Home from Afghanistan
Cpl. Don Pike gears up for new tour of duty
Don Pike is a man of few words. When the 27-year-old speaks, his words are precise, cautious and measured, as expected of an air force corporal.
He is currently in Carbonear, having completed his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. His parents, Randy and Daphne, live in the town.
Pike’s recent stint in Afghanistan began in December 2009 and ended in June.
He worked with the Canadian Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Detachment (CHUD) out of Khandahar Air Field. The service is the air force’s “eyes in the sky.”
David Pugliese, writing in the Ottawa Citizen, described the technical aspects of CHUD’s capability as a collector and transmitter of “gyro-stabilized, electrooptical and infrared full-motion imagery.”
Pike’s specific duties included supporting those working with the planes, getting the meals, planning the monthly barbecues and providing between-meal supplement orders.
– Cpl. Don Pike
Cooking and barbecuing outside in 4045-degree temperatures is not necessarily the most enjoyable experience in life.
“ There aren’t any blizzards,” Pike admitted. But there are sandstorms, not to mention snakes, spiders and scorpions.
Unlike the men who worked “outside the wire,” Pike wasn’t in a danger zone on the base.
Still, “ there was always danger just being in the country. You’re always getting rockets come in. But it’s safer than being out in the field.”
Every day afforded new challenges and opportunities.
“ You gotta go with the flow,” Pike said. “ You learn to adjust. You sign on the dotted line, then do what you got to do.”
Perhaps Pike learned his stoic demeanour from his father, a retired military man.
Though modest and unassuming, Pike admits to a sense of pride associated with who he is and what he does.
Apparently other people feel the same way.
On their way back from Afghanistan, Pike and his compatriots sat down to a meal in Toronto Airport.
“Half an hour later, a waitress came over to us and said, ‘Some guy walked by and paid the whole table bill!’ It’s nice being treated like that,” Pike concluded.
Though he’s glad to back on Newfoundland soil, he is also eager to get started on his next tour, this time to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
Father and son, Randy and Don Pike, in uniform.