An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Find the positive

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Derek Orling
  • 451 EMXG/EMXS First Sergeant
When I told my family, friends, and co-workers about my upcoming deployment to Kandahar Airfield, I got the reaction I figured I would. They'd crinkle their noses and make that face that just says "ewww." My Facebook friends (yes even us old guys have Facebook) replied with those all too common one word posts like "bummer," "uncool," or "blah." Others would mention the ridiculous heat, the dreaded dust and sand, the long work hours, or the occasional rocket or two. OK, I'll concede this place isn't exactly paradise, but if you have a positive attitude, KAF will help you see the good where you maybe didn't see it before, or had just forgotten it was there.

Since arriving here I've been reminded every day why I've remained in the Air Force for 16 years and why I plan on staying for as long as they will let me. I see Airmen of all ranks working in the heat, dust, and dirt 12-14 hours a day, for six or sometimes seven days a week. And on top of that, they do it with the same motivation four months into their deployment as they had the day they arrived. I talk with Airmen who tell me they were just here months ago but volunteered for a second or even third deployment because they feel like what they do at KAF is important. At a recent change of command I listened to the accomplishments of my fellow Airmen here at KAF and around the AOR as the general delivered his final farewell. People often say Airmen Leadership School or Non-Commissioned Officer Academy "re-blues" a person. I say ALS and NCOA have nothing on Kandahar Airfield. Being here has reinvigorated my faith in the Air Force and its people.

Since arriving at KAF it has become apparent that the support we receive from individuals and organizations back home is immeasurable. The amount of care packages our service members receive with everything from toiletry items, snacks, book and magazines, even golf balls and softballs is astonishing. I received my first care package only 10 days after arriving to KAF. I still don't know how the person knew who I was or that I'd be here, but I can only assume the person knew my mailing address before I did! The amount of time, money, and effort these individuals and organizations put into supporting us speaks volumes. I remember the numerous flags displayed in yards and red/white/blue ribbons on cars after 9/11. But in recent years I have noticed those have all but disappeared. Since arriving here at KAF, I've been thankful enough to see the support for us is anything but gone. Being here at KAF has reminded me of the good people out there who support us without even knowing us.

Even here at Kandahar Airfield with its long days with long hours of hot and dirty work (and yes, the occasional rocket) there are positive things to be found. All you have to do is open your eyes and recognize them for what they are.