate in and listened to a 5 piece Air Force brass band play marches and Christmas music live in the chow hall. As my wife Karen says, “apparently he is too stupid to be afraid.”

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Some days here are good, some you feel like you are trapped in some surreal alternate world and wish you could just go home. Today I was wishing I was somewhere else, hoping my time here goes by quickly.

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Now that the move is over I will be getting back to the business of editing some of the photos I brought over. Little Alice and I have many projects in the works. All of these moves and just being here in Afghanistan has slowed things down. We are working on them, and will get to all of them. one thing I am working on is getting ISBN numbers so we can publish on Amazon as well as our current publishing platform.

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