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Diaries From the Desert

  • Maggie Hogan Home-School Author, Speaker, and Mother
  • 2002 17 Jul
Diaries From the Desert
 A year ago, our bright and talented (okay, so I’m biased) son decided that he was tired of college and wanted to do something “real” for a change. So he joined the army. For a little background you may want to read my article about JB and basic training, “Diary of a New Recruit.” Well, JB has been in one year now and was recently deployed to Kuwait. He writes home when he can and I thought I’d share some of his letters with you. When I start to complain about the heat, I think of JB and the thousands of others in the military stationed in faraway places in less than ideal conditions. I am blessed that so many are willing to make sacrifices for their country and I am proud that JB is one of them. Thank God for our military!


Holy Cow Everyone, 

I’m in Kuwait! It is incredible. Already I have gone from “Whoa, this is awesome!” to “One more day of this and I’m killing myself!” and back again. Let me start from the beginning. 

It all started first thing Sunday morning back at Ft. Benning. I was tired and not really in a “Let’s Deploy!” mood. But I staggered out of bed and dragged all 155 pounds of gear (my body weight, incidentally) to the company area. Even though we had already stowed duffle bags and rucksacks I still had 60 lbs of junk to wear. {Editor’s Note: I wonder how many pounds of that were in the form of his books?} 

The plane was a Boeing 777. Talk about unbelievably cool! Each seat had a built in TV and remote. It had three columns of three seats each, plus first class. It would have been very pleasant had there been no soldiers on it. 

The flight was very long and messed with your head. Between sleeping at odd times, the 7-hour time change, 15 hours of flight, and 3 delays, I was thoroughly messed up by the time we got in the country. We arrived in Kuwait International Airport at about 1730 local time. It was my first experience with time travel. It was strangely anticlimactic. Of course, 7 hours isn’t exactly a huge time leap. 

We got off the planes right onto busses. There were lines of hedges, trees, (palms and short bushy ones) and grass! So far Kuwait is mocking my expectations. Board busses. Sleep. Exacerbate already bad jet lag. 

1930. Not the year. We only traveled in time for 7 hours, remember? We arrived at Camp Doha. Serious whoa. Warehouses. Military vehicles everywhere. Not as hot as I expected. {Editor’s note: Yet.} Nice breeze. Smells like that little beach by Grandma’s house. 

Briefing received. Lots of clichés and militarisms. Got it. We’ve heard this all before.

We are shown to our vehicles. Mine has two serious problems. Number one, my cooling fan rotates about as quickly as, as, something notorious for revolving slowly. The Earth maybe. 

But most worrisome is my engine access hatch. This is a hydraulic lift cover that rises to expose the engine components. Mine takes about 15 seconds to open and 7.5 minutes to close. Already I’m having visions: 

“Hogan, we’re halting. Go check your fluids.”

“Roger,” replies our hero.

“Whirrrrr....” says the hatch.

Private First Class Hogan (who just got promoted on June 15th) begins checks.

“Boom!!” explains the artillery.

“We’re taking fire! Get in and close the hatch, let’s go!!!”

“Tick . . . tick. .. . tick . . .” says the hatch moving so slowly it is unobservable to the naked eye.

“Yeah, tell the Lt. We’re gonna be about 7.5 minutes behind them,” says PFC Hogan.

“Darn! Well, Hogan. We’re gonna have to rely on your “Powers in the Force” to push those shells away.”


So, I’m not exactly thrilled with Bravo 13 right now. But I finished my vehicle PMCS and PLUT. We received BII, SKO, asked about PLL and were denied CRTT. After LNTT the TC’s set up our SP and we were almost done. (Bonus game: Guess which acronyms I totally made up!) 

The final task at Camp Doha was to load the Bradleys onto the HET trucks. When we finally loaded all the vehicles, we drivers hopped into the cab section of the truck but everyone else got on busses. 

Nice highway. Pretty lights. Ahhh . . .  Sleep. 

Kaboom! The truck lunges violently off the road and into the dusty side paths. Due to the extreme vibration I give up all hope of sleep. Foolishly I decide to watch the road. My driver dodges the small divots by hurtling directly into gaping potholes. I’m sure we went airborne. 

It became a free for all once we hit the side roads. Cutting each other off, passing on the “shoulder,” foregoing the road altogether in favor of the wilderness. It was wild. 

About 1 km from our outpost we stopped. The Bradleys would go the rest of the way under their own power. The sun is beginning to rise. It’s leering at us. “Give me eight hours and I’ll have you crying for mommy,” it says. 

We arrive in the Kabal. Our tents are okay. There are 12 men in each. They’ve got a tube running across the top to cool them off when the wind blows. (Editor’s note: He told us by phone that it’s 135 F - 140 F during the day but cools off at night.) There is a double door airlock system to keep the dust down. But the battle against dust isn’t winnable. The Kuwaiti desert is not sand; it is dirt. Endless nasty dirt. And it blows all over. We have to clean our weapons 3 times a day just from walking around. 

So far it hasn’t been too bad work wise. Filling sand bags stinks but they are relatively smart about when and for how long we do that. We have also worked a bit on the Brads but nothing major. Breakfast this morning was canned Mexican barf eggs. It was . . . filling. Lunch was an MRE. They haven’t started a chapel service yet. Supposed to be soon. 

I’ll write more when stuff happens.

~ JB

Maggie Hogan is a motivational speaker and co-author of The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide, Gifted Children at Home, and other resource books. She and her husband Bob have been home schooling their boys since 1991. Involved in local, state, and national home-schooling issues, they both serve on boards of home education organizations in Delaware. They are also owners of Bright Ideas Press (, a home-school company dedicated to bringing the best practical, fun, and affordable materials to the home-school market.

Maggie's e-mail address is