Today marks another month down! Last night the spouses were invited to attend a 'brief' on Afghanistan. The brief was put on by our request and put together by our former Ugly Angel XO, and our upcoming CO. They did an amazing job and informed us of a brief political history, the geologic location of our Marines, what their missions (in general) consisted of, their living conditions, the weather they were working in, and answered as many of our questions that they could. It was all 'unclassified' so a lot of specific questions could not be answered.
They are located in the southern part of Afghanistan. The large mountainous areas are to the North/Northeast of them and aren't in their 'jurisdiction'. They are mostly in the sandy desert area. The area they are in has its dangers, but that's why they send the Marines in;because 'we' know how to get the job done!!!
As for the latest, I haven't had much communication with Nick the past week due to YET another move the squadron has made within Afghanistan. But it's just not the spouses who aren't hearing from the squadron, the lack of communication while they are setting up is also happening between the headquarters here. So imagine the frustrations within the military. They are doing the best they can with what they have to work with. Here is a letter we just received this morning from our Commanding Officer regarding their recent status:
Dear Ugly Angel Families,
The Ugly Angels have moved again. We recently shifted from Kandahar Air
Base to a nearby camp, a British base that we are sharing.
I appreciate your patience throughout this move. I know how important it
is for you to be able to communicate with your Marine or Sailor,
unfortunately communications modes are very limited right now. Getting a
reasonable level of E-mail and phone access is one of my highest priorities.
I can't promise that it will get better overnight but it will get better.
"Ugly Mail" is working so please continue send messages through that route
until we can get individual accounts in place. Please note the new address
for "Ugly Mail" is Ugly.firstname.lastname@example.org. Our US Postal service
mailing address has not changed and your letters and care packages continue
to arrive in great quantities.
The last two weeks have been incredibly busy but, as always, your Marines
and Sailors have been more than up to the challenge. In less than 4 days,
your Ugly Angels took a barren dust spot next to the newly laid aluminum
parking ramp and turned it into a fully functioning squadron area. Many
used the opportunity to showcase their creative carpentry skills so we have
a rather eclectic collection of benches, chairs and desks to outfit our
tents. The weather is hot and the hours are long but everyone is very
When I told you all that we were headed for Afghanistan I told you that I
did not expect that our deployment would be extended. All is still on track
for us to be home on time. Those Marines and Sailors that left on the
Advance Party will be home in mid July and the Main Body will be home in mid
Again, thank you for your continued patience, understanding, and continued
LtCol Jeffrey Hagan
HMH-362 "Ugly Angels"Commanding Officer
I do know that their email addresses will be changing (again), so please do not email Nick at this time, unless you use the MOTOMAIL email address noted above in the CO's letter.
PLEASE NOTE: That address has altered a little so be sure to make those changes in your address books. Also, be sure to put CAPTAIN NICK TURNER in the SUBJECT LINE of the motomail so that they know who to deliver the email to.
In the meantime, written letters are highly encouraged. I am not posting his mailing address, but if you would like it, please email me email@example.com and I will gladly give you that information.
As soon as Nick gets his new email address, I will let you all know ASAP. But be assured that your care packages are making it on to their new location. I was lucky enough to email back and forth with Nick last night because he was ODO and sitting at their ONLY computer checking his emails (between his work) before his email account is shut down. He was enjoying the snacks I had mailed to him just last week. So, the timing of the packages arriving still seems to be about a week.
Back to the brief.
The former XO commended the squadron over and over again for their outstanding job with this nonstandard deployment they have been put through. They have started in Iraq, replaced all their engines in their aircrafts, moved them to another country, having to break them down and rebuild them back up once arriving, AS WELL AS building up a camp and living quarters for themselves. He mentioned they had done that all in record timing, and their timely work was being talked about at the highest ranks of the Marine Corps there. Within a month, they had to do it all over again, moving 90 miles to another location and building up yet another tent and living quarters.
Their living conditions are far from comfortable. Sleeping tents holding a dozen or more guys, with a community shower with no privacy. The camp is small and crammed but they are dealing with it and pushing on!
The Uglies have proven once again that they can do anything they are asked to do. They are working in temperatures reaching above the 100's in blowing sand the consistency of talcolm powder.
As for needs in care packages, there is a request in asking what they could use. They do have a chow hall or MRE (meal ready to eat) as options for meals. And rumor has it there is actually a Pizza Hut on the 12 square mile camp they are on.
After hearing all the details at the brief, I have never been more proud of Nick and the squadron for all that they are doing and what they are going through in their new environment. It sure has been an adjustment for everyone on both sides going from Iraq to Afghanistan. We have really been spoiled in Iraq, being able to email/call daily and use Skype frequently to see and talk to our Marines. Now, it's like they've pulled the plug. It's rough not hearing from them for several days/weeks. It's hard not to worry and wonder what they are doing and if everything is ok! But the Uglies are a strong and 'outstanding' group of Marines that are repeatedly proving themselves to us all, and are making history! We will be so glad to have them back home and safe again!
They have received some pictures from Afghanistan of the Marines in the squadron working, and were able to create a short slideshow for us to watch. I was able to see two pictures of Nick. One of him flying, and one of him working in the tent. It was nice to see his face, even if it were in pictures. We hope to get access to these pictures soon, so when we do, I will try to post them on here.