Publications for Linda Adams

Published November 28, 2013 by Linda Maye Adams, Soldier, Storyteller

If you’re interested in my publications, please visit my publication list on my website.  I’ve identified stories that about Women at War and Women Veterans.  Enjoy!

Cover for Red, White, andTrue

Cover for Red, White, and True

Also,  if you’re interested in more veteran experiences, check out Red, White, True: Stories from Veterans and Families, World War II to Present.  This is a collection of stories from veterans, including my story, “War Happens.”  The book comes out in August, 2014, but you can preorder it.  Is that an awesome cover?

Air War: Unknown in the Distance

Published April 24, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams, Soldier, Storyteller

A to Z Challenge Badge

A to Z Challenge Participant

Most of the time when we saw the desert of Saudi Arabia, it was flat. But when we moved to the King Khalid Wildlife Research Center, there was this big rock sitting on the sand in the distance, set against the blue sky. I always called it a mesa.

Somewhere out there was where the front line was, about seventy miles away. That’s not a long ways. Yet, it was far enough that I couldn’t see anything except that mesa and the flat desert. I’d sit in the back of a cargo container we used as an office and listen to the radio and stare out into the distance. What was going on?

That’s one of the worst things about being a soldier.  The waiting and the not knowing.  We had this Irwin Allen yellow radio, and that was our only connection to what was going on.  When the news announced the war deadline, we approached it with grim trepidation.  There wasn’t anything else that we could do.

The deadline passed, and the air war begin. We were right on the flight path of the sorties going into Kuwait. All we needed to do was stand outside the cargo container and watch the jets fly over us, their engines roaring. Once they passed by and their engines faded into the silence, it was almost as if this wasn’t quite real. Like they didn’t exist.

We never saw them come back. Presumably it was because their flight path took them in a different direction, but it added to the eeriness of not knowing what was going on.

Next up will be “where are the Voices of the women Veterans” so tune in, same military channel, same military time tomorrow.

Tent fire in desert storm

Published April 23, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams, Soldier, Storyteller

A to Z Challenge Badge

A to Z Challenge Participant

Scary thing #2 that happened to me while I was in the army happened during Desert Storm. Our battalion had gotten this major handed off to them right before they deployed. Evidently no one else wanted him, so they stuck him with us. The major was all about military precision and everything dress right dress, no matter what.

One of the things he ordered was that the battalion line the tents up in neat, orderly rows. It was kind of bad because even the lowest private was thinking, “An aircraft doing a strafing run could take the entire battalion in a couple of passes.” We’d just made it really easy for them by following rules the should have been bypassed by common sense.

The battalion’s headquarters was the first row of tents. The first tent was for the guard relief, and the second tent was the battalion commander’s quarters.

Then our company was the next row, and behind us another row. We also were interspersed with some foxholes, which are holes for the soldiers to hide in during gunfire and mortar round attacks. The tents were about four feet apart, and tied together.

I’m inside the supply tent and I hear a commotion coming from outside. I peep out to see what’s going on, and soldiers are running everywhere. The guard tent is on fire, orange flames whipping in the wind. Those canvas GP mediums burn very quickly.

The winds were so bad that it wouldn’t have been hard for a spark to leap over to our tents and take out the entire battalion. I raced one tent over to the women’s tent to make sure no one was in there (no one was). As I came out, the fire had spread across the ropes to the next tent. Now the battalion commander’s tent is burning down.

And it’s taking less than five minutes.

Then we hear a sound no one wants hear: Pop! Pop! Pop!

Ammunition is cooking off.

A cry goes out, and everyone runs for the foxholes. The male soldiers were diving — literally — into the holes. I ran back and jumped behind a berm. My squad leader later joked about how fast I ran (I was a rotten runner because of my flat feet).

Yup, adrenalin will do that.

One of the cooks, who was a former Marine, grabbed the water truck used to fill the showers and used that on the fire. A couple of other soldiers got knives and dropped the next text, effecting a fire break. They got the fire out. We lost only the two tents.

But I also lost my footlocker. The battalion commander had lost all his equipment, so he replaced it with spare supplies and from soldiers like me.

Being a private is definitely not fair.

Next up will be “Air war: Unknown in the distance” so tune in, same military channel, same military time tomorrow.

Scariest thing that happened to me in the army

Published April 22, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams, Soldier, Storyteller

A to Z Challenge Badge

A to Z Challenge Participant

I’ve had a few really scary things happen to me, one which was intentional on the army’s part, and the others a function of the environment.  So this is going to be the first of three posts on those scary things.

As the last part of basic training at Fort Dix, NJ, we had to do something called Paragon Trail.  It was a live fire exercise, as in real bullets and real grenades.  An Air Force colonel who did the same training noted:

The training was designed to simulate combat with live machine gun fire 40 feet above your head, with flares lighting up the night sky.

I would not have said that was 40 feet.  It felt a lot closer!  But it was dangerous, and things could happen.  A male soldier from another cycle had been hit by shrapnel from one of the explosions.  We could get hurt!

And I nearly did.

I think the drill sergeants planned for it to be a new moon that night.  It was so dark out, in a way that you only get out in the middle of isolation.  We were a crowd of some 90 women, and yet, it seemed like each of us was alone in that field.  The night’s blackness was solid, impenetrable.

Our task was to cross Paragon Trail in full gear — helmet, equipment belt, gas mask, and rifle.  As part of it, we had to go under an obstacle of concertina wire.  This is a razor wire.  If you’ve ever driven by a prison, that’s what you see at the top of the walls.  It’s meant to stop human beings.  Humans can get over regular barbed wire.

Danger everywhere!

Then it was my turn to go and I ran, faster than I’ve run in all my life.  Flat feet didn’t stop me here.  The rifle banged and klunked against my legs. I heard the staccato of the machine gun bullets above and the booms of the grenades all around.

My brain screamed, “I’m going to get shot!  I’m going to die!”

Fear seized me, propelling me forward, faster and faster.  Everything shut down except that one goal: The end of the field.  I didn’t breathe, I didn’t think — I just reacted.

The concertina?  I dropped to the ground, rolled over, put my rifle across my stomach, and slid underneath.  The tracer rounds streaked above me as I craped along the ground.  At last I was free of the concertina.

By then, though,  I was sweating so much that it just poured down my face in a river.  Think Robert Hayes from Airplane when he’s trying to land.  I think I was worse.  It got onto my glasses, and I could not see anything.  So I took them off, but the sweat poured into my eyes, stinging them.  Between the dark and the sweat, I couldn’t see much.

But I still ran because I had to keep moving.  I had to get to safety!

Then suddenly a shape jumps out at me, screaming, and drags me in another direction.  It’s the drill sergeant, and I’d scared him (you can fill in your own colorful phrase here).  I’d gotten to the end of the course and had almost run into the concertina wire!

Reading about action is fun.  Being in it … well, not so much.

Next up will be “Tent fire in desert storm” so tune in, same military channel, same military time tomorrow.

The military wake up call: Reveille (Video)

Published April 21, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams, Soldier, Storyteller

Reveille is a bugle call to signal the start of the military day:

A to Z Challenge Badge

A to Z Challenge Participant

Though you might see episodes of MASH where the soldiers drag themselves out of their bunks at the sound of the bugle, we didn’t do this when I was in the barracks.  We just did alarm clocks, and like any soldier in the barracks, we got it as close as we could before first formation, then went outside like zombies for physical training.

But also, reveille couldn’t be heard everywhere.  When I was on main post on Fort Lewis, it was easy to hear because we were pretty close to I Corps.  But after we moved to North Fort, which was, at the time, old World War II barracks, I never heard Reveille or Retreat.

There are some more bugle calls on the Army website.

living Quarters in Desert Storm

Published April 19, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams, Soldier, Storyteller

A to Z Challenge Badge

A to Z Challenge Participant

The letter Q is usually one of the harder letters in the A to Z Challenge.  Fortunately, I’ve got an easy topic with our living quarters were like when we arrived in Saudi Arabia for Desert Shield.  Our first location (one of eight) was in Riyadh, near an exposition center that was near the shore of the Persian Gulf.  I was trying to find a site showing the exposition center, but in the time since the war, a new one was designed.

The exposition center was a large white building that we called the “White Castle” because the senior officers stayed in there (being as it was air conditioned).  We stayed in tents on the flat shore of the Gulf.  If you pictured the 2-soldier pup tents you’ve seen in war films, that’s not what we stayed in.  Our tents were General Purpose (GP) Medium tents, which holds up to twelve people.

The basic tent is made of canvas — olive green, of course — with netting to keep out the buglets.  An additional, optional piece is the winter lining, which you can see rolled up in the above picture (it’s the white section).  For Saudi Arabia, we did put the winter lining in to help insulate from the heat.  It was always kept rolled down.

The tent is stored rolled up, but it makes for a very heavy package.  Six soldiers or more haul it out of a truck.  Then we unroll it, stretching it out flat on the ground.  We pull out all the tent lines and drop the tent stakes by them.  Then we start sorting out the poles, because there were corner poles, side poles, and middle poles.

A soldier goes under the tent and threads the pole through the center hole.  Once that’s done, all us take up a pole.  Soldier in the center lists his pole, and we all adjust our poles as the tent goes up.  Soldiers go around with a mallet, pull the lines taut, and hammer the stakes in.

Initially, when we arrived in Riyadh, the women (all two of us) stayed in our platoon’s tent with the guys.  We used a poncho liner to create “walls” for privacy (and that includes the guys, not just the women).  Our beds were olive green folding cots made of canvas.  They had aluminum legs.  It was surprising cold in such a hot place, so we had to use our foam mat on the cots.  It kept the cold from coming up from beneath the cot, since that canvas had utterly no insulation whatsoever.

Our bedding was a non-issue pillow, two olive green wool blankets and an olive green sleeping bag.  We also had a black footlocker (color!) next to the bed to hold basic necessities and lived out of our olive green duffel gas, which were stored under the cots.

Eventually, the battalion commander decided it wasn’t a good idea that the women stay with the guys, so we had to move to another tent.  There were so few women in our company that we were a mix of all the platoons.  We were actually disappointed to move out of the tent we were in.  The other women turned out to be very petty!

Next up will be “The military wake up call: Revillie” so tune in, same military channel, same military time tomorrow.

the Practicality of the army uniform

Published April 18, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams, Soldier, Storyteller

A to Z Challenge Badge

A to Z Challenge Participant

The Army is ruthlessly practical when it comes to the uniform:

  1. The expandable cargo pocket is big enough for a soldier to put an MRE in it. Or a paperback book, in my case! There are priorities.
  2. The fly uses buttons instead of a zipper. Zippers break and then the pants have to be sent out for repair. But a button can be fixed with a needle and thread in a few minutes.
  3. Lots and lots of pockets for putting anything and everything inside. On the pants, there are two cargo pockets, 2 front pockets, and 2 back pockets. On the shirt, there are four more pockets.
  4. The pants tuck into the boots. That means no hem alterations. That was probably a good thing since the uniform was way too big on me. I could cover my feet entirely with the hems and still have cloth left over.
  5. Long sleeves, which were loose enough to be worn down in winter or rolled up during the summer. No need to have a short sleeve version and a long sleeve version when one would work.
  6. A t-shirt worn under the shirt. During the Civil War era, women used detachable collars and under sleeves to keep the dress from wearing out. The t-shirt serves the same purpose.
  7. Washable in the washing machine. Granted, I usually sent it out and had it starched — so much easier than me spending time to do it (and technically, it wasn’t supposed to be starched, but everyone always expected creases).

It’s quite different from buying clothes at the store. I find clothes that are “hand wash only,” or “dry clean only.” Or, like a sweater I have, I have to detach the fur collar before I can wash it. But a soldier may have very little choice about what how she gets the uniform cleaned.

Next up will be “living Quarters in desert storm” so tune in, same military channel, same military time tomorrow.

there’s Organizing my way and the army’s way

Published April 17, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams, Soldier, Storyteller

A to Z Challenge Badge

A to Z Challenge Participant

For several years after I got out of the army, I thought was terribly disorganized.  I was messy and tended to pile things.  In fact, if you look at any site on organizing, these are both often touted as a sign of disorganization.  “File it, don’t pile,” they will say, often accompanied by a stern lecture and disbelief that anything can be found.

It’s hard because people will look at messiness and think that you’re disorganized and not productive. It’s also true that I’ve seen people who are messy and disorganized like the person with stacks of paper three feet high covering the entire desk and the floor. That was enough to make me queasy!

But in the army, they took the organizing to new levels. Some of it is because of what the army’s mission is: War. There are things that you have to do in order because that might cause an accident, or worse. Maintaining discipline helps with the chaos that war turns into.

But it was worse for the barracks soldier. If you had a spouse or kids, or both, you lived off post in your own home. Once you left work, you could organize whatever way you wanted. The barracks soldier had to keep her room ready for inspection at all times, and some parts had to be a certain way. We had silly rules like you couldn’t put a magazine on a table top, or if you had a pack of cigarettes (not that I smoked), it couldn’t be out. Everything had to be put away, always.

I need to see stuff as part of how I do things. Like I’m working on this A to Z post, and I have a pile on which there’s a calendar so I can see what day to post it. I also have a story I need to critique and that’s in the pile, too. If I put the story in a drawer in a file cabinet to be neat, I’ll forgot entirely because filing means it’s done and I don’t need to touch it again for a long time. Out of sight is really out of mind.

In the barracks, we had this three drawer chest that was probably about the size of a nightstand.  It was serviceable but ugly (curiously, I could not find a picture of it online.  Maybe that’s a clue on the ugliness!).  But I did find a picture of what it is was supposed to look inside.  We had a diagram of how it was supposed to look and it had to follow that at all times.  I ended up have a set of all this stuff for that chest, and then a separate set of stuff that I actually used because it was so hard to get it exactly to inspection standards.  That made it terrible for the limited storage because I was having to buy two of everything.  Though I did get sneaky.  I discovered that if the drawer looked neat on the top, with all the clothes nicely folded, they didn’t look to see if there was chaos underneath.

Oh, yes, I was a bad soldier.

On the work side, since I was in an office, my squad leader was always getting on me about how my desk looked, and I kept thinking, “But how am I supposed to work?” I also had this one sergeant who would follow behind me and rearrange supplies because he wasn’t happy with how they looked. Oooh-kaaaay …

Looking back on it now, I often like I couldn’t be me, really, anywhere. This was such an issue that when I was able to finally move into an apartment, I went almost entirely in the opposite direction and exploded with messiness. I ended up having to bring it back more to the center and understand how I needed to organize.

So it was quite a shock after I got out of the army and a coworker told me she envied my organization skills. Organized? Me? When I’m so messy? So it’s been an evolving experience away from what the army taught me to what really does work for me.

Next up will be “the Practicality of the army uniform” so tune in, same military channel, same military time tomorrow.

%d bloggers like this: