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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]

July 12th 2006

RUMSFELD ---

Hello again! Well, I’m getting a little bit better at this; it’s just been over one week since my last blog entry. I’ve been in Iraq for 11 days now, and I’m starting to get used to it although my schedule is quite grueling.

At least for the first month that I’m here, things look like they are going to be pretty tough. I know I’m only a Public Affairs specialist, but our Commander had us hit the ground running. We already put together enough material for our first weekly publication of the Anaconda Times, and it will be coming out on Sunday. In order to make sure everything is ready, though, it means that everyone has to be at the office from about 7:30 a.m. ‘till anywhere from 5-8 p.m. We are putting in some long days here. By the time we get home at night (to our lovely trailers), all we have energy to do is fall into bed.

On the topic of all the mortars that hit Anaconda each day, I finally got one close to me. The whole time I’ve been here, I’ve heard a lot of “booms,” and “All-clear’s,” (after a mortar hits, you have to wait until ‘all clear’ comes over a loudspeaker before you can resume doing whatever you are doing), but never an actual “incoming.” Well, the other day when I was walking to dinner, the alarm sounded with “incoming, incoming, incoming!,” and we had to wait in a bunker outside the chow hall until the “all clear” came about 20 minutes later.

I didn’t hear anything explode, so I think it was just a faulty round, but it was interesting nonetheless.

On another note, today was just the pinnacle of a high-paced welcome to Iraq when the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, made an unannounced (well, we knew he was coming) visit to our base. You may have heard in the news that he stopped at our base to talk with the soldiers here the day after meeting with the Afghan president. Well, since we are the majority of the media here at Camp Anaconda, guess who escorted the Secretary, took pictures, shot video, sent press releases, etc. Yes, that’s right, my team. It really wouldn’t be a big deal except we just got here, and hadn’t operated in this way before.

Finally, I’ll be going on my first mission tomorrow night, and I’ll be gone for a few days. I’ll be visiting at least one other base in Iraq, and maybe two. Interestingly, I’ll be going along with two journalists; one print, and one documentary-maker. One works for German media, and the other is British. The British journalist was kidnapped in Iraq more than a year ago, and is already back here to get stories-it’s really inspiring.

So, since I don’t know how long I’ll be gone, I’m not sure when I’ll write again. But when I do, I will have stories form outside the wire.

-aLeX