By CBS News (March 1, 2012)
As the war in Afghanistan winds down, the U.S. now has the job of shipping out thousands of tons of military equipment. And there’s an American in Riga, Latvia who knows how to get that gear in and out better than anyone else.
Retired Marine Lt. Col. David Holahan is a veteran of conflicts in Iraq and Somalia. He has never been to Afghanistan, but his efforts have made a big difference for U.S. troops serving there.
In 2008, Holahan was assigned to the U.S. embassy in Riga. And by last year – when he retired from military service – he had helped over 30,000 supply crates arriving by boat to get onto rail lines and travel 3,000 miles to the front lines.
These days, the trains traveling toward Afghanistan are helping to supply American troops, but, in the years ahead, it may be those coming back that prove just as crucial to the United States.
Holahan said he thinks Latvia – a reliable NATO ally – will continue to play an important role for the U.S. military as the likely place where much of the equipment used in Afghanistan will come to be staged and cleaned, before being sent home.
Since his retirement from the service, Holahan has made the ancient city of Riga his home and opened up a popular cigar bar. Now, he’s part businessman-about-town, and part local celebrity – meeting with the country’s military leaders, or the DJ on local radio.
So – how’s life as an American in Latvia?
“Ironically, I fit in pretty well,” Holahan said. “I’m from Northern Philly… and the people here are a lot like the people in Philadelphia.”