After a very stressful and uncertain week, I am really sad to report that our trip has been called off. The entire scenario was out of our hands, and the way things played out couldn't be helped. Here's the background.
Our flight out was dependent entirely on the Air Force, and ensuring we could secure a plane to get all seven of us and our cargo to Bagram. That having been said, as we were told several times... it ain't like flying commercial. Planes come when they come, and they're used for what is most important - and all of that can change at the drop of a hat.
The original departure date we were given was November 23rd, just before Thanksgiving. A week prior, we were told our flight had been bumped out to December 3rd, give or take a few days. We proceeded with that date in mind, collecting donations, supplies and equipment to make the 3rd deadline. And then last Tuesday, President Obama announced the Afghanistan troop surge, and we were told that our departure was now set for December 8th. Or 9th. Or 10th, at the latest.
While it stretched all of us a bit thin to leave that late, at that point we were all en route, and so invested in the trip that we decided to wait it out, and hope that our flight came earlier rather than later. And then, a few days later, the final word came... planes were needed for people (soldiers) more important than us, and our flight out was bumped to December 18th, at the earliest.
At that point, none of us were able to make the journey. Tucker has certs booked in Japan and New Zealand late in December, which doesn't leave him enough time to make the trip to Afghanistan and return in time to keep his committments. As for the rest of us... we all had jobs that we put on hold for a week, hoping to catch a flight out. To stretch our leaves to the end of the month was simply impossible. So we made the difficult decision to cancel the trip at this time, and try to reschedule our visit for after the New Year, when transportation would be easier.
Here's the good news... the care package we put together (including the TIBs, rings, bands, jump ropes, Paleokits, kettlebell DVDs, coffee and gymnastics supplies) is still heading over to the troops on the 18th. It'll be like a CrossFit Christmas present for the men and women serving away from home, and all of the new soldiers who will soon find their homes at Bagram. The materials are being coordinated by personnel at Fort Bragg and Bagram Air Base, and we'll soon have some pictures and stories to show you. We still plan to publicize our efforts in the CrossFit Journal, and plan to get ourselves in country next year to properly train the 7th Special Forces Group as we originally intended.
To say we are disappointed is an understatement. We all worked so hard, putting in so much effort, to pull this trip and these donations off in a very short period of time. We got SO close to our departure, and to be told at the very last moment that we were unable to complete our mission was devastating for all of us. The worst of it is thinking of the men and women we have to disappoint... those already registered for the cert, and so looking forward to the training. That's the worst part by far. But after the disappointment wore off, we took stock of our efforts, and what we were able to accomplish. We still collected an enormous amount of equipment, supplies and donations, we're still sending them over to the soldiers in time for Christmas. And we'll get back over there as soon as we can, to do what we promised to do. So I'm trying not to be too bummed. I'm still, however, pretty bummed.
The only ray of sunshine in this entire week has been the affiliate tramping we were able to do while waiting to hear about the trip. We held a Whole30 Nutrition Seminar at Potomac CrossFit in Arlington, VA on Friday, and hit our Oly at CrossFit Full Circle with Jason Struck on Saturday. We didn't have time for anything else, but I'll write more later this week about the awesome reception that PCF gave us, and how Struck won the old man division of his BJJ tournament. (It was awesome.) Until then, I'm going to head towards home and send my thoughts and wishes to the men and women at Bagram. I miss them already.