One thing we would do when I first went over to Iraq in spring 2003 was watch Sex and the City when we were off duty. We were located in Baghad International Airport, in a shelled-out bakery. It was a one-story, adobe building, high like a warehouse with a lot of space inside. Charlie Company had one section; Alpha Company had another; the officers slept across from us in another building. I slept in the area with all the women, but if I had to go to the bathroom—we had Porta Johns set up outside, I had to walk through someone’s sleeping area.
For a while, during my 2003 deployment in Baghdad, Iraq I was with a group of Army engineers based out of Puerto Rico. We were staying on the third floor of the former governor’s palace, which had been taken over by the U.S. military. There were about 15 of us—civil engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers. Our mission was to bring back up the municipal services like water, sewer, power. I was assessing the power plants that were damaged in Iraq and figuring out what we were going to need to do to put them back on line and bring them back up to running status. In the National Guard and the Reserves, we have a lot of civilian careers outside of the military, and one of the Puerto Rican engineers happened to be a four-star chef.