from the front

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Name: Holley Pennington
Unit (current): 613th Weapons Intelligence Team
Job description: Collecting , analyzing, and disseminating critical data on enemy capabilities relating directly to their use of weapons, particularly that of IEDs.

What will you remember about your deployment 20 years from now?
I am sure I'll have many memories to return with, but I could not forget my teammates or that I was a different person before I left.

What's the most useful item you packed?
My laptop; it has provided an avenue of communication with my family and friends, valuable resources on a variety of subjects both personal and mission related, and a place to collect, save and organize memories.
What do you wish you had packed?
More books, reading keeps my mind stimulated and ready; when I get bored I lose focus.

When did you realize you weren't in Kansas anymore, aka your "Dorothy" moment?
It never came. My experience is that the culture shock is worse and far more awkward when returning to the states and what was "normal."

What has this deployment taught you ? 
Physical, emotional, and spiritual readiness are essential to staying on top of everything going on from the mission to personal well-being. I heard this over and over again in training and was annoyed at the repetitive lectures, but they were right.

Have you gained or lost weight? How did it happen?
Neither as far as I can tell, but I have only been here for 60 out of 365 days.

What new survival skill have you learned? The smallest detail makes the biggest difference and spotting that is the key (i.e., if it seems out of place it probably is).

What will you buy with your hazardous duty pay or other $ garnered from your deployment? I am saving for a house and higher education; my real passion is for animals and science, not "soldiering." Although, I do enjoy the rush I get when I face danger and all my allies and I walk away unscathed. It is a bonding experience.

What food are you craving most and what will your first meal be when you return?
My own homemade spaghetti sauce. I'd really like a good plate of sushi when I return.