Heather Bennett, News 9 Contributor
Oklahoma Airman Serving In Afghanistan
We went out into one of the local villages this week, and for the first time I had real interaction with the locals. I had always seen them through binoculars, and mostly at night, but this was the first time I was really able to get up close with them.
I was manning the .50 caliber machine gun, which is mounted on our vehicle, so I couldn't leave my weapon or my truck and really talk to the locals. But, as we pulled up to the first stopping point, all these kids came running up, shouting in broken English, trying to trade and sell us our own stuff (bottles of water, cans of soda, stuff they had been given). It was just a mob of children. It was almost like we had busted open a piñata. They were just going crazy at the sight of anything to be traded.
As I was looking over the side of the turret, while standing on two cans of ammo and on tip-toes (I'm kind of short), I realized that only a few of the little kids had any shoes on. The ones that did were worn out, or way too big. I know it's got to suck (for lack of better words). My feet get cold with boots and wool socks on. I sat back down into my seat, feeling a little guilty and a bit ashamed that I have been so selfish. Here I am writing these blog entries, saying how hard it has been to make phone calls, and that I couldn't keep the sand out of my mouth, and all this stuff, when in fact life for me/us isn't all that bad over here.
I know there's not much I can do for the locals. It's a "they need to help themselves" deal, because we can only do so much. But what about us back home? I'm not just talking about military members. I'm talking about the families that don't have a phone to call anyone, or the ones who just lost their house in a fire a few days ago. I know it sounds a little tacky, but in the words of Michael Jackson, "I'm starting with the man in the mirror." To all my friends that want to send me stuff, don't. Instead, use that money on something like a jacket for the homeless guy that hustled me in a game of pool this past summer. Don't take this the wrong way. I love and greatly appreciate all you guys do for me, but give to someone who is in need instead. I get hot food. Sometime it's awful, but it's food. I have a roof over my head, and most of the time a hot shower. I'm not in need like some people are. Let's take care of each other. Let's give back to one another.