Freemasonry in Afghanistan - Swisher Lodge
Swisher Lodge U.D. Operational in
By W.B. Patrick Barger, Personal Representative of the Grand Master
Nebraska Masonry is Alive and Well...in Afghanistan! The travelling men of
Nebraska Freemasonry flew that well-known pseudonym to renewed heights in the
last few weeks. Swisher Lodge Under Dispensation was open once again in the
war-torn country of Afghanistan, half-way around the globe. Acting under
dispensation from Most Worshipful Brother Bruce A. Baker, Swisher Lodge opened
its doors in Kabul, Afghanistan in early December 2011. The Grand Lodge of
Nebraska shipped the famous "Swisher Kit" containing all tools and accessories
necessary to conduct a lodge communication to me and all items were put to good
As you know, Swisher Lodge was named after Bro. (SSG) Christopher Swisher of
Lincoln Lodge No. 19, killed in Iraq in 2003. Everything we do is dedicated to
This lodge formed and I was installed Worshipful Master, WB Ritchie Inns of
Cotner Lodge No. 297 as Senior Warden, and Brother Blair Talley of Lancaster
Lodge No. 54 as Junior Warden. It was nice to have the top three officers of
this lodge be Nebraska Masons, as all three of us are currently stationed at
various locations across Afghanistan. The three of us extend our Masonic
greetings to all of you.
The lodge currently has fifteen members hailing from all corners of the earth.
Besides Nebraska, the Phillipines, Nova Scotia, Texas, Virginia, Germany,
Washington, Colorado, and South Dakota are represented.
Since the lodge was formed, we initiated and passed Brother Phil Holguin, a
retired Command Sergeant Major and Army Ranger in the U.S. Army. As the lodge
continues to grow in numbers, we hope to have enough members to perform the
entire Master Mason degree for him. We were very fortunate to have WB Ritchie
Inns in attendance on the evening of the Fellow Craft degree, as he delivers a
flawless rendition of the Middle Chamber lecture, as many of you already know.
Without Ritchie present to do that, we could not have performed the degree.
This, however, is the first time he has delivered the lecture using pictures of the staircase, pillars, and orders of architecture printed on cardstock (there isn't room in the Swisher Kit to roll up a twenty-foot long canvas or two 18
cubit-high pillars). An ammunition box with a towel on top served as the kneeler
for the candidate, and a wooden stand used to hang our Individual Body Armor and
helmet served as the square that supporte d his left elbow. Three more of these
stands served as the pedestals for the top three officers as well. Brother Phil
Holguin is pictured in the center with WB Patrick Barger on his left and WB
Ritchie Inns on his right. Bro. John Gruehl of Virginia is on the far left and
Bro. Mark Buechler from South Dakota is on the far right.
I am pleased to report that we have a number of people stationed here who are
interested in joining Masonry. Perhaps it is true that many (if not most) of
them will return to their homes and join local lodges. No matter our very
existence in Afghanistan is evidence that Masonry is a worldwide fraternity and
they will always remember their first experience in Masonry was in a Nebraska
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