So, it feels like its been a week since I've written.. but there has been a lot going on.
Last time I wrote, I was preparing to leave SC. When it was time, we loaded up on the busses and headed to the airport. Leaving, we were all pretty excited to just get there.. to get started.. to do something more worthwhile than what we were feeling, with the whitespace of the previous couple days. As we rolled into the air field, I could see a few bikers, pulling off the road, flashers on, etc.. but, it wasn't until we pulled around to the back of the airfield, that it hit me. And it hit me hard. In the underhang, was the Navy League, USO and many many veterans of war, there to see us off. As we walked off our buses and into the hangar they were all clapping for us. IT hit me. The emotional feeling I had was indescribable. I was torn between pride and sadness. The reality that I was going off to do my part in this war, that I was going into a war zone and helping. The reality that I was leaving my family behind for a year, 12 long months, to do this. It all hit me at once and I had tears of joy and pride and tears of sadness overwhelm me. I have been fairly good at compartmentalizing, and had done so up to that point, but this, this was different. This was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Even the homecoming on the ship deployment was not like this for me. The only time I ever had someone waiting for me on the pier pulling in from deployment was Lara.. on my first deployment. But this feeling, this was far more than watching wives and children say their goodbyes.. or greet with smiling faces. This was veterans, who had already done their part, and were here to support us.. to support me. To give us a sending off, filling our hearts with joy, hugging us, shaking our hands and one even told me (and I will never forget how this one simple line made the tears stream down my face) "No matter what you hear over there, we support you. We are praying for you and are all waiting for you to come home safely. Remember that!"
Now, I know the propaganda, and people hear that people are protesting the war, but you never really think about how that will affect you, when you are the one over there.. will you listen to it, will you believe it, will you no better than that... this man, he wanted me to know - no matter what.. we are all supported, despite politics.
After they fed us and provided us with "Stress Dolls", pizza, snacks, books, cards and whatever else you could think of, it was time to board the plane. I called my parents and the kids and had a very emotional conversation with my dad, just trying to explain the emotional roller coaster I was experiencing at that moment. I talked to each of the kids and my mom, letting them know how much I love them and will miss them!! IT was the first emotional call to the kids for me, since I had left. Again, I had been good at compartmentalizing, so I could get my job done, without distraction, but it was time to be emotional with them, let them know how very much I loved them and unfortunately, followed with that was my tears, which then led to theirs. But after a few short seconds, I sucked back the tears finished my goodbyes and was ready to board the plane.
We were getting ready to board, they (Navy League) all lined up, with their flags and all and made a concession line for us. Each and everyone of them shaking our hand, hugging us and thanking us. Some with the quiet prayer to stay safe and come home healthy. I have never in my life experienced something quite like this. The emotional high (and lows) put me in a different realm. As I loaded the plane I knew, this was it. It was real, I was heading to Kuwait!
Our plane ride was a good 8 hours. Fortunately, my battle buddy saved me a window seat - because they boarded us by rank (of some screwed up sort) and last name.. which, as you know... meant me.. almost and completely LAST on the plane.. Now, the plane wasn't full, but the window seats were all taken. Had it not been for Michelle, I would have been one miserable person!! So - I did manage to squeeze in some sleep. They showed 3 movies.. of which I saw the first 30 minutes of the first movie, and the 30 minutes of the last movie.. so I guess I got a good amount of sleep! We landed in Germany at about 1030 local time for them and were there for about an hour or so. This was awesome for me - the first time I had ever been to Germany, so I picked up my parents the shotglass and bell that I always collect for them, from everywhere I go. The plane was refueled and it was time to get back to it. We spent the next 6 hours traveling to Kuwait. I did manage to sleep a little, but after awhile, no matter how comfy you think your seat is - it becomes uncomfortable! 15 hours on a plane is a long time..
Finally, we touched down in Kuwait. We were here.. We sent a 40 man working party to unload and reload on to trucks the over 500 seabags we had with us, while the rest of us loaded into buses. After about 45 minutes, we were on the road headed to Camp Virginia.
Surreal moments. AS I peaked out the curtain I saw vehicles with Kuwaiti citizens driving down the road. At one point our entire convoy of buses and security was stopped, trying to stop traffic, or something, I am not sure, but briefly, there was fear in me. Fear that we were sitting ducks, fear that OMGosh, something could happen.. I am in Kuwait, and anything is possible now. BUT, finally we started moving again and I just watched the scenery pass by. It was about 630 at night Kuwait time when we arrived, so the sun was just goin down. I remember thinking to myself "Take it all in." I was still on my emotional roller coaster thinking "Wow, I can't believe I am here. I am in Kuwait!" Again, words don't due the emotions justice. There is no explaining how I truly felt watching the dessert pass by, realizing where I was. I think I fell asleep - because I was barely coherent when we did finally reach the camp. Dirt. Dirt EVERYWHERE. Wow. I don't think I have seen so much dirt, as I have now! When we rolled in we had a quick meeting then formed a working party to help unload the bags. AFter the unloading was complete, we then had to find our bags (out of 500 plus) and tote them to our tent. I am in a 70 man tent, give or take, but theres not that many females in this group, so its not too bad. Finally, by 1230 or so, we were done with that! Myself, Michelle and Trisha walked to the USO and made our free calls for the night (me to let my mom/dad & kids know I was okay) BTW my phone was not working til I got to Kuwait! Thank you mom for getting that setup after having to call collect from Germany to let you know where I was and I was okay!
I don't think that we laid down on our cots until about 230 this morning. I really don't think I slept much, either. I was tired, but couldn't get my brain to shut off.. before I knew it, 7am was here and we were up to shower so we could go to the BX get a converter (my phone and laptop died), and get STARBUCKS. Yes.. they have a starbucks.. mmmhmmmm.. :)
That was nice to wake up to! And the temp wasn't too bad.. probably about 100 at that time.. but got up to about 115 today.. its a dry heat like Vegas, so that makes me glad I lived there for a few years! LOL
This morning we had the trainer for Egress. We again were flipped in HMMV style vehicles to ensure we could egress from them, upside down, if necessary. It was scary at first, I am not going to lie. I am short and being upside down, undoing your buckle, means falling head first if you don't do it right.. but, in the end it was successful and i was happy with it. It turned out to be more fun than I thought it would be..
following that we were brought back over here, where Trisha and I were able to go secure our WiFi cards before our final meeting of the night.
The meeting didn't take long and afterwards I was able to get on Video Cam with the family! It was awesome. Its cheaper than using my phone PLUS we get to see eachother! We chatted for a while. I talked to my mom and told her about the places on base, (food court). Now, its about 2345 and I need to get some sleep! Its been a long HOT dusty day and tomorrow promises to be the same! :) I love you all.