The League of Extraordinary Women Veterans

The Iraq War ended last month, not with victory cheers but more with a weary sigh.  When I came back from the first Persian Gulf War, I felt empty and tired and just wanted to be home.

One of the most memorable faces of the second was Jessica Lynch, who was taken prisoner in the early days of the war.  She was a female soldier, and what happened to her was a fear that we all had.  I think her photo — the Basic Training one that was published in all the newspapers — mesmerized people because she looked so innocent.  I looked at that photo and saw me.

When we deployed, women going to war was still a controversial thing.  Newspaper articles ran dramatic accounts of mothers leaving their families (ignoring the fact that men were also doing the same thing) and what the cultural differences would be.  Just from what we were given in briefings and what we were seeing in the news, it did not seem like we would be welcome.

The women in my unit were particularly in the spotlight because we were part of a transportation company.  We hit the sands and were on the road right away, a very visible aspect of how different the two cultures were.  It was illegal for Saudi women to  drive.  As the build-up started, we were on 50 truck convoys heading out to deliver ammunition.  Because of the shifting geology of the land, we didn’t even have good maps to guide us (no GPS then!).

It was those convoys I thought of when I watched the film Saving Jessica Lynch.  That was a really bad made for television movie that was rushed into production after her rescue (I’m not commenting on the accuracy of the film itself).  But there’s a scene in the movie when Private Lynch’s convoy gets lost.  The convoy commander stubbornly goes on, even though he doesn’t know where he’s going and ends up in the town where they are attacked and Lynch’s life is changed forever.

I watched that scene and practically had a meltdown.  In that instant, I could easily see how one of our convoy commanders could have gotten us lost and done exactly the same thing.

That attack could have happened to us.

It could have happened to me.

We were all part of the same club: Female soldiers.

For more on my Persian Gulf War experiences:

21st Anniversary: Women at War

A Female Soldier’s Life During War

Clarity, Voice of a Soldier: Operation Liberty

3 thoughts on “The League of Extraordinary Women Veterans

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