A few have asked why (and when) I started this blog. This blog was begun in 2004-2005, but for a very different purpose.
My step-son Mike had been deployed to Iraq as part of the 101st airborne (716th bn) in April 2003. In October of that year during an armed transport of Lt. Col. Kim Orlando, he and his detail were caught in an ambush in Karbala. (I am shaking as I type this). This was one of the first major "insurgent" incidents of the war, when things started to unravel in a hurry. Orlando and 2 other soldiers were killed; at this point, Orlando became the highest ranking officer KIA in the war. Mike was driving him; 2 other humvees were in the group. When they drove through an alley they became trapped in an ambush - both ends of the alley blocked, several others on rooftops, about 80 shiites in all against about 15 US soldiers. No firing had started, so Orlando got out to try to calm the situation, along with Mike's buddy Sean Grilley. Kim was shot in the neck. Sean was shot - he was right outside the humvee door where Mike was sitting at the wheel. Mike got out to try to help him, nearly getting shot himself. Sean died in his arms. Another soldier, Joe Bellavia, was killed (I think he was already in the vehicle but I don't remember this part). 7 others were wounded. Teresa Broadwell manned the turret (the soldier assigned to that task was too scared out of his wits so she had to take over) on the other humvee and though she could not see out the turret window (she is under 5 feet tall), she was able to calculate where to fire by following tracers - she kept enough firepower going to provide cover, as Mike got out and got Sean's body in the vehicle, and with help, Orlando (who was not yet dead). He attempted to drive out of the alley. One tire had been knocked out; only 3 good ones left and the vehicle was rapidly filling with blood. Somehow he was able to maneuver the vehicle out of there. All 3 humvees took the wounded to the nearest army coalition hospital. Orlando died before they could get him there. But though he saved lives there was trauma from this and other events there. He was decorated by Petraeus (cmdr of the 101st at the time) for his action in the Karbala incident. Here's the story if you want to read more (MIke -- Michael Totten -- shared his story at the Winter Soldier hearings; his testimony is about halfway down the page): http://www.democracynow.org/2008/3/19/half_a_decade_of_war_five.
After the Karbala incident, everything changed. My husband and I became much more politically active. This blog was used to write about some of what we were going through, though I did not keep it as up to date as I would have wished. I often found it emotionally difficult to confront my real anxieties at the time, both for Mike and my husband, who was having a far tougher time though this period. After Mike came home, I deleted all the content on these pages (sorry now that I did). They have been idle until early this year, when I began to post again.
About 1- 2 years ago, as things settled down in our personal lives (Mike was home back in college and our other kids were either at college or leading their own adult lives), I found I had the time and space to revisit old personal history, events and experiences that I had wondered about for years, but had put on the back burner in order to carry out my ordinary daily life. I began my exploration by joining Dreamland (www.unknowncountry.com) last year, participating in the chat sessions on that site. I met some wonderful people there with whom I shared stories of my past experiences, including the ones posted here. It felt "safe" as it was a temporary means of discussion without posting to a public board (which until recently I was hesitant to do). I also attended the Dreamland Festival event last year. I joined the Paracast board last year, but did not post much until recently. Mike Clelland's recent posts there frankly gave me the courage to come forward more publicly (thanks Mike!), though I still have this weird feeling of wanting to run an hide every time I talk about this. Yet I feel a strong compulsion that its time to do this. I feel I must get my stories out whether written or visual. This is largely a selfish act, something I need to do for me.