Thursday, May 14, 2009

Camp Liberty, Iraq......A year in review!

There have been so many things happen this year, both good and bad, that I don't know where to start. The last week alone has been filled with many joys and tragedies. I guess it would be best to start at the beginning.
The first step was quite possibly one of the hardest. Making the decision to get on the plane heading for Houston one year ago. This would be the time it set in that I would be leaving the most important thing in my life for a whole year. I had to leave Heather at the checkpoint with tears in both of our eyes, but we had both agreed that this journey would help make the life we wanted so much easier to obtain. After spending a week in Houston, it was back on a plane and off to Iraq.
When I landed in Baghdad mid May the temperature was already in the 100's during the heat of the day. It took several days to get used to a heat that the breeze couldn't even make feel a little bit more bearable. The wind felt like someone holding a blow dryer to your face! I was assigned to Camp Liberty Fire Station #1. Not only is this the HQ for all operations in Iraq, it is also the biggest base in Iraq.
As the year wore on, the responsibilities kept pouring in. Before I had even been on my first R&R, I was already in charge of all the training for the entire VBC. That is 4 sites, 6 stations, and about 70 firefighters. In late September I made my way home for my first vacation. I had a great time. Heather and I took a trip to Jacksonville Beach and just enjoyed each others company away from the fast paced lives we had been used to for the last 3 years.
When I returned from R&R, I not only got assigned a prevention program responsible for 39,000 inspections a year, but I was also put in a position as a company officer. Sleep became a figment of my imagination as there was always one more thing that needed done. I learned just how short tempered I really am and found my breaking point when it comes to stress. The 4 months between R&R's was a very long time. Finally, February rolled around and I got to take an amazing trip.
Heather and I met in Rome! I hadn't seen anything that amazingly beautiful for 4 months. We spent our first couple of days exploring, and getting lost in Rome. After that we hopped on a train to Venice. We spent two days there. Carnival was in full swing there and Heather absolutely loved it. Next it was another train ride to Florence. We spent a day there with Heather sneaking pictures inside a museum where pictures were strictly forbidden. After that, one more train ride back to Rome for the final day of our trip.
Shortly after returning from my second R&R, I officially got the promotion to Lieutenant. Unfortunately, with the title came more responsibilities. I was sent to run another station, returned just in time to prepare for a big inspection and somehow lose track of time. Now that the final few days are here, it feels like someone has tied an anchor to the clock. The minutes seem like hours and so on. I only have to make it through Saturday and then it will be on a plane out of here.
I am ready to go home, but at the same time, I am nervous about what that brings. Will I get a job? Will things be the way they were? Will my dog remember who I am? I will soon find the answers to these questions and so much more. There have been many good things come out of this year. Many things have been made possible by the decision to come here. But in the end, was it worth the year lost at home? I will soon find out!