Saturday, November 18, 2006

mudsliding in iraq.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


October hit and it was time to go! We left Iraq on October 10, 2005. It seemed like it took forever for that plane to come. The unit left on two different planes because we had too many people and bags. G, SPC S, SGT A and I all sat next to each other. When we finally got on that plane we threw up our middle fingers and yelled, “FUCK YOU IRAQ!” Then we were told to shut up. We landed in Kuwait. The unit stayed there for about a day and a half. At 3am we got back on a plane and headed to Ireland. Once again we checked emails and called home.
I thought about staying in Ireland. I really wanted to see Europe. We hit U.S. soil on October 13 (I think). Bangor, Maine was our first stop. We were greeted by Veterans of the American Legion. They all lined up with those hats on that said “WWII Veteran” and “Freedom isn’t Free” and shook our hands. That freaked me out a little. Some of the guys reminded me of my dad and I started crying. They provided us with cell phones. We called everyone we knew to tell them we were finally home. Our last stop was McGuire Air Force base, which is right next to Ft. Dix, NJ.

When we landed at Ft. Dix we loaded onto buses and were brought to a church where they had a welcome home ceremony. News stations were there, family members, and real food. It felt so weird to be back in States. For the first time in a long time we felt like we could relax. After was spent four days out processing, it was time to go back to our ”normal” lives and say goodbye. We had to leave everyone that we grew and experienced crazy shit with. Spending a year with the same people and getting use to living in that environment, you don’t realize how much you change or adapt to situations until you don’t have those people around anymore.

I remember one night we all went to the "club" on Ft. Dix...the whole the end of the night the DJ played, "New York New York" by Frank Sinatra and dedicated it to our unit. Everyone was in a line with their arms around eachother, singing their hearts out. We were so excited to go back to New York.

By the time I had finished writing for the Anaconda Times, I had been published in four countries, in a several newspapers and on several websites.

Times Up.

We got news that we’d be leaving Iraq in the first couple weeks of October. Everyone was so excited and just wanted to leave. No one gave a shit anymore…no one. Half of the people refused to go to work and hide throughout the day or went to the pool. I got stuck making a yearbook for our unit. It took forever and then we didn’t even end up having it printed. (However, it did come out pretty awesome.) We were fortunate to leave when we did because Ramadan was starting and they usually attack the shit out of troops during that time. We mailed our stuff home that we weren’t aloud to carry or couldn’t because we had so much. Everyone said their goodbyes to people that we’d met…it was sad in a way. But home sweet home we right around the corner!


One night at about 4am we were all sleeping in our room and the alarm went off. We didn’t have to go into a bunker now because we were in a hard building. SGT A’s officer came in and told her that there was a huge attack on Iraqi civilians. SGT A had to go into the office and make badges for the Iraqis coming on post to go to the hospital. Later that day we heard insurgents attacked about 200 civilians and over 90 were dead and a ton were wounded. SGT A said that when she went to one of the entrance control points it looked like a scene from the TV show “Mash”. She said there were tons of lights, dead people were just dropped in front of the gate, people were carrying in injured people, people crying and screaming. She said it was the worse thing she’d ever seen. I called my mom and asked her if she’d heard anything about the attack and she said no. We all found that very surprising. I guess the only attacks that make it on the news are the ones that happen in Baghdad, Fallujah or Mosul.

I really wish I rolled out of bed and went with SGT A.


With only a couple weeks left we had an awards ceremony. Everyone received an award based on what they accomplished while in Iraq. We were lucky…we were in an air conditioned building, we had cake and drinks. Usually we’re stuck outside sweating to death. Several people talked and talked. It was painful. Finally it was time to line up according to the medal you were receiving. Soldiers received awards ranging from the AAM, ARCOM, MSM, Bronze Star and the Silver Star. I was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. My award read: “The Meritorious Service Medal, SPC H, For exceptionally meritorious service while assigned as a staff writer for the Anaconda Times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. SPC H’s leadership, initiative, and courage are indicative of the highest standards of service and reflect great credit upon her. “ It was a huge deal because a “Specialist” was given a Meritorious Service Medal. A lot of higher ups were pissed. There was actually a Lieutenant Colonel sitting next to me, he received an ARCOM. I was thinking, “Holy shit I got a higher award then an LTC.” He was gentlemen...he shook my hand and congratulated me. I was told when I had to wear the medal on my Class A uniform I should carry my orders (saying that I actually received the medal) or else I’ll be accused of lying and told to take it off. I thought that was kind of funny.

Come Right In.

The new unit that was replacing us finally arrived in Iraq. I don’t think we had ever been that nice to people in our lives. We wanted the new unit to feel “at home” and learn what they had to learn so we could get the hell out of there. The new unit was from somewhere out West… we all felt like they were a little slow. We thought we were never going to leave on time…it took they a while to comprehend their jobs. One of the new Sergeants that was going to work in the Headquarters Section seriously had a screw loose…she would just doing random things and we looked at her like…what the fuck. Within a week she changed sections. Thank God, because that whole place would’ve been completely fucked. We all had to move out of our trailers and move into one building. All the lower enlisted females were in one room (about 13 of us). It was hell…some of them didn’t get along and it seriously felt like middle school bullshit. A couple of the girls put up a shower curtain to separate the room…that didn’t last long and we all got yelled at. One would think people would leave the bullshit at the door and just do what they had to do to get out of there but no. The lower enlisted males and females would get together and play C LO…people lost a lot of money. It was exciting to know this was all coming to an end but also really overwhelming.

Used Up and Tossed Out.

With a couple months left in the deployment a new unit came into the Public Affairs office. They had about 13 people, so my services weren’t needed anymore. Bastards. I was sent over to the Headquarters section to work with the First Sergeant, a Captain, and a couple other Specialist and Sergeants. I didn’t want to go over there at all…it was a desk job. After a couple of weeks I got use to it. The 1SG and I became close. I would sing to him everyday and he would make jokes. He was awesome. He would always write on this dry erase board…it drove us all crazy! He would list a ton of tasks, how to do them, when they needed to be done and who had to do them. Maybe we hated it because it was actually a smart and organized idea…and if you’re in the Army, you know nothing is ever organized or seems like a smart idea. We were just working on getting home, getting all the awards together, figuring out flight information, and just trying to organize 125 Soldiers. We all started realizing this adventure was coming to an end.