Memorable account of the Iraq war as experienced by an Army captain and her husband, a helicopter pilot with the 101st Airborne Division.
Kate and Mike Blaise were deployed to Iraq in March 2003. She managed transportation for the 1st Brigade’s 327th “Bastogne” Infantry, which was attacked from within even before entering Iraq when a sergeant who had converted to Islam years earlier lobbed grenades into several tents, hoping to kill as many Americans as possible before they could “rape and murder innocent Muslims.” While Kate’s battalion set up camp at Qayyarah West (immediately dubbed “Q-West”), an abandoned Iraqi airbase that had been bombed by coalition forces, Mike and fellow Air Cavalry pilots provided much needed aerial support to the ground troops. The author’s straightforward prose gives readers an inside look at the difficult conditions in Iraq: wearing heavy gear in 130-degree heat; enduring fierce sandstorms that make breathing all but impossible; worrying about the possibility of biological attack. Life at Q-West was made bearable by the hard work of soldiers and civilians. A makeshift golf course sprang up amid charred debris, making the official list of the PGA; Kate started a newsletter, The Sandy Club Gazette, which boasted a popular French-bashing section; and Iraqi locals opened American-style pizza parlors. Tragically, Mike’s helicopter went down just days before he completed his tour of duty; Kate escorted his body home to Missouri and tried to adjust to her most difficult role yet—widow. Extensive information about the couple’s teenage years and initial Army service round out this story.
An earnest tribute to unsung heroes.