I’ll never forget the first time my platoon received mail during our 2009-10 deployment to Helmand Afghanistan. Late one winter night, we were awakened to provide security for a mail convoy coming in. After not receiving any sort of communication from the outside world for the first month and some change, we gladly suited up.
After sweeping the small bridge that connected our tiny farm of a patrol base to the main supply route of the area, for improvised explosives, we anxiously watched as two trucks carrying our precious mail enter our friendly lines. As the lead truck was making their final turn into our courtyard, the earth surrounding a water-well collapsed causing the truck to flip. Luckily no one was hurt, however, several shipping containers of mail went for a swim. By dawn, everything was recovered and for the most part dry (waterproofed packages).
Mail was something we all looked forward to, we would not have internet access for another three or four months, we had one satellite phone working at any given time to share with 24 people, and almost no way of sending our own letters. I managed to successfully write one letter on that entire deployment, to my girlfriend. I had written her during our first couple nights in transient housing while we were awaiting our final infiltration. I eventually started writing to her during free time in between our tasking’s, due to the poor postal service in the area that we were visiting, that letter was never mailed and became a journal for the remainder of the deployment.
I managed to lose that extremely long and poorly written letter on our trip home. I was bummed, although we spoke many times over the phone, I didn’t get to tell her all the nice things that I am too shy to say out loud or wasn’t thinking about at that moment.
The most memorable part of her letters was the scent; she would spray the letters with her perfume. They would smell amazing! I would always keep one with me and would be able to escape for a few moments here and there. Her letters brought joy, they reminded me that the outside world still existed, and she attempted to keep me updated on pop culture. She gave me a lot to look forward to.
Whenever you are deployed, it is truly special being able to connect with someone back home.