Mixed feelings as we take the reins

Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan --  I took this pic during our Transfer of Authority Ceremony today. I’m focused on the work ahead, but can’t help but feel jealous of the outgoing team.

Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan —
I took this pic during our Transfer of Authority Ceremony today.
I’m focused on the work ahead, but can’t help but feel jealous of the outgoing team.

Although we’ve been in Afghanistan for a while, we’ve been accompanied by the team that has already been serving here before us. We spent a few weeks learning from them and getting a feel for the work ahead (so we’re not going out into the community cold-turkey.)

But today was our Transfer of Authority Ceremony … the day that the old team is formally no longer in control, and our team is now the lead. It was a traditional military ceremony … some troops were in formation, some important guy spoke, and the national anthem was played. As usual, I was not in the ceremony, because I was taking photographs. (One bad part about being in Public Affairs is that you’re usually behind the camera instead of being a part of what’s going on.)

Do you remember being a Junior in high school? If your school was like mine, they made the Juniors attend the Seniors’ graduation ceremony when school was done. (I guess they thought it would motivate students to push on.)

High school was not a fun time for me, and I couldn’t wait for it to end. So, out of all of the things I COULD do at the beginning of summer, going to watch some OTHER kids celebrate finally FINISHING high school was not on my list. But, I went anyway to see the Seniors off. (Many of whom were my friends.)

Did you do the same?

Remember the feeling you had that day? The feeling of: “Gee, I wish I was them! … I can’t WAIT for this crap to end.”

Meanwhile, the seniors, elated that their journey was done, were taunting you and rubbing it in your face at the end of the ceremony.

They’d tease you by saying things like: “So loooong, suckers! See you next year … oh, wait! NO, I WON’T! HA, HA, HA!”

Or, there were some nice seniors who said things like: “Don’t worry, Junior, your time will come, and you’ll be here soon enough.” (Those were just the kids whose parents taught them about tact.) Deep inside, they were saying to themselves: “I feel sorry for you, you silly Junior! You’ve got to hang around this hellhole! But me? I’m OUTTA HERE, BABY! PEACE!”

You were drinking a 10-gallon serving of HATERADE. You smiled on the outside, but inside you were saying to yourself: “lucky bastards.”

That’s what I was mumbling to myself today as the outgoing team dismissed their formation and the troops made the mad dash to hop the next thing smokin’ back to home … “lucky bastards.”

But luck had nothing to do with it. They did their time.

Most of them made it through okay.

Some didn’t.

I guess I’ve got the same odds. Maybe I’ll make it through okay; maybe I won’t. (On second thought, maybe luck DOES have something to do with it.)

I’m focused on what I have to do, and I’m ready to do it. Besides, the sooner we start, the sooner we finish (in theory, anyway.) But I can’t help but feel jealous, and I don’t know why.

With today’s ceremony, I graduated from being a Junior, and my Senior year starts now. The clock has started … See you guys at graduation.

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