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First Impressions of Afghanistan

Heroes Remember

First Impressions of Afghanistan

In 2003 we were security for the new Canadian camp, the base that was being built in Kabul and that was an eye opener. Every place that we went to before everybody was happy that you were there and there were a lot of people that were happy but there were a lot of people that weren’t happy We brought all the vehicles through doing security for the camp and that was my first eye opener that, you see pictures of Afghanistan, like it’s amazing, in the fifties and the sixties, and you could look and maybe that’s probably downtown New York or whatever. Women walking around in skirts, you know, everything was going really well. Everything that happened in that country prior to us showing up, you get there and people are just looking at you. They are making certain hand signals at you. There were some people that just didn’t want us to be there and we got that real quick. And that was an eye opener. And it was hot. It was really hot. No air conditioners. We started with nine hour shifts. We do nine hours security patrol. Nine hours at the front gate and the OP and then nine hours off. So eighteen hour days for four weeks. And if you’re lucky enough you got to sleep at night. If your sleeping time came during the day you never slept because it was just too hot. If we were lucky enough to sleep all night, if we had our nine hours at night, that would be great because you get about six hours sleep and then you’d start patrolling. We’d do security patrols. You’d have guys in the OP and guys at the gate because all we had to do was security for the guys building the camp. That’s what the good stuff about 2003 was and then when all the vehicles started coming in we would help shuttle the vehicles in and then we brought the rest of the battle group into the camp. So it was just looking after the guys making sure the guys were okay.

Mr. Reist speaks about his arrival in Afghanistan and impressions of the country.

Mike Reist

Mr. Mike Reist was born December 18, 1969 in Waterloo, Ontario. Having had a great uncle as a role model, Mike made the choice to join the Canadian Forces, only advising his family of these intentions two weeks prior to attending infantry training. Mike joined with 2 RCR, 2nd Battalion Infantry Division and held rank of warrant officer. Mike has a long record of service overseas - Cyprus 1991, Bosnia 1992,’96, ’99, Africa 2000, Afghanistan 2003, ’07 and Haiti in 2005. Mike had 27½ years of military service. Mike is very proud of his military career and is quoted as saying, “It’s the best thing that ever happened!” Upon medical release, Mike was stricken with PTSD and has become an advocate in speaking out about this condition. He is presently active with the Soldier On program and has competed in the Invictus Games in Toronto 2017 as part of Team Canada’s wheelchair rugby. Mike presently resides in Gagetown, New Brunswick with his wife and family.

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Veterans Affairs Canada
September 29, 2017
Person Interviewed:
Mike Reist
Royal Canadian Regiment
Warrant Officer

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