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Stanton's Journey to Afghanistan

Welcome to my travel page; I hope this to be a great way to communicate and update everyone on what is going on in my life while away in Afghanistan. Please leave a comment/message and I will reply to it as soon as I am able.

Diary Entries

Wednesday, 05 December 2007

Location: HOME, USA

I finally arrived home last night about 6 p.m. As sad as it was leaving Jodie and Christine at the airport on Memorial Day, it was just as wonderful seeing them as I got off the plane last night!
This will probably be the final posting I do, so, again, thank you so very much for all of your love and support for all of us during these past few months - we can't even begin to express how deeply touched we have all been by it.
Above all, I praise God I am home safely with a healthy and loving family to be with again.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Location: Naval Station Norfolk, VA, USA

Finally back in the United States! It is so good to be back here; I am so thankful to be here. Thank you all so much for your support, love, and encouragement over the past six months - I appreciate it so very, very much. Thank you. It has certainly been an intersting and extreme past six months and I look forward to sharing my stories with many of you who have been keeping up with my journey. More importantly, I look forward to your stories of what you have done.
Most importantly, though, I am so thankful to be home in safety, good health, and soon to be with my family. I am grateful to the Lord for His protection over me and my comrades as well as my family.
It is hard to summarize my feelings and experiences over this time, but suffice it to say, I am glad and proud to have served both our great country as well as the people of Afghanistan. It is truly an honor.
What a great greeting and welcome as well, we all received at Baltimore-Washington Airport - as we came out of customs there were about fifty people - high school students and their parents, as well as Veterans from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam there cheering us on, shaking our hands, and greeting us to say thank you. What a different welcome we received than some of those same Veterans coming home from Vietnam. I am thankful for the resolve of the American people and their continued support of us.
I will try to make one more entry when I am finally home - it is hard to even think that I am almost there.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Location: Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany

One major portion of travel down - I am in Germany! Greatest news, though, was the birth of my new nephew, Wyatt Matthew Stanton, born yesterday. Congratulations to my brother and sister-in-law - very excited for you all and look forward to meeting Wyatt soon!

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Location: Camp Arifjan, Kuwait

Not too much longer now - it is hard to believe I am almost home! What an experience this has been. I am so thankful for being allowed to serve, but more so to be on my way back to my family.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Location: Camp Arifjan, Kuwait

Not much longer now until that wonderful flight home! We all got to dump our gear - four seabags worth of material, extra uniforms, body armor, helmets, etc..., and our weapons today. What a great feeling - it truly feels as though we are headed home now. Down to one bag - after carrying four to five everywhere on the way over!

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Location: Camp Arifjan, Kuwait

Just a short entry here to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving! I hope it is a wonderful time for you all and, as we now enter the holiday season and Christmas is just over a month away, I am excited that I will be home to celebrate with my family!
Above all, let us take time today and every day, to be thankful for what God has provided us and how He has so blessed our land. I can say firsthand now that I have witnessed and seen the poverty and desperation of a land ravaged by warfare and, amidst my compassion, I am thankful, ever-so-thankful for the blessings we take for granted each day.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Location: Ali Al Saleem Air Base, Kuwait

I am in Kuwait - the first leg of the journey home! Getting excited, but still a couple of weeks to go.
It was odd leaving Camp Eggers for the last time this morning - it has been my home for the past few months, so it was a bit nostalgic looking at everything and saying goodbye to everyone for the last time. It was great to be there, but I am so looking forward to heading home!!!
Happy Thanksgiving to all - I certainly know what I am thankful for!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Location: Kabul, Afghanistan

Just a note reflecting on my time here in Kabul. So many stories, so many memories, and so many blessings. I am so thankful for the work I have been able to do here and so thankful that, despite missing my family, friends, and students, that God put me here at this time to work His will in my life at this time. At many times, it has been surreal here and there are many things I will miss - certainly the friends I have made - American, Afghan, and Coalition; I will miss having to put on body armor, helmet, loaded weapon, and do a convoy brief just to drive about 2 kilometers (maybe when I get home, I will have Jodie follow me in her car and we can drive in a convoy to the grocery store).
I will miss the two instructors at the school our department advises - these are men who are truly sacrificing for their country and are here for the longhaul and I am proud to call them friends of mine.
I am thankful for the church community I have been blessed with here at Camp Eggers and the way God has helped me to grow in many ways.
I will miss many people here on post and ask for everyone to continue to pray for my comrades who will remain here. I know now, firsthand, that we are doing good work for our fellow citizens back home and for the proud people of Afghanistan.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Location: Kabul, Afghanistan

Not too much time left here in beautiful Kabul. It is getting exciting, but odd all at the same time. As I pass off most of my duties, I feel as though I am quitting a job. I said goodbye to some of my Afghan colleagues who have truly become my friends over the past few months; it was bittersweet, as they have done so much and worked so hard for their country, it is sad to leave them, but I am happy and excited to be going home my own country - a place I will never take for granted.
On a side note, I know several of my students have tried to email me quite a bit and I wanted to let them know that I have emailed them all back, but have been having problems with the internet connection over here - not quite sure what the issue is right now, but I wanted to make sure they knew I wasn't forgetting them or ignoring them.
More before I leave...

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Location: Kabul, Afghanistan

Typically on Veteran's Day, I would be at school making an announcement over our closed sicruit TV channel to remind my students about the importance of honoring the millions who have worn the uniform of the United States.
How fitting, though, for me to be in a distant land remembering all who have sacrificed so much so that we can live in a free country. As I looked around at all the men and women in uniform, I thought how blessed our nation is to have so many willing to answer the call to leave their families and face danger. I know so many of them do this as their primary job and have been deployed three and four times to Iraq and Afghanistan; I am honored to serve with them.
Certainly on a more sobering note, the names of the twenty-two members of Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan who have paid the ultimate sacrifice were read and a single bell tolled for each name, followed by a 21-gun Salute and the sounding of Taps.
To all our country's veterans and their families, from everyone here in Afghanistan, we thank you so very much for your sacrifice and for your provisions for our freedom. You are in our thoughts and prayers especially on this day.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Location: Afghanistan

Well, I have started boxing things up and shipping them home and will soon start on my outprocessing checklist. What an odd feeling this is - it almost feels as though I am quitting a job and have put in my notice. Hard to believe.
Looking forward to seeing everyone soon; just in case anyone was thinking of that last minute care package, please don't worry about it, as I will be gone before it gets here!
Thank you all for the great care packages over the past few months, though - we all here at my shop enjoyed them!
More soon...

Wednesday, 07 November 2007

Location: Kabul, Afghanistan

It is certainly getting closer to when I get to leave. Let's see, I have now had my farewell party and my awards ceremony. It is very exciting. Within a month, if everything works out the way I hope it will, I should be in my home!
It has been a wonderful time and I am very proud of my service and that of my comrades.

Friday, 02 November 2007

Location: Kabul, Afghanistan

It's November - yes! I am looking at the set of calendars I have up by my desk - I have gone through part of June and all of July, August, September, and October - all here. It has been since the end of May that I have seen my family. In many ways, time has gone by very quickly, busy as we all are here, but in missing family, it has gone slowly at times. Now, the trick is to get through the next month staying focused on work and all the medical and administrative times of demobilization and not spend every moment imagining getting off the plane in Detroit.
As I think I have mentioned here before, we often count time by Fridays and bazaars - and I don't have that many left at all - it is really hard to believe!
I got a note from one of my students that several have sent me emails - I assume to my school email. I apologize - I am having some problems accessing my school email. There are a few students from my old French 4 class who have my Navy email.
I hope everyone back home is well. Michigan vs. Michigan State this weekend! I have a State fan here in the office - a pizza from the Italian pizza place at ISAF HQ (base down the road) is up for grabs!
Looking very forward to seeing everyone soon!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Location: Kabul, Afghanistan

I finally got the chance to run a race here - the camp has tried to organize one before, but not enough people signed up, so it fell through. Well, today was the day - a 5K here on scenic Camp Eggers. The camp, as I may have described before, is rather small so the route turned a bit and the race was basically five laps around the camp. First, let me say that there were about 40 people who ran the race and with the altitude here (we are at just about 5,300 feet above sea level), I am sad to announce that I didn't win, but I also didn't finish last. My times were much better than on the treadmill over the last week, despite the altitude, because I ran with my Boss, so, though the shin splints were killing me, I wasn't giving up in front of the man who is about to write my Fitness Report!
All in all, it was a good time. Sadly, no t-shirt to commemorate the run, but pictures will be posted soon.
Hope everyone is doing well back home - almost time for me to start the long trip home - hard to believe. On that note, my students should start getting ready - no promises to be back before Christmas, but who knows?

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Location: Kabul, Afghanistan

The days are growing much shorter (sunset at about 5:00 pm) and there is actually a chill in the air, at least in the mornings and late evenings - it must be Fall. What leaves on the few trees we have - the Soviets and Taliban cut most of them down over the past twenty years - are actually changing colors. Waiting to see if there is any snow on the mountains - soon enough, I think.
With the onset of Fall (I know it happened much sooner back home), comes preparations for winter. The winter season here is an interesting one, I hear. A lot of snow in the northern portions of the country, but it remains unseasonably warm down in the south. I will be curious whether it snows here in Kabul before I leave.
I emailed a few people with pictures from my going away party and I guess I got everyone all excited I was coming home early - sorry. We had the lunch this past Friday just because it was one of the few times of getting everyone together. It was very nice and I look forward to putting the case with the US Flag that my colleagues sent me in my classroom. The gift of that case and Flag, flown here on September 11 was given expressley so that I would put it in my classroom to remind my students of those who are still serving; I look forward to sharing with them all the wonderful things that are going on here.
I do hope everyone back home is doing well and enjoying Fall in Michigan - I know how beautiful it is there at this time of year. Hopefully, I can see some of it and not transition right to shoveling snow.
More later...

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Location: Kabul, Afghanistan

It is amazing, at least from here, how quickly the weeks are flying by. Only two days left in this week and it seems as though it was just Friday a few moments ago. This is a great sign, as I thought the time would drag in my short time left here - it is good to know it is still going hard and fast.
As updates from here, I start my newest "adventure" today in pursuing my Educational Specialist's Degree - I am taking an online program of study that should take about a year and a half or so to complete. I am excited, but the work already looks challenging - each class is roughly eight weeks long and there is a four-page paper with each week. What a wonderful show my students how a four page paper is not altogether that big of a deal when I assign them one - they would have about 2-3 weeks to complete it!
News from home is good as well. I think Christine was going to go to the zoo this week sometime - I know she will love it and she is going to have a blast at Halloween (though I can't quite remember what she is going to be). Jodie is doing well also - I am so amazed and proud of everything she has accomplished while I have been gone - it is staggering how strong she is and how she has dealt with so many things. I am so blessed to be her husband.
I hope everyone else is doing well back home - I look very forward to seeing you all in the near future.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Location: Kabul, Afghanistan

Another week down - and a quick one here. I am looking forward to leaving sometime in the next month and a half. I have heard a couple or rumors from my students and colleagues back home of when I would return to teaching - some of them even had exact dates. I wish I could tell you my plans and exact dates, but I won't be able to until I return to the States - I can't even tell my wife the exact dates. Security of our movements is rather important - we don't want to advertise to the enemy when we are to go out. Even mentioning that I would be back at school at a certain date, our enemy is smart enough that they know how a great deal of our timing and processes work and would be able to narrow down when I might leave here. So, as much as I would love to say exactly when I will be back, I am sure everyone understands the precautions.
When I get back to the States, I should have a much better idea of all of that.
I do hope everyone is having a great Fall - I hear the leaves are changing and Michigan is looking as great as it always does this time of year.
I trust my students are all working hard and have adjusted to the seven-period day by now (hope my colleagues have also!).
More later...

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Location: Kabul, Afghanistan

"Resolved, That a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionable number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible despatch, for a cruise of three months, and that the commander be instructed to cruize eastward, for intercepting such transports as may be laden with warlike stores and other supplies for our enemies, and for such other purposes as the Congress shall direct. That a Committee of three be appointed to prepare an estimate of the expence, and lay the same before the Congress, and to contract with proper persons to fit out the vessel. Resolved, that another vessel be fitted out for the same purposes, and that the said committee report their opinion of a proper vessel, and also an estimate of the expence."

With those words on October 13, 1775, the Continenatl Congress created the Continental Navy. All together, the Continental Navy numbered some fifty ships over the course of the Revolution, with approximately twenty warships active at its maximum strength.
Today, here in Afghanistan, the Navy has roughly 800 Sailors serving (and without water within 700 miles - very odd for many), but we are a Service that adapts and thinks "outside the box" focused on our mission - wherever it may take us.
To my Shipmates around the globe, Happy Birthday.

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Recent Messages

From David
What an amazing journey...serving your country and your God with passion and skill. You are a true blessing!

Welcome home!
Response: Thanks, Dave. Hope you are all well at SCS. Merry Christmas!
From Ellen Stanton
Welcome home...
From Matt Pease
hey cant waiit to see you in the weight room haha
Response: I need to get back in there - just been running a lot recently - no weights for a while.
From Ashley Zetouna
Hey Stantino,
I've been enjoying following along your blog the past few months, and I am so excited now to hear that you are coming home soon! We all missed you so much and I am so eager to hear all of your stories when you get back. I'm sure they will be very entertaining! May God bring you home safe and I hope to see you soon-
Response: Thanks, Ashley. See you all soon.
From Peggy
God's Speed on your Journey Home. Looking forward to all your stories.
Response: Looking forward to sharing them!
From Melody
Hi, My son is on his way to replace you. Maybe you will meet on the way home. I have been reading your blog and have enjoyed it. Fair Winds and Fallowing Seas.
Response: Hi. I know he will do well and will have a safe and very rewarding tour.
From Bob
Look on the bright side, things haven't changed much since you left. Detroit is still the most dangerous city in America. Happy Thanksgiving!!
We love and miss you.
Response: Thanks, Bob. I was going to ask the Navy if I could keep my body armor for when I drive downtown. Happy Thanksgiving!
From Ellen
As the time at Camp Eggers in concluding, know that we're all proud of the work you've done for your country and the people of Afghanistan. We'll all be so happy to see you when you come home!Please call as soon as you reach the USA!
All our love,
Mel, Marianne and Cate
Response: Thanks - I will call as soon as I can. See you "soon".
From Jodie
I didn't know you liked Thai food, how was it? So what kinds of food do you want me to make you when you get home? I'll start preparing...
love you
Response: Pretty decent, for Thai food in Kabul, Afghanistan. Anything home-cooked (without tomatoes, of course!) would taste divine right now!
From Kayla Ridge
Hey Mr. Stanton!
It seems like it's been forever since I've stopped by your site. Sorry bout that.

I can't wait for the time you come home! None of us can.
So I hope you'll be ready for a sweet welcome home!

I don't have too much to say really, just that I've really missed you and I look forward to your return.

From your favorite french (now) 3 student,
Ridgey Ridge.
Response: Kayla,
Thanks - I am looking forward to being back soon as well.
From Renee Coulter
Mr. Stanton,
I was just having a discusion about the best teachers we have had with my room mate and i thought of you. I'm glad to hear that your coming home soon, and cant wait to inturpt one of your classes to visit you. Have a safe trip home.
and Happy Veteran's Day, sorry its late, but thank you.
Renee Coulter
Response: Renee,
Thanks for the note and the kudos, though I am not sure I am the "best" teacher - I have been blessed to have great students.
From Shelby Jacobs
Mr. Stanton
I wanted to say thank you for serving again and Happy Veterans day though i am a bit late. Anyhow, I cannot believe you are almost finished with your tour! It hit me today how bummed I am I won't be in your class the day you get back to tell all your stories!!

Hope you are well!
God bless you and your family!
Response: Shelby,
Thanks - I hope your year is going well at college so far. Stop back and visit us when you get a chance.
From Sarah Fraser
Mr. Stanton ~

My dad served in the army in the Vietnam War, and he taught my brother and I to show respect due our service men and women. I was frequently reminded of the sacrifices paid to live in a land of such prosperity, security, and freedom. I can remember sitting in your classroom, several years ago, hearing your admonishments that echoed my dad's. In less than a month one of my closer friends from college will be deployed for a tour in Iraq as an army chaplain. He will be serving for 400 days, as far as we know at present. As I think of you, my college friend, and my dad, and all the admonishments to honor those who serve and have served our country in the armed forces, I cannot help but pass those sentiments along to the students I work with now. I'm honored to know you, and I thank you for the sacrifices you made to serve in Afghanistan.

Stay safe! Come home soon! Know that you, your comrades, and your family are in my prayers.

Be blessed,
Sarah :)
Response: Sarah, thank you so much for your note. Your friend, as an Army Chaplain serves such a crucial role - to be a spiritual advisor to the troops under his care - no other job quite like it.
From Jenni Halterman
Hi Dave, Just got your blog site. Thanks for your willingness to serve your country. I know its your heart, not just your duty. So, thanks. I will read some to try to catch up on all you've done and learned. May God bless you! Jenni
Response: Thanks, Jenni - hope you, John, and all the kids are doing well.
From J.D. Noland
Happy Veteran's Day Mr. Stanton. I couldn't help but remember the speeches you have given every Veteran's Day and I was filled with a great deal of pride knowing that I have had you as a teacher and knowing everything the men and women of our military have sacrificed to keep us safe. Thanks to you and all those who serve with you. Hope you have a safe return home.
Response: Thanks, J.D. It is our pride to serve.
From Matt Pease
Hey mr.Stanton it's been a while since we've talked i just wanted to say that im really proud and i can't wait to see you home!
Response: Thanks, Matt. I am certainly looking forward to it as well!
From Peggy
So glad your tour is coming to an end and you will soon be home with Jodie and Christine, and ready to get back to WLN. Today being Veterans Day, I was thinking of you and allyour comrades who sacrifice family and home to protect and defend us. THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU!!! Stay Safe See You Soon. Pegtgy
Response: Thank you, Peggy - we all do appreciate your support.
From Dad
Happy Veteran's day,Hope all is going well ,Will talk to you soon. Not to long now for your flight on the freedom bird to come home.Have a safe journey.
Love Ya
Response: Thanks, Dad. Happy Veteran's Day to you as well - thank you for all you did serving for us all.
From Ellen
At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11 month this morning, I said a prayer for you and your safe return home. We honored all of you this morning at St. Jude Church and the Mass was said in honor of all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice so that we may live in freedom. And hopefully one day in world peace!
We're all so proud of you.
Looking forward to seeing you soon!
Mel, Marianne and Cate
Response: Thank you all. It was very unique to honor our veterans togethe with all of our Coalition partners on their Remembrance Day.
From Betty
Was doing my sunday morning check in with you to see how things are going for you> I know your family can't wait to see you, Like your brother said be careful!! Maybe I will get to see you when you are in town to see your family
Response: That would be great. Thanks for all of your support.
From Mike Borders
Happy Veteran's Day Mr. Stanton, hope everything is going alright over there. I just wanted to thank you for fighting for our freedom and hopefully the Lions can pull off another win today. Talk to you soon.
Response: Thanks, Mike. I hope school is going well for you so far this year - looking forward to seeing you all.
From Matt

Look forward to having you home, cant wait!!
Hopefully you will be home in time to see you nephew/niece right after he/she is born, or at least some pictures right away!!

Take care of yourself, and please be extra careful, you only have a little time left. And try not to get sick on the plane ride back, I know how those military flights can be.
Response: Thanks - I hope it works out that way with seeing my new niece/nephew!
Too late about not getting sick - came down with the "Camp Eggers Crud" about two days ago or so - went to Medical, but I think I have it knocked out for the most part. Now I get my next anthrax vaccination this week, which should have "wonderful" side effects to, but I will take being sick so I can go home soon!
Hope Melanie is feeling well!
From Ellen
We can't wait!
Love you so much and again, can't wait to see you!
All our love, Mel, Marianne and Cate!
Response: Thanks, as always.
From Ellen
Counting the days!
We're proud of you and the sacrifices you've made for your country! We're eagerly awaiting your return!
Response: Thanks.
From J.D. Noland
Hey Mr. Stanton just thought i'd drop by to see how you were doing, i just made it back to Northern for the first time since i left and it was wierd not seeing you there. Just thought i'd let you know even though you probably already heard that your Navy beat Notre Dame for the first time in 43 years, and the lions for once may actually have a winning record, 6-2 and counting hopefully they will still be winning when you get back so you will be able to enjoy it. Hope you come home soon. J.D.
Response: Thanks, J.D. I bet it was weird going back, but I am sure you enjoyed it also.
I just watched the replay of the 2nd and 3rd overtimes of the Navy-Notre Dame game an hour ago while I was working out - it was fantastic. I am trying, also, not to think too much about the Lions - it seems almost to good to be true!
Hope college is going well for you still.