Sunday, October 21, 2007

Almost done with NC

Well, my training is coming to a close in the next week or so. It's been an experience. I've met some great people, so more people to see at odd trips in the future. The only bad thing about training with a group is that it's taught at the level of the lowest common denominator, so it can be tedious if you're not that person (and I don't think I am). Last week was my first time shooting in the rain and I noticed how difficult it is to aim when your glasses keep getting wet. (Maybe the glasses with wipers would be useful in a situation like that.)

I've packed my bags yet again and this time got all my gear into three bags. I'm not sure how far I can carry the two that aren't on my back, but I'll find that out when I get in country I'm sure.

The realization that I'll be in Iraq in the near future has really only been hitting me in the last couple of days. I've been in touch with my sponsor who's over there, so I know a little more about what to expect, but I'm not sure if that makes it more comforting or not. The element of the unknown is still there since I haven't seen where I'll be going or what I'll be doing, but at least I have a better idea of what it'll be like and I know that my sponsor made it though his tour, so I'll make it through mine. I can't yet fathom working every day that I'm there since I've only gone about 4 months without a day off in the past, but how much worse can six be? At least, I'm not over there for a year or more like some of the other guys I've met. (Not that I wouldn't go, but I'm sure that's a tougher thing to get one's mind around to be gone that long.)
Right now, I just hope I have a good flight and get lots of sleep on it since I'll probably work once I land. And so the adventure really begins...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Almost Done with SC

Well, I finally qualified on the 9mm on my third try. It took a lot of prayer and a lot of extra practice, so I'm very happy that I got past that hurdle. Then, last week, I took my physical fitness test and passed that, too! That was a huge relief since I couldn't even run 1 1/2 miles when I started out in mid-Aug. (Of course, I did my test last Tues and I've only run once since then compared to before when I was running four days a week.)

I saw Megadeth in concert on Friday night at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach with a few of the guys from work. It was a great show! Dave Mustaine was incredible on the guitar. He hasn't aged at all. And, of course, the rest of the band was great, too. I really loved seeing them live. The place was packed but it was pretty small, so I was still only about a hundred feet from the stage even though I was in the back. I'm so happy I got to go! Especially since this is my last free weekend for the next six months or so.

I spent today packing and picking up a few more items. I really do have four bags worth of stuff. The bag with my body armor is especially heavy. Hopefully, none of them are over my 70 lb weight limit. I also have to pack most of my civilian clothes since I'll be leaving them here. (I just need a couple of outfits for my time in NC since I won't be wearing any civilian clothes over in the Middle East.) Also, I finished reading my book about Israel's revenge for the Munich massacres since I know that it would be a bad idea to take it with me overseas. (I don't know if every country searches the incoming luggage as much as the Saudis did.)

It's both scary and exciting to be finally moving on to the next leg of my journey. The scariest part is really the unknown since I haven't gone over before, so I don't know what it'll all be like. (Of course, I've been to the Middle East about 7 or 8 times, so I'm familiar with the culture and the region.) I haven't been back since 2004, though, and I do miss traveling over there. It's a completely different world from the US, but not an uncomfortable one even as a female. I just hope it all goes well.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Just the usual

Well, I still haven't managed to master the 9mm pistol yet. Hopefully, that happens this Friday. I have no idea what's going to happen if I can't shoot well enough. (Maybe they just let me carry the gun, but no bullets? lol)

I started doing all the medical checks to leave. That included getting some shots. I got the anthrax shot again, which is still sore after over a week, and small pox, along with a couple of others. I still wonder how effective the anthrax shot is, but I've got to get the shot, so it's sort of a moot point. (I do know some people that have gotten sick from the shot.) The small pox shot takes a lot of care since it's actually a live virus, so you have to be really careful about keeping it covered when sleeping or working, but uncovered the rest of the time so that it can dry out. I'm very thankful that I didn't get the shot when I was a baby, though, since they have to give you triple the dosage if you've had it before. The shots definitely make you feel run down, though, so I haven't had much energy this week.

I still managed to go to the running track on Tuesday and yesterday and I actually made my run in the time I needed to. In fact, if I cut about another 10 seconds off my time, then I'm sure I'll pass with no problems. I recently heard that the AF is using BMI to measure if people are overweight or not. I'm overweight according to BMI even though I don't think I'm fat. Who comes up with these ideas? It seems like each method they use to measure body fat is worse than the last. Of course, they don't use calipers, which is the most accurate measurement next to water displacement.

I did a practice pack of much of my stuff this weekend and it looks like I'll be able to carry what I need to in only 4 bags. I guess if I end up going over, then I'll have to get someone to send the rest to me. Now, if only I can carry it all.

Overall, things are going pretty well, though. I just want to get on with this deployment after sitting around for the last couple of months.

Friday, August 31, 2007


Well, I managed to shoot well enough to qualify on the M-16 rifle last week. (To qualify, there are a bunch of different sized targets and you have to get a certain amount of rounds in the targets.) Sadly, I didn't shoot well enough on the M-9 yesterday, so I'll be returning next week to try and shoot again. I'm such a perfectionist that I hate that I didn't shoot well enough, but some things take practice, I guess. I really hope I do better next week.

We have a long weekend due to Labor Day, so it'll be nice to have the extra time off. I really need to figure out what bags I'm going to take with me. My uniforms are on back order, so I hope they arrive in time for me to sew on my name tapes before I leave. If not, I guess I'll have to take my old uniforms and get the other ones sent to me. It's taking a lot more effort than I thought to prepare to go over there. I wish I would just leave tomorrow to go, so that it'll be over sooner. (I don't anticpate that this tour will be a lot of fun, but I guess I could always be wrong about that.)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Back in SC

Well, I was right. I did work a lot in Vegas, but I still went to the casinos a few times. The people I was with won more than I did (well, most of them, anyway). I still came out slightly ahead, though, so it's all good.

Since I've been back, I've set a goal for myself to run 6 days a week so that I'll be in better shape by the time I leave in a couple of months. I've been successful so far, so I hope I can keep it up. I've started getting a lot of my gear that I'll need over there. (It's costing like $2500 to get it all.) I'm allowed five bags and I'll probably be carrying that many. It's a lot more stuff than I've ever had to take with me. When I've deployed in the past, I've been pretty stubborn about carrying all my bags myself. This time, I may have to accept help, which I hate the thought of. I think I'll be wearing about 40 extra pounds of stuff, which seems like so much right now, but I'm sure I'll get used to it. (I think the most I've ever had to wear was about 15-20 extra lbs.) At least, I'll probably lose a few pounds off myself over there.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A bright spot

The worst part of being back in uniform is the physical training (PT). Of course, for a while, we didn't really do PT in the AF, but starting a few years ago, they started getting more serious about it. Now, the PT test consists of push ups, sit ups, a mile and a half run, and a waist measurement. I'm good with the push ups and sit ups, but the other two are where I have problems. Of course, if I were either of my brothers, I'm sure the run wouldn't be a problem, but I'm not. I'm much lazier than they are. So, I started running on Sat. My legs were so sore the rest of the weekend. The run went better today. At this rate, I should do okay by the time I test at the end of Sept. It still isn't any fun, though!

On the positive site, the military is sending me to Vegas for a conference for a week and a half. I leave on Wed at 0600. The conference will be some hard work, but there will still be time left for some fun at the casinos. I think my squadron feels bad I'm going to Iraq, so they've made sure I got at least one nice trip. Wish me luck at the roulette wheel!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Another Rant

Well, I did finish my packing and got down here to my duty station on time. (I fit all the stuff I need in my duffel and a medium suitcase...pretty good, huh?)
Of course, my pay is still messed up and I only got back on duty yesterday. (I should be getting about $1000 for housing and food per check, but I'm only getting $3.20 in my next paycheck...sort of a big difference.) Luckily, the guy that handles my pay knows and is fixing all the problems. Plus, I was supposed to shoot the M-16 today, but the class was too full, so I've got to go back. sigh!
I was talking to one of my superiors about some of the jobs I might end up doing over there. One of them was outside the wire (outside the base limits), which is always more dangerous. As this guy was telling me about it, a nearby guy piped up and said he'd volunteered for that job. He said it sounded like a lot of fun, but he's not eligible for any of the spots doing that. Which makes me wonder....this is not the first time that I've heard a guy talk about a dangerous job being cool. Is there some kool aid they're feeding the guys or is that just testosterone??? I mean, of course, I'll do whatever I'm assigned to because that's what I signed up for (sort of), but I'm not looking for a job where I can see how much the M-16 really jams when you shoot it multiple times in a row. Granted, none of the guys that have made comments about the cool jobs were eligible to do them, so maybe it's just the idea that sounds attractive. I just can't imagine what these guys are thinking, though. I really don't feel like I'm missing out on anything if I haven't gotten to shoot in combat, but it seems like some of the male military population thinks they've missed out on combat. Anyway, just my observation for the day.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


I'm such a procrastinator, but the day has finally come that I need to pack up. One of the guys I work with said it should be a cinch, just throw my uniforms, boots, shirts and toiletries into my bag and go. Then, I reminded him that I've got to pack for a few months in SC and also for my tour in Iraq. (Unless I want to be a geek and walk around SC in my PT gear, which consists of a t-shirt and shorts with the AF logo on them.)
I think I'm almost packed, though. It's sort of tough to figure out what I'll need for the next 10-11 months, but, admittedly, I'll be wearing uniforms most of the time, so it's not as bad as it sounds. Worst case scenario, I can probably buy whatever I forget.
Once I all this packed and drive down to SC, I'll at least be done with one hurdle.
Today, I just feel really lazy, but luckily I only have a few more things to get done. It seems like a good day to be lzay, though, and since this is my last weekend where my life is my own, then I don't feel guilty at all.
What a life!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I got back yesterday from RI, where some of my family lives. The trip was great. I got to eat seafood almost every day! (The best thing my base in SC has to offer is the local Red Lobster...yuck!)
One of the things I've noticed, though, is the difference in reaction among different people when you say you're going to Iraq. Most of the military people, especially those that have been there, call it the place of no beer, so offer to buy me drinks since I won't get anything better than near beer there. I'm not looking forward to not having a single beer for six months. (It's like being on TB medication, which I only lasted a week on for other reasons.) Civilians, though, tell me good luck and stay safe. I was talking to a friend of mine about a similar topic. I've been to the Middle East enough that I wonder if my perception of what's safe is different from those that haven't been there. I admit that when I used to wear my abaya and walk around the marketplace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I never had any fear that something would happen to me. In fact, I guess I've spent more time walking streets in the Middle East by myself than I have in the US in the last 15-20 years. Maybe it's a false sense of security I feel over there, but it never seems like there's a lot of crime there. (Of course, the deterrents there are different. You know a guy has probably been convicted of stealing if he's missing a hand. Signs in the US aren't anywhere near as obvious.) I know that Iraq is probably the least safe place I'll travel to, at least up to this point, since I get a gun and live ammo there. I guess it's to be expected that military and civilians will respond differently, but I've never really considered the non-military point of view until now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Finally, I found out last night that I don't have to report tomorrow to my duty station. I've got a ten day delay, so I'll be reporting on the 23rd. This has been one of the more frustrating aspects. (My report date actually changed three times in less than 24 hours.) I wish things were a little more organized. I'm going to see my parents tomorrow on a trip that had been planned for a couple of months, which is why I asked for the delay in the first place. So, today I unpacked some of my gear since I have to pack for this short trip to RI. I'm only planning on working a few hours next week since I have more than enough leave to take the time off. I'd like to think that things will go smoother from here on out, but that would be foolish considering how things seem to be going so far.
Today at work, I was talking to some of the guys about which is the best armor to get and what other gear I probably want to buy or get issued before I go. It's odd to have conversations like that, but it helps me to continue to keep things in perspective also. When I first heard that I was deploying, I thought I was just going to Qatar, which I've been to many times, so it wasn't a big deal. It was really a shift in mindset, though, when I found out they'd changed me to Iraq. It's no longer just a place I watch in the news or even hear about my friends that are over there. Now, it's a reality for me. It sounds grim and maybe unrealistic, but in some ways, I had to think about my own mortality and the possibilities of what could happen to me over there. Now, I don't think that anything terrible will based on my job, but that doesn't mean it can't or won't. I'd like to think that I'll come back alive and in one piece, but not everyone can or does. It's not something that bears dwelling on, but it's certainly something that I felt like I needed to at least think about and it's a tiny thought that sort of sits in the back of my head now.
Anyway, it seems like most is right with the world for today at least. I'll get to see my family. I'll be eating lobster again in the next 48 hours. Yum! And I had a really great dinner last night. Above all, I got a ten day reprieve from reporting for duty. If only things could stay this good...

Sunday, July 8, 2007


One of the things I've realized as a result of this deployment is how large a support system I have here. My family is taking on extra responsibilities to make sure my bills are paid. Not only my family and friend have offered to help, though. My co-workers and the people at my church have all said that they'd do whatever needed to be done, including checking on my house and watering my plants. One of my neighbors will be keeping an eye on the house much of the time I'll be gone. It shouldn't have taken this deployment for me to appreciate all the people around me, but in some ways it has. It has opened my eyes to how many helpful people I have in my life. I heard this week that people at my dad's church are praying for me. Since I've never met any of them, I was surprised to hear that, but it's also so nice to hear.
My last deployment was in late 2001 when I went to help out in Operation Enduring Freedom. For people that have never been isolated in a deployment, it's always odd to hear the news going on in the US since you're a world away. One of the worst things was to hear about all the people protesting the war. Now, I know that as a military member, one of the things we're supposed to be protecting is freedom. It's a really crappy feeling to be doing a job, though, and then see that people are protesting your job. People in the US can continue their mantra about "we're protesting the war, but we support the troops" all they want, but, at least in my eyes, I didn't see the distinction. Basically, the message of the protests is that I'm wasting my time and what I'm doing is worth nothing. It was really disappointing to hear during OEF and I started avoiding reading most news. I'm guessing I'll have to do that for this deployment, too.
In any case, back to my original topic, I've come to really appreciate all the people around me and how much support they give me. I'm sorry that it's taken me so long to realize it, but I guess it's better late than never. If you're one of those people, thank you so much!

Friday, July 6, 2007


It seems like the hits just keep on coming. I'm a Reservist being recalled back to active duty, which is fine since it's my duty and it's the right thing to do. I just wish the transition would go a little more smoothly. I found out today that even though I'm going back on active duty next week, I don't report to Iraq until late Oct. So, I'll be spending about three months sitting around my main duty station in SC. Going back on duty and getting deployed isn't too bad, but what it's taking to get there is such a pain. I'm still working on packing since I've got to pack for being away a year. At least, I'll be in the desert for the winter, so no snow or ice for me. (Winter in the States is the rainy season over there, though. I've been through it before. Nothing worse than tracking around wet sand when you're living in a tent!) I guess I'll just have to keep on praying that things go okay.