From the front

  • Published

Name: Capt. Pamela Tan
Deployed unit: JCCS-1 attached to 1-76 Field Artillery Battalion, FOB Kalsu.
Home unit: 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron
Job description: electronic warfare officer

What will you remember about your deployment 20 years from now?
The friends that I made and I've never said the word "huah" or "hoah" so much in my entire life. I got to fire a 105mm howitzer.

What's the most useful item you packed?
A flashlight. FOB Kalsu has light discipline, it's pitched black at night at zero percent illumination.

What do you wish you had packed?
A good picture of my boyfriend and lots of TUMS (Indian Monday at the DFAC, it's so good, but it will give you heartburn).

When did you realize you "weren't in Kansas anymore;" aka your "Dorothy" moment?
I've been to Iraq before, so the second time that I saw Al Faw palace, it was, "Oh dear, I'm really back."

What's the best part of the deployment?
Instant satisfaction in knowing that I play a part in saving soldiers' lives everyday.

The worst part?
Removing a bloody body armor to salvage a piece of equipment to retrofit another vehicle so that the soldiers who had their buddy blown-up the day before can go back and patrol that same route.

What new survival skill have you learned?
Avoid kids.
BOB (big orange ball, aka the sun) is not your friend in Iraq.
There is no way to judge how deep a mud puddle is by looking.
Don't anger the fire support officer, he can put an artillery round flying at the speed of sound in the roof of your house with just a phone call.

What do you do during down time?
Sipping Turkish coffee with interpreters, SLEEP, call home, try to finish SOS in correspondence (not so much).

What is the first thing you will do and eat when you return?
A long hot shower, sleep (I mean really sleep, the peaceful kind, not the 2, 3, 4 hour kind or the kind that was constantly interrupted by artillery fire, indirect fire, radio call, control detonation, a soldier knocking on the wrong door, etc.), I would like to have some of my Grandma's cooking (but she lives in California, so that would have to wait).