Afghanistan: My Last Tour

SMSgt. Rex Temple and wife, Liisa Hyvarinen Temple share a final moment
SMSgt. Rex Temple and wife, Liisa Hyvarinen Temple share a final moment
TAMPA (2009-05-05) -

The president announced plans in early 2009 to expand US military presence in Afghanistan. In conjunction with that buildup, WUSF begins a year-long series following Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple who just left on his fourth and final deployment to the Middle East.

I first learned about the deployment of U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple through his blog: Afghanistan My Last Tour.

"My intention was to just keep in contact with my family and give them day by day play or every couple of days of the training I'm going through," Temple said.

The blog was set up by his wife, Liisa Hyvarinen Temple an adjunct professor who teaches multimedia at the University of South Florida. This is the first time her husband's deployed overseas since they married three years ago.

"Never in a million years did I think I'd be in this position," Hyvarinen Temple said. "I knew I married into military, but I didn't think that, I mean you know it's going to happen but there's nothing in the world that prepares you for it."

Hyvarinen Temple is a colleague who shared her husband's blog with me as a friend. When asked, they both agreed to share the blog with WUSF listeners and give regular updates during Temple's year-long tour.

"I think too many journalists are biased and one sided and they just want to see the blood and guts side," Temple said. "There's more to a story, the schools, the sewage systems we're repairing and the positive aspects along with some mundane things."

The Temples talked last week as they packed gear. Their king-size bed and the entire floor of their bedroom were completely covered with neat stacks of equipment, clothing, four sets of combat boots, 20 pairs of socks, malaria pills.

Twenty-six years in the Air Force, yet this deployment required a whole new learning curve.

"The biggest thing is for an Air Force person to go through Army training," it makes you really appreciate and respect what they do. and here i am I'm acting like a soldier, I'm wearing their gear, I'm carrying their weapons and I'm going through their same training.

He spent his last weekend stateside with his parents and family in Pennsylvania. His mother made him meatloaf and blackberry cobbler. When he first joined the Air Force, he left on Mother's Day. His plane might land in Afghanistan on Mother's Day as he begins his last tour. He plans to retire once he returns from Afghanistan.

Saying good-bye at the airport Hyvarinen Temple fights back tears. Temple he pulls out a small memento- it's a bumper sticker that says Air Force Wife in pink letters over camouflage.

Senior Master Sgt. Temple plans to check in with WUSF about once a week depending on his internet access and you can track him as well through his blog.

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