Kuwait Diary – Email from the Desert Camps
Deploying can be one of the most wrenching experiences of your life. Whoever is writing modern romances about deserts, camels, and oases just is out of touch with the reality of the military and life in Kuwait. I am not saying that a deployment is not rewarding, challenging and the hardest work of your career but romantic? Nah.
“In April 2003, I said goodbye to my husband and children before leaving for Kuwait on a 12-month hardship tour. It was to be at least six months before mid-tour, if leave would be allowed by then. Checked in, and caught Lufthansa out of Frankfurt. Ever have one of those dreams in which you taxi forever and go nowhere? This was one of those off the end of the earth type experiences.”
With that, U.S. Army Physician Holly Doyne departed Germany for an assignment to Camp Doha as Command Surgeon, ARCENT-Kuwait, for what became a prolonged tour. This is her record of that time. It is about battling with the heat, the bureaucracy, and the dust in the desert. It is about ordered chaos and confusion tempered with caring. It is a warm and lively account by a determined and compassionate physician who went to make a difference to soldier’s medical care, assigned to a location where making a difference really mattered.
What is it about?
Kuwait Diary provides a rare look into the real lives of the women and men in combat service support, those who were performing the myriad of tasks to keep goods and services flowing north. Not claiming roles as heroes, from the early part of the war on, there were just crowded conditions and 14-18 hour days on end…the Kuwait mission was to support those who were northern bound providing food, housing, medical care…
Through the daily emails she sent to family, colleagues and friends, Holly draws you into the life of Camp Doha as it existed from April 2003-August 2004. Her wit, compassion, and sense of duty remain intact while she reports on everything from doing the right thing for patients and her soldiers, to being on a seemingly endless quest for good books and something to eat.
An enjoyable read for anyone who has been there. You will recognize landmarks, people and events, from the Marble Palace, to Robin Williams and the USO shows. From Udari Range to KNB, Army, Air Force and Navy bases in turn warrant mention for their contribtion to the service members of the theater, be it good meals or health risk from factories near by. From the largest movement of troops since World War II to the arrival of the US Navy on dry land, there are a few heroes and heroines and the rare villain. Mostly there are ordinary people finding it is “not about them, but about making it better for others.”
For families of those deployed, Kuwait Diary is not about combat but the knowledge that were are thousands supporting those in harms’ way, doing their best to keep them safe, healthy [and occasionally entertained] at the start of the war. Still forwarded deployed and supporting the war effort, it is not that many miles to the border
“Seeing life through Holly’s eyes is a wonderful and altering experience–her perspectives are fresh, sometimes brash and often irreverent. This is fascinating reading!”
The Official Disclaimer up front – just so you know …
This book is my opinion and my opinion only. It does not represent the U.S. Army Medical Department, the U.S. 3rd Army, U.S. Forces Central Command, CFLCC (Coalition Forces Land Component Command), or any other official governmental or non-governmental entity.
Specifically: ” the views expressed in this book are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.”
Acknowledgements—none of us who deploy or go downrange can easily or comfortably do it without the support of our family and friends
I have a husband who has supported me through our marriage, children, deployments, and multiple Army moves while re-establishing his law practice and serving as solo parent when required. Who knew that going to Germany in 1981 with the military would lead to all of this? Our children Shana, Daniela, Noah, and Miriam, are our lives and our joy. Friends like Carmen, Helen, Jen, Cat, Lynne, and Steven have provided email support and helped keep me sane. I am honestly not sure how service members survived when it was weeks and months without word from home. Letters and cards are wonderful, but just that short note every couple of day keeps those of us deployed part of our families’ lives at home.
There are those mailing lists like THEBRAVE; organizing Temples, Synagogues, and Shuls to support military and civilians deployed. I know that it happens across all faith groups. Those cards, letters, and packages do mean a lot to those of us away from home and families. The Red Cross has teams here, deploying right alongside the military handling all the emergency message traffic as well as all care packages sent by people and organizations through them. The troops really do benefit.
Those who read those daily emails and kept up with my challenges [of deliverying medical care for service members in Kuwait] who have been with me since childhood, college, the military, Bosnia, or other assorted points along my journey, you may well see yourself in my words, because you were a part of my life. I hope you don’t mind. Carolyn started asking in fall of 2003 when I was going to put all of my daily essays into a book. I am not saying that I owed her for all the packages from Operation Gratitude that always seemed to arrive just as needy soldiers were on my doorstep, but the opinion of a someone on the other side of the world, met only through email did start me thinking.
Kathryn’s sage advice from Down-Under brought me smiles while downrange through long email conversations and got me through the first round of putting the manuscript together. However, there is a significant difference between UK and US spelling, trust me. (And then there is the challenge of German keyboards and spell checkers for the native dyslexic.) Pat contributed to my flamingo delinquent behavior by making and sending origami to match the wind-chimes sent by Carmen hanging proudly in my office to help drive everyone else insane. A long distance email friend since 1996, she has selflessly helped me track down some missing days, get through two more editing sessions. I still lay claim to all the typos and weird punctuation, but without Pat’s help, I never would have finished.
At this point, all the links should be functioning
The links at the top will take you to the main sections. The links at the sides will get you there as well, plus include some representative days and experiences from my tour of duty. The booklink section has all the links that were in my original emails. All were obviously functional when I wrote the emails, and I verified them Fall 2005 before I submitted the manuscript. I can not guarantee that all still function. Follow them at your own choice and risk, but if you are reading through July 04 and want to try your hand at beating Brad at Bash the Haggis, following a link is a lot easier than typing it in. I am still not sure that “do it yourself” Fenugreek is worth it.
Under Quick Links
are the current live links which will take you to the really important places for; Operation First Response, the All Volunteer Network supporting our war wounded, Operation Gratitude, Carolyn Blashek’s California based organization which has provided thousands of care packages and thank you gifts, Andreas Viklund (the author of the open source webcode I used as the start for this website), and lastly this book, at my book publishing house where it is available in both paperback and eBook format (PDF). Go to the Purchase page link to find all the other ordering options.