September 5, 2007
A TIME OF REFLECTION
Well, I am officially retired. Because of the long weekend, I could not go in and trade my active duty ID card in for my retired one until now. I have been ready to retire for awhile now and I am excited to be starting a new chapter in my life. I was not prepared for the feelings I would have however, when I received my blue card and was all done officially with the Navy. You see, I joined the Navy when I was just sixteen on a delayed entry contract. Now, 24 years later, I am leaving the only thing that is familiar to me - and that is a scary thing. I know intellectually that it will all work out, but wow! it is quite the feeling to know that I am now not a part of the Navy anymore - at least in an active sense. So, I have been doing a little reflecting back and thinking of the good times and the not so good times - I met and married my husband while in the Navy, had three beautiful kids, I have been all over the world and I have had job security. I have received great education and training and met and worked with some wonderful people who I am privileged to call my friends to this day. There were also some tough times - long deployments away from my family, missed birthdays, school events, major milestones, and some anniversaries. I have been put in harms way several times, all in the name of doing my job. My most recent separation from my family (well, besides the current one) was my several months away while in Iraq. Just last summer I was coming back - it's hard to believe a whole year has gone by since I returned. You are not really supposed to take pictures while over there but I did and I am not sorry I did. I wasn't taking pictures of National security secrets, just chronicling my journey to share with my family. But when I got home, I was not quite ready to see those pictures or share a whole lot - you see some pretty bad things during a time of war and I saw my share. However, I have decided that it is time to start my Iraq scrapbook so that I can have those memories to share with my children as they grow up, allowing them to appreciate what we have in this great country. So, I am sharing this first page with you. No recipe - just sharing. This is me preparing for a night hop in the helo - we tended to travel at night when it was dark for obvious reasons. As I am waiting for my flight, I am wearing approximately 90 pounds of gear - I have body armor, kevlar, a kevlar helmet, a rucksack with emergency equipment, a 45 pistol, and an M9 machine gun. I also have several extra clips of ammo in my bag and on my body. Add to this the over 100 degrees temperature and it makes for quite an experience! The glasses are the finishing touch - the sand is so bad there that you need them to protect your eyes even when it is dark. So, there you have it - my fashion statement. This was an easy one to share - pretty innocuous and gives you an idea of what I got to wear on a daily basis. I know a lot of you who are Army are wondering - isn't she wearing Army equipment, and the answer is yes - that is why Navy folks in Iraq tell people we have joined the Narmy because we typically are not ground troops. But, there is nothing typical about Iraq. I hope you enjoyed my rather lengthy explanation of this page - thanks for reading!