As you can see in the picture, we received our first taste of snow in Afghanistan today. It has been raining all week, turning FOB Morales-Frazier into one giant mud pit. We left the FOB today to head into the mountains of Nijrab, where that rain was already accumulating as snow.
We did our usual thing … We stopped at a few construction projects, voiced our displeasure with the workers’ rate of progress, and then moved on to the next stop to do the same.
While driving to the northern part of the province, the convoy commander for the mission, an Army Staff Sergeant, called all vehicles to a halt. Unsure why we were stopping, I figured someone was taking an emergency potty break. (Other than when we’re at our objectives, emergency restroom breaks are usually the ONLY reason we leave the safety of our MRAPs (armored vehicles) outside the wire.
I waited for us to secure the area, then I hopped out of the vehicle along with our team medic.
I didn’t see a construction site nearby. And, since the road was covered in snow, I knew we weren’t inspecting a road project. Curious as to why we stopped, I started walking toward the Staff Sergeant.
Before I could take a few steps, I received my answer.
Our medic was hit with a snowball. I turned my head in the direction it came from to find one of the Army Sergeants giggling, watching the medic cringe as the cold snow schlopped off of her.
It was on. It was sooooo ON!
While our team was on a mission outside the wire, with parked MRAPs on a snow-covered road in Afghanistan, with Afghan locals beginning to crowd around us, Provincial Reconstruction Team Kapisa engaged in a snowball fight.
Snowballs were flying back-n-forth. Our engineer Lieutenant seemed to be the target of opportunity for most of the troops. (Enlisted folks LOVE socking it to officers every chance they get.)
I took the coward’s way out, grabbing my camera and “documenting” the mayhem, thereby securing my status as a non-combatant since I was clearly holding a “highly-expensive piece of photographic equipment” that no Soldier would dare risk damaging with a snowball. (I neglected to share with them that my camera was waterproof … Why dampen their fun with details?)
My plan didn’t work … they just made sure they hit me in the back! IN THE BACK! (This is war, after all.)
We were like children … Children wearing body armor … With guns … LOTS of guns … In a combat zone. We were armor-wearing, gun-toting children having a snowball fight in a combat zone.
It was fun to see the smiles on everyone’s faces for the few minutes it lasted. It’s weird how snow brought out the children in all of us. And, even though we were out in the local community, we somehow felt safe … Like the snow provided some unseen level of protection.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.