My significant emotional event

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Kimberly Perry
  • 319th Contracting Flight superintendent
Significant emotional events are the circumstances that shake us to our souls disallowing us to ever be the same again, as defined by sociologist Dr. Morris Massey.

My significant emotional event took place on July 11, 2007. At the time, I was deployed in Iraq and assigned to a brand new Forward Operating Base called Hammer. I was there with a RED HORSE team to build up the site for the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, as part of the troop surge. It was that day we received our first rocket attack.

Twelve rockets hit in and around an Army Life Support Area that was less than a block from one of our construction sites. A young Army sergeant was killed and several others were wounded. Our newly completed medical dispensary was not equipped to handle the wounded soldiers, so they were taken to the landing zone to await transport to Balad Air Base. The landing zone was located right outside of our Air Force Life Support Area and directly across from my utilities shop. Three of my Airmen were called over by the medics to bring water and make shade for the injured who were laid out on stretchers, sitting directly on compressed gravel in 100-degree temperatures. There was a general sense of panic at the amount of time it was taking to get the air evacuations in. My Airmen utilized what they were taught in combat skills training that afternoon as they assisted with loading the wounded into helicopters when they finally arrived.

Early on July 12, 2007, (as released by the Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory) an unmanned aerial vehicle (that's what we called them back then) maneuvered by the 3rd Brigade located 46 rockets launchers in the Northern section of Besmaya Range Complex aimed at FOB Hammer. Thirty-four of the launchers were armed with Iranian 107mm rockets. The other 12 launchers sat empty. Soldiers from the 789th Explosive Ordnance Disposal team immediately responded and successfully neutralized the remaining rockets.

It's amazing how quickly your mind can normalize a situation like that (only to be dealt with later) in a deployed environment. I recall feeling very calm while going through the accountability process and while talking to my team to ensure everyone was all right. Work resumed, dinner was eaten and everyone was to bed on time. Life went on.

I look back often on that event and I know I'm no longer the same person because of it. Over time, I've learned to be grateful for the perspective and the clarity that this experience provided me. It seems so simple, but sometimes in the hustle and bustle of our military lives we lose sight of what's really important.

Three things to keep you on track:

1. It's your family and your Airmen who matter the most. Make them your priority.
2. Live your life in a way that would make your parents proud.
3. Don't take a minute for granted.