My Last Tour: Mission Mix-Up

Female coalition forces hand out school supplies to girls at an Afghan school.
Female coalition forces hand out school supplies to girls at an Afghan school.
TAMPA (2010-4-6) -

During his year in Afghanistan, Senior Master Sergeant Rex Temple has experienced his share of "snafus." This week, a mix up on a humanitarian mission was resolved only by taking supplies to two different villages.

Temple has hundreds of boxes of donated school supplies and wanted to distribute them before his tour ends. So, he asked the Afghan National Army Brigade Surgeon to recommend some village schools, which he did.

“We went out on a recon mission because we wanted to check it out, figure out where we would post our security personnel,” Temple said. “I thought we were talking about the same village, but when I returned from the recon mission and I went to see him, he said ‘Well, I didn’t see you today. I was out with the ANA and we were conducting recon.’”

And, Temple didn’t see the ANA when he met with his village’s principal and tribal elder for permission to deliver the school supplies.

Through his interpreter, Temple discovered he and the ANA Brigade surgeon visited different villages just two miles apart and with the same name except for the last four letters.

“First he was rather upset saying ‘I made promises and you made promises,’” Temple said. “The solution I came up with is, I have enough school supplies, if we divide it in half we’ll go to my village first and then you can deliver school supplies to your village on another day.”

Temple made his delivery of about 150 boxes of school supplies Tuesday morning when the girls’ classes were in session. He said the principal insisted that the supplies be off-loaded and distributed outside, not in the individual classrooms.

Temple later found out that the principal does not support girls should be educated and tried to arrange the delivery in the afternoon when the boys were in class.

“Therefore, he didn’t want the girls to receive anything,” Temple said. “However, I met with him and the tribal elder, he gave in and said, ‘I understand you have another mission in the afternoon, come in the morning and hand out your school supplies.’”

The Tampa airman is checking things off his “to do list” as he nears the end of his yearlong tour. And he has some big aspirations.

“I am hoping to interview some Mujahedeen fighters,” Temple said. “And one other one that I have been trying for months, I have located a child suicide bomber who decided not to go through with becoming a suicide bomber. And, I’m hoping to interview him.”

Temple has been checking in with WUSF about once a week during his year-long deployment and blogging almost daily about his experiences at Afghanistan: My Last Tour.

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