Brandy Kown, 19
Photo: Jim Fabio
Born and raised: Hampton, Georgia
Graduate of: Henry County High School
Airman 1st Class Brandy Kown is a visual imagery and intrusion detection system apprentice, responsible for installing, routing and maintaining video feeds and their equipment for various state-of-art communications systems used by coalition forces in the Arabian Gulf.
Brandy's goals in the Air Force include finishing her degree in communications, working at the White House Communications Agency and seeing the world.
I am still in the barren desert watching what's left of the war unfold. The amount of sorties has decreased as well as the amount of work. I am proud to say that all of my equipment is up and running with no problems, allowing some much deserved breathing time.
Though it may seem like the whole operation is coming to a close, really everything has just begun. That light at the end of the tunnel isn't the end for us, it's just a mission change. The people that we have worked so hard to liberate now need our support more than ever to help them rebuild their lives and their country. No longer are they under the dictatorship of the Saddam regime. In many ways they have my utmost respect and empathy since they have lived with horror for so long. I imagine they don't know what's next for them. I can see how that could be frightening.
So as quick as we can we will help them establish themselves again. Troops will help build the cities back up and feed the people. Some form of government will be established, and we will stand by to help and advise them. So this is a heads up to those with family and friends out here in the desert: there is still a lot of work to be done and this may take a little while. Please keep praying for your loved ones. They will be back as soon as possible.
To those of you like Ana from Minnesota, thinking about the Air Force as a career possibility, I say go for it. I would suggest it to anyone. The armed forces will give you everything you need to be successful in life while you change the world. As an airman, I was issued free uniforms, food, shelter, and they pay me. The Air Force taught me my job and is paying for my school. If I need anything, I can always rely on those around me. The best advice I can give you if you decide to join is it is what you make it. If you expect success and work hard, you'll accomplish all your dreams.
Oh, and to Megan and everyone in Georgia, go Dawgs! To Luisana in Venezuela, thanks for your support and prayers. To my boyfriend, Eric, in Korea, I love you and I'll be home soon.
It's started. The tempo has increased here by about 200 percent. Everyone has adjusted well under the pressure but the atmosphere is definitely more intense. My seat is like the front row to the premiere of a long-awaited movie. You can truly see the whole war from here. Though I am a part of this movie, it still seems very surreal from this angle. If I could walk you step by step through the plot and the characters, I would.
I have become great friends with a Marine sergeant that sits a desk down. His unit is in Kuwait, which is much closer to the action than we are. He worries about them and wishes, like most Marines, to be in the middle of it with his fellow Devil Dogs.
The first enemy Scud that was launched went right over his unit and was brought down by a patriot missile. His best friend from that unit said he watched it as it went over his head.
We watched from here, too. The whole room was brought from its dull roar to absolute silence. That has happened more than once in the past couple days. It happens with the beginning of each of our missions and with each enemy launch.
You can feel what is going through everyone's mind. It's like their thoughts are spoken through the silence. That is because they are your thoughts, too. No one is thinking of himself or herself here. In their own way, everyone is praying or hoping for their brother's safety.
We sit deep in the desert watching like guardian angels. The skills that each person brings to this table and the equipment that we have built to help us give us the ability to watch over all the Marines and soldiers on the ground, sailors from the sea, and all the airmen in the sky. We take care of them as they take care of all of you reading this letter.
Nicole from New York asked what it's like to know that I am representing all Americans and fighting for their freedoms. As far as representing the American public, it is something that needs to be constantly on my mind (among a million other things). How I behave is how our Coalition partners may view all Americans. I feel I do a decent job, though. Working with so many different people here is really what makes my job so awesome. I admire what they do and I want to make sure they like what we do.
When I think of fighting for the freedoms of everyone, several things come to mind. My sisters are coming to mind right now. I want the best for those two. I think of them a lot while away from them. Another thing that comes to mind would be the anti-war protests. There isn't a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine in his or her right mind wanting to see war.
Deep inside we are all anti-war. I respect the protestors' opinion and their right to free speech. That's why we're here, to make sure they keep that right. I'll write again soon.
I'm so excited to be writing to the world about what is going on here in Southwest Asia. Being new to the Air Force and the military, I'm still finding out what I am capable of and how much what I do affects other people. The military is an awesome opportunity for young people and it has been an adventure for me.
I joined the Air Force right after high school. It was never something that I wanted to do or something that I had planned on doing, but before graduation, it called to me. I believe that God has led me in this direction. The summer after high school I went to basic at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and then to school at Keesler AFB, Mississippi. I began training there the day before the 9/11 attacks. My technical school finished in July at Fort Meade Army Post in Maryland. Since then, my home station has been Nellis AFB near Las Vegas. In early December I got the opportunity to deploy and jumped on it.
My trip over here seemed to take forever. I was either in an airport or on an airplane for almost two straight days. When I landed here, it was an hour before Christmas Eve. I grabbed my carry-on and exited the plane with the other airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines. Standing outside to greet us were all the First Sergeants, the top enlisted troops of the units, with smiling faces. Some of them were wearing desert camouflage elf hats and referring to themselves as the "Saudi Clause." Though it was nothing like Christmas at home, everyone has kept each other in good spirits.
The next day I was at work in a facility right out of the movies (Click here for a photo). Where I work is the most incredible thing I have ever seen. The folks here all work in sync providing vital data for air, land and sea forces. I work hand in hand with intelligence troops, pilots, planners, re-planners and communication troops from all over the world. Everyone is represented in this one room and they all provide each other with the necessary information for the necessary operations that take place.
Part of my job is to make sure that everyone gets that information. I provide the audio and video for the room by controlling the public address system, data wall and video feeds. I work with people from all these countries in every field to get their information to those that need it to make decisions. Isn't that awesome? I love my job!
I work 12-hour shifts and I get one day off a week. That one day is normally spent doing laundry and catching up with family and friends. I call home as often as I can to tell everyone that I am safe and I love them. I also call my boyfriend a lot. He is stationed at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea. He takes good care of me and we try to keep each other sane.
After a day of laundry and phone calls, there are card games in the dayroom, darts at the British pub, the movies, or dancing and lounging by the pool.
You really grow close to people here because you live, work and play with them. We've become family. It helps but also reminds me of family at home. I can't wait to get back to Georgia to see them. (I miss you ALL!)
I would love to hear and answer all your e-mails about the military or what we are doing here. Please keep in touch. I will write again soon.
Want to e-mail Brandy? Click here
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