Sgt. Charles Crowley and team repair a 5-inch local sewer pipe at Camp Victory in Heart, Afghanistan. “The local sewer pipe was equal to the SDR pipe used in the States. The only problem is they don’t have any fittings, and you have to heat the pipe to make your bends and fittings,” Crowley says.
We recently traded e-mails with Sgt. Charles Crowley, an Indiana plumbing contractor currently on duty in Afghanistan. He's sent us some great photos, but first, a bit of background: Crowley has had plenty of changes in his life during the past three years. He got married in February 2002 (wife Shannon and step-son Michael live in a subdivision in which Crowley did the plumbing for half the homes; Crowley also has a son who lives in Arizona) and a month later volunteered for a six-month NATO peacekeeping mission to Bosnia. Back home, he started CJS Plumbing & HVAC, Charlestown, Ind., in 2003, only to be called to duty with just 23 days left until he was due to be discharged from the Army. He's since re-enlisted and doesn't expect to be home for another two years.

Sgt. Crowley with two Afghanistan National Army soldiers from the Artillery School at the Kabul Military Training Center. The soldiers were part of Sgt. Crowley’s class he was teaching.
He joined the Army National Guard in 1998 and is currently the chief of the fire direction center for battalion mortars with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion 151st Infantry, Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan.

“My company is the first line of defense for the camp,” he wrote us. “I normally work the night shift. I spend the night watching out of a tower to provide security to the base camp, making sure that everyone is safe.”

Crowley has also gone on joint patrols with the Afghanistan National Army and helped support the country's first elections. Last October, he was assigned to work with an Illinois artillery unit and the Mongolian National Army to help train the Afghan troops how to use a Russian D30 122mm Howitzer.

Sgt. Crowley holding a German H&K Rifle during the German Marksmanship qualification in January 2005. He was awarded the German Schûetzenschnur in Bronze.
“I had to learn how to read the plotting board, a metal board representing a map to mark down where your guns are and where your target is, that was written only in Russian,” he writes.

As you can see from one of the pictures, he hasn't left his plumbing skills at home either. In fact, while on patrol he's met local plumbing supply companies and a manufacturer of hand pumps.

Sgt. Crowley working with the Mongolian Army during his time training the Afghanistan National Army. All the equipment used for training was Russian.
In the meantime, Crowley had to shut down his just-started business. “It was a choice I hated to make, but customers understand why I had to leave,” Crowley writes. “I look forward to getting back to the states to continue my plumbing profession.”