Monday, July 19, 2010


With my impending deployment to Afghanistan approaching and pre-deployment training in full gear, I sat in my office this past week and took a moment to reflect on one of my more enjoyably memorable deployments.

In May of 1999, my unit at the time, Marine Aircraft Group-12 (MAG-12), deployed to Thailand in support of the annual joint, coalition exercise, Cobra Gold (99). It was your run-of-the-mill training evolution. I, as the Embarkation Chief, provided logistics support ("beans, band aids and bullets ") not only to MAG-12 but also to the Royal Thai Air Force and other coalition forces.  Save for the many crazy and drunken nights that Marines are well known for all while tormenting the local tuk tuk drivers who were ever so kind as to take us from one "water hole" to the next - picture six drunken Marines in a tuk tuk clearly made for at least three passengers shifting their weight to one side in order to try and flip it over, the truly memorable part of the deployment was having the opportunity to take time off to actually see Thailand.

Tuk Tuk

Only a few sections within my unit were fortunate to have a dedicated driver and van; mine was one. He drove us from our hotel (billeting was not available on base, so we were provided rooms in a "four star" hotel within the city of Korat) to the Royal Thai Air Force Base and back the entire deployment.  I'm still skeptical of the four star rating, to this day, as our Corpsman prevented us from accessing the pool because the water was unfit for swimming in.

One weekend, our Adjutant who happened to be from Laos and was able to effectively communicate with our driver, convinced him to take a group of us Marines on a site-seeing tour to Bangkok. After a we agreed on a cost, we were on our way.

Enroute to Bangkok, our driver-turned-tour guide made his first stop.  We stopped to ride elephants that took us through local villages and surrounding forest - a first for the entire group.

Another stop took us to an authentic Muy Thai Kick Boxing match.  We were even offered the chance to let off some steam by battling each other in the ring. Unfortunately, we were all too hopped up on adult beverages by this time that the decision to forgo the match was made - probably a good one, in hindsight.

Our final stop before reaching Bangkok was Ayutthaya, Thailand. Never will I, nor perhaps those in the group, ever get to see or experience something like this again. Sure, it was extremely enjoyable at the time, but after reading the insane history on Wikipedia, I've gained such great respect for that portion of the trip.

The entire trip from the hotel to Bangkok and everything in between cost no more than thirty-dollars. We each paid our driver less than twenty dollars.  Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Next stop? Afghanistan.


  1. That's awesome, I don't think you could wish for a better deployment! Great pictures, thanks for sharing!

  2. Be careful over there!
    My brother is probably going in 2011

  3. Thanks folks!! Yeah, this deployment was definitely up there; however, my multiple Australian deployments weren't that bad either (but who wants to hear stories of drunken Marines?).

    Send a thanks from me to your brother for his service, Chris.