As we near the 10-year anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, Yahoo News asked U.S. servicemen and women who served to share their perspectives and discuss how it changed them. Here's one story.
FIRST PERSON | Supposedly, there were no women in combat roles in Iraq. Ha! I guess nobody bothered to actually look at us.
I was a Navy E5 -- Yeoman (administrator) -- who went to Iraq as an individual augmentee. The mean I was not with a Navy Unit, but sent to augment Army troops. My billet (or job) was supposed to be a paralegal with a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and work to reestablish the justice system in 2007. I was assigned to the 492nd Civil Affairs Battalion. When we landed in Baghdad, the battalion commander decided he really didn't need me at the PRT. He would rather that I have a different set of jobs:
1. Be his lead combat patrol / convoy and PSD driver.
2. Be the Battalion Public Affairs Officer.
3. And lastly, use my administration training to be a clerk for the HQ Company when I had no missions to run.
I was in Baghdad from February 2007 to March 2008, and I drove more than 350 missions, most as the lead driver. The attached photo was taken of me by a combat camera photographer, Adrian Cadiz, when I was leading our convoy out on a two-day mission to the Hateen Industrial Park. This was taken just at sunrise and we had already been getting the trucks ready to roll since 4 a.m. A very typical day.
Obviously, there is much more to this story, but this just one of my favorite pictures. I contracted constrictive bronchiolitis while serving in Iraq and now am medically retired. My disease is terminal unless I get a lung transplant. My hands were so badly damaged from driving the trucks that the bones that hold my thumbs (on both hands) had to be removed. I haven't tied my own shoes since June 2009!
I was one of a half-dozen women in our battalion that not only went "outside the wire" regularly, but all of us were drivers, gunners and on ground patrols almost daily. Yet when we returned to the base, it was always the same: We were still just soldiers a long way from home, doing our best to stay alive and stay sane until it was our turn to leave.
- Politics & Government
- Provincial Reconstruction Team