My Last Tour: Two Farewells

Two Marines present AF Capt. Brockman with a special award for her service
Two Marines present AF Capt. Brockman with a special award for her service in their brigade
TAMPA (2009-08-03) -

Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Rex Temple of Tampa writes a blog about his experiences in Afghanistan. This past week, it meant taking photographs of two farewells: one joyous, one somber. He talks with WUSF about the challenges of both documenting and participating in military life.

There was a special farewell ceremony at SMSgt. Temple's base in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday.

The Marines honored Air Force Captain Merritt Brockman. She just finished her tour as the Brigade Medical Service Corp Officer and senior medical mentor to the Afghan National Army.

The Marines presented Brockman with a special patch embroidered with her name and the words: US Marine on loan from the Air Force.

Such recognition is not common place. Temple says there's usually a healthy but friendly rivalry between service branches. But the joint deployments have changed that, a little.

Temple's blog details Brockman's service and her farewell ceremony. He only revealed her name because she's leaving. That's the only time he's allowed to post names on his blog - or when it's a high ranking official - or a memorial service like the one he covered last week for Sgt. Raymundo Morales.

For that service, Temple was doing more than writing for his blog. He was also taking pictures - a special request from Sgt. Morales' family.

"I felt strange," Temple said. "I was up close capturing emotions and at same time feeling emotions."

Even a week later, Temple finds the experience difficult to talk about. But, his work received appreciation from Sgt. Morales' wife who emailed her thanks to Temple's blog as did several family members of the fallen soldier.

WUSF is following Temple during his year-long deployment. You can read his blog Afghanistan My Last Tour, hear his interviews and see photos at

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