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Lincoln Daily News
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Lincoln, IL 62656
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Greetings from Kandahar Army Airfield,
Afghanistan, my temporary home, as well as home to fighting units
from all four branches of the military, each heavily engaged in
combat operations as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The 22nd MEU (Marines) just left for
their home base via Kuwait and Spain, after a seven-month
deployment. The Marines sent well over 100 of the enemy to rest
(dirt nap), and the 25th ID (Army), given the chance, will do the
same for any foes they encounter. The 25th ID will be deployed in
Afghanistan through March 2005. Recently, American and Afghani
forces "took out" over 75 of the enemy near Khost, on the
The enemy has gotten in a few blows of
their own, resulting in the death of some of our forces, so things
are not just going our way. Four Special Forces soldiers were killed
near Memorial Day when their vehicle encountered three anti-tank
mines (between 30 and 60 pounds of high explosives). My arrival in
the country was tempered by the sight of the flag at half-staff in
honor of these good men.
Occasionally a rocket or mortar fired
randomly will strike somewhere on the perimeter of the compound. The
enemy will weight down a trigger on a rocket or mortar with a
container of water that will evaporate in the heat. Once the water
evaporates sufficiently, the pressure on a release mechanism
increases, initiating the firing of a given weapon placed near the
Romanian and Jordanian forces help the
Combined Joint Task Force 76 by providing perimeter security. The
Romanians have a reputation for shooting first and asking questions
later. I appreciate this attitude in a protection force that defends
the compound while the rest of us sleep. The British and New Zealand
Special Forces are part of the "tip of the spear" assisting our
Special Forces in hunting down remnants of the Taliban. The French
Foreign Legion is also on the ground in Kandahar, plying their trade
in the war on terror, much to the enemy's detriment.
To describe this part of the world as
forlorn is an understatement. Daytime temperatures routinely reach
140 degrees. The Rigestan desert begins a few miles to the
southwest, extending to Pakistan (closest point 65 miles to the
southeast) and Iran (closest point 195 miles to the west). Elsewhere
in Afghanistan, the climate and terrain varies significantly. One
peak near the Afghanistan-China border rises to a height of 24,557
For geographic reference, Kandahar City
is situated in the southeast corner of Afghanistan, approximately 12
miles northwest of the airfield. One note of dubious distinction is
that Mullah Omar, the Taliban's spiritual leader, once called
Kandahar City home. Mullah Omar has a large reward offered for his
capture and is a dead man walking, if you catch my drift.
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I am working for a major international
construction company as a carpenter, although I have been reassigned
to the task of monitoring the day-to-day operations of the concrete
batching plant just outside the perimeter fence of the compound. I
have daily contact with third country nationals from India who
manage the concrete plant and contact with the local Afghani
nationals who perform the manual labor tasks associated with such an
To a man, they hate the Taliban and are
grateful for what the coalition forces have done in ridding this
part of the world of the Taliban. They wish American forces would
rid the country of the warlords too. This task will be slow in
coming, as the warlords are firmly entrenched in almost every aspect
of commerce taking place outside the fence, including supplying the
United States with needed supplies. Additionally, it was the
warlords who initially fought the Taliban, albeit after receiving
briefcases full of U.S. currency from the CIA and Special Forces.
The local nationals work diligently at
the menial tasks assigned them. The men are grateful for the chance
to earn a wage, any wage, at this point. The wages amount to 5,000
Afghanis a month. The U.S.-Afghani exchange rate is 48 Afghanis to
one U.S. dollar. That's a little over $104 (U.S.) a month, working
six days a week.
I would like to ask the readers to
consider sending some needed items so that I may distribute them to
the local workers. Work shoes or boots are needed, as well as safety
glasses, preferably shaded ones; work gloves of any kind;
light-colored, durable work clothes; jumpsuits or coveralls; and
bars of soap. Many of the men get covered head to toe in cement dust
and hose off before returning to their homes in Kandahar. Like any
father in America, the men would be grateful to receive toys or
school supplies for their children.
If anyone wants to send care packages
to our military, they can send them to me and I will pass them on to
some of the military members that I've struck up a friendship with.
The Louisiana 528th, the Indiana 1413th and the New York 204th Army
National Guard Engineering Battalions provide security details for
our protection outside the fence and would be first on my list for
receiving any care packages sent.
On a personal note, if anyone has
contact with my son Shane, would you be kind enough to relay to him
my desire to hear from him by way of e-mail or snail mail.
Best regards, in the rear with the
gear, 9.5 time zones away,
Due to the press coverage and number of
calls being received at City Hall, we felt it would be appropriate
to explain the city's stance on the Art of Wine tent.
Main Street Lincoln first approached
the Lincoln City Council in early May seeking permission to host
their second annual wine-tasting in a tent on the 100 block of South
Kickapoo in conjunction with the art and balloon fest. The city
council granted this request on July 19, with several stipulations
out of concern for the new pavement. The city engineer and the
street superintendent recommended these conditions after speaking
with other communities and the tent company regarding best practices
for installation and removal of tent stakes with regard to pavement
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The first request was that the
courthouse side of the tent be staked behind the sidewalk in the
lawn, to minimize the number of holes drilled in the pavement. The
request for the stakes in the pavement for the other side of the
tent was twofold. One, once the holes for the three-fourths-inch by
18-inch stakes were drilled, metal sleeves were installed through
the pavement to allow for future reuse without requiring additional
holes to be drilled. Two, once the tent was struck, the metal
sleeves were filled with patch and sealed to eliminate moisture
infiltration that could possibly damage the pavement.
We think the Lincoln City Council did
everything in their power to accommodate a successful event by Main
Street Lincoln as well as maintain the integrity and appearance of
our downtown streets.
Mark Mathon, city engineer
Tracy Jackson, street superintendent
2004 "Backpacks for Kids" was a
Approximately 10 years ago, local
chapters of Beta Sigma Phi decided to give more time to a "special"
project. Our chapter, Preceptor Eta, continues that project. We just
completed another year of Backpacks for Kids. Over 100 Lincoln
school children, kindergarten through sixth grades, received
backpacks filled with required school supplies.
The supplies were purchased for those
children whose families are facing financial or medical hardship.
Meeting educational needs of children is of the utmost importance to
us. At risk are the children whose environmental, familial or
socioeconomic situation may affect their academic success or ability
to learn. We as caring individuals should help in that area that is
available to us.
This accomplishment was made with the
help of others. We wish to extend a heartfelt thank-you for the
generosity from the following:
YMCA, Wal-Mart, Coy's Car Corner, Wyatt
Wedgeworth Memorial Fund, Gold Wing Road Rider Association,
Weyerhaeuser, Richard Sumrall, Lincoln Lions Club, Lincoln College,
Gail Wise, Fraternal Order of Eagles Auxiliary, Lincoln IGA,
Walgreens stores, Lincoln Police Department's DARE program, Brooklyn
and Blake Hermes, Shelbi Frye, Bobi Frye (Frye's Upholstery Recovery
Room), State Bank of Lincoln, Lincoln Office, Marty Fulton, Area
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sponsor of the week
Thank you to the anonymous donors of
school supplies, all the people who continue to support our rib-eye
steak sandwich sales at Lincoln IGA and everyone who supported our
garage sale this summer.
We also wish to thank our sister
chapters for their donations. To Lincoln Daily News: Thank you for
the wonderful coverage. To CIEDC: Thank you for working with us and
accepting applications from outlying Logan County communities.
Oh, to see the smile on the child's
face walking into the classroom with his or her own bag and
supplies, just like all the other children!
Already, we are working with the YMCA
with preparations for 2005. If you have questions or would like to
make a donation for 2005, please call Shanda Roderick at 737-1967 or
Lois Vannoy at 737-0360 or write to Beta Sigma Phi, Preceptor Eta
Chapter, 1501 N. Union St., Lincoln, IL 62656.
Thank you tremendously,
Roderick and Lois Vannoy
Saturday, Aug. 21, was a
special day at the Logan County Airport. Members of the Heritage In
Flight Museum and the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 129
from Bloomington held the second annual Young Eagles event at the
airport. Members of the two organizations volunteered to give kids
from age 8 to 18 their first airplane ride.
Forty-five youngsters took
their first ride, thanks to the volunteers who provided their own
aircraft for the morning. It was wonderful to see the excitement of
the kids and their parents. After their flight, each first-timer
received a Young Eagles certificate with the date of the flight
and signature of their pilot. Some of the participants came from as
far away as Mason City.
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The EAA Young
Eagles flights were begun in 1992. Since that time, well over 1
million youngsters have taken advantage of the program. The EAA,
with the help of national chairman Harrison Ford, hopes to interest
a new generation in the joys of flying. Judging from the smiles
after the rides, it is a great success.