Bridget Bruhn, 24
Photo: U.S. Air Force
Born and raised: Ewa Beach, Hawaii
Graduate of: Campbell High School
Staff Sergeant Bruhn is a communications computer systems operator, responsible for
maintaining hundreds of computer systems that are mission critical to the Coalition efforts in the Middle East. She provides technical communications support to U.S. military and Coalition Forces. Her number one goal at the moment is to make it home before the Fourth of July.
Hi again MTV,
All right it's day 123 and I'm listening to "Island in the Sun" by Weezer, daydreaming about laying out on a beach in Hawaii. I plan on going there when I get out of here. It'll be one month of absolute relaxation: no combat boots, no uniforms, no bad food — just slippers, swimsuits and lots of beer.
If I knew how much crap I would get for wearing that helmet in the MTV picture, I never would've put it on. My 8-year-old niece e-mailed me and said that my "outfit" and "that thing on my head" looked tacky. I couldn't help but laugh.
Things here are the same. Anyone who has had the joyous pleasure of visiting Southwest Asia knows that life here is often compared to the movie "Groundhog Day." I don't even know what day it is today. I know Saturday is steak night and that's pretty much how I keep track of the days. A little sad, eh? The only thing that changes here is the mystery meat at the chow hall. Speaking of the chow hall, I have recently started a new diet. I've already lost another two pounds. It's the one big onion ring, two cookies and milk diet. Before you health fanatics (that's you, Mom) start freaking out, here is my DISCLAIMER: Bridget is in no way recommending this diet. I've been working out a lot lately — eight more pounds to lose.
As you can imagine, we have all been glued to the little TV we get since the war started. We can't go anywhere without seeing a news broadcast. I've decided that when I get off work I will try not to watch the news, it's so easy to become engulfed in everything that is going on. I have been making it a point to just sit outside in the sun for an hour or two and read my book or just relax.
To Jessi Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, four months is a long time to be away from your father. I'm sure he misses you dreadfully. Mail takes forever to get here, but just keep in touch with him and let him know that you are thinking about him and you love him very much.
To Jessica from Grain Valley, Missouri, I have often been accused of being an optimist and wearing a permanent smile to work. So for those out there who always ask me why I am smiling, I guess it's because being here we are not nearly as bad off as some. The reality is we probably won't be going home anytime soon. Being angry or upset about it will only make things worse.
Take care all and hope to write to you again soon.
Staff Sergeant Bridget Bruhn
United States Air Force
My name is Bridget Bruhn and I am a Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force, currently deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
I live in Tacoma, Washington, and seeing as how the weather was getting really rainy and cold, a trip to the desert wasn't looking so bad. I figured I'd get a nice tan, lose some weight and learn another language.
When I went to the airport, I thought for sure I'd be home by March. I got on the plane teary-eyed with a container of Thanksgiving pie and a pillow.
So here I am at day number 110. I still only speak one language, I have lost a few pounds and haven't got the tan down just yet.
I'm in the middle of a country I know absolutely nothing about because I've never even seen any part of it other than the Arabic Food Supply store we pass on the way to work.
Being away from family and friends is hard and sometimes I do feel overworked and underpaid. But I can't help but be thankful that I am not on the front lines, sleeping in tents, cradling an M-16. It can always be worse, that's one realization I've come to grips with since my sabbatical here to the desert.
Adjusting to life in Southwest Asia has been difficult but I've managed to do it. The long shifts (minimum of 12 hours a day), less-than-desirable food and cozy living accommodations (three to a room) aren't exactly easy to cope with. But amazingly enough, 99.9 percent of the people here are able to do it with a smile on their face.
A typical day here starts out with dragging myself out of bed at about 1500 (that's 3 p.m. for you civilian folks) to try to make it to the pool for about an hour, armed with my bug spray. After a quick shower I get dressed in my designer desert uniform, gas mask in hand and a disc man for the 35-minute bus ride to a little place we like to call the office.
I work at the computer helpdesk, which is kinda like the helpdesk at the mall; people come to us for everything! They see the word "help" and think we are the base operator, lost and found, janitor and whatever else is needed at the time. Our primary function is to fix and maintain computers so that we can fight the war and go home.
Once I get to work, I go to chow at the lovely Desert Rose Dining Facility, which has some of the best cookies I've ever had. We also have a little java shack, which is open 24 hours a day and run by a couple of guys from Sri Lanka ... god bless them. The best drink there is the chai latte, but they have been out of chai for a month now!
After the chow hall, it's back to work, which consists of troubleshooting computer problems and keeping my sanity in check. I will say that attitude here is key! My co-workers on night shift all have a great sense of humor, which contributes to our sometimes out-of-control bursts of laughter. Work can get so stressful at times, so we try to keep the jokes rolling. If you can't laugh at yourself here, someone else will.
I just found out today will be our last day off until the war is over. There are many people here who think there is nothing to do here on your day off ... WHATEVER!
If you ever have the privilege to vacation here at Uncle Sam's finest, here's my little PSAB traveler's guide.
My typical day off is doing laundry, cashing a check to support my java habit, going to the mall (Base Exchange) to buy a lot of things I don't need like singing camels and other souvenirs and dining at the Chinese restaurant which is run by non-Chinese people, but the hot bean chicken is awesome! Stay away from the addictive cookies, which we often refer to as PSAB crack, or you'll never lose those love handles that just mysteriously latched onto your body. When playing miniature golf — this is especially for the guys — don't molest the mermaid and write stupid things on her belly.
Since I've been here I've had a Christmas and a sober New Year's Eve. I miss my family, my friends, my dog and the occasional drink. I've learned to take everything in stride and not worry about when I am going home because that only makes the time away from family and friends difficult to deal with. I know for a fact that there are worse places I could be.
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