My Last Tour: Food Poisoning

Courtesy: SMSgt. Rex Temple
Courtesy: SMSgt. Rex Temple
TAMPA (2009-07-14) -

WUSF's ongoing project - Afghanistan My Last Tour with Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Rex Temple - focuses this week on a "who-done-it" mystery. Who or what sickened hundreds of Afghan soldiers? It could be simple food contamination, yet the Taliban is claiming credit.

Prior to deploying to Afghanistan, Senior Master Sergeant Rex Temple worked in the Inspector General's office at MacDill Air Force Base. So, when he heard that hundreds of soldiers were sick at the Afghan National Army base or ANA compound, his curiosity kicked in.

He took along an Air Force sergeant trained in culinary work and kitchen sanitation and toured the ANA compound. They visited the bakery and dining facility.

They observed everything from rice being stirred with a garden shovel to raw meat sitting uncovered on open shelving in a partially refrigerated room.

Temple says sabotage by workers sympathetic to the Taliban is always a concern. But the contracted food workers are screened before being allowed in the ANA compound. He says the Taliban claimed credit for the food poisoning on a local radio station.

Even if the source of the food contamination is found, Temple may not be allowed to share it for security reasons. But, the incident did put two of his strongest skills to use: his investigative abilities and his love of cooking.

WUSF is following Senior Master Sergeant Temple during his year-long deployment to Afghanistan. You can read more of his stories, hear his interviews and see photos of the Afghan National Army bakery and dining facility on his blog: Afghanistan: My Last Tour.

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