Calais High School
Class of 2006
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Andrew O'Brien. CALAIS – You can telephone Andrew O’Brien, suggest getting together for an interview at Dunkin Donuts and he says: "Sounds okay to me." You meet, sit and talk, nobody interrupts and it is almost like having a coffee with your next door neighbor. Except that it is not. Andrew O’Brien is not only a veteran, he is a warrior and will return to Kabul, Afghanistan, at the end of the week. With Veterans’ Day coming on Thursday, talking to this very nice, handsome, self-possessed soldier is quite an experience. Specialist Andrew O’Brien, 22, is with the Army National Guard. Although home is with his grandparents, Mary Ann and Gilbert O’Brien, who live on Steamboat Street, he is currently stationed at Kabul in Afghanistan. He is just completing a short vacation (15 days) in Maine and is about to return to a war zone. "When I was a kid, I always played Army and when the time came to do something more, I did," he says with a grin. "It will be six years in April that I joined the Maine National Guard at the age of 17." He graduated from Calais High School in 2006 and then went to Eastern Maine Community College to take welding. "Now, I am with a unit that is in charge of base protection in Kabul," he says. "We run multiple patrols as well. We are out fairly often and are on a set schedule of 12 hours on and 12 hours off. It is what it is." O’Brien says army life in fairly basic. "We work, try to get some sleep, go to the gym but pretty much stay at the base. "I can tell you that traffic in Kabul is like it is in Boston or New York, always busy. We do get to talk to some of the nationals but not a lot. "I do enjoy being home but what will happen in the future is still up in the air. There are so many things I want to do, so many things I would like to try. "My dream, however, is to become a skier. I love that. In fact, I tell people I want to be a ski bum." He talks a bit about going West and doing helicopter-skiing, but also says there are many things he would like to try. "I want to walk, to hike, to travel, maybe take a couple of years before deciding to settle down. While home on leave Andrew attended the wedding of his cousin, Cory McIver, who is also in the Maine National Guard, the only other person he knows in the Calais area who is stationed in Afghanistan. "You know, being in the Army National Guard is so much different today than it was in previous times. For example, I can go to the USO, pick up a telephone and dial a Calais number and get connected immediately. We get mail more frequently, have the Internet. "As well, I have buddies. There are 18 young men in my squad. We do things together, have fun together. "People are good to us. The Army has come a long way and also offers good programs. "As for other things, it is all about how you let it affect you." "I would not change what I have done, but after this, I want to try something new." [Calais Advertiser by Carol-Ann Nicholson]
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