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Unexpected wake up call

By Brian Williams, Anchor and managing editor

I am living inside a containerized shipping box. It's a base housing unit here at Bagram, and it's actually perfect. Small? You betcha. It's tiny, taken up mostly by bunk beds. But it's got all the comforts of (a very tiny) home, and we feel fortunate to have a place to rest our heads and take a shower at an Air Base where they have other things to worry about... aside from where to put the folks visiting from NBC.

During a few hours of down time this afternoon, I quickly fell into a deep, exhaustion-fueled sleep. I was awakened by an explosion. Luckily, I've heard my share (like one every 30 seconds on the third night of the invasion in Bagdhad) and wasn't overly alarmed. I could tell it was some distance away. Only when I got to our workspace tonight was I told it was a "Controlled Det" in military parlance: a detonation conducted by the Army. I apparently slept through the announcement on the P. A. system warning that it was about to happen. Considering the violence in Kabul today, an explosion made perfect sense to me.

It was also a reminder that we are in a war zone.

Then there are the people you meet here in uniform. Like the young lieutenant I met today -- we quickly established the fact that we'd been in Iraq at the same time. Then he re-counted for me his decision to avoid going on patrol with his unit one day, at the height of the fighting, because he had come off a double shift and was too tired. Everyone in his platoon was killed that day.

Then there was the major we met today. Tonight she told me that her 5-year-old son tried to chase her down the jetway when she left for this last deployment, five months ago. She says she video chats with her husband and son once a week. Their system for counting down the days until Mommy comes home? She orders a certain number of custom-printed M&Ms containing messages like "I love you" and "Mommy misses you." Her son is allowed to eat one M&M a day until they're all gone. On the day the M&M bowl is finally empty... well, that's the day when Mommy comes back down that jetway. The major loves her job, and like so many of the people you meet in this God-forsaken valley of rocks and dust and rusting Russian tanks, she says she wouldn't want to be anywhere else. And she means it. She loves her family, and she loves the 82nd Airborne.

You know how they say during the World Series games, "We'd like to welcome all those watching at all U. S. military installations around the world"? It sure is weird to hear them say that while you're sitting on your bunk inside a shipping container at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

I hope you can join us for our broadcasts from here all week.

See Brian Williams' reporting from Afghanistan here. See photos from his trip to Afghanistan here.