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

Situation Normal All BAF-fed Up sticker on an electrical panel at the Bagram bas

Some fights in Afghanistan are waged in the classroom not on the battlefield. One of the fiercest opponents is the estimated 80 percent illiteracy rate among Afghan National Army recruits.

SMSgt. Temple's teammates taking inventory before turning their vehicles over to

The build-up of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is underway just as time is winding down for Tampa airman Rex Temple. We’ve been following Temple during his year-long deployment, training Afghan troops. He’s scheduled to come home in less than two months.

An ANA soldier with a NATO M-249 machine gun.

There’s an old Afghan saying, “Bad water flows from the spring.” An Afghan National Army officer used the proverb to sum up his country’s struggle with corruption during a recent discussion with Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple.

The ANA literacy class that SMSgt. Temple addressed.

For a second week, U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple was invited to speak to a literacy class at a Afghan National Army base. About 100 soldiers attended. Here is the full audio from that session.

ANA Mullah and Religious Officer hand out notebooks and pencils to recruits.

This week Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple returns to the Afghan National Army literacy class he visited last week. The Tampa airman asked the new recruits about their education and in turn he is quizzed about the Taliban.

New Afghan National Army recruits practice marching.

Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple was invited to speak to an Afghan Army literacy class. The Tampa airman came ready to answer the Afghan soldiers’ questions and ended up fielding comments like: “We know you are not here to help us, you’re here to have control in Asia.”

Melting snow revealed the stone outline of a soldier, a tribute to a Soviet-era

Afghanistan is being pelted with alternating snow storms and rain showers according to Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple. Melting snow makes for a messy trek along Afghanistan’s dirt roads but it also revealed a mysterious rock outline of a soldier on a nearby mountainside.

An Afghan National Army 7-ton truck, one of many being tracked by SMSgt. Temple'

This week, Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple focused on accountability when mentoring his Afghan National Army counterparts. Temple worked on a computer keyboard with both English and Dari characters setting up a spreadsheet to help the Afghans keep track of their vehicles.

SMSgt. Rex Temple tries on a fox fur hat at a local Afghan bazaar.

Imagine leading a convoy of 100 new drivers as they navigate 7-ton trucks through the crowded and narrow streets of the capital city of Afghanistan. That was Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple’s most recent mission.

Inside an ANA library that was remodeled and stocked by U.S. forces last fall. N

Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple is working on a literacy program for Afghan National Army soldiers this week despite hearing some bad news about a similar project completed at his former camp.

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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