Team Lioness: Captain Anastasia Breslow's Diary Excerpts
Captain Anastasia Breslow
24 May 2004
The day I got this diary was actually one of the best days for me. I actually wrote in it, today was the best of days. What each day should aspire to be. It started out plainly enough. The alarm went off, my side was numb for sleeping on it too long. I didn’t want to get up. I took my time. Work was normal enough, as normal as work can be in a war zone. I got an unexpected call to work on a Humvee communications system that I was actually completely unfamiliar with and that was lots of fun. Mechanics hooked it up wrong and it was sparking everywhere. I thought I was going get electrocuted.
When I was done with that, I was disappointed because I didn’t have time to go to the gym. However when I got back from lunch everything changed. Behind my desk were stacked three high, three packages. The first was from Merlin, the second from Ken and Karen, friends of my parents, and the last from you. Um, my best friend sent me this diary so I write it as if I am writing to her. So the last was from you, my best friend. I opened Merlin’s first; it was the smallest and on top. It had a bottle of lotion I didn’t need, a movie I had been waiting months to get and gold. Not real gold but pictures. Pictures of Merlin and his friends, Merlin by himself, Merlin goofing off. It was great to see him. I hadn’t seen him in five months (starts to cry) and I was looking at new pictures. It was like seeing him again; I showed everyone the pictures. When I finished I took the other boxes to my room to sort out all the other packages.
27 May 2004
This was one of the not as good days. Merlin and I were a little tense on the phone. Probably because he’d had a bad day at court and I sensed his frustration. But we talked it out and had a good end. It was going to be very hard when he goes to England. I know that is selfish; it is going to be so incredible for him; I wish I could join him. I miss traveling and sightseeing. Even though I am in a foreign country at this moment I can’t enjoy the experience as I spend my days behind concertina wire and a tall dirt berm and I am experiencing a culture of dirt and dust.
2 June 2004
I’ve been on three Lioness missions so far. I don’t really want to go on any more because it is too hot out. The first two missions were house raids. It was very surreal intruding on people’s houses. The living conditions were so stark; not at all familiar. I think my room on the base is more furnished than the two houses I went to. More importantly, we’re not raiding poor people but affluent people who can influence and back the insurgents. I cannot imagine living like that. I suppose it is not bad. They have a roof and four walls, carpet and curtains, and mats on the floor. It is just so sparse and empty. It is how I would imagine a Bedouin tent to be. Comfortable enough and but not personalized and easy to move. Only this is actually someone’s home. There’s not artwork or knick knacks around. Its not personal or homey. One house had a badly disabled boy. Brain damaged from childhood. He twitched and was underweight. He couldn’t hold himself up. It was very sad. They wanted us to take him, but he wasn’t sick. We couldn’t’ fix the damage; he was healthy just crippled. It doesn’t seem to make sense but his heart and blood pressure and everything was fine. He just want’ formed normally. The family cried a lot. It was my second house raid and it was still so uncomfortable.
The first house had one woman who could speak some English. It was difficult but not as bad as the second family. They kept talking and kept talking when the translator wasn’t there, so it was useless. It was strange invading these homes at night. It was strange to imagine these families plotting against us, though if someone rammed in my gate down in the middle of the night I might be inclined to plot. We just have to have faith in the intel that these people are doing wrong.
The last raid I went on was truly dangerous. I remember after we set up and stayed at the checkpoint until dawn, the prayers had ended sometime ago. Then suddenly a man came over the loudspeaker again saying something. The last part I caught allah jihad something jihad something. Then all hell broke loose. About a hundred meters from us. I remember I was about to ask the marines I was with if they thought they heard the same jihad too. There was no time for that. We hopped into the truck and started zipping around the outskirts of the battle trying to block the enemy from escaping or reinforcing. I was dismounted and took a position. Stray bullets flew around but I didn’t see where they were coming from. The area was too saturated with marines to just fire blindly. It was good four hours of straight fighting. I saw my first dead boy that day. Three Iraqis actually.
I still can’t believe that I was in a firefight. Me, a female signal officer, someone expected to support from a desk was out there. Strangely, the only woman I was out there because I was a female. They needed a Lionness team so badly, and so many, that even as a support officer I was pulled in. I hope I don’t have to do them very often but I will never try to get out of it.