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This blog chronicles the experiences of Elon journalism major Alexandra Hemmerly-Brown, who was deployed to the Middle East in June 2006 as a member of the U.S. Army Reserves 210th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. Hemmerly-Brown is from Blue Hill, Maine, and is the daughter of Jane and Daniel Hemmerly-Brown. As a public affairs specialist, Hemmerly-Brown writes stories, takes photographs, produces a newspaper and works with members of the news media. She is scheduled to be stationed in Iraq for about a year, and plans to return to her studies at Elon following her tour of duty.Messages can be sent to Alexandra at: IsisIndy@hotmail.com. Her mailing address is: Spc. Alexandra Hemmerly-Brown, 210th MPAD, Camp Anaconda, Balad, APO AE 09391.

[Return to Hemmerly-Brown's blog home page]

May 26, 2007
GOING HOME

Alexandra Hemmerly-BrownGreat news! Our replacement unit is here, and we are spending these last few weeks training them up and introducing them to what we have been doing all year. We are so excited to have them here because it’s a wake-up call that says we are actually going home! At the same time, it is not only going to be bittersweet leaving Iraq, but also it’s a little hard to step back and hand over your “baby” to someone else. We are trying to show them everything and teach them everything they need to know to be successful, but, there is just so much information to take it, it will take about a month of being here for them to get into the groove of things (I know that’s how long it took for us!).

The last month or so has been pretty uneventful for me. I haven’t traveled anywhere in quite a while—that’s just how my assignments have gone. We did have actor Gary Sinise here (Lt. Dan from “Forrest Gump”), recently which was pretty fun. For those of you who don’t know, Sinise co-founded a non-profit organization called Operation Iraqi Children. The organization collects donations and sends pre-packaged bags of school supplies to Iraq, which are then dispersed to Iraqi school kids. I have personally helped hand out some of these packages on convoys into the local towns around Anaconda. At that time I didn’t know Sinise was involved in the organization, so it was interesting to meet and talk to him about his involvement now.

During his visit here, he met with Soldiers at the dining facilities (a meet and greet basically), visited wounded service members at the hospital, and also met the lieutenant colonel who is in charge of dispersing the Operation Iraqi Children supplies here in Iraq. He was a pretty good sport and was a genuinely nice guy. He even agreed to ask Soldiers questions as they came out of the Post Exchange on camera.

We have a little trivia show on our newsreel that is called, “McNab on the street.” Instead of our usual SGT McNab who asks Soldiers trivia, Gary Sinise asked them. It was pretty hilarious, and I think when people see our next newsreel, and see themselves on TV with Sinise, they will love it.

Sinise asked questions about his organization’s progress here, and checked to see if anything was needed to keep the program going. The responses I overheard from the Soldiers here is that everything is still going smoothly and the OIC packages are still in high demand. To find out more about the program go to : www.operationiraqichildren.org.

Other than that, we are just busy packing, training our replacements, and coming to grips with giving our jobs up to other people. I have to say that now that it is time to leave, I’m not sure that I want to. In a strange way, I’ve become a little attached to this place, and accustomed to my life here. I think that if I didn’t need to finish school, I would definitely extend my deployment and stay here for another six months to one year. Honestly, I think transitioning back into “normal” life is going to be a bit of a challenge, but I’ve learned and gained so much personally and professionally here that I think I will have more confidence when facing any challenge.

However, I am looking forward to finally getting to do all of the things I’ve missed while being over here. I think I will have a greater appreciation for our country, our freedoms, and our way of life….in fact, I already do.

(NOTE: The photo I included is of me and the puppy "Hero" that you may of heard of back in the States. It's a puppy who a solider took a photo with the night before he died. His family in New Hampshire asked if they could have the Iraqi pup and the government and the Army went to great lengths to get her back to the States, and she is there now.)


Disclaimer: This is the personal blog of Alexandra Hemmerly-Brown. The opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect any opinion, policy, or position of the U.S. Army. Thank you.