FREDERICKTOWN — His kids thought he was on duty with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. Then Kalib Hess, 6, and his sister Kelci, 5, Fredericktown Elementary School students, were hugely surprised when their dad, Staff Sgt. George Hess, showed up at school Wednesday morning on a 15-day furlough.
Hess walked up behind Kalib at lunch in the Fredericktown Elementary School cafeteria and put his hands on his shoulders. The first-grader hugged his dad and looked into his face, followed by close hugs. Hess then was taken to Kelci’s pre-school classroom where the greetings were repeated.
Hess deployed to Afghanistan 18 months ago and the youngsters didn’t expect to see him until later this year. He explained the leave came up when his small unit rotated their leave time.
He outfit is in south east Afghanistan, 7,200-feet up in the remote Afghan mountains and a half-day drive from the Pakistani border. His camp is mostly for training of Afghan soldiers, about 400 at a time. Hess is a 14-year veteran of the Army and a Cavalry Scout with security duty at his post.
When the soldiers leave their post to go for supplies, they travel in a five-truck convoy heavily equipped with machine guns. So far, they have not been ambushed or encountered mines hidden in the roads.
Even at that altitude, the summer temperature can rise to 110 degrees. The post is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and Hess said for a few minutes after sunrise and a few minutes before sunset, it is a beautiful scene.
The location is a long distance from any large United States Army installation. There is no Post Exchange and the amenities are limited. When questioned about the food, their mess is separate from the Afghans, he said with a smile, “It’s all chicken fixed different each day, but still chicken all the time.”
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