Wednesday, October 19, 2011

CAMP BONDSTEEL, KOSOVO

From Germany, we headed to Kosovo.  After Ramstein, we knew that we would be roughing it.  For example, our Navy escort Lt. John Phelan, said that we’d need shower shoes (aka flip flops) because the bathrooms were ‘down the hall.’

The Balkans are a beautiful part of Europe.  We had a connection in Slovenia and we landed on a gorgeous sunny day with snow-covered mountains. Postcard perfect. 


How bad could Kosovo be?


One needs to remember the troubles that happened about 15 years ago here.  The region needed NATO forces to tame the problems.  What we didn’t know was that some ‘issues’ had raised its head again.  Our troops (with the help of other nations) were once again keeping things under control.  It was just that we didn’t realize there was anything going on until we got there.

To say that Kosovo is a rough place is like saying Tony Horton is in pretty good shape.  It does not provide a clear picture of reality. 

We arrived to a dreary, raining Kosovo.  As we left the airport, there was barbed wire at the entry gate.  What does that tell you.  The drive to Camp Bondsteel on the main two-lane, no shoulder pot-holed road did wonders for the spine, On the road, the locals didn’t observed us, but just glared.  It wasn’t just a few people, but everyone from old men to young school children.  A bit creepy but we pressed on.

                                      Shawna is just happy to be here.
Camp Bondsteel is the real deal.  The security is very tight, but that actually made us more comfortable.  
We got to our accommodations that were basically a box with a door, 2 to a room.  OK, it took a little getting use to, but come on, we were only going to be here for a couple of nights.  Most of our soldiers are here for 9-12 months.
Tony and Bill in a Box
Rob taking a peek on his way to a leek
The first workout was 7am.  We got to the gym and had a good turn out given the hour.  As we settled in and starting introducing ourselves to the soldiers, they were surprised that we showed up.  Apparently there was not a lot of notice that we were coming because so many other groups cancel their trip  to Camp Bondsteel.  Not Team Horton.  That just made us more determined to connect with our soldiers and get to know them.

They really embraced us.  When word spread that Tony Horton was on sight, some of the soldiers came looking for us.  We had our personal workout and a few of America’s finest came by for a couple of shots.  
Tony Horton Engaging the Core

Jeremy diggin' in

Rob in Flight
Mark Bringin' It
Tony Horton w/ 3 of America's Finest at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo
We also became friends with TFA medivac team.  These men and women are the real deal, flying in to get our wounded and injured soldiers out of harm’s way and back to a first rate medical facility at Bondsteel.  Doc, the flight surgeon, is a brain surgeon from Nebraska – no kidding.  Doc, his pilots and medics, form an outstanding nucleus of dedicated professionals.  They went out of their way to give us a tour of their facility, helos and hangar. Here are some shots:



These next shots are funny as Dreya is trying to get Tony to play along, but hey, the camera is on.


Love the expression on Dreya's face
Tony had a Meet and Greet that went very well and then we went to the dogs. Literally.  We got a tour of the guard dogs and Mark Briggs could not resist getting into the training suit.  Mark served as an Army MP and, I guess, misses being dinner for these well-trained dogs.  He is experienced at this, so we let him go it alone. 

(ah Mark, you may have some thrill-seeking issues. We need to talk bro)

Our last workout at Bondsteel was a packed house.  The top brass on the base participated along with our soldiers.  It was a great experience and as Tony commented later, it was worth it all as it meant so much to everyone that we had come all that way to visit.  In fact, a lot of people said that this was the best attended event at Camp Bondsteel.  

Full House, Kosovo

Tony Horton, Airbourne
DNA removal
We all felt the same way and it was tough to leave the camp.  We even held an unscheduled yoga class the next morning, led by Missy Costello.  It was just what the doctor ordered and it was well attended.  Thanks Missy!  I needed that.



From Kosovo to England, we left the camp for the airport and received the same glares heading back.  No matter.  I have only good memories and a new appreciation of our brave men and women stationed at Camp Bondsteel.  They are doing a great job.  





16 comments:

  1. LOVE! Thanks Bill..this rocks! Missing the crew and all the Naples and Kosovos! (not really)

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  2. Nice blog Bill. Looks like you are getting fitter by the minute. Good life experiences and giving back, I love it!

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  3. Great stuff guys. Thanks for doing this. Means so much to me that you are doing this for our troops.

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  4. Thank you so much for blogging this stuff, I really appreciate all you guys are doing for the troops. I've been stationed in places like this and it gets lonely.

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  5. Bill -- hang in there, your old team mates from ST4 have taken up a collection to send you some shower shoes. Help is on the way ....

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  6. Awesome photos and commentary Bill!

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  7. My respect for one Mr. Tony Horton just went up 100-fold. What a great gesture and a patriotic thing to do!!! Our troops are the best and Tony gave them a treat I'm sure they will never forget.

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  8. Thanks Bill, everyone at MEDEVAC enjoyed your visit, best yet. Great blog and pics.

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  9. Thanks so much for posting the comments, your thoughts and the photographs! Everyone stationed here at Camp Bondsteel are still hyped about the P90X visit!

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  10. Thank you for supporting the troops! It means a lot to me since I was deployed there in 2005. It really does mean a lot when people come out there to give back!!! You guys are awesome!!!!!!!

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  11. Thanks guys. Our troops need and deserve the down time! You guys sharing your time and knowledge with them is awesome!!!

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  12. Thanks for visiting lovely Camp Bondsteel. Really enjoyed yoga with you guys.

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  13. Wow- thanks all for the comments. We can not wait to hit the road again!
    Be Safe. Bill

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  14. was a member of KFOR 8 TF Patriot (yes we were from Boston)in 2007. nice seeing Camp Bondsteel again. Always got a lot of support from the home front. Kinda surprised about the people, they were extremely friendly to us.

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  15. You guys are really doing such a great job.You made us feel free and comfortable in our own country. Kosovars really love you.

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  16. I guess for Americans it's easy to misinterpret the Balkans as threatening people. I, as a Kosovar, can tell you that in 2011, when it says that the blog was written, the situation was very stable, no excesses of any kind, so the remark that you felt "safe" when inside the base was a bit weird for me. It's Kosovo, a country with one of the most friendly attitude towards foreigners, and especially Americans.

    P.S. Not sure how I found myself on this blog.

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