Dave Snell is a Grizzly. He was one of the 196 TFS's first F-4 Flight Surgeons and flew with us until the Fighters left. Dave is one of the most impressive guys we have ever met. That is no small feat when you are talking Grizzlies.
Dave has constantly looked for ways to serve his country. Following the Fighters, he migrated like Birds on TV. From the Grizzlies to the Coneheads. Now, he is in Afganistan, no Fighters, but a lot of fighting!
It is truly fitting that he is among the last of the first Grizzly Fighters still fighting.
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Kabul Kraziness 26 May 2006
The countdown chart on time remaining in Afghanistan is about even--44 days here with 44 remaining. When I last updated this, I was a resident of Bagram Air Field, being saluted ad infinitem and watching the snow melt on the mountains while the high desert winds blew in the afternoon. About 3 weeks ago, I packed up the meager belongings, rode the convoy down to Kabul and camped out here in Camp Eggers to pick up the remainder of my assignment. Camp Eggers is about 10 acres, guarded, wired and isolated in the middle of the former high level residential area in Kabul. It's adjacent to the large Embassy compound, adjacent to Karzai's presidential palace and across a well guarded street that several embassy compounds sit on. Named for Dan Eggers, who was a 28 y/o Special Forces Capt who died 2 years ago this week when an IED blew him, his team and his vehicle up. He left a wife who is also a Capt on active duty and 2 young sons.
The compound has minimal housing on it, reserved for mission essential people, not including a doc doing lessons learned. So, most of us work during the day here and go home late in the evening to a safe house in another former high level neighborhood via minibus shuttle. So the drill is, wind up dinner, your work (in your CONEX office with 2 other officers), do the PT, etc. and grab your battle rattle and go to the gate. You load up with the other troops (5 to the van with weapons, body armor, etc) and lock/load as you go out the gate. It is a nervous drive on semi-deserted streets with the expectation that nothing will happen, but wary that something might. After a 10 minute drive, you drive past the pole gate and AK47 toting Afghan guards into the maze of street barriers and get dropped off in the middle of the street of former luxury houses, now sandbagged and blast reinforced. Then walk through driveways, back yards, over p! at! ios, through doorways in garden walls to your safe house and into your room (sharing 2 bathrooms with 15 other people). Get up at 0600, prepare and do the reverse to get to the compound, hoping that today is not the day that some Taliban decides to make an example of your vehicle. After 2 weeks of this, I was moved to a safe house directly outside the south gate of Eggers which involves a cautious peak around the gatehouse, load up the weapon, and a vigorous stride across the street and down to the guarded wall gate of the house. I've been bringing Pepsi/Coke/Mountain Dew to the 2 outside guards of the house in the hope that they will stay awake in case the TB decide that we are a priority target.
1-2X/week I again dress up in battle rattle to catch a mid morning mini van that goes about 1⁄2 mile through a maze of barricades and gates and across 150 yards of open street territory (with typical Kabul traffic) before entering another series of barricades, gates, etc. that lead either to the US Embassy compound or the ISAF (NATO) compound. At either place (more luxurious than Eggers), one can see people dressed in coats/ties, military from several countries and a more gentile life style. Also the food (with a coffee machine) is better at ISAF so the goal is to always make a late lunch before shuffling off to the guarded shuttle stop to go back 1⁄2 mile to the gated community of Eggers.
I continue to work the medical issues of transitioning the US forces to NATO, but have experienced the types of nuances that diplomats routinely deal with. Eg, all German patrols have to go out with an armored ambulance (doc and medic included)-ambulance broken-no patrol. The Italian contingent have specific engagement rules as do the Romanians, but different depending upon phases of the moon, days of the week, etc. The head doctor for ISAF is a Medical Advisor with advisory capacity, whereas US Forces have a Command Surgeon who can get order things done, etc.
Not too much excitement here other than the occasional rocket that drops near the Embassy compound without causing too much damage. IED use and the Taliban spring offensive is causing action in regional command south and east and there have been casualties on our side. Don't know if you read about it but a C-130 was taking the British ambassador and his entourage into a short strip in the middle of nowhere, perhaps blew a tire or had hot brakes, which then produced a wheel well fire, which then got everyone out of the plane rapidly. Since no airport fire dept in the boonies, the plane burned up. Fortunately no one was hurt, but it was an expensive visit to the British outpost.
Have also been teaching the enlisted types EMT medicine as part of the training process, giving them the wisdom of the many years of making mistakes in Emergency Medicine. First order of business is that the M-16s, grenade launchers and M-60s have to be unloaded and stacked in the racks in the corners. There's nothing messier that trying to do CPR on ResusciAnne and your weapon goes off. Then it's time to close up shop, log off the Predator feed lines on the computer (which have given me some interesting stories about drinking coffee and watching stuff that you will never see at home), dress up in body armor, helmet, stop outside the guard post, lock and load and then walk 75 yards across and down the street, give the 2 guards the Cokes/Pepsi, go through the gate to the house with the pink flamingos in the front yard, wait in line for the bathroom, go to the room, hang body armor, ammo, weapon, helmet at the foot of the bed, rea! d ! x 1 h our, lights out and up at 0600 to repeat. Evidently there are an additional 100 enlisted troops in bound next week and they have placed 4 large tents with AC units, lights and bunk beds on the safe house front lawn for housing. Also PortoPotties but no showers. Since I am now ranking officer at the house, I will shortly have an additional 100 troops to command. Perhaps I will receive an Army Good Conduct medal if I pull this off.
Enclosed are pictures of the Memorial Day ceremony that concluded shortly before the civil unrest started and Camp Eggers went to full alert. With the hopes that you will remember on Memorial Day those that have given their lives or have been wounded since we started this in Oct. 2001, I remain,
Your Devoted Military Servant,
-- David Snell, MD, CFS COL (MC) USAFR Joint Center for Operational Analysis (deployed) U.S. Joint Forces Command Camp Eggers, AFG