Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Welcome to Everything Croton, a collection of all things Croton--our history, our homes, our issues, our businesses, our schools--in short, EverythingCroton. 

As many of you know, Our Saviour’s Pastor Anthony Stephens is currently serving in Afghanistan.  For those of you who’ve asked, here’s his first official correspondence back to the Our Saviour Lutheran Church congregation--from their newsletter—see below.
The Fobbet

Pastor Anthony Stephens
Despite my best plans, this is the first time for official correspondence. Prayer correspondence, however, has been ongoing as I pray for you by person, and as a church.

Part of the reason for not corresponding on more temporal planes is that there is forever a deluge of training about “information assurance” or IA. This is the caution that service members are required to exercise in disseminating information about operations, even if they could otherwise be Googled.

Part of the intelligence for the D-Day landings was to gather multiple holiday (that is vacation) snaps and build a complete topographical picture of the Normandy beaches. They haven’t told me about any D-Day landings going on in Afghanistan, but in an excess of caution this brief will be a little vague because a) I am in a Signal Battalion where communication security is meant to be our middle name, and b) my predecessor got into some pretty hot water with injudicious use of social media. That said, now for the rest of the news.

Just about six weeks ago I left Westchester and flew to Georgia to be brought up to speed for deployment. As an “individual augmentee” I whizzed through numerous courses on this and that and was issued with an entirely new set of clothing, such that I finally got on the plane with five duffle bags and my ukulele. The Army does not issue ukuleles, but I was hoping to rekindle very ancient guitar skills, and perhaps salvage or at least find some smattering of musical ability. Unfortunately my practice has been thwarted by too many excuses, and not much privacy.

We took one of the scenic routes to Afghanistan on a lengthy flight, or flights. The first thing that I noted about Kandahar upon arriving at the passenger terminal was that it had a telltale aroma. This is the infamous “Pooh Pond.” This is no relationship to Winnie the ..., but a big pond in the center of the post where effluent aerates. It’s better than it used to be, when effluent was incinerated apparently leaving a fecal soot on everything. Aside from the aroma ... sandstorms, floods, hail and nearby earthquakes, Kandahar is actually quite commodious. I have actually enjoyed coming back to it after leaving on 2 or 3 stay away missions.

Kandahar Air Field, or KAF is by no means Afghanistan, any more than West Point is America. Journeys outside “the wire” allow for a little more mingling and observing of Southwest Asian culture and geography. I am by no means at the tip of the spear, or really outside the bale of tight security, but I am not  an intentional “fobbet” or someone who refuses to leave the FOB (forward operating base).

While there are no combat action badges in my future, or probably any others for that matter, I do keep fairly busy now that my parish has grown by 500 or so. I teach, preach, lead worship, counsel just as before –except in MultiCam clothes. I am also the “Commander’s advisor;” the traditional role of a chaplain. Fortunately the Commander is smart and very personable, which makes that job easier.

This morning I ran one of the numerous morale booster 5k races (a lot quicker than my first when I was getting used to the altitude). The theme was “Salute to Civilians” (of whom there are many here at KAF). I certainly do support civilians, particularly those at OSLC, who like those at KAF are indispensible to the mission.

Again, with St. Paul I say, “Every time I think of you, I thank God”.


  1. I second that. Linda

  2. God speed to all who serve. May they come home soon.

  3. Now that's what we in our house call a "mensch".