03 September 2014

The Day I Got Arrested in Kandahar, Part 2

This is the second part in a three-part series. Read Part 1

Ricky Schroeder and his camera rode in the back of the Land Rover I drove, first onto a parking area just off the taxi way, and then down the taxi way to a spot where we could get some good video shots.

We were a hundred meters or so from the civilian Kandahar International Airport, and I parked off the shoulder of the asphalt on the other side of a t-wall. We got out and cameraman went one way, Ricky and I the other. 

I made my way back and forth between the two thinking to myself, "yeah, I'm probably pushing the envelope, but I'm doing a great job! These guys are going to get excellent shots, and they'll have me to thank."

NATO's busiest single-runway airport saw little traffic that day. It was hot. It was the day before the now-infamous presidential runoff, as I recall. Ricky and I made small talk. Then I ran over to cameraman and made small talk. Then I repeated the drill.

When I was with Ricky, I noticed a truck with sirens pull up to cameraman. The giant FLS on the door indicated that they were not looking for directions. I headed back to do my job as a combat-trained, secret-clearance-holding, flight line-access-badge-wearing, weapon-toting, DINFOS-distinguished-honor-graduating warrior-escort.

"They are with me, sergeant. We're cleared. All good."

In the military no one is "all clear" without a memorandum. It is the coin of the realm. My lieutenant colonel sent me out without a properly signed memo, though. Or any memo for that matter. My instructions were, and I quite clearly remember this part, "if anyone asks you anything, tell them you're with public affairs, and that should cover it."

It didn't. No matter that I had a super official-looking NATO flight line badge and an escort pass. Sergeants are not paid to infer, though. Perhaps that's what the captain is for, who joined us soon thereafter. 

Problem was, this captain was Belgian. Belgians haven't been in combat much, so this was his chance for action. He wasn't having any of my silly public affairs explanations, and told us, in true police fashion, all of the things that he could do.

Just then we came under a rocket attack.

Come back tomorrow to read the exciting conclusion in, "The Day I Got Arrested in Kandahar, Part 3." 

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