I am the first person in my family to join the Army. My parents tried so hard to make me change my mind but I was sure of what I wanted. I joined the U.S. Army at the age of 20 without knowing how to speak English. I love challenges and U. S. Army was my biggest yet.
I signed my contract in Puerto Rico on July 1st 2008. Firstly, I was sent to Lackland, Air force base to the English school. I was there for two weeks and then was transferred to Basic Combat Training in Ft. Jackson, SC. There, drill sergeants screamed in my face and I couldn’t understand what they were saying because of my lack of English.
When signing my contract in Puerto Rico, my recruiter told me that I didn’t need to worry about deploy because with my job description it was unlikely. However, this was untrue and I was deployed to Ft. Lewis, Washington, in 593rd sustainment brigade, 57 Trans battalion, 21st Cargo Transfer Company. I remember the words of my acting first sergeant at that time: “Welcome to twenty first, this company is deployed and I am not sure if you are aware that you will be joining them in Baghdad next month.” I was very excited by this news. I was happy for a new adventure, that was dangerous and that will make my parents proud that their daughter was going to serve our country.
Kuwait was not as I expected. It was like a huge desert with wild camels running around. Two days after my arrival I flew out to Baghdad. I worked on the ”CRSP yard” Cargo Receiving and Shipping Point Yard. There we supported the Operation Iraqi freedom and enduring freedom, shipping equipment from the states to Iraq or to Afghanistan, or from Afghanistan to Iraq or back to the states. We transferred over 20, 0000 pieces in a year. In Baghdad we heard explosions outside the wires EOD. We were never worried because the sounds weren’t close enough. In Iraq I spent almost a year running away from sandstorms, and eating my food seasoned with sand, all in a heat of over 130 degrees F. I went to sleep every night with the sound of planes coming in and out and people being killed in the background.
It only took one night, and that night will be in my mind and my heart for the rest of my life. It was just a normal night in Baghdad. I was working the day shift from 12pm-12am; some soldiers were back in the rooms and others were in the cafeteria. It was around 8pm when we got hit with seven explosions within a mile away from our sleeping area. A soldier that was talking with his wife over the computer while lying on his bed was killed when a bomb coming from the roof landed on his chest. Another soldier died and several were injured. These people only had one more week until they were scheduled to go home. On this night I just wanted to run away and escape. Those deaths were so close that even today I still think how things could have turned out differently.
Since my deployment I have realised how important my job is and how proud I am to be a soldier. Everything started like an adventure in my life and ended as being a part of who I am today. I am an American soldier, a warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States and I live the army’s values. I found the love of my life in Iraq and today I have a wonderful Army family with my precious son and my great soldier husband. I will always be proud of what I do. Being a soldier is not a game; we risk our lives to keep our freedom.