Afghanistan: My Last Tour

SMSgt. Rex Temple posing with Afghan children at the weapons range.

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple has 28 years military experience. He's deployed to the Middle East and Afghanistan four times and served a total of 10 overseas tours. In May 2009, Temple left for what he said would be his last tour of duty. But it was unlike any other he’s experienced.

During his final deployment to Afghanistan, he blogged about his daily life at Afghanistan My Last Tour.

Hundreds follow him – including members of the military at all levels who want the real story of what’s going on. He’s seen firsthand the corruption in dealing with the Afghan government, and tried to fight it. He’s a supporter of the strategy to win “hearts and minds” of the Afghan people – but understands the frustrations and difficulties of troops trying to implement that policy.

Between May 2009 and April 2010, the Tampa airman spoke weekly to WUSF’s Bobbie O’Brien, who brings his story to our audience. Temple is based at MacDill Air Force Base’s 6th Air Mobility Wing. He’s married to Liisa Hyvarinen Temple, a University of South Florida adjunct professor who teaches journalism and multimedia. She helps him with his blog and an ongoing school supply drive for Afghan children.

Recent News Updates

SMSgt. Rex Temple on his last school supplies delivery to children in Afghanistan.

Sitting in a tent alone in Kuwait – away from family – away from his Air Force buddies in Afghanistan – that is how Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple spent Christmas 2009.

SMSgt. Rex Temple with his golden doodles, Sam and Charlie, at the Davis Islands dog park.

With combat troops officially out of Iraq, attention is now on Afghanistan. So, WUSF checked in with Tampa airman, Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple. He’s been back from Afghanistan for four months and is experiencing the highs of being home and the lows of having spent time a war zone.

Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple arrived in Tampa today after almost a full year on the frontlines in Afghanistan. His return was delayed by a revolt in Kyrgyzstan and volcanic ash plumes that shut down most air travel from Europe.

The pistol Massoud personally presented to Major Shah for shooting down five Soviet helicopters.

Just before he left Afghanistan, Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple visited with a former Mujahedeen commander. During his deployment, the Tampa airman formed a bond with the former fighter of the Soviets.

SMSgt. Rex Temple and his Air Force team each received a Bronze Star Medal for their service in Afghanistan.

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple is expected arrive at his Tampa home sometime this week. His return after a year’s service in Afghanistan isn’t the only news. Temple and his Air Force team have been awarded one of the military’s highest honors, the Bronze Star Medal.

SMSgt. Rex Temple poses with two Afghan children who received paper and pens from his school supplies drive.

After almost a year in Afghanistan, Tampa airman Rex Temple is on his way home. His departure was delayed a few days by the upheaval in Kyrgyzstan, which halted military flights to a U.S. base there.

But Temple sent word Thursday afternoon that he’s out of Afghanistan.

Two Afghan National Army captains hold up a uniform, something they rarely wear.

Life in the Afghan National Army is very different for women. Senior Master Sergeant Rex Temple tells of a recent conversation he had with two veteran ANA officers.

Female coalition forces hand out school supplies to girls at an Afghan school.

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.

Afghan students show off their new Beanie Babies, gifts distributed by SMSgt. Temple and his teammates.

Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple tells us about his trip to an Afghan girls school where he distributed pens, paper and other items.

SMSgt. Rex Temple gets "licked" by a spring lamb.

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.

Recent Episode Updates

Wagon on Kabul road

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple spent the last year working in Afghanistan. Re-trained to supplement the Army and Marine troops on the ground, Temple has been focused on humanitarian missions and supply convoys as well as mentoring a couple of Afghan National Army soldiers. Along the way, he has talked to us weekly about his experiences. Now that he’s home, Temple reflects on his tour of duty and talks about its impact on him.

Photo: Traffic in Kabul, July 2009

Afghanistan class in a make-shift school

WUSF 89.7 FM has been telling you about how Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Rex Temple and his wife, Liisa, are trying to help children in Afghanistan through a school supply drive here at home. This week’s University Beat tells you how USF is getting involved in the effort.

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