In Kandahar: Dreaming of Egg Creams

A pararescue soldier holding an M4 discusses gear with Phil Scott as the helicopter is loaded.

Pararescue soldier with Phil Scott beside medevac helicopter.

MY BUDDY JET LAG.  YOU CAN’T FLY FROM AFGHANISTAN to Brooklyn without him waiting for you. We took the medevac transport from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to Ramstein, Germany, and from Ramstein to Andrews Air Force Base, where the wounded were carried to Walter Reed by an old white school bus painted with red crosses. Nearly everyone on board the flight had some sort of leg injury. One patient – likely Special Forces because he, like nearly all the Special Forces types I saw at Kandahar and Bagram, wore a beard – was missing his right foot. His left foot was bandaged, and I think he was missing some toes.

Then, alone, I rode an Amtrak train to New York’s Penn Station and took the subway to my home base, Brooklyn. After more than 24 hours of travel carrying 80 pounds of gear on my back, I walked through the front door, up the stairs, dropped the backpack on the floor and kicked off my shoes. I crawled into bed and slept for nearly a day and a half.
 
I’ve reported from nearly 20 countries around the world, and the loneliest place was Thanksgiving in Kandahar. We stood in line for a meal of turkey roll, instant mashed potatoes and deep-fried stuffing balls dished out on a cardboard plate, and then we trekked to a distant hut to listen in to an airman talk to President Obama over the phone. After that a White House aide called the airman’s wife and transferred the call. The airman choked up, and that’s when the loneliness hit me. I missed Brooklyn, its egg creams, its bridges and steeples, its flea markets and food fairs. And I vowed to enjoy all of those in the coming days between my homecoming and Christmas. 
Executive Editor Phil Scott’s latest book is Then & Now: How Airplanes Got This Way.
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Starting here Thursday, December 6

12 Days of Brooklyn

Brooklyn Artisan’s own collection of 

captured views, native tastes and special sips  

that make our borough like nowhere else.

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Comments

  1. Man, think how I feel…I’ve been eating KAF food for 4 years…

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  1. […] the biggest egg cream in town.” Well, maybe it didn’t go quite like that, but Phil Scott’s essay of return from Afghanistan nails that sense of longing for a Brooklyn of dream and legend. The boisterous city of today jostles […]

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