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Personnel Profiles
Maj. Beverly Beavers
Operations Officer

Life and Death in the War Zone homepage

Let me give you just a little background on me. My military career started in May 1991. I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Medical Service Corps. I grew up in Story, Arkansas, and went to school in Mount Ida, Arkansas. I grew up with a huge appreciation for our military because my parents and family told me many stories about the time served by members of my family during World War II and Vietnam. The idea of having the military pay for my college was the final bonus in deciding to accept an ROTC scholarship, and to this day I know that I have followed the best career path for me.

This year has been the year of my life that has answered a lot of questions that I have had my entire military career, the biggest question being: Can I lead soldiers during combat? As a soldier, I have always prayed for peace—but trained for war. I have made it my focus to train soldiers to a standard that would hopefully prepare them for any military scenario, whether it was a training event or in support of combat operations. Yet, as I trained soldiers, I have never found myself in a situation where I have deployed in support of any military deployment (e.g., Somalia, Bosnia, or Afghanistan)—before now. So in the back of my military mindset, I have often wondered what my true strengths and weaknesses would be if and when I was asked to deploy in support of a military operation.

That question has been answered now. I can say that I have identified my weaknesses as a leader, because yes, we do all have them. And I have also confirmed to myself what I thought are some of my leadership strengths. Because I have tried to be as true to myself as I can be about who I am and what type of leader I represent, I now know that I am a competent, confident leader who can lead soldiers even in situations that require us to test our personal courage and selfless service. I also know that the things that we have experienced here on the individual, team, and unit levels will carry me through any situation I encounter in my professional or personal life from this day forward.

Life at the 21st CSH has continued to improve every single day since we arrived at Camp Anaconda. We have had leaders with a vision here. Those visions have enabled us to make regular improvements in our hospital capabilities and also to make improvements to our living support areas. The number of patients that have walked through the doors of the 21st CSH continued to increase every month up until January 2004. Finally, after many months of almost daily trauma encounters, those trauma numbers have decreased too. The number of military units on Camp Anaconda continued to grow over the summer months, and now the compound serves as a major hub for logistical support.

As an operations officer for this unit, I have been given the opportunity to travel to many of the subordinate units within the 21st CSH Task Force. This Task Force has included 12 additional units and been comprised of more than 600 soldiers. The Task Force covers more than 50,000 square miles of Iraq. I have been all over the northern half of the country and been able to meet and work with many Iraqi nationals. We have treated many Iraqi national women and children here at the 21st CSH. These patients have enabled us to learn more about Iraqi customs and culture, a very enlightening and pleasant opportunity.

I have been able to work with soldiers from the following divisions: Third Infantry, 101st Airborne, Fourth Infantry, First Armored, 82nd Airborne, 10th Mountain, Second Infantry, and the Second and Third Armored Cavalry Regiments. The ability to work with so many unit leaders from these so very differently configured divisions has given me a very broad view on how to conduct daily operations within medical and non-medical units.

I've been through more than 110 mortar attacks and two rocket attacks.

I have kept a journal of my experiences here, and those journals now comprise five completed notebooks. The good, the bad, and the ugly one might say, but it has been my way of capturing my journey in this country. The experience has been a good one. The time here was necessary in order to give this country and these citizens a chance for a free society. I have cried myself to sleep many nights after soldiers have died in our hospital, and I have gone to sleep on many other nights satisfied with the knowledge that what we did in the 21st CSH that day either saved a life or promoted the sustainment of forces in theater for another day of battle.

I have been shot at by small arms fire during convoys almost a dozen times, and I've been through more than 110 mortar attacks and two rocket attacks. We have built latrines, showers, set up tents, and filled thousands of sandbags. We implemented force protection plans. Above all else we did our mission, treating more than 32,000 patients during this year.

I have gone without a shower for a couple of weeks and even missed shaving my legs for almost the first month in country. I have slept in more than a dozen locations in this country, and I think we ate MREs [Meals Ready-to-Eat] for almost three weeks straight before we got a hot meal. I have been in convoys and taken trips by helicopter. I have been in palaces and the Al Rasheed Hotel.

I have watched barefoot children walk on sand that exceeded 100 degrees and never even think about it. I have played with Iraqi children and shared meals with Iraqi nationals at their places of work. I have learned to appreciate the Iraqi nationals who work on our compound now as interpreters and laborers, and I can see the improvements to the Iraqi infrastructure each time I am on the roads of Iraq. I have shopped in the Iraqi markets and weathered the many sandstorms that have pelted our bodies for days on end.

I have found friends here from other assignments and established friendships that will go with me to my grave. I have watched young soldiers develop into leaders within their circles of friends, and I have watched injured soldiers show a tremendous amount of courage in the face of amputations and life-altering injuries. For every sentence that I write here there are a dozen other sentences to write, but without a doubt this year is a monumental year in my development as a soldier, mother, wife, and lady.

The mission is not over, and I guess I realize there is still so much to do, so it has been hard for me to define the high point. I can tell you that the best emotional event for me was about a month ago. There have been so many days when I spent more than 15 hours a day in the Tactical Operations Center (TOC). On Sundays, though, I have been able over the last few months to sleep in sometimes and to take a few hours of personal time during the day.

On December 14 I had slept in and then watched a little TV on my DVD player. I had told myself the night before that I would not go into the shop until after 1600. My section is a very good section of soldiers and leaders, and they had been giving me a hard time all week, saying I needed to get some rest. So I was trying to do just that. It was clear and cool outside, but pretty, so I decided to write some Christmas cards. I was excited that I would be able to mail them this year without having to pay for postage.

Well, I must have gotten about five or six cards into my list when Specialist Leavitt, the colonel's driver and a close comrade of mine now after many miles of convoy time together, walked up to me. He sat beside me on a chest and said calmly, "I think we caught Saddam." I looked at him for one second and knew he was serious. I immediately got chills over my arms and legs, and I screamed out "We did!?" He nodded, and I gave him a hug. I said, "Let's go find out more." We went to the TOC and within a few hours we were listening to Ambassador [L. Paul] Bremer saying "We got him."

We all remained pretty calm in the TOC, but I can tell you it was definitely a happy place, with a lot of high fives and just a sense of being a part of this tremendous "Army of One" that has worked so hard this year to capture Saddam. I felt in my heart that we would get him, but I had never really established a timeline that had him being captured this soon. I am so glad we caught him while we are still here. It makes all of the sacrifices seem a little more justified.

As for the low point in this deployment—there is one—I really am not ready to discuss it here, but it does involve one of the many days that soldiers died in support of our nation. I can tell you that this day is a day that I still have not even shared completely with my husband in e-mail or by phone. I even traveled home for emergency leave in September, and even during this time with my husband I could not open up to him and share my feelings about this day. I hope that when I get home I will be ready to talk about it.

The power of people is a wonderful thing. The friendships I have made here are wonderful, but for every friend you have in life, you also have walked many miles in conflict with that friend. True friends have been there for the good and the bad, and they see the good and bad in each other. If you take the conditions that we were brought together under for this deployment, and if you take 400 personalities into a combat zone and tell them to get along for 365 days without arguments or communication gaps, I can tell you right now it is not going to happen. We have all had our bad days out here, and we have all mistakenly blamed each other for breaking or losing things. We have grown tired of each other's shortcomings, and we miss our individual families back home.

But having said that, I have learned so much about the various specialties in our hospitals, and I have an enormous appreciation now for everyone's job, not only in our CSH but also in this theater. When we adopted the new Army motto "An Army of One," I don't think anyone realized how true to life that motto would be during Operation Iraqi Freedom. There are no individuals here. We are a team, and it takes the entire team working together to make us operational. The maneuver soldiers need to be re-supplied. Sustainment of a soldier's health keeps the soldier in the fight. Operational vehicles and maintenance teams get the soldier to the next fight. It takes all of us, through our good days and our bad days, to keep the team in the fight. We have done that now for over 300 days, and we have done so with pride and patriotism and valor.

This is an experience that I will never forget. It is an experience that I do not want to forget.

I was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, November 7, 1968. I was raised in Story, Arkansas, and went to school in the nearby town of Mount Ida. I was born to Jeffery and Shirley Pawelczak. My mother passed away when I was 18. My parents have one other child, my little brother who is 18 months younger, and his name is Lawrence Pawelczak. My parents' families immigrated to the United States from the Ukrainian part of Russia for my father's family and from Europe for my mother's family. My father is remarried to the former Rebecca Brown, of Hot Springs, Arkansas.

I am currently stationed, for the second time, at Fort Hood Texas and assigned to the 21st Combat Support Hospital, which is a part of the First Medical Brigade and the 13th Corps Support Command. Right now I am at Balad, Iraq, at Camp Anaconda.

I am married to my best friend Sergeant First Class Buddy Rae Beavers. We have been married since September 4, 1999. I know that I am the luckiest lady in the world to be married to a man that has been so supportive during this last year. He has been my anchor and my sounding board through every critical point of this deployment. I am truly blessed to be married to a man who has taken care of our children even as he prepared for his own deployment during this last year.

I was previously married to Major Joselyn Lloyd Bell Jr. for 10 years. Lloyd and I have two children from that marriage: our son Jordan Christian Alexis Bell, who just turned 11, and Chalci Alexandra Caprice Bell, who is seven. Lloyd served with the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment during Operation Desert Storm. During this time I was his dependent wife and finishing up my last year of college. Lloyd also deployed with the Third Infantry Division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lloyd and I were able to talk a half dozen or so times on the phone while he was here, but we were never able to see each other before he redeployed.

Buddy and I have a son who will turn three in February, and his name is Jeffery James Beavers. Buddy will deploy to Iraq in March to support the First Cavalry Division's Surgeons Office as an Operations NCO, and Buddy and I hope to have one more child sometime in the near future.

I can tell you that Buddy and I love the opportunity to be soldiers. This is our profession by choice. I have become a better person by having served here for OIF1 [Operation Iraqi Freedom 1], and now Buddy has the same opportunity to grow as an individual and soldier during OIF2. We know that this second year apart is going to be as emotionally draining as the first, but we also know that our marriage is stronger than ever. The power of writing through e-mails and letters has enabled us to do so much more communicating about the really important issues in life, and we have grown to love and appreciate each other even more during this time. And we both know that in the future we will look back at our individual deployments and share our stories with each other in a way only a dual military team could appreciate.

This is an experience that I will never forget. It is an experience that I do not want to forget. The magnitude of what we have done here is only in its infancy. The progress here continues every day. I have missed events in my families' lives while being here, like Jordan's baseball game during which he pitched 15 strikeouts and hit the game's winning run, or Chalci's best report card since she started school, and finally Jay's precious year of "terrible twos."

But I am going home to them as a better soldier, mother, wife, and lady. I am a better leader, I am a stronger Christian, and I am anxious to be home so I can get ready to support my husband as he prepares for his deployment and so I can be there for my children as they prepare for their Dad's deployment. Finally, I want to get home and spend time together with my husband and kids as a family, because the time we have together is so precious.

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Maj. Beverly Beavers

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