A thirteen-hour flight from Washington to Dubai, an eight-hour layover in Dubai and then a final three-hour flight to Kabul left us jetlagged and exhausted.
On Monday morning local time we checked into transient housing waiting for a Tuesday evening flight downrange. The housing isn’t bad – an insulated tent on a poured cement floor, 10 bunk beds with mattresses, and air conditioning. A shower and toilet trailer is less than 50 feet away. The air conditioning was superfluous. It was 63 degrees and raining.
One of the guys staying in our tent was Capt. David Fabricius, 47, a National Guardsman from North Rupert, Vermont.
“Did you know Tom Stone?” I asked.
Fabricius looked surprised at the question and the other Vermont Guardsmen in the tent gathered around.
“We all knew Stoney,” Fabricius said. “He was a helluva guy. Did you know him?”
“I knew his brother Dana,” I said. “We were pals in Vietnam.”
Here’s the story.
Dana and I were both young freelance photographers in Vietnam. In 1970 Dana and Sean Flynn, another photographer and son of movie star Errol Flynn, disappeared in Cambodia. They’ve never been seen since.
Tom, Dana’s younger brother, joined the army the next year, serving in the 82nd Airborne. He got out and literally wandered the world, mostly on foot, for eight years years from 1992 to 2000. In 2003 he joined the National Guard, the same unit as the guys in our tent. In 2006, on his third tour as a medic in Afghanistan, Tom was killed by friendly fire. He was 52.
Fabricius said Tom and Dana have a niece, Mariah, who’s also serving in Afghanistan. It’s unlikely we’ll get to meet her but it’s an awfully small world. Maybe I’ll get to tell her stories about uncle Dana.