Friday, January 23, 2009

Heart of a Military Woman -- to Support and Defend

Below is a guest post from Eldonna Lewis Fernandez, MSgt USAF Retired. The photo is of her in Qatar in the summer of 2002.

May 2002 -- The El Paso Texas airport was busy as always. Many army personnel were in a group heading to board a plane for a deployment to Afghanistan. Ft Bliss is a stone’s throw from the airport and Holloman AFB where I was stationed is 90 miles away. This is an area saturated with the presence of the military and the airport was busy with troops coming and going.

I walked to the escalator and stepped on. I didn't look back until I got to the top and saw my children and my sister walking toward the exit. They could no longer walk me to the gate to see me off for temporary duty. National Guard personnel were at various locations throughout the airport, weapons ready; 9/11 had left our country in a constant state of alert.

It was now my turn to support and defend in the Middle East. As an Air Force master sergeant I was being sent to run an operation.

I walked down the long corridor to the plane that would start my journey. El Paso to Atlanta to board a flight with 200 plus others deploying to various locations in that region. Atlanta to Germany for a layover while the plane refueled. Germany to Qatar where I would be spending the next four months of my life in tent city.

There was the threat of being blown out of the sky and we all knew it. We approached the runway to the base in Qatar with shades drawn and lights out so as not to be easily detected.

Touch down around midnight; it’s hot, humid, dusty and miserable. The bags are piled in the middle of the camp, about 1000 of them. Most people have four bags, personal and military-issued gear. Good thing I marked mine with some bright colored scarves -- 400 chemical warfare gear bags all look the same.

Once processed in, my group of about 30 piled into a bus and was hauled off to a place called Camp Snoopy, where I would run the contracting operation for the 1,000 person base …

Unless you've been in the military or been around military life, you may not know what the life of a military woman is like. The book I’m co-authoring – “Heart of a Military Woman” – will be a collection of inspirational stories and poems about women who have served their country in the armed forces.
President Obama made a comment in his inaugural speech about being of service. The military woman is being of service to her country, to her family, to her children if she has them, and to her fellow service members. It's a special kind of life.

If you are or were a military woman, a child of a military woman, a mother, father or other relative of a military woman, a friend, co-worker or neighbor, you have a story to tell.

We are looking for original stories by, for and about military women. Please submit your story before the March 14th deadline for possible publication in our upcoming book.

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