Advanced Party Departure
Among the soldiers deployinng from Gulfport to Afghanistan was my friend and colleague Scott Kesterson. Kesterson has made a tremendous impact on this organization. As one of the only photojournalists I have ever heard of to embed with ha unit for its entire deployment, Scott has been exposed to and help to expose others to the incredible cycle of training and preparation that goes into getting a reserve component unit ready to fight.
His blog, located at: http://www.beloblog.com/KGW_Blogs/afghanistan/ has already built an extensive audience and a loyal core of readership. He has uncovered so much of the thoughts and innsights of soldiers, sailors and airmen as they prepare for a year long tour in combat. His pledgge is to keep himself out of the picture as much as possible, focusing on the warriors and their day to day lives for the next year. He has built strong relationships and impressed every member of the force that has met him. Focused on the war fight, he has undergone the same training that the troops have, with a special emphasis on medical and language skills. As he will often be in austere conditions, with nothing but his wits, his body armor and the relationships with the soldiers he is working with to keep him secure.
He is going to have a great year, but his frequent late night conversations will be missed. I wish him a safe passage into the new world he is entering, as well as all of the soldiers he is accompanying.