Halloween in the Alamo
In Muslim countries, Friday is the day of rest. It is the "weekend" if you will and while the work never stops for the task force and its members, Friday is typically a lower operational tempo day. For us, the Afghans are not training typically on this day and so our responsibilities are significantly less. It enables us to catch up on administrative work, as well as do laundry, run an extra lap or two or just enjoy a bit of a slower pace.
Recognizing that Friday was that low OPTEMPO day (Operational Tempo, roughly, Friday is "the weekend") and that Halloween would take place during the regular week for us, our Command Sergeant Major, CSM Robert Foesch, approved a Halloween party for the command for Thursday night. Many of the soldiers were carving Pumpkins that many of the interpreters had picked up off post and the designs were amazing. Altogether, I think there were about twenty of them lining the courtyard, gargoyles overwatching the troops. Unfortunately, I returned from a mission at Camp Phoenix just 20 minutes too late to see the costume competition, but on parking our HMMWVs, I was greeted by 1SG Don Weber, the TAG public affairs officer, asking if I had seen the costumes. Well, I walked through our building to where the festivities were taking place and, suffice it to say, seeing British Royal Marine Commandos in drag was an eye opener. The French paratrooper as the wicked witch was a treat and the former Legionnaire Lt. Col. with six foot extended arms and a ghastly face were definately a sign that I had missed a show of rare fare.
With food prepared by each of the coalition members (the plates of cheeses and French Bread disappeared fast) and the camaraderie of men and women from several different countries and military cultures, it was a good way to let down our extremely short hair for a brief reprieve. Three different varieties of "Near Beer," (The Becks and the St. Pauli Girl are a toss up for the best taste), a bonfire in the middle of the courtyard, guitars and fireside songs, as well as a lot of Cuban, Dominican and Honduran Cigars made for a rare treat in a war zone. For a brief period the anxiety seemed to go away, the soldiers became just friends bound together from austerity and hardship.
There is no assignment in this theatre quite like this one. It was a rare and wonderful night. The stars were radiant, the hilltops behind us illuminated in the darkness.
Trick or Treat!