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     SEWA WORLD, Part 9: Packing to Afghanistan

    General Dart Topicsthorn writes "THORN: (nervously shouting) Sir, hello, sir! Permission to ask you your name sir!

    JOSEPH: (chuckling) Joseph Kasowski, people just call me ‘Ski’ though… like a ‘ski resort’. And it’s Sergeant Kasowski… I work for a living! (laughing) It’s a big inside joke in the army. You call officers ‘sir’ and they are infamous for sitting behind desks while the enlisted soldiers do the real work.

    T: (still shouting) Sir, nice to meet you, sir! Sir, where are we, sir!?!?

    J: Kandahar, Afghanistan. Also Tarwin Kowt and Qalat, Afghanistan.

    T: (Calming, looking around) Whoa…(whispering) What are you doing playing darts around here?

    J: Well we get marching orders and we follow them!

    T: You mean…(gulping)…there’s no dart tournament going on here? What do you do here?

    J: Flight Medic for the United States ARMY

    T: You mean…this is a war ZONE!?!?! (slapping forehead, shaking head) Man, how embarrassing. I need to read something besides the dart news. And, your job is to fly in and rescue wounded troops in a helicopter?!? Wow. (pausing) Well, I hardly know what to ask now. Uhhh, is there anything you like about being here?

    J: A lot of things. I have a very interesting and exciting job. I have had the chance to work very closely with Canadians, Dutch, and Australians. I love to travel even if it's to a war zone.

    T: (eyes widening) That is so cool, Joe. I love traveling too—best way to learn about life. So, let’s see, your SEWA name is ‘joskibob’, and how long have you been enjoying SEWA?

    J: For about 3 months now

    T: Cool, but you’ve played darts a long time right?

    J: I'm fairly new to darts. I just started about four months ago and started to get serious once I joined SEWA. I enjoy going to the pub... but I don't like just sitting around and drinking. I figured if I took up darts it would give me something to do while I drank pints of Guinness. So you could say that my dart skills are all about improving and not competing.

    T: Oh. I just figured that…well, never mind. I got a buddy that was a soldier—he doesn’t play darts, but when I made him try, he was good! He said it reminded him a lot of his training with rifles, which makes sense really. Well, even though you’re new to the game, do you have any accomplishments you’re proud of, like winning money off a General or hitting a DB with night vision goggles, or something like that?

    J: There isn’t anything that sticks out particularly. It's mostly just little accomplishments I make during my practice regiments. The accuracy drill for Flight School can feel overwhelming in the beginning. I was really happy when I was able hit 10 chosen targets 5 times each in one hour. You know pretty much anytime that I throw the dart and it feels "right" gives me a great sense of accomplishment. Since I have been practicing so much it happens a lot more often now.

    T: Dude, you’re in George Silberzah’s Flight School?! Rad! He’s a famous dart book author! I’m with you on the “right” feeling. I call it the “flow”. So, you hit any Ton80’s yet? Whitehorses? Deadeyes?

    J: Yeah, I was psyched when I threw three darts for three different trips during practice. Haven’t hit a 180 yet, but I have come very close a couple of times. Like a wire lengths close! Just like the 180, I have been very close to hitting a deadeye but always 1 dart away! I guess that’s another thing that keeps me playing.

    T: It’s like a hole in one in golf—you know it’s possible. Well, beyond darts, what do you enjoy?

    J: My best memories are mostly snowboarding memories. Last season I got 4 real good powder days in Whistler, BC. Also already have a lot of great memories with my girlfriend back in NC. Shoot.... also the day that I joined the Army... and the day that I finally made it to where I want to be in the Army—(smiling) a Flight Medic!!!

    T: Awesome! Yeah, British Columbia is gorgeous. I’m from the Pacific Northwest myself. (looking sincerely)Well, as for your job, congrats on reaching your goals, and I know I speak for many—not to mention the soldiers you rescue—that we are all very grateful. Have you had a chance to play darts with anyone else in Afghanistan?

    J: Well, I haven’t sought out a lot of competition. I just play the people in my Company once in a while--(smiling) I wreck them pretty hard now. Mostly I just shoot darts in my room to help me relax and unwind. I purchased my dartboard from the British PX in Kandahar, and purchased the cabinet from the Dutch PX. Once I get back to Kandahar where the big contingency of British soldiers are, I'm going to ask around and find some people to play against. I'm sure they will be able to teach me something also.

    T: Sure, the best players in the world are from England and the Netherlands, Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld! Drop those names on the British and Dutch troops! So, what kind of darts do you use?

    J: Right now I’m using 23g Great Whites with short Unicorn Gripper II nylon shafts. The only flight I use now is the standard Pentathlon.

    T: (gaping, pausing) I see you know your equipment. (muttering, whining inaudibly) I don’t even know what mine are mister played for four months

    J: What was that? I couldn’t hear you.

    T: Oh nothing! Nothing…So, how did you get them? Did you know that SEWA spearheaded a “Darts for the Troops” program?

    J: I purchase almost all my darts supplies from A-ZDarts.Com. They are some really great people and always quick to answer all my questions. They also got my supplies to me within a five day period. That is the fastest anything ships over here. I remember reading something on SEWA about the “Darts For the Troops” program. I was excited to hear that people back home are supporting soldier’s addiction even in warzones (grinning).

    T: Why do you play anyway? Just bored between shifts?

    J: I play darts because it gives me a chance to focus on something other than work. Out here it's constant standby waiting for people to get hurt. You’re always on guard. Focusing on getting a dart in a certain spot on the board helps me shed a lot of that stress. Guitar Hero also seems to help too.

    T: Sweet. Well, tell us little more about your military career.

    J: I have been in the army almost 6 years now. I attended basic at Fort Knox, AIT (where you learn to be a medic) at Fort Sam Houston. Stationed at Fort Hood then deployed with the 1st CAV to south Baghdad for a year as a ground ambulance driver. Got back went to flight medic school, got stationed at Fort Bragg, NC and deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan as a flight medic on board a UH-60 Blackhawk with the 82nd Airborne Division.

    T: I bet you are looking forward to getting home, right?

    J: I am going to go home buy a new car, and cook good food with my girlfriend. Hopefully I will also hook up with some dart people in the Raleigh area and improve my game as much as I can. In March my brother and I are taking a trip up to Fernie, BC to visit a friend that I worked with in Kandahar. My little brother is coming along and we are doing a twelve day snowboarding expo in the Canadian Rockies!

    T: That’s great! Any other dart plans? League maybe?

    J: Hopefully join a club and start competing. I enjoy competing in anything, but I really don’t take anything that serious unless it's life or death.

    T: So, Sgt. Kasowski, what are your future plans?

    JOSEPH: Out here it's best to take things a day at a time. Once my current contract is up I hope to move to Calgary, Alberta for a couple years and do civilian air evacuations. After that, who knows? Life’s too short to look to far ahead.

    THORN: (shaking hands) Sir, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Keep up the good work.

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