Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Day 11 - Cold and Wet West

“What are the two things I hate in combination worse than anything else?!” Wayne snapped during the first few seconds of our phone conversation this afternoon. “You’re right! COLD and WET! I'm telling you, this is one confused desert over here! Whoever heard of a desert being cold and wet?!”

Last night, as part of a TCN (“Third Country Nationals”) detail, Wayne and one other soldier drove two hummers to escort five 18-wheelers loaded with food and two more flatbed trucks carrying MRE’s (meals, ready to eat) to the D-FAC (pronounced dee-fack for “dining facility).

“These hummers had no roof,” he explained, “only a windshield and wiper blades. We sat outside in the cold wind and rain from 8:00 this morning until 6:30 tonight. And if that weren’t bad enough, I discovered our tent has a leak, just over my cot. About the same time I saw a huge puddle of water on my sleeping bag, one of my buddies told me he had used one of my shower shoes to kill the rat that ran out from under my cot. It’s been a long day.”

Wayne had called home at midnight, his time.

“The best part about staying up this late is the workout area isn’t very crowded, and you can get a hot shower,” he sighed. “We have these two trailers with 16 individual showers in each one, which is definitely better than group showers. Behind each trailer is a huge water tank. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough hot water to go around in the mornings. And you know what I hate most…COLD and WET!”