This was written when I first started the Sorority Soldier blog after finding out I’d be deployed for a second time.
Friday (August 1) I found out I was going back to Iraq for a second tour. I knew what was coming before my commander ever said it… I guess the “call me back when you’re alone” kinda gives it away. I’ve got three years left in the Army Reserve, so I knew there was a chance; since there isn’t a surplus of broadcast journalists, I knew the chances were even greater. Still, I was shocked. Was I just in denial the past two years that I’ve been safely back at home? I was panicked at first, and what bad timing! I found out the day before I left for a vacation at the beach (last time I found out while I was at the funeral home mourning my great grandmother). I guess there’s never a “good” time to hear you’re being deployed, even if you think there is. After I broke the news to my mom, grandma, stepdad, brothers, and aunt… I cried. I cried for the rest of the night, and then I prayed. I’ve been praying for a long time “God show me your will for my life. Show me what you want me to do, lead me in the right direction.” So, this must be the right direction, right? I’ve always known God had a plan for my life, and after my initial shock I turned the situation over to Him. He knows better than I do, and I’m better off leaving everything up to Him anyway.
I love to read church bulletins – ya know, the signs on the side of the road with inspirational thoughts. The one that sticks is “Faith is the ability not to panic.” Wow, so true. So that’s what I’m trying to do… not panic, that is. I admit it’s hard, but I’m looking to God’s grace to guide my faith along the “not panicking” path.
A little background on the sorority soldier: ￼I graduated from high school in Shreveport, LA in 2002. I went straight to the Red Stick (FYI.. Baton Rouge) and became an LSU Tiger, studying mass communications. Since I was in high school, my plan was to be the next Diane Sawyer. I love her.. she’s intelligent, beautiful and seems so real. Anyway, I pledged Phi Mu while at LSU and loved it. I loved my sorority sisters, loved fraternity parties.. and fraternity boys, loved LSU games in Death Valley… loved everything… which is why everyone was shocked when I joined the Army.
In October of 2003, I walked into a recruiting office wanting to know how I could get help with college. I learned about the GI Bill, Tuition Assistance and Student Loan Repayment. The next question: Do all army jobs involve rolling around in the mud and getting dirty? I was so wrong about the army. I was told the army had a broadcast journalist position.. you’ve gotta be kidding me! Not only could I get money for college, but I could get extra training as a journalist and have more experience than everyone else with my degree. Where do I sign? I prayed about it for about three days, then I signed up… some would call it signing your life away, but I’m happy I did it.
￼I went through basic training at Fort Leonardwood, MO. From there, I went to AIT for journalism training at Fort Meade, MD and loved it! I finished in July 2004 and went back to LSU in the fall. I was drilling at a very small (I’m talking 3 people at drill) unit in New Orleans. I finished the first semester of my junior year when I got an e-mail… “PFC King, you’ve been cross-leveled to a unit in Dallas that’s deploying to Iraq. Let us know if you need anything. Good Luck.” (Seriously? You’re telling me in an e-mail. Thanks so much!)
So, I was transferred to the 206th BOD in Seagoville, TX and spent a year in Baghdad, Iraq. ￼We were stationed in the Green Zone aka International Zone. Our mission was to run AFN-Iraq, the radio station, and produce Freedom Journal Iraq, a newscast we sent to the Pentagon Channel. Overall, I enjoyed it. I was awarded Army Reserve Broadcast Journalist of the Year and another soldier from my unit got the Rising Star Award. We also got various awards for our newscasts and radio programs. I loved the radio! I felt like I was actually helping people, lifting spirits and boosting morale. I loved playing their favorite songs and hearing their stories of home.
After a couple of months on the radio, something completely random landed me in a media frenzy. A reporter from Stars and Stripes, a military paper, was looking for a story and came into the radio studio. I happened to be on the air, so he asked to interview me. He said it would probably be a small story and I could look for it in a couple of weeks. A few days later, I was on the front page of the paper and I thought the article was great. I guess other people did too, because it was duplicated all over, and those who didn’t duplicate it called me to get their own quotes. Next thing I knew, Jim Maceda from NBC and Harry Smith from CBS were in the studio interviewing me for national television! (Time Out.. can someone pinch me?)
I was staying at the office a couple of nights a week until the wee hours of the morning to do radio interviews in the states. It was crazy, unexpected, and threw me for a loop. I was so amazed anyone wanted to talk to me because I didn’t think I was anything special… I still don’t. I was just a girl on the radio, singing along to the songs I played and trying to put a smile on someone’s face. It’s the guys out in the field that deserve the attention; I still believe that and that’s who I’m focusing on when I go back.
I’ve been home for 2 years, and since then I’ve finished my degree (Mass Comm at LSU-Shreveport). I decided to transfer from Baton Rouge to Shreveport to be closer to family and I’ve loved having them around. I guess the first time there really made me realize what was important and I’m so thankful to have spent the past two years at home, especially now that I’m going back.
I know people have varying views on the war, and that’s okay. I just ask that you support our troops, because we have to go where we’re told. There are guys over there in situations you couldn’t imagine and they need to know they’re appreciated. I started this blog to give you an inside view of the life of a broadcast journalist in the Army. I don’t start mobilization training for a couple of months, but I’ll try to update this often once I do. Until then, pray for our troops and for peace in our world.