CARA, Karen New and Army discussed on This is War

This is War


Marine. I had spent my entire senior year in the delayed entry program for the Marine Corps, and I had my headset on like I was going to, I was going to go to Paris island after graduation was going to be a marine all proud of it. You know, we did things every weekend, like the recruiter will come up to the school and pick me up and take me. I was like the only curl as we go do wreck marches and we would PT and we train and two weeks after we graduated high school. My boyfriend at the time wasn't a car accident and he died on impact. And that really changed what I was going to do because at the end of the summer, I was supposed to go to boot. And when that happened in June, my plans was like, okay, no, we're not doing that now. Not ready. So a dingo I didn't swear in for the final time. So that kind of got pushed to the wayside for a while. Her boyfriend, death very well could have been the. In for CARA, the talked the way you do at that age about their future together about her future in the marines. Karen already had experienced deep and intense losses a child, and now with one more tragedy at the end of her childhood planning started to seem a little meaningless CARA threw herself into partying. Catching up on all the teenage shenanigans she'd missed out on during boarding school. She toyed with college and then with meaningless, fast food jobs, working sixteen hours a day as much to stave off small town boredom as earned cash. But she knew this wasn't how her life was opposed to go. It was kind of one of those things like one day I just got up and it was like, okay, what are we doing? What are your options? And so the one thing that felt comfortable to me and didn't feel like it was totally unknown. It was the thought of joining the military. A lot of the people that kind of took me under their wing when I was growing up where -ffiliated with the military, my uncle was Vietnam vet. When I was still in high school, Master Sergeant Lacey. He was a rifle team coach, and we used to talk all the time about like, what do you want for yourself? What do you want to do? What are you good at? And just hearing their stories about how neighbor young and then like they joined. My uncle was in the navy mess. Aren't lacy was in the army and just seeing how they were as people at that time as kind of what pushed me to go ahead and see the recruiter again because it was like these are good men. They're good people. They took care of me. There look. Out for me and they were very honest about what happens when you join, you know they're very realistic. They didn't keep a lot from me. Ultimately, Karen new, the marines were tied up in a life she wasn't going to have. So she joined the army. Instead she walked into the recruiter's office and asked what was the shortest route to becoming an active duty soldier. He told her eight, Mike, a truck driver, and at the time that was good enough for her. It isn't as if she thought it would be easy, but she knew the kind of people military attracted people who loved serving, who took it seriously and who craved excellence people who know what they're getting into within two years. She found herself in the middle of a convoy, driving ahead, heavy equipment, transport system with the ninety, six transportation company along the seemingly endless road between Kuwait and Iraq. I just remember my mindset. The first couple missions is just focusing on the truck in what what we were doing and where we were going and you just don't. Have time to worry about is that in ide- is, is you couldn't hear people shooting at you really if it was from faraway. And so I think that really helped because the things that people freak out about, I was pretty oblivious to because I was so focused on just not wrecking the truck for me to be able like all I saw a sand. Honestly, like was like, oh, we're in a city. Oh, it's just the desert, you know? And that was kind of a lot of what my first appointment was like was just taking all of that in. It turned out to be a pretty sweet gig for the first couple of months. CARA was so afraid of not being excellent at her job. She forgot to be afraid of the war. It didn't hurt that the nascent insurgency hadn't yet turned their attention to laying ideas for convoys. So CARA focused on learning the small tricks, how to stay awake and how to keep your head in the game when you felt your tension waning, because when you're running long distance convoys through war zone. The danger is much and not knowing as anything else we had taken small-arms fire, but we didn't hear it because the trucks are so loud when they're running like you can't hear anything. You can't yell to each other through a window. You know what I mean? Like it's just that loud and I remember we got to where we were going, and someone was pointing at their fuel tanks. They had been pierced a couple times by munition. That reality is like, how in the hell did we take on small arms fire? And I had no freaking clue. But I just remember the reality of like you've just got shot at like, wow, this is real. The weight of that. There's so much going on. It's hard to process and you almost don't. I don't know any other way to explain it like you kind of acknowledge like, yeah, that happened awhile. You know, because if you think about it and you go on another mission, if that's what your heads that that complacency or that fear is. Where people make mistakes, and they don't have to be your mistakes for you to pay for them by her second deployment convoys had become a regular target for the insurgency convoys were how the Iraqi army and police were getting better more sophisticated weaponry and how small dealers were getting gasoline, and other essentials in and out of major cities, stopping for breakdowns perceived ID's was both more common and more dangerous than it had been on her first deployment and the casualty rate was higher as well.

Coming up next