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Mideast edition, Thursday, May 10, 2007

KABUL, Afghanistan

It was Saturday night and everything seemed all right.

The Greeks were leaving, the Czechs were settling in and everybody else in the NATO enclave at Kabul International Airport appeared buoyant. Some held beers. Some held court. And, despite being clad in military fatigues, some — not the males, the females — even held their own on the dance floor at Air Force One, the primary hangout on the airport compound.

Other gatherings abounded, too.

Across the way, near a small Canadian watering hole, Air Force Maj. Scott Jobe strummed a bass guitar for an ever-changing rock band called The Replacements. Its repertoire ranged from “Sweet Home Chicago” to “Sweet Emotion.”

“Normally, I’m a Pentagon geek,” Jobe said between sets.

At the Kabul airport compound, alcohol is OK, providing people act like, well, adults, which they do, said Royal Air Force Flight Sgt. Ewen Kinghorn.

“You have to be sensible,” Kinghorn said, raising his voice above a Jobe jam, “but it’s nice to have a beer or two and go to bed.”

Besides the Brit, the audience included Belgians, Austrians and Norwegians. Besides a pair of Danish dudes in camouflage shorts, everything seemed all right, that is until the lead singer stopped in midsong to make an announcement.

“We got four mortars inbound,” said American Charlie Holmes, “so if everybody could head for the Hesco (bunkers).”

Alas, it was time to turn out the lights, for the party was definitely over.

Have vases, need address

Usually, when a young woman gives an older man her name and contact information on a slip of paper, he doesn’t lose it.

Well, James Coles did and he would like for her to reach out to him, again. His intentions are entirely honorable, for he has something that she wants, mainly two stone vases purchased at a bazaar in Kabul.

Here’s what happened, though some details are being withheld to ensure the right woman is found.

In March, an Air Force senior airman on temporary duty from Brunssum, Netherlands, took advantage of an opportunity to squeeze in some last-minute shopping near the International Security Assistance Force base in the Afghan capital. A couple of souvenirs she spied were too heavy and bulky to take with her.

Enter Coles.

He and another gentleman struck up a conversation with the young airman as she was pondering her predicament. One thing led to another and Coles volunteered to mail the vases to her. She quickly bought the two items, scribbled a few vitals down on a slip of paper and left to catch her flight.

“Somehow,” Coles explained, “the scrap of paper containing her name and contact information was lost.”

Coles, a civilian contractor, is leaving Afghanistan in about a week and would like to re-establish a link with the young lady. But don’t fret, miss, if you don’t hear about this in a timely fashion. Coles is willing to mail the items to you from the United States.

So, without further ado, here are Coles’ e-mail addresses: james.o.coles@afghan.swa.army.mil; and jcoles9318@hotmail.com.

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