News: First-time deployers adjust to new surroundings
Story by Sgt. Alun Thomas
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait — Ask any Soldier who arrives in Kuwait for the first time what their initial thoughts of the country are and there is one unanimous response: "hot."
With temperatures routinely soaring into the 100's, such an answer is understandable when faced with seemingly endless miles of desert, especially for those 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers who have yet to serve a deployment in the Middle East.
With the 1st Air Cav. in Kuwait, and undertaking various training tasks, these first-time deployers have had time to settle into their surroundings and acclimatize as they prepare to head to Iraq and put their training to maximum effect.
The location has been a good change of scenery for Spc. Timothy Edmonds, paralegal specialist, from Elmwood, Tenn., 1st Air Cav., who said the transition to Kuwait and deployment thus far had been a smooth one.
"Everything is regimented; you go to work call and you're done and you go back to your tent and relax while others go running or lift weights," Edmonds said, after his first week in Kuwait. "Basically [we do] anything to kill time before we head to Iraq."
Edmonds said he had low expectations of Kuwait but had been pleasantly surprised and added the weather was not as bad as he had been led to believe.
"The weather could be a lot worse, and it is tolerable so far, but the standard is being set for what we can expect in Iraq," Edmonds said of the overall experience. "The standard of living here is low but should improve when we get to Iraq. But it is good to go through this, especially on your first deployment."
For first-time deployer, Spc. Jennifer Michael, from Mason, Ohio, Headquarters Support Company, 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cav., said, despite the heat, living standards are a lot better than she expected.
"I thought we would be living in conditions worse than this," Michael said of the mass tent environment. "We have also had hot showers every day so far which some people thought may not be available."
Michael expects the deployment to become far more stressful once she reaches Iraq, but for now she is taking advantage of the training and less hectic pace of Camp Buehring.
"I had a lot of fun at the reflexive fire training at the range, and it has been a relief to not run around wearing the [Improved Outer Tactical Vest] all day which I honestly expected to do here," Michael said.
Followed by four years in the Army and two in Korea, Michael said her first deployment was inevitable.
"I knew it would happen at some stage of my enlistment, and here I am," Michael said.
"This is where the hard work really pays off."
For Spc. Richard Coleman, from San Diego, Calif., Intelligence analyst, 1st Air Cav., has finally begun his first combat deployment — carrying on a family tradition, and he said it's a "dream come true."
"I come from a military family, and in my four years in the Army, I was deployed to Bosnia, but this is my first combat deployment," Coleman said. "My grandfather served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam and my father served in Vietnam also. My grandfather said 'it's about time' when he found out I was going to Iraq."
Coleman, who is joined on this deployment by his wife on her second tour of Iraq, said he will feel enormous satisfaction when he is able to wear a combat patch on his right shoulder.
"I never used to feel self conscious about not having one until I got to Fort Hood where almost everyone has one," Coleman said. "Some people have called me a deployment dodger so it will be a relief to place that patch on."