Shining A Light on the Dark Continent

Category Archives: CJTF-HOA

The Long Trek Home

Navy Chaplain Rabbi Jon Cutler presents Dave with a Joint Service Commendation Medal on one of his last days in Djibouti.

“I couldn’t get to sleep until about 1:30 a.m. I was keyed up and excited the night before a long flight,” Dave wrote in his journal. But this wasn’t just any long flight. After almost seven months, Dave was finally going home to Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, and Vicki.

After finishing up last minute business with his replacement Ch Bill O’Sullivan and last-minute packing, Dave said he just couldn’t get to sleep. He tried to call Vicki at home but she was out. “So, I tinkered, fidgeted, watched two movies and finally passed out,” he said.

He was up again at 4:30 for breakfast and then off to the Air Transportation Operations Center where customs did a thorough job of checking every nook and cranny of his bags. The plane was on time and soon he was in the air for about 26 hours flight to finally get to U.S. soil.

First stop was Bahrain, where Dave deployed in 2002 at a classified site used as a jumping off point for Marines on their way to Kabul. “That sure did bring back memories,” he wrote. The next stop was Sigonella, Italy. “It was great to breath fresh, clean air in a cool environment,” he said.

While in Italy, Dave saw this cat watching a man eat his lunch. “It made me think of home,” he said.

The last stop before the U.S. was in Rota, Spain. “It was all I could do to stay awake in the terminal. I wanted to sleep on the plane, so I was fighting to stay awake.”

Finally, on May 27, 2011, he set foot on American soil in Norfolk, Virginia. Dave said he slept six hours on the last leg of the trip, but was hungry and tired when they landed. After going through customs, finding bags and getting a ride to lodging, he was ready for a shower and a nap. “It was nice to have a real shower without time limits. I took advantage of it.” Dave also said it was nice to drink out of a drinking fountain and wash his hands in a sink and not worry if it was safe to do that.

After fiddling around with his computer, talking to Vicki and watching movies while eating Chinese food, it was after midnight again when Dave went to sleep before the final leg of his trip took him to Oklahoma City and Vicki.

“I was very tired, happy, and excited to see Vicki. And a little melancholy. It was a great mission and I couldn’t imagine any other deployment topping this one. I felt that completing this, my eighth deployment, I was content with it being my last deployment.”

 

 

 

Chaplains Training Chaplains

    Military-to-military engagement was a big part of Dave’s job while stationed in Djibouti. Not only did he work with the different branches of the U.S. military, but he also spent time with members of the Kenya Ministry of Defense (KMOD), particularly with the chaplains.   The Kenyan chaplains saw the need for aContinue Reading

In Africa, when religious leaders speak, people listen

“Whew! What an amazing day,” Dave said. On March 3, he met with Bright Mawdor, deputy general secretary of the All African Conference of Churches and learned a lot. Unlike in the United States, separation of church and state does not exist. “When the Secretariat speaks, the government listens,” Dave said. AACC leaders interact withContinue Reading

U.S. and Kenyan Chaplains Meet

One of the more exciting aspects of Dave’s job in Africa was military and religious engagement and he experienced both when he and his boss met with the three  principal chaplains of the Kenyan Military, Col. Alfred Rotich, a Roman Catholic bishop; Col. Paul Simiyu, an Anglican bishop; and Lt. Col.Mohammed Ahmed, a Muslim imamContinue Reading

An Afghan Pilot Went Postal

An Afghani Goes Postal Do you remember the group of Americans killed at the Kabul International Airport back in April 2011? Well that is how Maj. David “Klepto” Brodeur and eight others died. A veteran Afghan air force pilot executed eight U.S. service people, including Klepto, and an American civilian contractor. The nine Americans attendedContinue Reading

The Arta Peace Walk

The day after Thanksgiving, Dave joined others from Camp Lemonnier for a peace “walk” which turned out to be an arduous hike. More than 50 people showed up at the designated area to catch buses to the starting point at 5:45 a.m. only to discover the buses were accidentally cancelled. Many of the participants were disappointedContinue Reading

A Chance Encounter

Dave’s favorite saying, or at least one of them, is “Coincidence is when God wants to remain anonymous.” Therefore, in this next story, God was clearly at work based on the amount of coincidence. One November night, after his first dinner with the coalition that included the Japanese Ambassador and his wife, the European Ambassador,Continue Reading