Home from Afghanistan

Cpl. Don Pike gears up for new tour of duty

The Compass - - TRINITY SOUTH - BY BUR­TON K. JANES

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.

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