Civilian working in Iraq returns to Lee County - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Civilian working in Iraq returns to Lee County

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November 27, 2005

Lee County- One of the first eleven civilian volunteers with the Marine Corps Civilian Service is back from Iraq. At then end of April, Dianne Brooks left Lee County and her civilian job at MCLB to volunteer at one of four military bases in Iraq. It was a trip that landed her in Taqaddam and gave her a whole new perspective on Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Taqaddam is a place where everything is tan. One of the first things Dianne Brooks requested her family send was a packet of flower seeds. Despite the sandy, silt like soil she was able to grow one bright orange colored flower.

"It was like this new breath of life for everyone. When they would see this flower it was just so touching," said Dianne Brooks, Marine Corps Civilian Service.

That may be what touched Dianne the most during the seven months she spent in Iraq, the amount of caring in the middle of this battlefield. Dianne worked with people from all over the world, including Iraqis.

"They always do this when they care about you. They touch their heart, so I would learn words like, loving you from the heart, caring about you," said Brooks.

It was a trip that also involved danger. Mortar shells were common and three weeks ago, one hit close to home.

"I'm hearing the whistling stronger, it's like that kind of noise and as I looked up the mortar came between two buildings between where we lived and the exchange," said Brooks.

Just 120 feet away, the mortar struck the chapel. Injuring two people.

"In 20 minutes later that whole chapel would have been filled with Marines, so it does bring that there are people out there that want to hurt or that are angry still," said Brooks.

Despite the turmoil and the emotions, it was an important lesson learned that one person can make a difference. This flag was given to Dianne by coworkers, each wrote a message.

"They truly love the United States," said Brooks.

As Dianne boarded the C130 to return home, she said it was bitter sweet. The soldier with her cheered when the plane took off, but were quickly silent as they thought about their mission.

"How brave they were and how happy you were for them to be able to go home and be with their family and to go give hugs, your just so proud," said Brooks.

Dianne left Iraq a week ago Sunday and was able to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Dianne will resume her work at MCLB after a much needed break December 15th.

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