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

The black banner to the right reads “No Democracy – We want just Islam.”

The streets of Kabul, Afghanistan were filled with angry demonstrators and Afghan National Police Sunday. Getting caught up in it all was Tampa airman Rex Temple whom WUSF has been following in our series My Last Tour. He spoke with WUSF yesterday just hours after the encounter.

Temple's ANA counterpart, Command Sergeant Major Quaseem

An Afghan soldier is killed in an ambush. The brother of that soldier suspects something sinister. That brother - also an Afghan soldier - is being mentored by Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple.

SMSgt. Rex Temple on a helicopter, "helo," mission

A bout with the flu didn't keep Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple from his daily missions in Afghanistan. Yet, it did leave him yearning for some of his father's dandelion wine. The MacDill Air Force Base airman talks about the past week as anxiety builds waiting for the Afghan election results.

SMSgt. Temple entertaining orphanage kids

Almost two months have passed and the ballot re-count is still under way in Afghanistan. The delay in election results and the dismissal of a top UN official overseeing the process have Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple concerned.

Kabul orphanage boys dancing without music

Weapons re-training and visiting a Kabul orphanage are two distinctly different missions. Yet, Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple spent the week fulfilling both assignments in Afghanistan.

The volleyball court at Temple's new FOB

It's been almost two weeks since Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple checked in from Afghanistan. That's because he was busy moving. The Tampa airman was relocated to a new, Forward Operating Base.

SMSgt. Temple before the "Queen's Palace"

The Soviet Union waged a 10-year war in Afghanistan leaving behind skeletal remains of burned out tanks and graffiti on palace walls. In our latest conversation with Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple, he describes his journey through those shadowy Soviet remnants of war.

An Afghan school class in June, 2009

In June, Senior Master Sergeant Rex Temple introduced WUSF listeners and his blog readers to a school in eastern Afghanistan. It is in triple sessions because there are too many students. This week, the Tampa airman and some of his teammates started their own school supply drive to help the school.

SMSgt. Rex Temple on his Afghan Election mission

Unlike other regions of Afghanistan, Election Day was mostly uneventful for Senior Master Sergeant Rex Temple and his teammates stationed in the east. Yet as the votes are counted, the Tampa airman worries how the reported "culture of corruption" will affect the outcome.

Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense

The Afghanistan election is only days away. And tension is growing for the people and the troops according to Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Rex Temple. The Tampa airman is checking in with WUSF during his year-long deployment.

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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