Friday, December 18, 2009

Published Blog

For those of you who are interested, I have published this blog to a PDF file. If you would like a copy, please email me with your request.

Thanks!

Mark.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Final Post

This will be the final post in this blog.

I'd like to start with a word of thanks. Many of you have thanked me both for my service and for this blog - but I assure you, the encouragement, thoughts and prayers I received from my family, friends, co-workers and many anonymous people and organizations helped to make this a very positive experience. With all my sincerity, thank you all for your support!

If you would have told me I'd lose about 40 lbs and weigh a mere 202 by the time this was over, I would have doubted that seriously. Nobody has called me "skinny" since high school - and I've heard that a few times since I've been back. I'm not sure I like it :-)

This journey started back in Jul, 2008 when I first found out our unit would be mobilized. Even before that, I had de-iced Pam with the thought that I would likely be spending time directly supporting the current war before my retirement. Much planning and thought went into this deployment. I knew it would be important to stay in touch with people and I started this blog in Jan even before I officially went on orders. I’m still on orders and my demobilization date will be 21 Oct 2009. I’ll be back to work at SITA on 1 Oct. I work for a GREAT company.

There were a few surprises along the way – especially the effect of this blog. I did it for family and friends and never expected that is would help a few others out along the way.

For the last 5 months in Afghanistan, we saw no rain. Since I’ve been back in ATL, the rain hasn’t stopped and I’ve not seen the sunshine! It’s a nice change really. Pam mentioned it’s depressing – and I kind of like it. Perspective – it’s different for all of us. I’ve learned to appreciate people’s perspective a lot more.

My homecoming was simply fantastic. I was greeted at the airport by my lovely wife, my children, all my grandchildren and some very special friends. It was a spectacular moment in time. Shelley (my daughter in law) made shirts that said “We support our Chief” and all the grandkids had them on – even Maddie had one on. See the pics here:

http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/WelcomeBack

David, Janice and Joe Brown, David and Kim Warren, Colleen, Ashley and Maddie were all “friends” that came to greet me at the airport – and for no better reason than they love me – these people are more than “friends” – I think of them as family.

Every day since I have been home has been an adventure. Marcus took care of Big Red while I was gone and not only was it nice and clean, it had a new stereo that sounds great! Jeff and Heidi had RIBS on Sunday for me and we watched FOOTBALL! Pam and I celebrated our missed anniversary with dinner at Chops last night and there are still many things I am looking forward too – like lighting the smoking lamp with Dad, hunting with Marcus, fishing with Al and so much more.

It was great to be back with my church family on Sunday – Bob was there – a prayer warrior for this entire tour – a veteran himself who I know diligently prayed for me daily. I also know many others have been praying for me and the team – this is something I will never forget.

I am truly blessed to have had this opportunity! That’s really the way I see it. It was an opportunity to serve – and I made the most of it. I did my best and I’m very proud of what we did as a team. The separation wasn’t easy for any of us, but knowing that we all did our part to answer our nations call is a very rewarding feeling. I would like to thank each and every member of the team for your contributions to the mission. I would especially like to thank Col Lehman for his leadership and guidance through the entire tour.

I ask just one thing of you. Please never forget the military men and women who are currently engaged in the war on terrorism - and the many who have made the ultimate sacrifice fighting for you and for me. Paul Leslie (senior pastor at McDonough Christian Church) mentioned me in prayer on Sunday, but also noted we lost a church family member on 16 Sep – SFC Shawn McCloskey who was also serving in Afghanistan. Please pray for them and their families. I feel lucky to have served with honor and I am glad God saw fit to return me to my family. Apparently He is not finished with me yet.

I look forward to the next challenge – whatever that may be.

Mark

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Early start to last leg

It's 0315 - and I'm very excited to start this last part of my journey home. With any luck, I'll see my family and friends in a few hours!

Mark.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back in the USA!

It sure feels good to be back in the "real" world!!!

We landed @ BWI (Baltimore/Washington International) about 1730L - about 90 minutes ahead of schedule for a change!!!

The airport was pretty quiet - many individuals came up to us and said "Thank you for you service!" - very nice!!!

We all got checked into the Sheraton which I can't think of a better way to describe the rooms than what the CC said "These rooms are nicer than my first house!"

Very nice! Comfortable!!!

I'm extremely tired, I'm going to bed. I'll see MANY of you tomorrow. If I don't see you, please feel free to call me.

Mark.

Do we LOOK excited?


Here we are drinking a beer in Shannon Ireland. Almost back on US soil. Next stop, Baltimore! :-)
Mark

1 Leg down

We have arrived in Germany! We landed a few minutes ago in Leipzig GE. The journey has started and we are all VERY excited!

Mark

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back on Track

OK - as of this moment, we are back on track and everything looks good. Of course it looked good last time as well and one of the key clichés around the AOR - "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" - it means two things... 1. Take what you can get when you can get your hands on it - and 2. You don't have it UNTIL it's in your hand!

So to make a long story short, I'll be home when I get home. That's not sarcastic, just the way it is around here. And the better you can roll with the punches, the better for everyone else.

I'm still smiling and I look forward to coming home soon.

Mark

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Slight Delay

As luck would have it, we get to spend a little more time here than we originally thought. The good news is the beer is still cold and the weather is beautiful! I will send Pam all the details and she will communicate them as soon as they are available.

Not much going on today other than the bad news. It really is very nice here. We are all doing fine and just waiting for confirmation.

Mark

Friday, September 11, 2009

The short answer to why I am here

In case any of you are still trying to figure out why I am here, the significance of this day might be able to help you. I will be home soon with my head held high knowing that I was a direct part of protecting you for the last 8 years - and the almost 20 before that.. Today we remember where we were on 9/11/2001 and remember all those innocent civilians who died and their families. Also all those who died and their loved ones making sure it hasn't happened again. Since 9/11, there has not been one single incident of terrorism on US soil and I believe that is a direct result of America taking the fight to the enemy and not letting them bring the fight to us.

I am an American Airman and I have answered my nations call.

God bless all of you and God Bless America as we all remember today the events of 2001 on this very day.

Mark.

Pete's Place

I'm sitting in Pete's Place - a nice relaxing place in Manas AB, Kyrgyzstan. They have a bar that serves REAL beer from all over the world, pool tables, ping pong, lots of TV's and free high speed Internet! It's a real pleasure to be able to check my email and other websites in the normal time - just a few min! No hassles and no waiting! And - my iTouch is working well also! My room accommodations are well above my expectations - good thing they weren't this nice BEFORE we went into Bagram - I would have been in complete shock! :-)

It's FRIDAY - and as many of you know - I love Friday's! This one is particularly nice because it will be my LAST Friday in the AOR - hopefully, and most likely, forever.

I'm very relaxed and just waiting now for confirmation of our flight out of here.

Soon I will make my last post to this blog and this chapter in my life will be complete. I want to thank you all for everything that was done to support me, my family and the entire team here for the last 8+ months since going on orders back in JAN. Through CST in FEB and 6 months at Bagram, I have really appreciated all the cards, letters, packages, etc - but again, most importantly, your prayers.

We are very fortunate that nobody was seriously injured during our time and nobody got into any major trouble. We accomplished a significant amount of work and as a team, we made a vast improvement to the enduring operations on Bagram. Our major accomplishments include a new Blackwater tank farm which initiated operations the day we left BAF! This alone will reduce the amount of trucks entering and leaving the installation by some 500 vehicles daily and the result is a huge increase in force protection and reduced traffic flow.

We also completed major construction in several buildings including a redesigned HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system in the main communication facility for Afghanistan! The folks there had added several new servers and the HVAC system was under sized and not nearly adequate enough accommodate the new equipment. There was a serious risk of overheating and the entire network was in jeopardy - meaning communications (both secured and unsecured) would have been affected. Our team performed emergency modifications to the existing system allowing a sufficient amount a time to design and install a new system that is now cooling the facility to a chilly 65 degrees - even during the peak temperatures we experienced this summer of more than 115 degrees Fahrenheit!

There were several other major projects and countless minor projects not including the maintenance "favors" we did to improve the many different facilities on Bagram. Our team improved the life, health and safety of coalition forces on BAF now and well into the future. I am VERY proud to have been part of this team and all their accomplishments.

The new team is lead by LtCol Parkinson and CMSgt Torres from Hickam AFB in HI. They were very appreciative of all the work our team did to try and ensure a smooth turnover of projects, equipment, and living quarters. I wish them the very best and I hope their tour will exceed all their expectations. I pray for the team and leadership that they are all safe and are able to execute God's plan and all return home to their families when their mission is complete.

I am really excited to return home in the next few days and promise to keep you up to date on my locations as they change - provided I am able too (no communication issues). I don't expect any.

See you all soon!

Mark.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Manas

We are out of the "war zone" Still the AOR, but no where near the same threat level.

I am very tired, and I have at least a couple days here - I'll post a nice blog for you all tomorrow - I don't have anything better to do all day! :-)

Mark

God is GREAT, Beer is GOOD, and People are CRAZY!

(I'm especially enjoying the BEER part at the moment!)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What does not make me happy.

Sorry for the short posts!

Robert has been keeping me pretty busy soaking up everything I have to throw at him out of the fire hose. There is a terrible quality (blurry) pic here:

http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/BAF1602

I was thinking the other day and I recently heard one of my favorite songs - "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood. I have always told Pam these lyrics even before Lee so eloquently put them into his song, "If tomorrow all the things were gone I'd worked for all my life, And I had to start again with just my children and my wife,..." More literally, I've always told Pam that you could take away everything I have and I would still be a happy guy. And today, I'm very happy to report that I can now say these words with even more certainty - because I was just thinking about what I have when I was packing up my stuff. For the last 6 months, I've had - well, basically nothing. The things I did have were intermittent Internet, my computer, some good food to eat, and a wooden box to lay my head (which I don't even have that anymore!). That's about it. And also, for the last 6 months, you can ask anyone here at BAF that I have met or who has seen me - and that's just about everyone - "What was Chief Schubert like?" They would probably answer with one word - Happy! I had a smile on my face the entire time and I still do now and I always will. I'll have an even BIGGER smile when I get to see all of YOU again!

Mark.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Another Quickie

Sorry...

Not much time in the day these days.

Busy again today, so no promises about the longer post - I do have some stuff to tell you.

Coming soon, I promise.

Mark.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Lucky to post

Well, the Internet is back to it's weary self - I'll be lucky if this posts.

Just took my last shower in the Cadillac - I move to my new temporary home tomorrow - where there is NO Internet. I hope to meet our replacement team tomorrow night!

Mark.

Friday, September 4, 2009

What is it Man?

짧은 타이머 = "Short Timer" in Korean.

I was also reminded I hadn't told you about that. Actually, I was wondering if anyone was going to ask because Doug was so quick to comment and get it right.

I always thought he knew Korean! He's a smart associate of mine. (Internet glitch... :-)

Mark.

Who's in the pics?

My Mom and Dad reminded me that I was supposed to tell you who was in the pictures here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/BAF14 - The civilian guy is Secretary Donley - the Secretary of the Air Force! The 3 Star General is General Hostage - the new AFCENT Commander.

Mark.

Early Post

I thought I'd post a little earlier than usual - even before I call my parents today. I went to the office this morning - worked for a little - cleaned the truck and my office - got all my ducks in a row and called it a day. Came back and cleaned the room, packed, and I also got my temp billeting assignment - so I'm ready to move out when the other team arrives.

The good news is my new room won't be far from a couple places that have "free" Internet. The bad news is there are a LOT of people who know this little secret and it is sometimes difficult to get on. I'll do my best to honor my promise of posting daily now till we are out of here.

So once again, I thank you all for your support! The cards, letters, packages, pictures, comments, etc were overwhelming. Just today, I received some pictures/letters from children who are led in a Sunday School class by a friend of Della Jackson. Many of you may not recognize that name, but the words written on the paper from the children were absolutely priceless. What is SO encouraging about that (to me) is the fact that there are patriotic American supporters who are not only supporting and praying for our military, but they are raising and educating children (young children) to know and understand that the freedom we have in America is not free and it doesn't hurt to say thank you to the men and women fighting for the American people now and into the future. This is what will REALLY secure the resolve of America people in the next generation and for generations to come! Amen!

This is not the first batch of cards/letters from children I have received - I have gotten many. It IS the first batch I received directed to me personally. That was very special. Thanks Della!

Mark.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

EOT Day

EOT stands for End of Tour! We had our final "party" and also received our EOT awards.

Pics here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/BAF15

There are a few pics of the TOA (transfer of authority) ceremony just a few days ago - Task Force Warrior was replaced by TF Cyclone.

Back to the EOT celebration. It was really a pretty good feeling to know that I have been a part of this team and to remember all the accomplishments we did together - as a team. The CC even reiterated how well we performed AS a team considering we are one squadron from two different bases. This is a true tribute to the professionalism of everyone.

As a team, we did some great things - NONE of which were possible without the individual accomplishments of each individual on that team! And today was the day to recognized the individual performers for all their hard work, dedication, and commitment. I've also been hearing MANY great stories from Airmen who have completed personal goals - passed a CDC (Career Development Course)/PME (Professional Military Education) test, completed a CCAF (Community College of the Air Force) degree, been recognized by their church, many helped with Operation Care, CJTH (Craig Joint Theater Hospital) or participated in a BAF sports league, professional group (Top3 etc) - the list goes on and on. Many lost weight, are now maybe in the best condition of their life, read a book, or maybe some other personal challenges were met. Many were promoted and still several others reenlisted. Remember - all of this in the AOR - a combat zone! And don't forget we executed millions of dollars in countless construction projects - on and off BAF!

These are all GREAT things. Also - in doing all of that, nobody on our entire team got seriously hurt or in any major trouble!

Thanks to all of the Airmen on this team! It's been a true honor to serve with you and I certainly look forward to your continued success!

Chief

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Short jokes

We are so short now we are doing pull ups with staples! All of us are so short we can't even trip! I got a few more, but I won't bore you.

I promise to post everyday now from my computer (God willing and Internet allows) till we leave. Then, once I get my TMobile card back in my Blackjack, I should be able to post from my cell while we travel and I'll make a few posts from some interesting places - again, assuming there are no technology glitches.

Don't miss tomorrows post - we are having our EOT party and this will include the awards presentations. Should be some good photo opportunities!

So, with any luck - you can call ME in a couple of weeks on my cell. I'll be taking a break and visiting my family for a couple weeks. I am very anxious to see all of you and just to be able to "talk" about "normal" stuff again. I'll probably offer the most obscure perspective for a while - :-). I might even bark a few orders for you! :-)

Some people say this deployment has changed them - me? well, I think I have changed a little also - 6 months here will do that to folks. In perspective, you all have probably changed a little too - maybe "grown" is a much better way to say that for me - in a very good way. I've learned a lot, read a lot, prayed a lot, and I've expanded my understanding of several very different cultures - one unlike any other I have seen before - and I've seen quite a few. I also feel very good about my time here. I'm not going to walk away and think I could have done more. Yes, nothing here was perfect, but I believe I did the very best I could. I can tell you I sure TRIED hard every single day. I thought about this motto from the very first day I was here - "Don't count the days, make the days count!" That really stuck with me and I promised myself when I first heard that saying - that is what I was going to do. And - I feel very good about that. If you want to know WHY I wanted to do that, well it's because I believe in my heart God has a plan for all of us - and I sincerely believe He sent me here for a reason - and I certainly didn't want to let Him down. I wanted to do my best every day for Him.

I cannot express how much writing this blog has meant to me also. It gave me strength (seriously) to know so many of you reading love me and are praying diligently for me and the entire team. I assure you I read and appreciated every single comment. I also appreciate the many of you who took time to write cards, letters, and send thoughtful packages packed with love. Thank you all so very much.

I miss you all - it's not over yet and you know me - I'll stay committed to this till the very end when I get a big hug and a kiss from my wife - that's when I'll know this is over.

Then, I'll take just a few days to give thanks and praise, recoup my thoughts, and start the next chapter in my life - I'm sure it will include ALL of you!

Mark.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Couple more pics

See if you recognize any of the folks in these pics:

http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/BAF14

I'll explain in a subsequent post - but it would be interesting if you did know who any of these people are.

The leading pictures are from the BHut project out at the new BTIF. We didn't build them all, but we are doing all the electrical and HVAC in them (making them nice and cool/hot and adding outlets and lights). Lot's of good work going on there!

Mark.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Long Break

Wow - it's been a long time since I posted a blog! (I"m sure that's what some of you are saying too!) :-)

Well - I bet you think I've been extremely busy! Honestly, not so much. Busy yes, - extremely (like when we first got here) - no. I have consumed much of my time reading a book - "The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Bible". Now, before you draw any conclusions, I'll just say this - it's a very good read for ANYONE regardless of how much you think you already know about the bible. Several people asked me where I got the book - and honestly, I'm not 100% sure, but I'm pretty sure it was Nana (Emily) - Janice, I'm sure, will confirm.

We had our final Commander's call yesterday - the next time we all get together will be for our "End of Tour" party next week. That means less than 1 week of "work" to go - then some time to make sure we have things together for the next team and transition out! Whew!

For those who are wondering, no - you will not find out directly from this blog when I'll be coming home. You will get vague hints - sorry, that's the best I can do. I will, however, be sure to let Pam know all the info I know - which at this very moment, is about what I told you. It will be several more days before I know anything further. So don't start calling Pam just yet :-)

Can you sense a little excitement in my tone? Well - I'll tell you - I am very excited - on the inside. It's important not to get TOO excited and forget where we are. Staying focused is extremely important and a theme I will practice till we have "Wheels Up" out of here.

For those still praying for me, thank you SO much. I feel that your prayers are what keeps a smile on my face every single day. Pam tells me "You have a bad day only twice a year!" - I think I used one up on this trip, so I'm still good and I got one in the bank.

Mark.

Monday, August 24, 2009

More Pics Up

For those who haven't noticed yet, there are some more pics posted here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/BAF12. I had the pleasure to witness three Airmen reenlist in the AOR last week. There have been a couple others do it also. It's pretty special to do ANYTHING in the AOR, but reenlisting, getting promoted etc - well, it's all good stuff.

You can see some pics of the handy structures work the guys did at "The Rock" fitness center - this is the main AF gym. They put some mirrors in so people can see how big (or in my case) how skinny there are getting.

Then we have the reenlistment photos out on the flight line with a static F15E display - very cool - and the graffiti is something I guess the pilots like to do when they are not flying.

Then just today on my walk home, I noticed the view is coming back into focus - not so much dirt flying around - it looked really nice so I snapped a few photos. These are only a glimpse of what it really looks like - the camera can only capture so much.

I'm fine - still smiling. More people are starting to smile more - I wonder why?

Looking forward to the next couple weeks!

Mark.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A special day

Today was a great day for many reasons - and no, it wasn't even RIB day!

Today is my parents 40th anniversary! Pam and I celebrated 27 just 1 week ago! We are catching up! :-)

I got to Skype with them for more than 30 minutes! During our conversation, of course I mentioned a Happy Anniversary to them and my Dad was impressed I thought about it on this day with the many other things I have on my mind. All I could think of at the time to say was this is a very special thing - how could I forget?

It made me think that sometimes we DO forget things. I'm not perfect and I forget things too - we all do. I try hard to remember things like birthdays, anniversaries, and a few other significant events for folks - even the men and women I'm deployed with - I have all their birthdays and I make it a point to wish them Happy Birthday.

I thought about this a lot this afternoon and I came to conclude this one simple thing. If you forget about love, you might as well forget about everything else. I think I remember these events for people because they remind me of love - somebody's love - God's love!

And that's what is so important. Don't be too busy that you forget about love!

Mark

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Election Day!

I bet a LOT of you wished it was in the US! I'm not talking about a US election, I'm talking about the second democratic presidential election in Afghanistan tomorrow. Should be very interesting the next several days. If' you are praying for me and the team - give us a double dose for tomorrow! This should be the most "interesting" time since we've been here.

I can tell you one thing, I'm glad MY time is almost done. Things are certainly going to change around here - in many different ways - especially the weather. Yes - it's been HOT and windy - but I'd MUCH rather have that than cold, muddy, rain/snow - and throw the wind into that mix and you have much worse conditions to work in than we have had. How ironic is it that the teams from GA and MA (no strangers to cold weather) spent a majority of their rotation in the heat and the team from HI (no stranger to nice weather) will spend their time in the cold/snow!

The other thing we've come to enjoy here is our own little space in these BHut's. It wouldn't surprise me if all that changes also. For the time being, we've secured a direct swap with the HI team. I just hope they are able to maintain this "luxury".

Lots of things around here are changing fast - including the time we have left. Yup, things are starting to shift rapidly now to focus on the transition. I just hope the Airmen remain professional, positive, and postured to make the HI team successful. We don't need to be selfish right now and just think about getting out of here. That will come - but it's important to finish strong and do this the right way. I can tell you that WE had it very good here when we arrived due to the diligence of the previous team. They set us up with billeting, worked with us to make sure projects continued, and left us a lot of work. The last part is pretty easy - there really is no shortage of work. There is always something to do. I really want to do the same (or even better) for the next team.

So - if your looking for something specific to pray about, try this. Pray that I stay a strong and alert. Pray the Taliban miss if they decided to act. Pray that God will show me the best way to lead everyone home safely and give me the strength to finish strong for the team coming in. For the team, pray the leaders stay focused on the mission and that everyone will be safe and come home to their families.

There you have it - short and sweet. That should cover the basics. There are many details to worry about, but the good news is we are a strong team together and I have no doubt whatever happens will be God's will and we will be able to get through this together.

Thank you all for all your prayers already and the many more to come.

The reason I wrote this was because I know many of you ARE already praying for me and the team. If your curious how I'm doing, well - really, I'm fine. I'm still smiling and I have a positive attitude. I'm proud of what we have done here as a team and I'm very glad to know there is a strong, competent team coming to replace us. I know my family is OK - they miss me, true, I miss them, but they are all strong people too. All of you have been extremely supportive and I hope you know how much that has really meant to me. From packages to prayers, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Mark

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Better than I deserve

That's how I am -

I'm still here and thanking God everyday.

I miss you all.

Mark.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mark's new friend

I posted a couple more pics of the "Super BHut" and the crew - obviously I caught the crew during a break. I say obviously because you can see the work and craftsmanship that has been accomplished on this Super BHut in just a very short time. These structures guys are awesome!

http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/BAF12

There are two pics of my friend Avnee - I have no idea how to spell his name - but that is the way it's pronounced. He works at the TMP vehicle maintenance yard - I walk by it every day on my way home - usually he's there and we talk for a few minutes. He also made me a spare key for my new truck and offered to wash it for me any time I wish! He's a great guy - very helpful, and kind. He's from Kosovo and will be leaving in a couple days for R&R - but he thinks he will be back before I leave. Let's hope so. I wanted to get a couple pics just in case.

Did I mention it was 110 in the shade today? (117 in the sun)

Mark.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Spartan Sponsor

My brother in law, Scott Bielat coaches a little league team in CO - The Bear Creek Spartans. His son Jacob is on the team. Before I left, Scott had a banner made and he added the USAF as a sponsor in honor of yours truly. My father in law, Larry Bielat, bought some of our unit coins we had made and gave them to Scott - enough for his entire team and coaches. It just so happened they had a big game to play on the 4th of July and the day before that game, he chose to give the boys these coins. There is a great video of it here (and on the website).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uo-xTqJKBtI

Now I have to tell you - I'm not one to cry about anything - but this video was so heartwarming, I don't think anyone could watch it without some emotion. Just to know how much we (the military) are doing to keep you from having to worry about whether or not the plane you get on will be blown up, or if the building you are in will collapse because some terrorist decided to blow it up - etc... We live in a country where some take these things for granted - but not Scott and his coaches. Not only that, it just so touching that he explained it so easily to his boys - and just how important it is that we have the greatest military in the world looking out for you every single day. It is a hard assignment, but we do it because we love our country - and we carry on the fight so many have fought so hard for before us. It's not perfect, but it is a nice place to live - and the freedom we all enjoy is certainly not free.

Didn't mean to rant and rave, just wanted you all to know that I am very proud to be able to answer my nations call and to be doing my part to make sure my family, and yours, rest peacefully every night behind the security of the many great men and women in the US military.

I'm very proud of my brother in law. Not for thinking about me, but for teaching his boys to never forget that the reason we have liberty and freedom for all is because there are men and women out there willing to die to protect it.

It's not easy to explain that to kids, but when God blesses you with the ability to coach, you do the very best you can and make it LOOK easy.

Thanks Scott!

Mark

Couple neat things

I have a few good stories to tell you -
First, in line with the latest series of pictures in BAF12 is MSgt Bobby Vongphakdy - he is our primary EA guy and was tasked with the very difficult mission to survey the downed F15 crash site a few weeks ago. Recently General Kwast presented the team coins for his appreciation for their efforts.


Next I received the 9 ball from my brother Al - an avid pool player if you couldn't guess. I won't go into his favorite game either - but suffice it to say it was a great idea - he sent me 1 ball a month with some very nice care packages (you might remember the ITouch story - if not, I still think ti's worth the read) - and I'm very thankful to have been here long enough to have received - the 9 ball.
Here is a picture of all the balls sitting on my new desk.
And we also have some pictures of the HVAC guys who worked day and night (literally) to install the air conditioners you see in the pictures. I can't tell you exactly why this was such an important job, but the Army thought it was and presented all the guys who worked on the project - and also Cpt Jaw - an Army Achievement Medal.

I think I got some pretty good shots.
They you have it ... I have another special story to tell you, but it's so special, it gets its own title. Coming up next.
Mark.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Another week in the books

Yet another week has passed and we had Commanders Call this evening. It was the first briefing where we opened the door for out processing actions and information! The 1st Sgt briefed the plan to exit billeting, the CC talked about team building and SMSgt Berrier delivered a "Finish Strong" message. I also gave a short brief about how professional the Airmen have been with integrating the beddown folks.

I'll be busy tomorrow taking care of some required paperwork for the entire team - plus I have a meeting with contracting and I plan to give a couple Major's a tour of the BTIF later in the afternoon.

It's been very busy the past couple of days, so I'm glad this week is over!

Not much else to talk about. The weather has been very hot and very windy this last week and that made for some tough working conditions. But the positive side of that is it's better than working in the freezing cold wind when you have freezing rain and wind to deal with - I certainly do not envy the team of folks coming in behind us for the winter!

I think the timing for our deployment was near perfect. We will be home for the major holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) and we had relatively good working conditions. Yes, it was hot and windy - but like I said, it's better than the alternative!

All in all - we couldn't have picked a better time to do this if we had too.

I do miss all of you - thanks for reading and thanks again for all your prayers.

Mark.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

CSM Coin

Command Sergeant Major Capel (CJTF-82) presented some of our Airmen a CSM coin today for his appreciation for the effort rebuilding the only firing range on BAF. The range had not been used in a very long time because it was unsafe - and our team used a lot of sand and some heavy equipment to make it better. It was a great effort and CSM Capel was very appreciative - I got some good shots too!

http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/BAF11#

There are three pics of the range construction at the beginning of this album and the coin presentation pics are at the end.

Also included in this album are the pictures from the Super BHut project that is moving right along! All the guys/gals from ALL teams are really working hard and it's nice to see them still so high on morale and finishing strong!

I had a very busy last couple of days - even today, but I left the office with a smile on my face and I said to the Lord, "Thank you for a GREAT day!" I did have a very good day - productive, and it was nice to get to hear CSM Capel talk so fondly of our team! He basically just reiterated what I already knew - we do have a great team and I am proud of all of them.

Mark.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Flying High!

Airpower!



I got off Bagram today! I was treated to a Blackhawk ride with the Wing Staff to go visit Airman at on of the FOB's (Forward Operating Base). I have some great pictures here:

http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/BlackhawkRide


It was definitely a great experience to be with the Army Airborne Rangers and to fly on a fully loaded Blackhawk. It was a very short trip, but I am very thankful I got to be part of it. The Command Chief went with us and so did Chief McCarty - pictured on the album cover. I'll be able to tell you more when I get home. Suffice it to say - it was a great trip and I'm honored to have been chosen to ride along with the 455th AEW Staff.

We had lunch with the Airmen and also got a few moments to speak with the senior leadership there. It was great to see that for the most part, even though they don't have the same amenities we have here at BAF, they were all motivated and in very good spirits. They gave us a tour of the compound (all walking - which tells you it's not that big) and we left literally right after lunch. I think I got some great pictures.

I can tell you this - if your going to move around the AOR - this is the way to do it! It beats riding in a C130 - that's for sure!

So this was really a great day for me. I had dinner (RIBS) with the 955 AES Superintendent and one of his staff to discuss business. I try to make every moment count. I even made sure I'd be back in enough time to post this blog - for you.. :-)

Mark.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Cold day in the Cadillac

No matter what your perspective is - taking a cold shower after a long day out in the field just has to suck. Yes, be glad you have a shower cold or not (there are many who don't have this luxury), but that really is a bummer. There are three bays with showers and the middle one was straight cold water - I know because I went in there - the 1st bay was a little crowded (I have always used the 1st bay since I've been here). Shaving with cold water wasn't so bad - but I decided there was no way I was taking a cold shower - I'd wait if I had too.

After I finished shaving (3-4 minutes), I went around the corner to the first bay - still a little crowded, but I tested the water in the sink and it wasn't cold... by far, not HOT, but had a little warm to it. So I jumped in the first shower and I think I JUST made it. It was a quick one - certainly less than 3 minutes, but the little bit of heat was just about gone.

When I got out, you could hear they guys in the next bay - most of the time, guys don't talk to each other in the bathroom. All you heard was, Burrr, Sh*t that's cold, etc... It was amusing, but really I felt bad for them - mostly Army guys. Come to think of it, most of the guys in the 1st bay were AF guys. Hummm... :-)

I'm also disappointed I missed my weekly call with my parents today. It was really a very busy "off" day for me. Skipped breakfast to go in early - I was there @ 0630. Next thing I knew it was 1200 and I was late for lunch chow. So I walked very quickly to the DFAC and had lunch. Then, next thing you know, it's 1730!! I had wrote Dad and Mom and email to tell them I'd be late - hope they got it and everything is OK. Gee - that's funny - I even worry about them from time to time.

Seriously, I do spend a good bit of time in prayer. Mostly of thanks and praise. Thanks that I'm still here and able to carry out the mission - and praise for a really awesome God who will not give me more than I can handle!

Sometimes I wish He didn't trust me so much! :-)

Mark

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

짧은 타이머

Now I bet you all are wondering what THAT title means! The answer comes next month. I'll give you one point if you can tell me the language and two points if you can tell me what it says! :-)

Had a great SKYPE night last night! Funny, seems everyone wants to talk on the same night! :-) I like it though - I talked with David, Al and Pam - and Marcus on MajicJack - which is working pretty good by the way.

I had a pretty long day - got up at 0400 to be with the "Dirt Boys" to pour a concrete pad. I posted a couple pics in BAF11. By 0700, all the hard work was done! If you're wondering why we get up so early to pour concrete, it's because it's too hot during the day (113 today) and they can't seem to get the concrete where it belongs and finished before it sets up in the heat.

Also posted a couple new pics of a "Super BHut" the guys are building and it's going to be a two story BHut. Those Structures guys move pretty fast so I'll try to take a few more pics - but you probably won't recognize it as under construction - it will look like it's finished in a few days! These pics show what they did just the 1st DAY!

It's an interesting thing to me - if you want to know how much work we've done, I'll put it to you like this - and I've said this to many people here. It's very surprising to me to see the condition of this base considering that it's been here for 9+ years - and knowing how much it has changed in the 5 months we've been here! It's VERY surprising! After all the things we did with just our team - if we would have been here for the last 9 years, I promise you this would look like downtown Atlanta at the rate we are going! The war would probably be over because the Taliban would think they were in the wrong country!

With as fast as we can put up this "Super BHut", why are there tents anywhere around here? Yes, we ARE that good!

I like to brag on my guys - not because they need to hear it, but because they deserve it.

Mark (aka Chief)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Room Inspection

We had our first real room inspection today - it was not like I expected. I really thought they would look for all kinds of things, but all they cared about was fire. They picked on smoke detectors (like the occupants are supposed to know or just run right out and buy some...). Really? If they want/need more smoke detectors, then put them in! Why have an inspection 9 years later? Heck - they didn't even TEST the smoke detectors we have in the rooms now! And have you see the wiring around the outside??? So what was the point? (I'm really not sure). They told me my coffee pot had to be on a non-combustible material.... HELLO??? The entire BHut is made of WOOD! He suggested glass! I laughed! So I just said, "OK - Whatever!" Oh - AND - he said it had to plug directly into the wall outlet! Yeah, OK. Do you know how long the cord is on a coffee pot? It's like 6 inches! Don't forget the FLOOR (along with everything else) is made of - uh, yeah - WOOD. Did I mention the outlet is only 18 inches off the floor! (lower than the outlets in your home). So just how the heck am I (or anyone else) supposed to have this coffee pot plugged directly into the wall and sitting on some non-combustible material!? Hence - my response, "OK - Whatever!"

Oh - and yeah, I did take out the trash and all that stuff - you guys all know I'm not a pig anyway and I keep my stuff organized and clean all the time anyway. But honestly, they seemed not to care about any of that.

Oh well - I just hope folks realize that our living conditions are really a treat and a whole lot better than a tent - which is where many others are living! I'm very thankful for my little wooden box!

Mark.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pics UP

I posted a few new pics - they are a mix, so I'll run through a couple.

http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/BAF11

First are a couple pics of the projects - old and new - then we have the CC with his special Popcorn Birthday Cake. His bday is not till 5 Aug - but his Grandmother wanted to make SURE he didn't miss it! Neat - lots of interesting flavors. It was good though.

Then a couple more project pics - and finally a couple so you understand why the Internet and power go out all the time - no, I'm not making this stuff up.

Mark.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

General Info

Did I mention that I got to hang out with two Generals the other day? For 3 hours! It was great! We (the CC and I - and of course their complete entourage) took them around BAF to visit some high profile facilities and gave them a brief on some very interesting developments in our group. It was really a neat thing to spend so much time with them. Both great men and very easy to talk too - very smart, and keen - and very nice guys overall too.

Oh - you want to know who they were? General Buckler and General McMahon. Gen Buckler's is a "tire" guy like Col Lehman and was also in the reserve program for quite a while.

Still plugging along and trying to finish strong - that's the theme and it wouldn't be right to preach it if I wasn't going to practice it. I promised myself before I came here I would make every opportunity count and I actively LOOK for opportunities. I volunteer to help people every chance I get and I really am trying to make a difference here for the next guy that has to come here - and there will be many.

Mark.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Internet is back

Well, kind of - at least I can do most things. I was just in a Skype call w/Pam for a solid 35 min - then - the call dropped and I could not get her back.

So - I'm happy for that 35 min! Also got a good call in with my brother Jim this afternoon! That was very nice also - no problems, I guess we talked for 20 min or so! Was great to see him! And - I got to IM with Al today also - he was the one that reminded me that I never really told you that I got my Internet working again. It's pretty much back to the crappy Internet that I started with - it works when it wants too. But trust me, I learned my lesson and I'm not complaining anymore! It's fine, it's fine, it's fine!!! :-)

At least I can write blogs! I've learned to be very thankful for the little things in life.

Mark.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Working Weekend

It's surprising I even KNOW that it's the weekend. Still the days all seem to run together and often I ask myself, "What day is it today?".

Well, it's Saturday (I'm sure, I just checked my computer) and there is some good news that I can share. I had a very long talk yesterday with the Chief replacing me soon! He is a very nice Christian man so we have a lot in common already! :-)

He says his team is getting excited to come and I told him we were JUST as excited (if not more) to know we are soon leaving. For many of you (I can hear you) it's not soon enough! I know. For me, I still contend I am here for a reason and I intend to finish the plan as best I can. I'll be home when I get home.

We talked for a good long time and it was perfect because I was in the office and literally had "just walked in" when he called. I was a little late getting there because it was Friday and I had no good reason to be in earlier - and besides, it was an off day. :-) We talked for what seemed like 90 minutes about various issues and potential things to avoid. It was reminiscent for me when I was in his position getting ready to come and I couldn't help to be thankful for Chief Ron Rearick taking his time to talk with me the same way. Those conversations really helped and I felt like I knew Ron when I got here. I hope it will be the same for Robert (the new chief). I already like him - and his wife - because she has sent two wonderful packages filled exclusively with Hawaian macadamia nut goodies. ALL KINDS of macadamia nut stuff! (I did have to share some... :-( That's not a bad thing though - keeps me from gaining all that weight back.

Speaking of that - my Mom told me I looked "Skinny" on Friday - and the same day, the CC came by my hooch and I was in my PT gear and he said "Geez, Chief, your nothing but skin and bones now!" - Which is not REALLY true and I told him I was just a little leaner and still tougher than a $2 steak!

I'm sure you all will still recognize me when I get back - I'll just be wearing my belt a little tighter. Pam and I will have to go shopping for some new clothes till I get back into the beer and ice cream! :-) I may even have to get the new commander to by me a couple new uniforms!

See - there are good things about this deployment if you LOOK for them!

Mark.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Too long to post

Let me say up front I'm sorry for not posting more frequently lately. It's been very busy and quite honestly, there's not much new I can tell you. Yes, new things happening, you will just have to wait till I get back to get all the details.

I had a pretty good day today and the CC even verbalized his appreciation for a good day - he said, "I'm in a pretty good mood today" and that made me feel especially thankful - and made me in a pretty good mood too!

I'm thankful that all the crews are fully engaged in projects and there is certainly no shortage of work for anyone. Things are progressing along quite nicely at the moment and it's a good feeling to know we are making a difference and we can all see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are not there yet, but there is a definite improvement in what I feel is an already high morale!

Another week is in the books - as you remember, SAT-THR is our typical week since Friday is our down day. Well I won't be the only one working tomorrow - and I wasn't last Friday either. Several of the PM (project managers) and crews are making an extra effort and working some of our projects even on their days off. And others are working on side projects to make things better around the FET (Facility Engineer Team) building (our office building) and still others are putting it time to help with MWR activities, other self help projects, Operation Care and many other important things that need to be done.

A good week for me - I still miss you all and I want to again let you know there is not a day that goes by when I don't think about you and know that you are still praying for me and my team. I sincerely want to thank each and every one of you and I will do that in person soon.

Happy Birthday Ashley!

Mark.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Lord's Day!

Well I didn't sleep so great last night and and I woke up a little grumpy - which is very uncommon, but I was treated to a nice Skype Video with all my grandchildren and both my kids - and Jeff, and of course my wife Pam - and my good friend David! What a nice treat first thing in the morning! It was wonderful to see all of them and they all looked great! Good stuff! After all that, I forgot all about my crappy sleep night and had a great day!

Now it's catching up with me and I think I'll try and lay down a little early tonight - wind is blowing somethin fierce - but it *IS* Rib night and I'm fat and sassy - so hopefully I'll sleep well tonight.

Had a pretty good day! Went to church this morning, worked thru lunch (I always do on Rib Days) and had a GREAT dinner! They were cooked perfectly (as usual) and everything was great! I'm going to have to keep up the tradition when I get home - Pam doesn't know it yet, but I think Sunday is going to be RIB night on a regular basis!!! Just that we'll have to find a comparable place in ATL somewhere cause we sure as ____ aren't coming back here - I don't care HOW good they are - (they really are pretty good!)

Typical day, oh - I know what you will find interesting. The Internet now is actually FASTER in my hooch than it is in my office!!! How's THAT for a surprise! Seriously! It's horrible and barely usable! In fact, I'd call it limited because pages just will not load. It's a combination of bandwidth (or lack of) and DNS timeouts. That makes for some crappy Internet - let me tell you.

Also got to Skype with my parents on FRIDAY - I love Friday's - still. We talked for a good long time and it was nice seeing them smile. They like having their granddaughter there in MQT - my brother and his wife went up for a visit.

We've actually started planning for the rotation! (that's REALLY good news)! I won't get into details, but it's slowly starting! Things will fall into place in no time and I'll be back in GA before you know it. BTW - you know I'll end this blog eventually and I plan to print it to PDF for the record. Don't worry though, I'll post my cell information when I get back and it will be just like old times and you can actually CALL me once in a while! :-)

Looking forward to it - don't want ya'll to get TOO excited. I'll tell you the same thing I'm telling my guys. We came here to do a job and we are going to do it - and do it well - right up to the end. The Wing Motto when we got here was Start Right, Finish Strong - and we plan to stick to that - after all, it's important and I think the people here realize what they are doing *IS* important - and making a huge difference. That's one of the things we bring up at every commanders call for the group - we make sure we tell them that not only are they all doing a good job, but that it's making a difference for the people on BAF now and the many that will come thru here in the future.

Mark.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What can I say?

Hi!

Well, things are still fine with me - and with the team. We are all still here and making a difference on BAF for all coalition forces. That's a very true statement too - not overstated. The projects we are working and completing are major projects that will improve the quality, life, health and safety standards for everyone coming to BAF. And if that doesn't make you smile - then I don't know what to tell you.

We are all contributing - we are all working hard to make things happen.

Mail call again today in a HUGE way! 30+ boxes came in from Fairview Baptist Church! I expect another batch of 56 boxes coming in the next few days... got 3 yesterday, and 28 or so today. Since I've been here, I talked a little about perspective - and my perspective has changed (in this case) for the better because I realized there exists a tremendous amount of people out there who really do care and actively support military warriors. There's a few from GA that I plan to make a personal visit too - I'm recording their names and addressed and I'll look them up when I get back - maybe deliver an appreciation hug! Speaking of hugs - the Chapel NeXt team is sponsoring a Hot dogs and Hugs campaign! Sounds like a lot of fun and I'm going to try and get in on the action. It's coming up soon, so watch for the pictures. I'll tell you about it AFTER it happens! :-)

I've got a "driver" for my truck... no, silly, not a chauffeur, just someone to drive it back and forth to work everyday - I decided to still keep up the walking. I did take a day off after the dodge ball game (did I already mention that?). I've gotten used to it and I'm sure it's one reason why I feel so good and I'm sure it's a good thing to keep a smile on my face! Besides - you get to meet/see a lot of interesting people along the way! :-) As you all know, there are MANY different coalition forces here - and I mean from all over. Once in a while I'll get to talk with them. I also meet a lot of KBR (and other contractor) folks from different places all over the world too.

Now the trick will be to get my "driver" to wash the truck and clean it up for me... :-)

Mark.

PS - It took me about 10 min to write this post and it's now been more than 90 minutes (yeah, no kidding) and it's STILL not posted. So far, you haven't heard me cuss in this forum - but if this keeps up, I'm going to change this from a family show to NC-17 and anyone older than 50! :-)
I'm giving up and going to bed. With any luck, I'll be able to reach my wife from my cell phone - and more than 50% of the time - that don't work either.

It's now the morning (0530) - let's see if it will post now....

Mark.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Perspective

Now might be a good time to have that perspective discussion. So I thought my Internet connection was really bad... Oh how WRONG I was! At this moment, I'd take that back and be HAPPY to pay the $100!!! As it is - now it's REALLY bad! So bad that it's basically unusable (I thought it was "unusable" before). Now - in perspective, it was fine... At least I could Skype with my family and friends! And I could use MagicJack ONCE IN A WHILE! Now - I'll be lucky if the blog posts!!!! (seriously!)

Could not contact Blogger.com. Saving and publishing may fail. Retrying...
Return to list of posts


And if it does, I guess I should be happy about it...

Mark.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Friends

What's a good friend?

Well - many people told me I should write a book when I get back - and if I was going to do that, I'd have plenty of material just for a book about friends. I am so very blessed to have so many good friends. I was able to Skype with my wife last night in TN. She went to visit all my rowdy friends in TN at the Brown's - David and Janice. Pam is celebrating the holiday there with MANY of our friends and it was so nice to see all of them on the back porch. Hard, and a little sad for me knowing that they are all going out to play on the water for the weekend - fishing, skiing, boating, etc... and I'm here fishing in sewer water with a rock! Yuck. But they all said they love me and I know that's true. They all miss me and I miss them too - much more than the water and the fishing. I have no idea how many people were there - but there were many - and ALL of them were excited to see me - and that was so special for me. Very humbling that they all think so much of me to talk about me and pray for me. Now it's true - I'm not sure what they "talk" about - but I'm pretty sure they think and talk about me like I think and talk about them - very fondly and full of pride. I love my friends and they love me. This is a true blessing. I know how wonderful it is for Pam to be in their company for this patriotic holiday - and she happens to be with Janice - who has never missed thanking me on a Veterans Day (or any other military holiday) since we met some 15+ years ago. How's that for a thoughtful friend? That's not the half of it. Over the years, we have laughed and cried with many of our friends - sometimes at the same time, had many, many good times and 1 or 2 bad, but the good news is - ALL of us are very thankful for God bringing our families together. In the process, many other's have joined the crowd and it has certainly made for a very LARGE crowd of friends - many of whom were on the back porch last night. And for that, I am very thankful today. You all made my day today and I'll be thinking of you all having fun in the sun as I rest my head to end another day here in Afghanistan. 1 more day closer to coming home. I look forward to the day when I can be with ALL of you again - whether it be on the porch in TN, back home in MQT, on the beach in FL, playing turkey bowl in PA, someplace in TX or AZ/VA/MS (this guy moves around a lot - still) or back in GA (which is kind like home now) or anywhere else - being with friends is always a special time.

There is one friend though that I thank God for everyday and I miss and love more than anyone else - and that's my BEST friend, Pam.

Mark.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Party Time

We worked this morning and we had a party for the afternoon! It was a complete party with all kinds of activities. Frisbee, Football, Volleyball, Dodge ball, Basketball, and the favorite game - CORNHOLE! It was a blast! (pun intended)

On top of that, we had LOTS of food. Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Grilled Chicken, Ribs (yup), and Steaks! (of course all the fixins and deserts too). The Commander bought us all Bitburger (o%) Beer and there was lots of other drinks.

MSgt Carey organized the cornhole tournament and subsequently WON THE WHOLE thing!!! I say it was rigged from the start, but who knows.... The party took place at the premiere venue on BAF! The MWR Clamshell (same place Toby Kieth played and all the other major events are held) - it was a GREAT place to have fun and out of the 107 degree HOT sun! Senior MSgt Bramlett played music on the PA system all day! TSgt Lojoie was tied to the grill for a while cooking the steaks.

All in all - a GREAT day - best day since I've been here! To ADD to the good news, I got my TRUCK!!! It's a BRAND NEW Toyota Hilux - very nice, and much more comfortable than the Gator I had been borrowing when I needed to go places outside of walking distance. I'll take a few pics of me and the truck tomorrow.

Pics of the party are posted here:
http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/PartyTime

Most everyone came to the party and those who were there had a LOT of fun and got to relax. It was perfect timing because the R&R team was back and the other team hasn't left so EVERYONE had a chance to go the party! The Commander said some very nice remarks to start us off and the rest is now history.

I'm glad to have been there - it was really nice to see everyone participated in something a lot of folks helped out in the end to straighten up. The MWR Staff was phenomenal and really took care of us.

A very good day (in perspective)

Mark.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

PRT Trip pics posted

As promised, but a little late (like everything else around here) are more pics from my PRT trip courtesy of the boys from the team. There are a couple good ones too (I think).

Also - I posted a couple of fresh project pictures in BAF10.

The guy in the contracting office finally got to me. I was a little ticked off today as I still don't have any of the three vehicles we ordered back in MAY - and the order made it to contracting (final stop) the first week in June. Still no trucks!

Nothing in the mail today - but it sure was nice to get the 56 boxes (count'em) from Eastside Community Church in Wichita KS! (I didn't know there were nice people there either! :-) All the boxes had GOOD stuff in them too!!! Useful stuff! All the guys/gals that opened them were happy and had big smiles. VERY nice of them to do that! All for Independence Day too. They wrote a nice note in each of the boxes of thanks and gratitude for our service. Nice touch!

The wind picked up significantly today for the first time in a about 2-3 weeks. It's been breezy, but today was straight WINDY. Lots of blowing dirt to eat. The shower will sure feel good tonight, but we are still limited to 3 min! That will be a real treat when I get home... Taking a LONG 5 min shower. (see, I told you my perspective on things has changed). How many of you women think 5 min is a long shower??? Try 3 min - goes for the gals too. Now granted there is nobody checking the clock and many do not abide by this rule, but most do because they respect the rule first, and 2nd, there is a water shortage on BAF - all the water is trucked in daily. Also, there is limited HOT water for so many folks - so those that abide are helping those who take advantage (and don't care) and shower as long as they like. Drives me crazy, but what can you do with these kids? Just remind them once in a while... I do.

Not much else to say today... I'm fine. Really. I'm still in the same routine. Walk to/from work and most places around BAF when time permits. I only drive to the far out places when I need too.

Hope you enjoy the pics - I'll post some from the party coming up - that should be a LOT of fun. We are holding a Cornhole tournament. Lots of interest in the game - 24 folks already signed up! should be a good time. Structures guys put together the board sets for us and the EA (engineering assistants/surveyors) team is going to set up the official courts!!! :-) It's fun to be an engineer!!!

Mark.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Good/Bad News

That all depends on your perspective - and while I'm on that topic, let me tell you my perspective sure has changed in the last 5 months since I started this back in JAN! Yes, believe it or not, my orders started on 29 JAN. That's when my perspective on things started to change.

More on that in a different post - it's not what I planned to tell you.

Good News/Bad news - The good news is I didn't miss RIB NIGHT!!! The Bad news is I didn't miss RIB NIGHT - I would have if my trip wasn't cancelled this morning - bummer. But it's still not out of the question - so - hopefully sometime soon. Also, I got the two disc's with the pictures from the PRT trip (good news), but I forgot them in the office so you will have to wait till tomorrow night till I can post them (bad news).

Also - more bad news - I missed church today cause I was working so hard... :-) Seriously - something came up just before 1430 (J-Time) and I couldn't make it. Next Sunday, J-Time moves to 1030 so that will work out a LOT better for me anyway.

I wish you could see the Chapel NeXt website! Not many web pages around here are kept up to date, but THAT one is! I think God is updating it Himself! It's very professional and lots of good information! Looks good too!

So I planned on getting in bed early - that's didn't work out too well - I'm sitting here keeping all the people concerned about me up to date - Oh, yeah - that's not such a BAD thing to have a few friends who love you! That's GOOD NEWS for me!

Thanks to all of you!

Mark.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

More pics comin

This is a short post - just wanted to let you know I got some pics from TSgt Lajoie and I posted them here:

http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/BAF10

I also added a couple pics from the Blackwater project in Baf9

http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/BAF9

I stopped by to get some more PRT trip pics - the guys said they had two full CD's for me - but I couldn't find them late this afternoon so I'll try again to tomorrow.

More interesting pics coming very soon!

Mark.

Friday, June 26, 2009

PRT Trip

Had some more excitement! I was tasked with a trip off base to do an engineer analysis of a generator installation. I took one of my Power Pro guys who is a Master Electrician in his civilian occupation. We were on our way and we ran into a little snag. That's about all I can tell you. We did get to complete our mission, but it was a very long day and I'm certainly not getting any younger. After ALL DAY in all that gear, my back was telling me "You know, your not as young as you used to be!!" I thought when I came back into my hooch and took off my stuff... I was light as a feather and if I wasn't so sore, I'm pretty sure I could have dunked a basketball... Now - I know SOME of you thought that was funny!!!

I posted some pictures here: Yes, I'm even IN some of them!

http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/PRTTrip

Not to mention - it was over 100 degrees in the shade... Yeah, Yeah - low humidity... It was still HOT! I was on my feet for the better part of 6 hours.

Great assignment though - got to get out and meet some locals and try and further our cause with a little HA (Humanitarian Aide) - you see the picture with the two little kids, we gave them some pens, pencils, and crayons - and they came back with a wheel barrel full of Pepsi/Juice/cookies, etc - of course, not for us!!! But to SELL! And not cheap either! $1 per Pepsi - and it wasn't cold! Someone needs to teach these little ones about entrepreneurship!

All in all - a good week - well, since it quieted down a little after the rocket attack that seemed to make the news pretty fast.

Still don't have my Truck!!! And on top of that, some idiot decided to put the generator (it's a big generator) for the Cherry Beasley Camp in MY PARKING SPOT!!! The power went out the other night and was out for about 10 hours - the problem?? Well, a transformer blew. That's not so bad - happens all the time right?? Well, you'd think SOMEONE making a little more money than ME would have thought about that- but apparently not. So - the only solution was to "ORDER" one - which as we all know, EVERYTHING around here is "ON ORDER" - and we wait. So there's no telling how long that stupid generator will be in my parking spot - but - that's OK - cause I don't have a truck to put there ANYWAY! :-)


Mark.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Time Out

Hi!

Just posted some interesting (IMHO) pics - a mixture - one from the exciting night.

Also - had a going away roast for Col Reed today - he will be leaving soon and at one time was in control of over 1600 Airmen! (wow)

He's a great guy and great leader and it's always great to go to these things and get another piece of wisdom to add to my battle book.

And a couple of updated project pictures for the engineers! I'm sure they can appreciate all the hard work that is being accomplished.

Should be an exciting day tomorrow - look for some even MORE interesting pictures tomorrow night (my time).

Mark

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bagram in the News

Well, last night Bagram made the news. You can go to Google News and search Bagram for the details. Needless to say, nobody got much sleep last night and there was a lot of excitement! I'll definitely be going to bed a little early tonight!

I'm OK and everyone in our group is OK. We had a good Sunday - Father's Day. I hope to Skype with both my Father and my Father-in-Law today - hopefully here in the next few minutes.

Chapel NeXt service was very good. There were 3 other guys from my unit that have been attending - it's nice to see them there.

I'm in charge of putting together our 4th of July Celebration for the unit. I can't give away too many details here, but it's going to be a lot of fun and I've arranged it so we will get some time off of work - something our Airmen really seem to like.

I'm fairly confident I'll be getting my truck back tomorrow - of course, there is no reason to really believe that the way things go around here - but I'll be happy to post again tomorrow if in fact I do get it.

I watched a movie on Friday - Enemy at the Gates. It was OK. Pretty good story about a Russian and German sniper duel. Supposedly a true story - I'm not sure about that and I didn't have the energy today to verify.

I got a very nice envelope filled with three HUGE patriotic cards today from some nice people in CA (and here I thought the only nice people in CA were my sisters family!)

Of course that was a joke - I don't need a bunch of hate mail about all the nice folks who DO live out there. When we went to the Yurok Reservation for a reserve project several years ago, I met some very nice people!

Hopefully we get some sleep tonight - please say an extra prayer it's not as exciting as last night! And for those of you who can, please pray for the families of the ones we lost and those who were injured last night . I have been and will continue to do so.

Happy FATHER'S DAY to all the Fathers reading!

Oh, that reminds me... I wanted to share a quote with you I read earlier today:

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made so and kept so by the exertions of men better than himself. -- John Stuart Mill

Mark.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fishing in Afghanistan

I couldn't take it any longer. I was walking around today and it just looked like the perfect spot. So I set up my pole, tied on a rock, and went FISHING!

http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/BAF9

Well - I didn't catch anything. Of course, what the heck did I expect to catch using a ROCK for bait! :-) But I thought you all might enjoy the pictures anyway.

I'm doing OK - I was supposed to get my truck back today - but that didn't happen - much like many other things around here. One day you think things are going to go a certain way, and it seems too often something completely different happens. That's OK though! It's all in God's plan. Like I've said before, I'm not here to figure OUT God's plan, just execute it.

Rib night again tonight - just got back in my hooch and I think I'll enjoy some homemade cookies that Heidi sent - Umm, Umm GOOD!

Hope you all are well!

Mark.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

CAS Brief

I had the pleasure to get invited to the CAS briefing. I had heard it was very good and I decided to give it a try. I was VERY impressed with the professionalism of the all the guys and especially to the Cpt and 1Lt who gave us our briefing. We spent 4+ hours on the flight line and got some seriously close-up pictures with them and their machines!

The Cpt was an A-10 pilot and the 1Lt was a "wizzo" - WSO - Weapons Systems Officer. The A-10 is a single seater and the F15 Strike Eagle is a 2 person job. 1 Pilot and 1 WSO. They let us sit thru their typical morning pre-flight briefings and then we went out to get a close look at the planes. Check out the pics here!

http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/CAS

Yes - I'm in several shots including the pilot seat of the F15! No - we didn't get to fly, that's probably as close as I will ever get.

All in all - a great day. The briefing went into church time - I'm sure God forgives me! I did sing him a couple songs of praise though! :-)

And of course, you all know now what Sunday means!!! RIB NIGHT!!! Um, Um GOOD!

Everything else is great with me - my brother, Debbie and Mom sent me another nice box - I got the 7 ball today! Good feeling and included was an ITune's gift card - nice since I lost the last two I had before I got a chance to use them! Good thing the games are only $.99! :-)

So I'm off to download a few new items to enhance my latrine visits! Hope you all are well! I am.

Mark.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Picture This!



MAIL CALL!
First of all - the Baxter's really came up with a great box to send! Homemade cookies, and some other stuff.. Did I mention homemade cookies???

Included with the jerky, lemon drops, Twizzlers, etc... (all stuff I really like) - was a set of Bose® in-ear Headphones which pair up very nicely with my new ITouch!!!

I thought the headphones that it came with the ITouch were pretty nice - until I put in the Bose®! As Aiden would say - "OH YEAH!" And did I menetion the homeade cookies?

Soldier Angels came through in a BIG (literally) way! I couldn't be more impressed or surprised that one organization would give so much! I've likely received more than 30 personal cards and letters. I answer all of them (initially). That's not including countless cards and letters for the Airmen, 14 (at least) packages and today was the kicker... 56 Sand and Cool scarves received along with a HUGE box of coffee and enough toiletry supplies for the ENTIRE TEAM! Not to mention a host of other items... magazines, huge box of beef sticks, 4 cases of popcorn and a WHOLE LOT MORE! We are all now fat and sassy. What a blessing to have contacted these people. And it took only 1 (count'em) simple request.

The sand and cool scarves arrived in perfect time. Today was a little warmer - but I know it's only going to get hotter and windier. Plus we had Commanders call and it was a perfect time to issue them out. Everyone really appreciates the very nice and thoughtful gifts!

THANK YOU SA!

Projects are good - very good actually, HVAC has been putting in a lot of extra hours on a critical project, the dirt boys are very dirty... meaning they are spending a lot of time and energy on one of the priority projects we have and several others... the electricians are now in high demand and spread out all over BAF working on a host of different projects and the Utilities guys are just plain working - here, there, everywhere - out and about - and on all kinds of stuff - Utilities or not! Not forgetting the Engineering Team - surveying just about every square inch of Bagram it seems. Every time I go somewhere - I see one of the EA's. The structures guys haven't slept since they've been here. If I told you all the things they have done - that would be the only reasonable conclusion.

Things are great and I am very proud of this team. Everyone (not just the guys out in the field) is doing a great job. The admin folks are awesome. We recruited a few guys from the field to provide "expertise" in some specially required fields/areas and they really stepped up. People are working in and out of their specialties - but nobody is complaining - at least not to me. This has been a very rewarding tour so far. I just hope and pray the 2nd half of the ball game is just as good as the first and we will all be fine!

A great week - maybe the best week yet! They keep getting better!

A HUGE thanks you to ALL of you reading because I know in my heart you are praying and supporting me and the team and for that - I am truly grateful!

Mark

Monday, June 8, 2009

Moonlight

The other day I got back late and there was a good photo-op with the moon. Posted the pics in BAF8. Also posted are a couple pics with the guys who built and set up the Jason Cunningham memorial - a high visibility project that they did a GREAT job with!

Got another macadamia nut package from the Hickam Chief who will be here soon!!! :-)

Other than that - I've been even busier than usual the last few days - but things should calm down now for the rest of the week. Looks like temperatures are going to start warming up a little - the Soldiers Angels assured me the cool and sand scarves are in the mail! They will likely come just in time!

Got to Skype with Aiden, Jeff and Heidi yesterday after church! That was a treat. Oh Yeah man was up to his tricks eating a banana and drinking his dad's smoothie. Was great to see them.

Pam is on - see you later! :-)

Mark.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Movie Day

I finally got some time today to watch a movie and eat some pistachio nuts! (and some breadsticks) I watched a movie called Death Race and it was OK - a little violent.... :-) The good guys won in the end.

Was nice to see both my parents today! Even though they are in two very different states and I am still half way around the world - technology is awesome.

Good mail week too - packages galore from my family (parents and sister) and lots of cards and letters of thanks and encouragement! Thank you all for thinking about me and praying for me and my team.

I still haven't gotten any more pics from the Col pinning - didn't see anyone in particular today - but I hope to get them tomorrow and I'll post them when I can.

Apparently there is a very good video of the while thing - obviously, that will not be posted - but a good thing for Col Lehman to have!

Not much else to say today - hope to get to talk with the grand kids this weekend. I miss all of them and my kids - but most of all my beautiful wife who has stood by me all 27 (almost) years I've been in the military. In fact, most of you know we will have to celebrate our anniversary while I'm still here. 27 will certainly be a year to remember, but not for the lavish vacation, party, trip, dinner or any of that. We have had some interesting anniversaries over the years, but this one will top them all. Well - at least until we get to 50!!! :-)

Hope you all are well and I miss all of you too.

Mark.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Col pinned

We pinned Col Lehman today - his effective date of promotion was 1 JUN 09. It was a VERY nice ceremony and I had the honor as one of his "pinners" - I was truly humbled when he asked me to do that for him and much obliged! (can you tell I've been in the south too long??!!)

http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/BAF8

I'll post more pictures as they become available - probably tomorrow sometime. See - that's what happens when I'm not taking the pictures.

Col Reed presided over the ceremony and said some really great things about Col Lehman and us as a Utilities Detachment team. They (the top leadership) all recognise what a great job we are doing here and the fact that we ARE making a difference - both on and off Bagram with our interaction with the locals.

What a great thing!

I had dinner with the 955th Chief last night - we had a good talk and a great meal! (RIBS!) All in all, a good week - had it's moments, but I'm still smiling and happy to be here working for the Lord. I'll be glad when it's over! :-)

Soldiers Angels continues to flood me with cards and letters (this is a good thing) and I answer them all. I stay away from answering emails because there is simply not enough time for that. I did answer one just today - the email I received was so well written and heartfelt, I would have felt too guilty not responding! I just had too... :-) There are SO MANY people who appreciate and support us with thanks every chance they get - and I never realized to such a great extent. God Bless all of you for that!

Someone sent in a big batch of Starbucks coffee - (ground) and that was a plus! We still have lots of Starbucks whole bean coffee - but I'm too lazy to grind it myself. Actually - I just make such a mess doing it - it's cleaning up the mess I despise. Good coffee, but certainly not worth $5 a cup! Nice to drink for free, but you won't catch me in a Starbucks anywhere around Stockbridge when I get back! (unless you want to pay for it! :-)

Hope you all are well - I pray daily for many of you I know are reading - and I know many of you are doing the same for me - and I cannot tell you how much that means to me! Thank you!

Mark.

Monday, June 1, 2009

June Bug!

Wow! I can't believe it's JUNE already! I picked up the COL for breakfast this morning! I am very proud and honored to be serving with him. I will surly miss him when this is over.

Had a typical Sunday - good Chapel NeXt service and it always makes me feel good to write about my week starting with worshiping God.

I got a lot of cards this week. So many I've been thinking about what to do with them. I know my wife would LOVE to read all of them so I'm going to pack them all up and send them to her. I think Hallmark is behind this war somehow. :-) I did receive a very nice card from my "Angel" today from Soldiers Angels. It was a card describing a hero and what a hero is and does. I know that all of us on this team don't think of ourselves as heroes - we think we are all just doing our jobs - and we are. It is very humbling to be thought of as a "hero" to someone. Also - my father-in-law just sent me an article written by Ben Stein back in 2004 - interesting all this "hero" stuff is coming from different sources at the same time. Well - I'm not going to try and figure all that out - just know that I think I have the greatest job in the world and I couldn't be more proud of the people that I am here working with. I personally think the people at Soldiers Angels are heroes for all the support they have delivered in less than month since I wrote and asked them to adopt our group. It's overwhelming!

When I get back, I'm going to join the team! Great organization.

So last week was pretty hot - all the weather reports said it was "unseasonable" - I sure hope they are right and it wasn't an indication of more of the same to come. This week (today) wasn't so bad and the forecast is for cooler temperatures (in the low 80's) for this week. Still windy (much more than a breeze) and I hope this doesn't continue either because it makes for difficult and simply miserable work conditions at times.

I took a few pictures today of a concrete pour we had today. It went very well and very quickly. There was plenty of help and the LN's were eager to help and really worked hard. The guys had the hard part jumping knee deep in the concrete - I didn't see any of the LN's willing to take that step! :-)

I went to our third wing awards/promotion ceremony today. We had our very own SSgt Gooden promoted last month and it was a real pleasure to see him up there and receive his promotion order from Col Kwast. Being promoted to the NCO grade is a huge step in a military career! Anytime you cross the tiers you know and feel a special pride in yourself and a huge sense of accomplishment. I hope and pray that feeling carries him forward to help our unit and the Airmen he will now be responsible to supervise. Amen!

I better get busy posting pictures - I'll post them in BAF7. If you've been following along, you should be able to use any previous link - just change to BAF7.

For newcomers - I'll post the link tomorrow after the pics are uploaded.

Mark.

Friday, May 29, 2009

MIxed Pics

Got some more pics posted today.

http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.schubert/BAF6

A mixture of a few things including some more action shots of the volleyball tournament, me standing next to a very tall and beautiful rose bush (even kinda makes ME look good!), the HVAC guys working hard to install some AC units, and the structures/heavy guys putting a memorial together in Camp Cunningham. Finally, there are some pics of Command Chief Dearduff, command chief master sergeant for Ninth Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Central, who was visiting and just happened to stop by my office! While he was there, he recognized one of the Airmen on my team - TSgt Gagnon for all he's been doing on and off duty. Also Amn Aniya who works for the FET - Amn Aniya and 5 Airmen on my team had dinner with the CCM. Chief Dearduff is a really great guy and very knowledgeable - we talked with him at length and got some good insight.

It's always a good thing when we get the recognition of the DV's when they come to BAF. That means that we are doing some very special things here. While only a small amount of things get recognized, I see and hear what is going on with all we are doing and I can tell you I am very proud to be here and to be a part of this team. They are all working hard and getting things done - that's the main thing - and people are noticing - (I wonder why!?)

Some of the team got a private tour of the hospital today with CMS Cardozo. She is truly a wonderful Chief and someone we ALL can learn from. The more time I can get my Airmen around these good people, the more I will try. I announced the hospital tour at CC call yesterday to the entire group. I was very happy that 4 of them took me up on the offer.

It will soon be Col Lehman and I couldn't be happier for him. I know he is a little anxious and also looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to a great ceremony planned by our 1st Sgt (she's really good at this stuff) and it's not everyday you get to plan a Col pinning!

It's late for me and I've had a very busy day off - I'm going to bed. I must be up early to start my day tomorrow. Hope you all are well!

Mark.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'm really NUTS!

Just got a very nice package in the mail today - along with another half dozen cards and letters from supporters from Soldiers Angels. Those people are GREAT!.

The box came from the folks at SITA! Claudia and Tom put together a box full of various nuts (which I like to snack on) including 3 huge bags of pistachios! Thanks very much for that - I've got LOTS of movies to watch now too! So this FRI I'll be snacking on the pistachios and watching a couple movies when I get back from the hospital.

Work is going good.

The volleyball team came in 2nd overall and they all got some very nice certificates presented by one of the Task Force Commanders! The games were REALLY close and a point here and there made all the difference. The other team took all 6 games to finally beat them and win the tournament. There will be more volleyball tournaments before we leave and TSgt Lajoie and MSgt Gros-Hayes have pledged revenge! I wish them well.

We still have a 5K Memorial Day walk/run coming up that I'll be helping with - no, not running in silly!

Lt Col Lehman will be Col Lehman on Monday next week - I'm really looking forward to that and I'm sure he is also. He really deserves it and I'm very proud and honored to be working for him - at least for the next three months. We already have (officially now) a new commander at the 94th CES.

Another Memorial bonus (and unexpected) Skype with my friends in TN! That was pretty special to see of them. It was just wonderful to see all my friends and family over the holiday weekend. I just got off Skype w/Heidi and Aiden - Mr. "Oh Yeah!" man - Looks who's talki'n! I missed Shelley and Jeff. :-(

I do miss you all and my "normal" life. This is really quite a break - I feel like I just left everything behind - which has it good points and bad. Good that you all are so supportive and I really don't have anything to worry about and I can focus on what needs to be done here - because that IS important. Bad in the way that you all are figuring out all these ways to do things without me that when I get back, I won't have anything to do!

So I figure I'll just tell you all that I'm getting extended for 6 more months and pick up my new bass boat and fish for a while when I get back! (good thing Pam likes to fish and can keep a secret)

Thanks again for reading. Yeah, I know - I AM NUTS!

Mark.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

2 in 1!

I wanted to tell you I had a special treat yesterday! My son Skyped with me and I got to see three of my grandchildren! Friday was their last day of school so I hope to get more chances now to see them since they will be home more! I also saw my brother in FL - he and I talked for quite a while and I could tell you what HE is up to - but I can't cause that's a surprise too! :-)

Skyped with Mom and Dad on Friday - as usual - and that was also very nice. I love to be able to stay in touch and the Memorial Day thought that comes to mind is how in the world did those people who GAVE us our freedom do this! The mental challenge here is tough - I cannot imagine what they had to be thinking!

Mark.

What I like

I really like Sunday's because it's the Lord's Day! But also because it's RIB NIGHT! Ribs at the DFAC again tonight and they SURE were delicious! I skip lunch on Sunday's so I can get a little extra work in (since I take time out for church) and I load up on Ribs. They really are very good ribs - cooked all by local Afghans and the sauce and salads they have to go with it are perfect.




UM, UM GOOD!


The rest of my day was pretty good. We have a team in the Memorial Day volleyball tournament headed up by TSgt Lajoie. They are pretty good and going to the finals. They ALMOST lost tonight, but were saved by a NET call on what would have been the winning point for the other team! So instead of 15/10, they reversed the score to 14 11 and continued to play the final game of the set - and TF (Task Force) Killer Bees (don't ask me where the team name came from) came back and WON THE GAME! It was pretty exciting and I'll be posting some action shots to picasaweb shortly.
I miss my wife! (Duh!) - She's out of town and away from the video camera so I don't get to Skype with her this weekend :-(. Busy week coming up for projects. Should be very interesting the next couple days!
Had a wonderful Chapel NeXt service today. A word from the Senior Pastor who is leaving and wanted to deliver the message. He's a Pentecostal guy and his delivery was fire and brimstone all the way! But the content was good - talked about things from 1 John - it's a book that is a litmus test to read if you "think" you've been saved.

http://net.bible.org/verse.php?search=1%20john%202:9&book=1%20john&chapter=2&verse=9
1 John 2:9 "If anyone says, "I am living in the light," but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness."
Good thing the Taliban and al-Qaeda are not Christians! :-)
Mark.