Thursday, July 24, 2014

One Thing I Miss the Most is Freedom

Jeffrey with friends on a Poker Run
Jeffrey Crayton of Fort Smith, Arkansas has resided and worked in the private sector of Iraq and Afghanistan since 2012.  He has worked overseas as a Rough Terrain Container Handler and Crane Operator.  While he only gets to come home to visit a few times each year, he plans to use some of his off-time to attend the 2014 Bikes, Blues and BBQ Motorcycle Rally.  This could quite possibly earn him the title of 'traveled the farthest to attend', though not all those miles can be traveled by motorcycle, obviously!

"When I first arrived in Iraq, it was a little scary," Jeffrey tells us.  "Baghdad airport was in shambles, bullet holes in the walls and all the scars of the war. The living quarters at first were not what I had expected, 6 men in a 40 foot shipping container.  But that changed after a couple of weeks when I was moved into a wet chu (containerized housing unit) with running water and a/c.  Those were the best living conditions I've had, with a room to myself and internet connection, but mostly I appreciated the shower in the room."

"Of course I miss my wife," states Jeffrey, now married 30 years, "but we do get R&R's every 4 months to travel home or where ever. At first it was hard on Mary with me being gone, but she has grown accustomed to it over the years."

"I would have to say the one thing I miss the most is FREEDOM.  I know that sounds strange, but even though I work on a U.S. Military Base, we are still restricted in what we can do.  There is no leaving base to go get a beer.  Alcohol of any description is prohibited and we must comply with the local laws and customs.  I also miss the Razorback Football and Basketball games!"

Jeffrey's 2008 Harley Rocker-C
"As for what I may have grown fond during my time in Afghanistan," Jeffrey continues, "I would have to say the people that I work with and some of the local nationals I have encountered through my work.  I would also like to mention the great folks that are here in the U.S. Military serving our country, they are the heroes.  They deserve our thanks and recognition for their service and sacrifice, and consideration for the fact that they don't get the R&R we do.  They are the ones to remember."

Jeffrey is currently home on a break for his wife Mary's birthday, whom he calls "Baby".  He will then return back to Arkansas in mid-September to attend the rally.  "I will be riding my 2008 Harley Rocker-C and my buddy, Willy, will be riding my 1987 Kawasaki L-1000," Jeffrey tells us.  "My friend Willy keeps my bikes serviced while I am overseas, keeps them clean and parks them in my MAN-CAVE for safe keeping."

Jeffrey got his first motorcycle in 1975, a brand new Honda CB200T.  He was 14 years old at the time.  He wanted the freedom to be able to go further than he could on a 10-speed bicycle, and faster too.  He's been riding ever since.  Jeffrey enjoys riding the hills and curves, and finds it interesting to explore and see what is new since he's been away overseas.

"It takes about 48 hours to fly back.  Sleep is a big thing when I get home, and spices in food. One thing I can say for sure, it's always fun coming home."  ~ Jeffrey Crayton