KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - At 3am EST, The Alternative Press of West Essex received a very special letter from Private First Class Matthew O’Hern of West Caldwell. Here it is in its entirety:
To the West Essex TAP:
I would love to share a little about what I do!
It is motivating to be reminded that people at home care, and motivation is key around here!
I am a military police soldier (31b) deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan with the 508th Military Police Company out of Teaneck, NJ. Unfortunately, due to security reasons, I can’t put out my exact location.
We are on a 9 month “boots on ground” deployment. This means that once we hit Afghanistan soil on September 4, 2012 at 14:52 we started our 9 month tour. Overall, the deployment is going well so far. Some days are better than others.
I work a 12 hour shift, seven days a week, with no days off. I usually work the night shift, however sometimes I will rotate to the day. It is often hard to stay in touch with home due to the 8.5 hour time difference and limited Wi-Fi.
I work with a squad including nine other soldiers and three K-9’s - two of which are explosive dogs and one narcotic. We use the K-9’s daily to do sweeps of routs we will use for a mission, inspect high risk areas and for regular daily patrols outside the wire.
When my squad is not out on a mission, we work at an Entry Control Point. This is where we do a full body search and background check of any individual trying to get through our area of operation. This would compare to a “seatbelt check” back in Caldwell.
I am also enrolled in full-time online college courses while over here. I didn’t want the deployment to interrupt my education. It is a lot of work and often leaves me with limited sleep but I know it will all pay off. I have hopes of finding a local law enforcement job when I return to the states. I also look forward to returning as a member of West Caldwell Fire Department and West Essex First Aid Squad.
As hard as it is to be away from family and friends back home, I really do enjoy what I am doing over here. It is a great experience and it feels great to say I am defending the best country out there!
I miss my younger brother Patrick. He's 16 yrs. old and I look forward to returning back home with him. I consider him more than my brother, but my best friend.
Again, thank you for your support!
508th MP CSC PLT 1
USFOR-A NKC, Afghanistan
APO, AE 09356