50 graduate Fatima Girls High School

Tabasum Sharqi (left) opens a book she received for graduating at the top of her Fatima Girls High School class at a ceremony held at the Kunar Department of Women’s (click for more)

Polish and US Forces bond through weapons

Soldiers from the Polish Army and the Texas National Guard Agribusiness Development Team-IV check their shot grouping during qualification on the Polish AK-74 5.56 mm Mini-Beryl short assault rifle Feb. (click for more)

TF Duke Soldiers volley for peace

U.S. Army Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, play an impromptu game of volleyball against a team (click for more)

Nurgaram District leaders electrify Nangaresh schools

Dr. Mehirulla Muslim, the Nurgaram District subgovernor, addresses an audience of teachers, government officials and citizens during a ceremony to celebrate a completed solar panel electricity project Feb. 21 in (click for more)

10th CAB Soldiers bring communications to Bagram’s east side

U.S. Army Spc. Raheem Stewart, an automations specialist with TF Phoenix, steps along the rafters of the building his team helped wire for communications. Stewart, from Dallas, was one of (click for more)

ANA, Red Bulls search Parwai during Operation Brass Monkey

An Afghan National Army soldier from Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 201st Infantry Regiment, searches a pile of rocks in the courtyard of a high-value target home outside the village of (click for more)

Female engagement teams trained to aid communication with Afghan women

U.S. Army Capt. Nicole Zupka of Fair Lawn, N.J., a battlewatch captain with Combined Joint Task Force-Paladin, helps an Afghan child with her writing skills during female engagement team training (click for more)

ANA, TF Storm break trail, make difference in Kharwar

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army soldiers move through Kharwar District to prevent the Taliban’s freedom of movement Feb. 12. U.S. and Afghan soldiers braved more than 3 feet (click for more)

Ky. ADT II begins Panjshir sheep parasite project

Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team II members, U.S. Army Spc. Justin Allen (left), a London, Ky., native, and U.S. Army Sgt. Nicholas Combs, a Corbin, Ky., native, get to know a (click for more)

Engineer Soldiers deliver aid to Afghans

An Afghan carrying a child approaches U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Peter Moeller of Atkins, Iowa, a medic with Task Force Red Bulls, for humanitarian aid at Qale-Mussa Pain Middle School (click for more)

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PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Bloyer of Caroll, Iowa, talks to his wife through a video call program from his living quarters on Bagram Airfield Feb. 14. A little before 7 a.m. in Iowa and 5:30 p.m. in Afghanistan, Bloyer wished his wife, Sasha, and daughter, Skylar, a happy Valentine’s Day. Bloyer, an assistant information operations officer and targeting and electronic warfare noncommissioned officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Task Force Red Bulls, has been in Afghanistan since November, but still remains a part of his families lives from afar. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ashlee Lolkus, Task Force Red Bulls Public Affairs)PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Over a quarter of the earth’s surface stands between U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Bloyer and his wife and daughter. That is more than 7,000 miles and completely different hemispheres. Bagram Airfield is 10.5 hours ahead of his home in Carroll, Iowa.



But Bloyer is there nearly every morning to wake his 1-year-old daughter, Skylar.

Although Afghanistan does not have as many amenities as the United States, Iowa National Guard Soldiers like Bloyer find ways to bridge the distance between Afghanistan and home. Most military installations have come to offer a variety of choices to reach loved ones back home, even for fathers who want to “be there” when their daughter wakes up.

A chance to see: video calling
Bloyer uses an Internet-based video calling program to call home a little before 7 a.m. Iowa time. This gives him and his wife, Sasha, time to talk in private. Then, Sasha carries the computer into their daughter’s bedroom.

“We’ll go wake Skylar up together, which is pretty cool because I like being able to see her right when she wakes up,” said Bloyer, the assistant information operations officer and targeting and electronic warfare noncommissioned officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Task Force Red Bulls. “It’s one of my favorite things. It’s pretty awesome; it’s amazing how much she has grown.”

To be there every morning for his daughter, Bloyer, who has been in Afghanistan since November, pays for Internet access through an Afghan contractor. Though Morale, Welfare and Recreation centers offer free Internet, purchasing access offers more privacy.


“It makes it more bearable being able to see your loved ones every day,” said Bloyer. “But in another way, it kind of makes you more homesick. (My wife is) like right there, and some days I’m just like, ‘Ah, I wish I could just go home.’ But, all in all, I would say that it’s a blessing, really, to be able to see them every day.”

Chatting with friends: Internet, social networking

U.S. Army Sgt. Lance Morrow knows that feeling of homesickness. Morrow, a medic with the medical platoon, 1st Bn., 168th Inf. Regt, TF Lethal, at Forward Operating Base Gardez, has been in Afghanistan since November and keeps in touch with his friends via the Internet, using a social networking site.

“(It’s) great for dropping somebody a message or following somebody on their wall. It’s easier than sending out constant e-mails to people,” said Morrow, of Council Bluffs, Iowa.

While his FOB has a facility for free Internet, Morrow also chooses to purchase it to have personal Internet access in his room.

Phone home: MWR
But, many Soldiers are willing to settle for what the military can provide.

MWR facilities provide free phone calls and Internet. According to Lacey Castleberry, an MWR specialist, on Bagram Airfield in January, 32,550 people used the Internet and 11,993 used the free phone service. These facilities exist at other locations as well.

U.S. Army Spc. Curtis Blake Jr., a radio telephone operator with Company A, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Brigade, Task Force Red Bulls, talks to his girlfriend over a phone provided by the local MWR facility at Camp Najil.

“She stays strong, at least when we talk on the phone and stuff,” said Blake of Clinton, Iowa.

He said talking to her helps reduce the stress.

Like many other Soldiers, staying in touch back home is an emotional release, a chance to communicate with people outside of the Army, and keeps him focused for his work in Afghanistan.

“It’s probably one of the few things that keep me sane,” Blake joked.PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – One-year-old Skylar, daughter of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Bloyer of Caroll, Iowa, visits with Dad through a video call program Feb. 14. Bloyer, an assistant information operations officer and targeting and electronic warfare noncommissioned officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Task Force Red Bulls, has been in Afghanistan since November, but still remains a part of his families lives from afar. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ashlee Lolkus, Task Force Red Bulls Public Affairs)

 

Last Updated on Friday, 18 February 2011 01:12
 

    

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Coalition forces engage insurgents in Kapisa

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Coalition forces killed seven insurgents in defensive operations in the Alah Say District, Kapisa Province, eastern Afghanistan, March 29.

Coalition forces and aircraft responded to an insurgent attack. Four insurgents were killed by air strike and three were killed by direct fire from coalition forces.

All rounds were reported safe and on target. There were no reports of injuries or damages to civilians in the area.

 
ANSF, ISAF begin major operation in Laghman valley

LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Afghan National Security Forces, partnered with U.S. Task Forces Red Bulls and Phoenix and French Task Force La Fayette, began operations in Galuch Valley, Laghman Province, March 25.

Soldiers of the Afghan National Army’s 201st Corps, Afghan National Police’s 202nd Shamshod and the U.S. Army’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, TF Red Bulls, supported by the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, TF Phoenix, conducted an air assault into the valley to remove enemy forces. Battle Group Richelieu, TF La Fayette, provided artillery support from Kapisa Province.

While conducting operations, the forces found multiple weapons caches including assorted rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, Russian rockets, materials to make homemade explosives, various other ordnances and communication equipment.  

While moving through the valley, unit leadership met with village elders to discuss the security situation and to allow them to give up insurgents still in the area.

The operation will assist the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in establishing the valley as a new district giving the Afghan people in the area freedom from the insurgency.   

President Hamid Karzai approved the creation of the additional district and hopes the new district will help improve the security of the area and support the reconstruction effort.

Mohammad Iqbal Azizi, Laghman Province governor, held a press conference March 7 announcing the establishment of a new district located in the valley.

 
ANSF, TF Bastogne continue operations in Kunar

 

KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and coalition troops from Task Force Bastogne continued operations in the Shigal District March 18 after clearing the village of Lawsin and the surrounding area.

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Afghan leaders, coalition forces look forward

PAKTYA, Afghanistan – Leaders from across eastern Afghanistan attended a security conference March 9 at Forward Operating Base Thunder, the home of the Afghan Army’s 203rd Thunder Corps.

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