For one year the voice of retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple brought comfort to the thousands of wives, husbands, parents and children of soldiers in Afghanistan.
Now that voice will be preserved forever in a radio series called “My Last Tour” — in the Library of Congress as part of the Veterans History Project.
The weekly stories with reporter Bobbie O’Brien aired on WUSF 89.7 FM in Tampa, Fla., from May 2009 to April 2010 and gave listeners a glimpse into the life of those serving in a war zone like Afghanistan.
During a speech before fellow veterans, members of Congress and military families, Temple, a native of Rockwood and the son of Raymond and Maxine Temple, Rockwood, talked about how honored he was to have been part of the My Last Tour radio series. He said he was surprised to find out how popular his stories had become.
“At that time I couldn’t fathom the popularity of the series,” he said.
“The visits to my blog (”Afghanistan: My Last Tour”) increased to 700 a day and people would comment and ask questions about Afghanistan,” he said.
Temple said he was grateful that he got the opportunity to tell his story, but said at first he was skeptical about telling it to the media.
“In my previous experiences with journalists, I felt they were either biased and their only focus was on blood and guts,” he said.
He said he felt comfortable with O’Brien. Soon, they were talking weekly about all aspects of life as an airman serving on an embedded training team.
“I didn’t know what to talk about. It was like, OK, we do a lot of boring things,” he said. “Then come to find out it’s those mundane things that really appeal to the audience: how we live, the logistics of a convoy and the people we interact with.”
After 28 years of service, Temple is now retired. He said he’s truly honored to know his stories will live forever archived in the Veterans History Project.