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
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]
Well, the time is finally here. On Friday
morning (2 days from now), I will get on a bus for a 16-hour
ride to Wisconsin, where I will catch a 25-hour flight to
Kuwait. I am not really looking forward to it, as I really,
really, dislike long trips, but hey, you have to get from
point A to point B somehow ;)
This departure is coming on the tail end of two months'
worth of training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi (a very, very,
tiny Army National Guard base). Some of the training my
little unit went through included weapons day qualification,
night-fire (shooting at night), shooting with our gas masks
on (all with an M-16A2 rifle), going through a gas chamber,
convoy operations, base defense operations, more convoy
training, HMMWV training, night-vision goggle driving, Combat
Lifesaver (medical), and some role-playing situations. Also,
all along we have been doing some job-specific training all
Because my unit only has 20 people in it, and because we are
Public Affairs, our training was different from some larger
groups that have moved through Camp Shelby. As a Mobile
Public Affairs Detachment, half of us are broadcast
journalists, and the other half writers for print (I am the
latter). Some of the larger Companies that come through here
(such as infantry) have to be here as long as six months!
Overall, I wouldn't say that the training was bad. In
fact, at times I enjoyed it, but there were times when it
felt irrelevant. That is ok though, because this is the Army
(ha!), and well, I chose this job. I am, however, glad that
it is over, and am looking forward to what is ahead of me.
I am proud to serve America and this time in my life, and I
do feel that what I am doing will be a part of history. I
love being a journalist in the Army, because as journalists,
our main purpose is to tell the soldiers' stories. That
is so important. There are so many guys (and girls), out
there in the desert who have it really hard. If you just look
at the news, you will see what kind of conditions some
soldiers are living it. Especially the infantry- they have to
live in the worst conditions for the longest period of time.
I can't imagine ever wanting to do that, but feel so
grateful that there are those who will stand up and sacrifice
everything. Those are the gentlemen (sorry, no women in the
infantry), whose stories need to be told.
Although my biggest regret being deployed is missing school,
I think I am going to learn so much in this year. While I
think of myself as a pretty good writer, I will have to
become a professional - fast. I will be doing the job of a
reporter at your local newspaper, but I've never worked
at a newspaper before. At the same time, I'll be doing
some public affairs work (escorting civilian media, etc.),
taking pictures, and keeping my head down and rifle up. We
are told that we are "soldiers first," which
couldn't be more true. In other words, if bullets start
flying, I won't be trying to take pictures.
Anyway, I think that is all for now. I'm just about to
start my adventure, and I'm excited. I want to thank Elon
for the chance to have this blog during my deployment. I
think it is a really cool idea, and I hope I can provide you
all with lots of stories and pictures from the desert!