14 April 2009
My first deployment
I cleaned out my old office and car a few days ago and found several CD’s labeled “Melissa Iraq”. Turns out they were full of photos from my glory days – score! Especially as many of these photos were on a thumb drive that was stolen somewhere between Hong Kong and Kuwait several years ago (unfortunately the thumb drive had more photos than these CDs so I can’t fully share all the Iraq photos). Over the next few weeks I’ll post photos of my Iraq experiences.
For those not familiar I deployed to Iraq in July of 2004 right after I took the Iowa Bar exam. This deployment was totally out of the blue and unexpected, not something I had planned. I was not in the military, just working as a civilian for the US Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha, Nebraska. I was a prissy girly girl who had only left home for college less than two hours away and was so homesick I returned at the end of the semester! What possessed me to fly to a combat zone in the middle of a desert thousands of miles from home I’ll never quite know. I guess figured it would be a great adventure and a way to pass the time until the bar results were announced. I volunteered for a four month deployment to Camp Victory Iraq. This four month deployment ended up lasting six months. After returning to the US for about four months I deployed again to Iraq, this time to the Green Zone for about eighteen months (May 2005 – August 2006). Turns out I loved the adventure; it was great to be a part of history, and fun to make friends with people of all different backgrounds and nationalities.
This photo was taken at Camp Doha in Kuwait (now closed). We had to overnight in Doha en route to Iraq. We all slept in a huge open bay on cots. Its was a coed arrangement as you can see and we weren’t even give a pillow! I was mortified. I don’t think I slept at all that night – sure nerves played into it as much as the arrangements. I was trying on my new combat boots that were soon to become a wardrobe staple.
Here we are all waiting in a tent for a C-130 to pick us up and transport us from Kuwait to Camp Victory Iraq. It is about an hour and a half ride and definitely far from first class. It is a cargo plane and either very cold or very hot – since it was July it was definitely very hot. Not sure why I had my sleeves rolled up like this as totally against regulation (as is my hair touching my colar in the first photo - what can I say I was a novice civilian). You can also tell I am severely lacking in sleep.
Finally my first C-130 ride. We had to wear ear plugs to drown out the extreme noise of the plane. It was brutal and VERY hot. We had to sit on cargo netting as there were no real seats. They also had to use combat maneuvers to land which made for some definite airsickness. Puts turbulence experienced on commercial flights to shame. By the time we I was “boots on the ground” in Iraq I was definitely having second thoughts!