My Last Tour: Licked by a Lamb

SMSgt. Rex Temple gets "licked" by a spring lamb.
SMSgt. Rex Temple gets "licked" by a spring lamb.
TAMPA (2010-3-24) -

A routine trip to the shooting range turned into one of the more joyful moments of Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple’s year-long deployment in Afghanistan. The Tampa airman brought gifts for the children that scavenge the range for brass casings.

The location of SMSgt. Temple and his teammates in Afghanistan gives them ready access to a shooting range. This week, some Air Force leaders in need of target practice paid them a visit.

“Every time we go out there, we know that the village children come up to visit,” Temple said.

The village children wait for U.S. troops to finish shooting and then collect the brass casings. Temple estimates the children can earn up to $50 selling the brass expended during a routine target practice.

“These children, they come from villages over the mountain. You can’t even see their villages,” Temple said. “Once they hear us shooting the big guns, the 50 caliber machine guns and the M-240 machine guns, then the children come running.”

Temple anticipated that and brought along some gifts: a soccer ball and stuffed beanie babies. An Air Force commander distributed handmade quilts and food to the kids.

“I only had one soccer ball and at the time there was only five boys and I was trying to figure out what is the fairest method so I could reward one of the boys and give him the ball,” Temple said.

His interpreter had each boy write his name on a piece of paper. There was an impromptu drawing with the soccer ball as the prize. The boys assured Temple that they would share the soccer ball because they all come from the same village and play together.

But there was one more gift to bestow. The boy who won the soccer ball disappeared only to return with one of his prized possessions - a new spring lamb. He presented it to Temple – not to keep – but to hold.

Temple said the lamb was a bit smelly but he appreciated the gesture. The children crowded together, their gifts in hand, for a photograph before scrambling to collect the brass casings to sell at the market.

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