I met Joy through a Facebook group and was so excited to hear her story because she has deployed 4 times. Through her 4 deployments she had different experiences. I tried to capture as many details as I could about her experience. I am so excited to have her share her story today.
Active Duty Army
How many times have you deployed?
Rank during deployments:
1st Private Second Class (PV2), 2nd Specialist (SPC), 3rd Sargent (SGT), 4th Staff Sargent (SSG)
Current rank/current job if you have left the military:
Where did you deploy to?
Iraq, Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan
Can you add the names of the FOB or cities you were at when you were at each country?
If my memory serves me right I was in Bush International Airport in Iraq in 03. Camp Victory. Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. Zabul and Kandahar Provinces in Southern Afghanistan.
What was you or your team’s mission?
I was a mechanic throughout all deployments so our job was to help push units out by fixing their equipment.
What type of equipment were you working on?
I was an all wheeled mechanic. I fixed anything and everything with wheels! The only time I worked on tanks or tracks was in Korea.
What do you mean by push units out?
We were like a jiffy lube for infantry battalions
What was your job?
1st mechanic, 2nd mechanic, 3rd supervisor, 4th weapons maintenance and recovery
What did you do as a mechanic?
Everything from changing tires to replacing engines.
How did your role change when you went from a mechanic to a supervisor? What were your daily tasks?
I had to make sure my deadline reports were current. And I had to make sure the vehicles in the shops had parts and mechanics to work on them. I had to brief the Commander regarding the vehicles that were in the shop, etc.
What did you do when you worked weapons maintenance and recovery?
In Afghanistan, I was in charge of all the weapons in the Infantry Battalion. I couldn’t work on them because I wasn’t trained but I had Soldiers that did. I was a H8 (Hotel 8) means when I vehicle hit an Improvised Explosive Device or broke down I was called to recover the vehicle. One time I actually had to recover a downed Blackhawk.
What cultural differences do you remember between the country you went to and the United States?
Iraq had buildings and structures people live in a somewhat structurized manner.
Kuwait was rich and beautiful.
Afghanistan was the poorest, no real structures besides those that the president lived in. People live in dirt huts some without roofs. It is not clean or structurized what-so-ever.
What do you mean by structurized?
Structurized meaning they had homes with water and bedrooms and a kitchen etc. Afghanistan didn’t seem as structurized as Iraq in that manner.
I was in Northern Afghanistan and the only homes I saw were mud huts, even in Kabul I don’t remember seeing very many buildings. I totally understand what you mean by not structurized.
Where were you when you were in Afghanistan?
I was in Qalat for the first half of my deployment (Zabul Province) then they moved us to Kandahar City (Hotel California)
What do you mean Kuwait was rich and beautiful?
Oh man Kuwait is
What landscape differences do you remember between the country you went to and the United States?
Iraq was flat.
Afghanistan has mountains and hills.
And Kuwait was mostly flat desert but it has buildings and highways so it looks like home in ways.
Were there any particular foods that you ate while overseas that was different from the United States?
Did you have this in all three countries? Was there a difference in the flat bread between the different countries?
Ha, yes except in Kuwait. The flat bread does taste the same though in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Kuwait didn’t have any special foods that I remember
Where did you get access to the local food?
When we walked the streets of Iraq or Afghanistan
What was the hardest thing you faced with the cultural difference in the country you were deployed to?
Besides the languages. The differences in the way we carry ourselves was the hardest to face. We, as Americans, unknowingly carry ourselves as though we are above everyone so the Afghans found it hard to see passed that.
As a female, do you remember being treated differently because of your sex, explain?
No! I created my environment. I did not allow men, or anyone else, to tell me I couldn’t do something.
What challenges did you face?
Honestly, at the time I had no children and I wasn’t married so I didn’t struggle with missing home life. My biggest challenge was being a good Soldier and always completing the task at hand.
Did you have any regular frustrating situations or a frustrating situation you can share about?
Having the lives of my Soldiers in my hands was scarier than anything.
What deployment did you have to worry about the lives of your Soldiers? How did you cope with such a huge responsibility?
My Afghanistan deployment. It was hard to cope with it honestly. Every time I had to send them outside the FOB I was putting their lives in danger, I often thought about their families as I sent them out.
What is the one thing you remember most from your deployment?
I remember everything from the smell to the food to the people but most of all I remember my brothers that didn’t come home.
That must be so hard. Is there a way you try to honor their memories? What can we do to help remember those lost?
I think about them often. I had years of therapy because I couldn’t cope with the loss. Now, I keep them with me everywhere I go! We remember them by not forgetting them!
Is there a memory or story from your deployment you want to share?
My 4th deployment (Afghanistan) we were out on a convoy and it started to snow. The snow covered was covering the ground pretty well. That didn’t stop this little girl with one shoe from standing out in it asking for food. It made me realize how lucky I am.
What question do you get when people find out you deployed?
If I have seen a dead body
This is Day 8 of 31 of Deployment Stories. If you want to start at Day 1 check it out here. Yesterday I shared a civilian’s perspective in Afghanistan. Tomorrow I will share my Uncle’s experience in Vietnam. Don’t miss a single post. Sign up for my weekly email list here.