Friday, May 24, 2013
What does a Mainer do while stuck for a day on an army post in eastern Afghanistan?
Go looking for fellow Mainers, of course.
Cpl. Luis Casanasdelapaz
Meet Cpl. Luis Casanasdelapaz, who grew up in Bangor, now calls Portland home and is a member of Charlie Company, 3rd Special Troops Battalion.
“I’ve got one of the cushier jobs in the military,” said Casanasdelapez, who runs fiber-optic cables throughout Forward Operating Base Salerno to keep the telephones and computer systems functioning properly.
Casanasdelapez sends greetings to his brother-in-law, Tracy Beecher, and his mother-in-law, Pamela Beecher, both of Berwick.
And, of course, to his wife, Heather, who grew up in Berwick and now lives near Charlie Company’s home base of Fort Campbell, Ky.
“I love you and miss you and I’m always thinking of you,” he said to his wife. “ And…well, I’ll just leave it at that.”
What does Casanasdelapez, 26, miss most about Maine?
“The winters, actually. I love the snow. I love cold weather,” he replied. “I’m moving back there as soon as I’m done with my enlistment on Dec. 12, 2011.”
Not that he’s counting the days or anything.
Spc. Devon Perry, 27, was kind enough to interrupt his afternoon sleep (he works nights) to chat about his beloved hometown of Buckfield, where his dad, Stephen Perry, still lives.
“He’s coming to visit me during R&R (rest and recuperation leave) next month, so I’m really stoked about that, really stoked,” Perry said.
Perry, who did a combat tour in Iraq and now serves as a cannon crew member for Alpha Battery, 3rd Battalion, 320nd Field Artillery Regiment, also sends his love to his wife, Jennifer. She grew up in the Aroostook County town of Haynesville and also now lives at Fort Campbell.
Much as he looks forward to seeing them both in Kentucky this summer, Perry can’t wait to finish his tour in January and return home to Buckfield.
What does he miss most?
“I miss just about everything about Maine,” Perry replied with a weary sigh. “I really do.”
Pfc. Garrett Cafarelli
Then there’s Pfc. Garrett Cafarelli, 19, who grew up mostly in Otisfield and this time last year was graduating from Oxford Hills High School.
He’s one of four soldiers detached to FOB Salerno from the Maine Army National Guard’s Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Mountain Infantry – the unit with which I’ll finally be embedding (flight conditions permitting) in the next day or two.
While life here as a tower guard is considerably more comfortable than conditions faced by the rest of Bravo Company at Combat Outpost Dand wa Patan, Cafarelli says he still wishes he was with his guys about 40 miles to the north.
Cafarelli would like to give a shout out to his mother, Margaret Hunter of Lewiston, his older brother, Tracy, serving with the regular Army in Alaska, and his fiancé, Theresa Fitzgerald, who’s holding down the fort with their yellow lab, Brusky, in Harrison.
What does he miss most after eight hours, all on his feet in full body armor, looking out over the arid Afghan landscape?
“The woods,” Cafarelli said wistfully. “I miss the woods.”
Columnist Bill Nemitz is reporting from the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Nemitz left Memorial Day weekend to join the 152 Maine men who make up Maine Army National Guard’s Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry. Bravo Company is part of the 94,000 soldiers currently in Afghanistan.