Christmas 2010: Home from My Last Tour

SMSgt. Rex Temple stands before a gutted presidental palace outside Kabul, Afghanistan.

Sitting in a tent alone in Kuwait – away from family – away from his Air Force buddies in Afghanistan – that is how Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple spent Christmas 2009.

A snow storm and lost luggage prevented Temple last year from making it back to Afghanistan for Christmas. This year, he’ll celebrate with his wife and family at his home in Tampa.

“When I joined the military, initially because I didn’t have any rank, the NCOs(Non-Commissioned Officers) that out ranked me said ‘Well, we’re going to go home for Christmas, you’re going to stay behind,’” Temple said. “Then when I got promoted to be an NCO, I thought about that. And, I wanted to ensure that my troops were home for Christmas. So, I stayed behind and that’s kind of continued.”

Temple and his wife, Liisa, April 22, 2010, the day of his return after a year in Afghanistan.

Temple hasn’t been back to his parent’s home for Christmas for 25 years. He’s promised him mother he’ll be there in 2011 after he retires this spring.

WUSF’s series My Last Tour followed Temple during his yearlong deployment in Afghanistan as part of an Embedded Training Team. Temple’s team was made up of 10 airmen who trained and worked with the Army and Marines to train Afghan National Army troops and provide logistics.

His team went on more than 180 combat missions during their deployment from May 2009 to April 2010. Temple and the team returned together April 22, 2010.

Temple’s blog: Afghanistan: My Last Tour detailed his year “in country” and still averages hundreds of views daily despite his return almost eight months ago and no new entries since.

“It kind of ends a chapter in my life with returning home,” Temple explained. “It kind of still shocks me that 500 to 700 people a day still visit the site. I think they’re still using it for historical purposes. They’re interested in the places I traveled to some of the people I met, the culture and the customs there.”

Temple is back at MacDill Air Force Base and planning for his retirement this spring.

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