Camp Victory, Iraq – Summer 2003

Eighteen years ago, I spent about seven months at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq (most living in a rat-infested tent).  I flew from Kuwait where I had spent five months (and convoyed back to Kuwait when it was finally my time to go).  I had a fairly cushy Army experience, but it was still a big culture-shock to me. When I […]

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Seventeen years ago: Baghdad

Seventeen years ago today I went on a convoy from Camp Victory to the Green Zone in Baghdad.  It was not a long drive, but it was the longest I’d been on outside of the wire, up to that point. The purpose of the trip was to take another soldier in my unit to a medical specialist.  She had some sort of spider bite or bacterial infection that was nearly eating her skin away, and the most common thing she was being told was “huh… I’ve never seen anything like that before.”  Amazingly, helpful and soothing to hear, I’m sure. So in the morning, I was told to PMCS (preventative maintenance checks and services) a HMMWV (Humvee) so that we could convoy.  The vehicle I was checking, had been sitting stationary in desert sand for about eight months and there wasn’t an alternate we could substitute if there was something wrong.  So, with the formality of the checks complete, we were off with two other vehicles – our lieutenant was in the second and the third was our military police (MP) with a gunner in the turret. Shortly into the drive during downtown Baghdad’s rush hour, I hit the brakes and they locked up.  The vehicle spun a full 360 degrees where I ended up next to some Iraqi in his sedan, before it spun 360 degrees  the other direction where I ended dangerously close to the MP vehicle and […]

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Growing up after graduation

A friend once directed me to a TED talk given by Wes Moore called “How to talk to veterans about war.”  I highly recommend you take a listen.  It made me think maybe there are some of you interested in hearing a little more about how I went from sorority girl to soldier.  If you know someone who was in the military, it is always an interesting and unique story that starts with the question “why did you join?”  It’s also a nice way to show a veteran that you are interested and thankful for their service. At the risk of aging myself, I will tell you my story.  I graduated college August 11, 2001.  8/11 may be less famous than 9/11, but I remember it well. My cap said “thanks mom” and both my brothers, mom and nieces and nephews made the out of state trek to see me get my diploma. What I could have told you that day about Iraq was what I learned when I was in middle school while my oldest brother was serving in the Navy during the (first) Gulf War.  What I knew about Afghanistan was even less.  I hope (but doubt) I could have found either of these countries on a map.   At the time of my college graduation, I had been stuffing envelopes with folders of resumes and cover letters inside to all the big magazines in New York City.  Yes there was Internet back at […]

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