As a female with a Ph.D. in Anthropology who’d never even seen a real gun before, I couldn’t have been more out of place in a war zone, either with Afghan, Iraqi or US military culture. But in spite of that, Soldiers and civilians alike were kind enough to answer all my off-the-wall questions and let me share their lives. These are my and, more importantly, their stories.
Initially, I was just going to focus on Afghanistan (as the book eventually will), but I realized there are many stories from Iraq that remain untold as well, so this will look at both. I have changed the names, locations, and times of these stories to protect the innocent (and not-so-innocent), though if you think you recognize yourself, that may well be the case. I am also writing this well after my deployments, to help keep all my interviewees safer with the buffer of time and distance.
My heartfelt thanks go to everyone who helped make everything I did while deployed possible: my family and friends for the unending support and care packages; the many civilians I had the pleasure to work with, including my awesome teammates (beards and all); all of the military men and women who taught me how to talk the talk and mostly walk the walk, most especially those of 1/25th ID, 3/101st ABN, and 3/1st ID who took me in, took me out, and made sure I never got a scratch; and last but not least, the Afghans and Iraqis who were willing to take a risk and tell me about their lives.
Here’s to all of you. I hope that I can do you justice and repay all you’ve done for me–it’s not much, but this is how I start.