11/25/05 — Newly married airman spending holidays in Iraq

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Newly married airman spending holidays in Iraq

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 25, 2005 1:47 PM

Military personnel stationed around the globe will spend the holidays away from family and friends. Unlike the folks at home, they won't get to shop for presents or spend time with loved ones.

Airman 1st Class Amorita Jenkins, a Goldsboro resident currently stationed at Ali Base, Iraq, was married this year but will have to spend her first Christmas as a wife away from her husband, Travis. She has been overseas for three months.

"I miss my husband," she said in a telephone interview last week. "And my dog and friends at home."

Despite the hardship, Jenkins said she still has plenty to be thankful for. On Thanksgiving Day, she planned to attend church and participate in a 5-kilometer run. Then, back to work.

Jenkins said she had looked forward to spending the holidays with her husband but she understands the importance of her job. Helping the Iraqi people rebuild their country and create a democracy will be something she remembers the rest of her life, she said.

"You can't allow yourself to be sad," she said. "You have to stay focused on the mission. I can tell my children one day about what I was a part of.

"I believe I'm being a hero. I know that I can feel a sense of pride being a part of freeing Iraq."

Besides, she said, she expects her family to celebrate Christmas all over again when she returns Jan. 19.

"When I get home, I'm sure the Christmas tree will still be up," she said. "We'll open presents and celebrate then."

The daily routine of life on a military base helps keep her mind occupied, Jenkins said, and she is also able to talk frequently with her husband by phone. The brief conversations go a long way toward easing the pain of separation, she said.

Some facets of life at a desert base are much different than in Wayne County, Jenkins said. Instead of green scenery, there is only sand. But there are some things that don't change. For example, the airmen have several fast-food restaurants right on base.

"There's a Burger King and a Pizza Hut," Jenkins said. "You wouldn't believe how long the lines are."

After a 12-hour shift, airmen have a chance to relax at the base gym. They can work out, read or play video games. Music also helps make the time go by faster.

"Everyone is just trying to keep themselves busy so they aren't too sad," she said. "It is dangerous being here. But you've got to be strong."

Jenkins said she has had no interaction with Iraqi civilians, but she said Iraqis she has met on base have been very friendly.

"They wouldn't be here with us if they didn't believe in what we were doing," she said. "They want to see this mission succeed."

Jenkins had a message for the residents of Goldsboro and Wayne County.

"Thanks for supporting us. We'll see you soon."