My Last Tour: A Culvert Crew Ride

The Afghan National Army's lead vehicle on the mission through Wardak Province.
The Afghan National Army's lead vehicle on the mission through Wardak Province.
TAMPA (2010-1-12) -

It’s been a non-stop week of missions for Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple. He’s visited a mountaintop military outpost and rode along with soldiers clearing roadside bombs.

The purpose of Temple’s mission was to escort an Afghan National Army general throughout Wardak Province to visit observation posts.

"He wanted to see his men and address their needs and see firsthand instead of having it filter through the chain of command up to him," Temple said. "So this was a big morale boost for these soldiers that are way out in the middle of nowhere sitting up on some mountain top in these observation posts."

The multi-day mission turned into a medical mission for Temple. He developed an eye infection that required transport to a Forward Operating Base. But the only transportation available was with a roadside bomb clearing crew known as a culvert clearing crew.

“Basically, they’re on foot looking for IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) in all the culverts. It took us several hours just to go a couple of kilometers,” Temple said. “The section of road that we were on, that we traveled this time, it’s nicknamed the highway of death.”

Temple was the lead driver on the mission with only one ANA vehicle ahead of his. At one point, he counted more than 40 bomb craters along just a mile stretch of road.

The Tampa airman talked to us over the Internet from his home base. He said the “ops tempo,” the pace of operations is such that he no longer gets a day off.

“In the past, Friday was more of a down day. (You) do your laundry, read a good book, go to the gym,” Temple said. “You just suck it up. And I know, just from this past mission the U.S. soldiers that are out there, they’re in much worse places, less amenities than I have here. So, I really can’t complain.”

You can see photos and read Temple’s blog, Afghanistan My Last Tour.

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