It’s over! (Or, Michael Jackson at the 1984 grammys)

Forward Operating Base Morales-Frazier, Afghanistan -  Me, with a good French friend. I was awarded the French Silver Medal of National Defense today. (My friend gave me his beret, too!)
Forward Operating Base Morales-Frazier, Afghanistan –
Me, with a good French friend. I was awarded the French Silver Medal of National Defense today. (My friend gave me his beret, too!)

(For my Facebook readers, please click the “view original post” link below to see pics properly.)

Today marked the end of my tour with Provincial Reconstruction Team Kapisa. We had our Transfer of Authority ceremony today, in which my team relinquished command and a new team of Soldiers/Airmen replaced us at Forward Operating Base Morales-Frazier.

The ceremony lasted about an hour, primarily because everything that happened had to happen in English, French and Dari (the Afghan language.) Three national anthems, three versions of the narrator’s comments. Unique, but a bit long. (During the entire ceremony, we were standing.) But I wasn’t tired … knowing it was our last day, I was too excited to be tired.

During today’s ceremony, more awards were presented. The US element presented some French Soldiers with US awards, and the French forces selected some US servicemembers to receive French awards. I was fortunate to be selected as one of the few to receive French recognition.

French Brigadier General Druart pinned me with the French Medal of National Defense.
It’s a nice medal, with an image of Marianne, the national symbol of France.shapeimage_2-3

I’m not really sure what I did to deserve it, other than butcher the French language and endure a few exotic French meals. But, I’m certainly honored to receive it.

Because it’s a French award, I’ll have to petition the US Air Force to allow me to wear it on my uniform. Even if I can’t wear it, I’ll at least have the certificate and medal so I can add to the great stories I will pass along to Taj about my time in the ‘stan.

Aside from the French award, my French Public Affairs Officer counterpart gave me one of his French berets. (I’ve had berets before, but never one that actually came from France!) I traded him one of my US digital camouflage jungle hats for it.

It was a good day … At the end of it, I realized that during the past few days I’d racked up quite a few honors (hence the Michael Jackson reference. 1984 was the year he earned multiple awards at once.) Of course, the only one that really matters is seeing Muna and Taj once I make it home.

Now the hard part begins … Hitchhiking a ride home!

darricklee Written by: