Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Toby's n Town!

Toby Keith played in concert for all of us at BAF last night! He also did a personal appearance on the flight line and a short commercial for the Screaming Eagles - 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) out of Fort Campbell, KY. I was in the commercial - the only AF guy! I should be easy to spot , (left side of the screen) but wanted to show our support! :-)

Anyway - Toby showed up in a SUV, was met by a couple people, walked over, did the commercial (twice) and left - I think that whole thing took less than 5 min. No option for autographs, etc... Only select individuals. If you look at the pics of people lining up on the conex boxes, you 'll see they have guitars and all kinds of things they expected Toby to sign. Didn't happen.

The concert was to start at 2000 and it actually started a few minutes late. He played for a little more than 1 hour and the band took 1 break, and Toby stayed on stage with his guitar player and they did a couple songs - so he was out there for an just over an hour... Great music - sounded great and he performed very well. Customized songs, etc... All who went said it was nothing less than spectacular.

One admin note - the Toby Album is taking up a lot of space in my picasaweb album. I'll leave it up till I need more room, so if you want to see the video's and pics in that album, check it out now because that will be the first one to go when I need more space.


I also got a package from my Mom & Dad yesterday - included was some more Jerky - I have a whole drawer full of that now... :-), some banana bread (very good) cocktail peanuts (a good snack with my near beer) - and a couple tin cans... Now, what is interesting is these tin cans are sealed. Tight. Very tight... so tight that me and the entire team of 56 have been trying to get into one can since yesterday. We've tried everything, including our friends at EOD (explosive ordinance disposal) who shot it with a water cannon and the dang thing didn't budge. I keep telling my friends, "I think she put bread sticks in there! and they really are very good - and I'll even share ONE with you if you can get it open!". So - they are really motivated! Hopefully tomorrow we will have success. We are calling on our friends in the flying squadron and have put the containers out on the aerial gunnery range... Wish us luck!


Saturday, April 25, 2009

What's good about 0330?

Who ever said "Nothing good happens after midnight (or 2 in the morning)" probably never got up at 0330 in the morning and stood out at the end of the flight line and was blessed with a beautiful sunrise! Pictures here:


Incidentally, they were all taken from the relatively same spot - notice the 360 degree view of the mountains! (bonus videos of some aircraft flying in and out of BAF) A lot of people have asked me "What's it like at Bagram?" and I tell them all the same thing - "It sure is pretty to look at!"

Now you may be wondering what I was doing there - well, I volunteered to help with the Country Music Marathon - a 26.6 mile race/run around BAF - and since BAF is not that big, those who chose to run the full marathon had to go around twice! :-) - I was out there till about 1100 and I was exhausted watching all those poor soles running their hearts out - more power to ya! I'm too old for that ... well, you know what. But at least I can support them and cheer them on. We had LOTS of goodies to pass out - that was my job. It was fun. And - since I volunteered, I had a good reason NOT to run! :-)

Then I went to work for the afternoon.

Needless to say, even though I went to sleep a little early last night, I'm a little tired tonight and it's almost 2030 - passed David's bedtime already anyway! I'm planning to call my wife (since I didn't get a chance yet today) and hit the bed.

Finished 1 bag of the homemade cookies Heidi sent - they are going fast! :-)


Thursday, April 23, 2009


WOW! What a mail day!!! Again, I can't tell you how much of a morale boost it is to get stuff in the mail! And today is a HUGE boost for me! I'll start with the box my daughter sent - filled with all KINDS of good stuff including homemade cookies (my favorite - Chocolate Chip), assorted chips, a couple of cute cards including a unique BBG grill - uh, yeah... OK - and many more of my favorite things - Twizzlers (a huge bag), beef sticks (big ones), some pictures colored by my grandkids, a CD with videos (I'll watch later) - the most WONDERFUL picture book - and a very special note from Jeff that made me cry. A perfect box topped with a tube of toothpaste - which believe it or not is perfect timing - I would have been out in the next day or two. (and more) Thanks Heidi and Jeff.

Next there were THREE (count 'em) boxes from Nick and Nancy Godbey!!! Nick works at SITA with me - and a very nice guy married to a wonderful lady. One box had a huge book (The Chamber) and hometown paper form Easter Sunday (nice touch) and some sweet peach things that look really good. I'll let you know from someone that eats them because if I did, I'd be as big as a house (it's a huge bag). Another box filled with little stuffed animals! A great morale booster for many - and I'll take these to the hospital and share with our wounded warriors. I'm sure a couple will make it to the gator trucks (guys like to put these on their vehicles). The 3rd box had more beanie babies and a large OREO cookie package and some other cookies. Um Um good (for someone else! :-) And a very thoughtful letter... Thank you Nancy and Nick!

So there you have it - mail made my day! Well - it's been a good day all around. We had a Wing commanders call with Col Kwast today and let me tell you - he is a GREAT speaker. He is a model Airmen all the way through. The more I listen to him, the more I like him.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I just had another dinner with the big guys. 20+ Chiefs from BAF had dinner with our new 455th AEW Commander, Col Kwast. Col Kwast replaced General Holmes earlier this week (you can see the details and some of my Airmen on the public Bagram website). Col Kwast has only been here a few days and thought his FIRST group dinner should be with all of us - the Chief Master Sergeants on BAF. What a guy!

He is a tough guy - and I really like him. I liked Gen Holmes too. Col Kwast is a guy who shares a lot of the same concerns about what's going on here as I and many of my fellow Chief's. While it may seem to many we are here for just a short time - and we are - it's important to realize why we are here. Many forget. We are at war and this is what we signed up to do - I volunteered more than 26 years ago. I am happy to be here serving the people of America and the Airmen under me that I am responsible for. I signed up for this and I'm going to make the most out of it. Our mission is to Fly, Fight and Win - and I am doing all I can to make that happen - and I'm happy to do it! I'm not counting the days, I'm making the days count!

It's challenging at times - yes. I want you all to know how proud I am to be here - and especially to be part of this group of men and women who are working every single day to win the hearts and minds of the Afghani people. That's exactly what I told Col Kwast when it was my turn to introduce myself and tell our story. Some of the other Chief's took the opportunity to make Col Kwast aware of some of the obstacles they face - and rightly so. I and some of the other Chief's recognized why we are here and told him how happy we are to be here serving our Airmen. You may have noticed in some of the pictures that I posted the LN's (local nationals) who are working alongside our Airmen. There are more that 20 LN's that we work with every single day. We are teaching them the labor skills to be productive members in their own society. We are helping them by not only teaching them civil engineering skills (such as carpentry, plumbing, HVAC, structural work, electrical and more) we are also teaching them English and computer skills when necessary. This is truly a win/win situation because while we teach them, they help us by working and completing projects as a force multiplier. We get more work accomplished in faster time than working without them, they benefit greatly (they are paid) and we offer them the opportunity to be self sustained - PLUS - they go out into their own communities and spread the good word that the Americans are here to help. What could be better than that?

Many of the Chief's in that room said the same thing - "I have the best job in the Air Force" - well, I believe I do!

I love this job, I love what I'm doing and if I didn't miss my family and friends so much, I'd probably stay here as long as I could - like many of us here. Reality - I'm coming back as soon as my work here is finished.

Thanks for reading. God bless us all and thank you all for your prayers. I think about it every day - how many of you are praying for me and my Airmen. It's a wonderful feeling.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What makes a good day?

I told you before - mail call... :-)

Today I received a box - a rather large box that was rather heavy - and rather beat up - as many of the packages that arrive are beat up regardless of how big and/or heavy. So what was inside the box you may ask?!

A lot of stuff. So much stuff I had to wait till I got back in my hooch to "unpack" it!! I'm not going to give the complete contents because my Internet sucks - I'd have to type so fast and so long, it would probably never post the message! :-)

So let's start with Jerky - Uh, yeah - LOTS of that - and every flavor you can imagine! Chips - uh, well I can't say nothing was broken in the package - because there were like 3 chips that we NOT broken. The good news is everything else in the box was undamaged. So - I've got broken chips with dip - lots of dip too (this is good because there is no such thing around here). Texas Pete made it - he is plentiful around here. Then I came to some cigars (lots of those - Swisher, my favorite) and nuts - oh yeah, lots-o-nuts. Big bags/little bags. And some sweets - a LOT of different kinds of sweets. I put every single one into a bag and I'm bring them back to the FET (the building we work out of) for those younger guys to fight over. Honey buns, nutter-butter sumtin or nuder, Little Debbie things, I think I saw some Skittles in there - heck, I didn't even recognize some of the stuff they have now! :-) It all looks - uh - sweet.. Yeah - good things to share. I know - some of you are telling me I NEED to be a little sweeter!!! I hear ya!

Also stuffed in the box was a magazine - nice touch... made me miss hunting with David back home even more... and a very nice USAF Tumbler - not broken - good thing to have - if only I had something GOOD to go in it!!! Cold, frosty, BEER! That would be good! I searched the box and found none... I hoped, and dreamed, and I'm stuck with my Bit-Burger 0% near beer - that's OK though - it's the thought - I'm good with that.

So there you have it - a whole blog entry over just one box. Yes - it was a good day. Thank you BOX FAIRY!!!

The box came from our friends in TN - David & Janice. I'm guessing more Janice than David. I can see David now - stuffing beer after beer in the box and Janice pulling them out as fast as they were going in. Thank David - nice try buddy! :-) For what it's worth, honestly people - I don't need the headache. Do not try to send anything illegal - that would just be a bad day. Look how happy I am and I got just a box of 'stuff" - good stuff, and a lot of stuff... Thanks again Brown's! I love you all.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Church Day!

It's Sunday and it feels good to start yet another week.
Time seems to be going by fast - although I understand there are many days left here. Things are going along fine and I'm doing very well. I received several letters today from supporters through anysoldier.com - that was very nice and I answered them all. There were 4 different letters from a church in Cumming GA - ironic that I received them on Sunday! :-) It's a very good feeling to know there are so many people out there who take the time to recognize our service men and women!
Weather finally cleared for the weekend. Weekends are a little slow anyway because there are many people going to church on Sunday - now that it's a work day! I like it though... And Saturdays - well we have what is called "Professional Development Time" where we allow the Airmen 4 hours for anything that is considered "professional development" - you'd be surprised what they can make up! :-) This is a little hard to track - and honestly, I don't think we are tracking it that well - so many are using the 4 hours to "study". Well - it's any body's guess studying what! The good news is there are a few Airmen using it for the right reasons and they will benefit with either a skill level upgrade or finishing up an important PME (Professional Military Education) class - which are mandatory for promotions.
We have some good, high visibility projects coming up. There is no shortage of work around here - Oh, I know what I can tell you. Another one of our Airmen is getting "coined" tomorrow from our Group Commander for putting together a Wing Recognition Board! It took him only 3 days - "start to finish" and he did a great job. I'll post the pictures - and those of you who are reading this will know what the pictures represent! I'll be sure to take a few photos of the Col presenting the coin.
So - we are making a name for ourselves here - lots of good people with lots of good work.
Church was great again today... the singing is growing on me.... it's awful, but in a way, it's nice. They sure do try hard.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More time off?

Uh - no. Not for me. I have to be up @ 0415 tomorrow! Then I'll probably work some - then do the usual weekly hooch cleaning. Last FRI I cleaned my office - well, most of it. It looks good and it really needed it. I have a few more things to clean there too - so I'll do that.
All the projects are moving along fine and the CC is happy for the most part. A few bugs here and there, but we put the fires out pretty quickly and it seems to be working. The guys/gals are all still really motivated and working hard despite the crappy (rainy) weather we had. Today was the first day in a long while we didn't have rain during the day. It poured very early this morning so things were muddy and wet. But the sun did shine for most of the day and it was pleasant.
I've been working out regularly - I feel great. I walk a lot - even though I have my own vehicle. I can walk to many of the projects and I do. I probably walked 4-5 miles just today. Some days more, some days less - but 3 is probably the average per day.
I received and email today in response to one of my thank you notes to some nice people that say they "adopted" us from anysoldier.com. They are in their 70's and have been writing to airmen/soldiers from that website for 3 years. They said many of their "adoptions" have even stopped by their home after returning to the States! That's very nice - they are nice people and they write well. Very supportive.
Not much else new I can tell you. I'm posting some more pics on my picasaweb.
Enjoy the photos. Skype is a great thing. My Internet still sucks... :-)

Monday, April 13, 2009

A nice day - and a story for you.

Nothing too exciting to report today (no mail) - other than I'm fine! Which is why I know many of you are following this blog - and for that I thank you dearly.

There is an interesting story I will tell you that happened over that past several days. I established the DobbinsTop3.com website several years ago. When I did, I had a little extra time and I made and EPR (Enlisted Performance Report) page to help all supervisors write better reports on their Airmen. I covered the page with many EPR bullets that either I had written or used on various EPR reports over the years. I did little QC (quality control) even though that is now my civilian specialty! (that's ironic).

Anyway - I recently received an email from a TSgt (I didn't know who he/she was at the time) stating that he/she looked at my page and didn't like my bullets. So - I was a little ticked - and I wrote back and basically told him/her not to complain unless you offer a solution (better bullets or how to fix the ones that are there). I did a quick review of the bullets and did find a few minor errors, but for the most part - I still think they are pretty good! :-)

So - this started an email/IM conversation and he/she told me he/she just graduated NCOA (Non-Commissioned Officer Academy) - I've been to many of these NCOA graduations and I am intimately familiar with the "attitudes and feelings" of the graduates - it's like they (the AF) make it easy for you to get the same feeling you had when you signed up for basic training - (which so many of us military types have forgotten). He/She mentioned he/she was motivated and felt challenged - which I immediately turned into an opportunity to mentor this TSgt whom I didn't even know. I then challenged him/her to "keep" that mindset with them for the rest of their career and I told him/her he and the Airmen he/she meets will be better off for it. To which he/she accepted! :-)

There were a few other exchanges of information - but this was the heart of the story. So from this far away land, here I sit telling you how much I miss my family & friends - I sure missed them on this passed holiday because there are a couple traditions that have been broken, but I'm still thinking what a great country this is and what a great Air Force we have - and I just HAD to take the opportunity to make it just a little bit better - one Airmen at a time. If TSgt Weston just happens to read this (and it wouldn't surprise me), then he/she should understand and learn this is what it takes - our job is never done. It will slow down when I retire - which after this deployment, I will have some REAL thinking to do about how much longer I will partake in this endeavour. I'm sure my civilian BOSS would welcome the retirement idea - then I could focus more on helping SITA (more). Maybe not - he's very supportive of what I'm doing - and so are all of you.

Thanks again for reading...


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone! I was treated to a beautiful morning today and I started my day at the Easter sunrise service - it was perfect.
We suffered our first accident later in the day - one of our master electricians fell off a ladder and fractured his shoulder. He will be on the next flight out of here and headed home - which will actually be later tonight. Yes - that is pretty fast.
I had high hopes that I could bring every one home safely - well - accidents happen.
So my day ends on a sour note - but I'm still smiling! :-)


Friday, April 10, 2009

It's (good) FRIDAY!

Did I ever tell you how much I like Friday's? Yes - even over here. AND - I like it better over here because I don't HAVE to work on Friday! I don't have too - but, since there really isn't much else to do - I do anyway... :-)

It's all good - just went to the office to check a few emails and schedule a few appointments for tomorrow. I cleaned up the place cause it gets filthy in a hurry with all the dust. I couldn't stay at work long - so I came back to the hooch to watch a few movies. Since we just finished the Borne Again Series in church, I thought it would be appropriate to watch the Jason Borne series - funny thing about me and movies, 1. I don't watch that many and 2. I don't remember them when I watch them anyway! If you would have asked me if I'd seen the Borne movies, I would probably answer yes - because I thought I had... But after watching the first one again, it seems me and Jason suffer from the same disease cause I can't remember it! :-)

Internet was out again for the last 24 hours. Bad thing is customer service doesn't exist here either so there is no hope for recovery of ANY of my $100 for the month - yeah - that irritates me. But - I'll pay what is necessary to stay in touch with my friends and family - because that's what's important to me - along with a few other things.

Getting packages on a regular basis this week. It's very nice. Our new commanders wife sent two big boxes with the Marietta Daily Journal (enough for everyone) and a pile of Easter candy! Apparently nobody told her I was on a diet. But the boxes were perfect timing and made the entire group smile - and - it made it feel more like Easter. Of course, as a Christian, I wouldn't miss this holiday. Going to watch the Passion tonight - starts @ 2000 so it will be late before I get back. And several letters and other packages came (I think I mentioned the one from the school children - very thoughtful).

OK - Happy Easter everyone! I miss you all - thanks for ALL the comments - I read ALL of them. I'm fine - really. Just staying busy to make the time go by faster - and it is. Staying busy also helps me stay focused and mission ready - which is vitally important here.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Meet the General(s)

Well I have never seen so many Generals in 1 place at the same time. In fact, I'm not certain how many there really were! I personally met 4 of them - and there were at least a couple more. And there were only about 130 people in the room. Some of you may not understand why it's so exciting to see one - but honestly, it's not everyday you get in the same room with a 3 star - and several brigadier generals! On top of that, they asked ME to have dinner with them (and of course a bunch of others). Well - I sat directly across the table from General Stenner and we had a nice conversation!

A couple of Airmen in our squadron were coined. That is also something that doesn't happen much. I've been in the AF 27 years and I have 1 Commander coin (from our current LtCol) and that's basically it! You won't find many Airmen with a 3 star coin!!!


I suppose there will be a few comments on why the Chief has his hands in his pockets - not to worry, no - I do NOT stand like that - I was getting my keys to escort the General to dinner. That's a pic of him in my truck with our 1st Sgt.

So that was a lot of fun! All great guys - very genuine and you could really tell they cared about what was going on. They reiterated time and time again how proud they were of what we are doing and thanked us repeatedly on behalf of the nation - it was really very special. All nice guys that deserve to represent our top AF leadership.

Here are the bio's of the two Generals that were key for us:



Gen Stenner is the AFRC Commander - and Gen Bailey is responsible for organizing, training and equipping the command's expeditionary combat support - that's US! :-)

Oh - and the sky was beautiful again this evening!!! Got a few good shot of that too.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mail Call

Great mail day! I got 2 very nice letters and a package! The letters came from two families in the US who had no better reason to write than to say THANK YOU! (isn't that nice!-) They found us on AnySoldier and took the time to write personal letters. Also came two packages from a first and 3rd grade class! The kids all made "cards" and they were all VERY cute! I wrote back to all three of these senders today and personally thanked them for their kindness and thoughtfulness!

Had a VERY busy day - I can't say more than that right now. And the pictures are - well -just OK.

It was a good day - as they all are. And I'll share a little bit about what I write in my letters to the supporters who send support mail - "While working for the Lord here in this place, I am constantly reminded how blessed I really am." And this is very true. I smile here a lot because I think about how happy I am to be here supporting our mission. And that mission to put it simply is our wing motto - "Fighting terror, Building peace". As civil engineers, we primarily focus on the "Building peace" part. And our team is truly doing an outstanding job of this!

I'm very proud of all of them - and that makes me happy.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Started sad, ended GLAD!

We started the day with yet another Fallen Comrade Ceremony. But the good news for all of you is I'm still here! :-) And very GLAD about that. I got to Skype with my Dad tonight! And he called me!!! :-) So I'm glad about that.
We finished the Born Again series in church on Sunday - that was really cool! God is good! Holy week this week! I'm fasting on WED - please pray for me then.
Rained again all day today (for the most part) but I think it's going to be nice tomorrow! The sunset tonight was beautiful - brilliant orange/red sky - I missed a lot of it (went out too late) and didn't get any pictures.
I'll be taking some tomorrow though - be sure to check the website soon.
Let's see - my Internet still sucks...
My wife sent me a wonderful card with a picture of the two of us more than 25 years ago... Good thing I've got my glasses! We were both so skinny then I could hardly see us! Also got some cards from folks I don't even know! I registered our team on AnySoldier.com and these people work pretty fast. It's nice to know there are good people out there supporting the troops! These were personal letters too - not a "canned" message. I made a promise to email or write all of them back at least once.
I still have to write a note to the little girl that sent me a box of girl scout cookies. I've been a little busy the past few days and haven't had a lot of time. Looks like I have plenty to do this Friday!
I'm fine - really. Don't worry about me. I sleep OK (for the most part) I'm healthy, I eat well and I have everything I need. I actually feel very blessed to be here working for the Lord. I'm happy most of the time - as usual - there are several here that would disagree with me, but that goes with the territory... :-)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Early Morning Pics

I was up early this morning and I captured (what I think) are some beautiful pictures of the mountains just as the sun was coming up. Of course it looked MUCH better in person - the camera just can't grasp how beautiful it really is here sometimes - well, to look at anyway. It's really a GREAT place to get in touch with God - which I have been doing on a regular basis and again, I thank all of you who are praying for me and my Airmen.

I did get to speak with David Brown today! Did you know it's his birthday today? I did! And I was glad I got to talk with him despite the crappy Internet! (we talked on my cell phone) He's 49 this year! I'm looking forward to 50 when I won't be here in this place!

Oh - the pics - I suppose you want a link to make it easy for you -


Looks like a little more rain tomorrow, then the weather is supposed to be nice next week so I'll take some more pics (and with me in them).

Hope you all are well - I'm fine these days. Busy - makes the time go by faster.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

What day is it?

Let's see -it's THR - night. Just got finished playing in the cribbage tournament and we WON the first two rounds! Me and Amn Bergeron. We actually made it to the semi finals (we got a bye for the first round and won in the 2nd). It's double elimination - so we've got a pretty good chance! Nothin to win except bragging rights. It's fun though. Something to do.

I'm off tomorrow which is a good thing for my Mom & Dad. I plan to sleep in till at least 0630 (my normal time is 0450). It's 2215 right now and the showers are closed! I just got back in my hooch and I take a shower before bed. I could wait till morning - but ... well, let's just leave it at that. I'm going to take a shower tonight. They open back up in 20 min.

It's raining again - It never rains very hard - just spits rain for a long period of time. You can even stand out in in for a good part of the day and not get really wet. It did get a little cool last night - but today it rained in the morning, then was decent for most of the day (high was 60) then rain again tonight.

They had a BAF's got talent show last night that I wanted to try and see - but I didn't make it for various reasons. The cribbage tournament was a welcome break.

I know I'm jumping around a bit -

Still miss everyone and my "normal" life - but there is still a lot of work to be done here and we aren't finished yet. Lots of stuff happening everyday - you just can't imagine.

I suppose a lot of you were expecting an April Fools Joke - well - those of you that know me well know I like a good practical joke on April Fools Day - I've set my children up numerous times over the years - a couple of them they didn't think were very funny - but of course I thought they were ALL funny! :-)

Sorry to disappoint you... no jokes this year. (kids say YEAH!)

Mark - out.