They say that the people you deploy with are like family. That’s probably true for people that deploy with their home units, but I think that’s probably not true for me.
Working as an augmentee for the Army is a little strange. For the most part, you don’t know anyone you work with once you get here.
Every now and then, though, you run into someone you know. When I was at Edwards Air Force Base in California, one of the folks who worked for our multimedia contractor was Jim Shryne. If you’ve seen photos of Air Force jets, you’ve likely seen some of his work. He was an aerial photographer and is one of the best. The Air Force Times still uses some of his old photos.
Sometime after I left Edwards, he left the base and joined another contractor who put him to work in Iraq. He’s been working in the Al-Faw Palace Broadcast Studio, and he has had a huge hand in expanding their capabilities in this austere environment.
When I got here, I looked him up. I had seen his name in the credits of The Colbert Report Baghdad specials, and I thought it might be him.
After missing him a few times, I finally connected at dinner one day. It was great to talk about the old days at the Air Force Flight Test Center, but what was more meaningful to me was finding someone here in the middle of Iraq who I have a connection to (for something other than working in Iraq at the same time).
He will be helping me out on an uplink to CNN in the near future, so I’m looking forward to going back his studio, or my version of “Cheers” … where (almost) everybody knows my name.