Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I've finally arrived in Iraq. I got here at 4:30 this morning. It was quite a trip. I flew from Kuwait to Qatar to Balad on a C130. Not the most comfortable plane but after a few years in the military I've come to expect that comfort, or lack thereof, simply comes with the territory. It's pretty funny what I've become accustomed to after living like a nomad for a few weeks. I realized the other day that I haven't flushed a toilet in over two weeks. Think about it. What that means is for over two weeks I haven't had a nice, relaxing....well, you know. I've only used porto potties that are shared by thousands of soldiers. Gross. Beyond gross. But funny nonetheless. Too candid? My sincere apologies but I did tell you I would share the good and the bad about this deployment and now I guess I've ventured into toilet humor (yes, pun absolutely intended). Hey, it's no treat for me either. When I finally flushed today, I started to laugh. Perhaps the humor doesn't transfer very well here but to me, it's funny.

Thankfully, I'm moving on. I've met up with my team in Balad which consists of 8 soldiers from a reserve unit in California. The other 13 are in Baghdad at Camp Victory. I've worked with most of them before so it was nice to finally see some recognizable faces! After three weeks of traveling solo and having inner conversations, I really freaked myself out a few days ago when I actually verbalized part of my conversation! The trip to Balad couldn't come fast enough.

Luckily, they are giving me a few days to get comfortable and finish all of the administration stuff before I hit the ground running. It was VERY nice to have mail here waiting on me when I get here so THANK YOU Mom and Chuck, Gail, Mike and Jen, Mom Mom, Whitney, and Judy!!! It was like Christmas!! The only real negative thing so far is my BlackBerry doesn't work here like it did in Kuwait so I started to panic when I got here and realized there is no commercial cell phone use. I had no way to let Greg know I arrived, and arrived safely. It really bummed me out (see picture below). Greg calls that my Sad Fish Face. I admit it, I was sad. I really wanted to talk to him and I was feeling alone and helpless. But I'm fine now and before that, I was staying positive during my trip (see smiling picture below). Besides, I do have access to the Internet and the mail definitely cheered me up (see other smiling pic)! Enjoy the pics and I'll be in touch soon!

PS...if you want to email me you can at addiecollins@gmail.com!

Oh, and my name tag still says Collins because it takes a lot of paperwork to officially change your name in the Army....I start that tomorrow to become SSG ZINONE!! Yay!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Last Few Days in Kuwait

Updating this blog is becoming increasingly more difficult because there are so many soldiers going after the same 10 internet plug-ins! Admittedly, last week I was very spoiled because I had a password to the wireless network (given to me by someone who bought it on base) but that has since expired and I’m back to standing in endless lines. Not that I am above standing in lines; it’s just that the lines never seem to end! To combat that (pun intended), I went to buy my own wireless 4-day voucher but for some reason they are no longer available. So the days of sitting in the air-conditioned tent writing emails and updating my blog in Kuwait are apparently behind me!

But because I care about you all soooo much, this afternoon I stood outside the USO tent for 45 minutes prior to the center opening so I could be one of the first to get a computer and let you know how I'm doing! I'm not under the assumtion I have a loyal following but I know my mom, grandmother, and in-laws like to know what I am up to. So here goes...

I should be leaving for Iraq any day now. All of my training in Kuwait is now complete, including a 3 day field-training sojourn to the desert where we learned about convoy tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP’s), identifying and reacting to improvised explosive devices (IED’s) and extraction of casualties on the battlefield. Vital and important stuff but not altogether fun. In the field, there is no electricity or running water, nowhere to sleep but on the sand or on a hard sandy floor in a makeshift tent that doubles as our classroom and our sleeping quarters, and nothing but delicious MRE’s for every meal. This is the life of a grunt, a soldier, a Joe. At times, it can actually be fun and in hindsight, it’s never as bad as it feels at the time. So when I start to complain and feel tired and dirty, I remind myself this is what thousands of Marines and Soldiers deal with on a daily basis – THIS kind of soldiering is their job – and I have no room to complain because, for me, it’s over when the training is over. For them, it doesn’t end until their tired and beat up feet finally hit American soil. We should all thank them because theirs is a difficult and thankless job.

Okey Dokey, back to My Life. Because pictures tell the story better than mere adjectives, here a few shots of our training:

Nothing but soldiers and desert for miles - our training started at 4:30am. Live-fire quick reaction and close quarters marksmanship (I look a lot cooler than I am!) In front of and on the 5-Ton in preparation for Convoy Rehearsals
I was the vehicle commander for our humvee (God Help Us). Here I am identifying our vehicle to the Convoy Commander. Our call sign was DUSTMAKER 10 Yummy scrumptious MRE’s – this particular delight is Chicken Fajita. (just imagine how tasty it is …it’s designed to last 10 years!)
5 Star Accommodations And finally, more Camels just for fun
As I mentioned, according to my liaison I should be leaving for Iraq within the next few days. That is probably the next time you will hear from me. Until then, I’m spending my time watching SEINFELD on my cot…and of course, missing all of you, in particular my husband and Gumata! I'll be back as soon as I can....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Yes, I know I've posted a lot today but forgive me, I have my very own internet connection and I am making the most of it! I found out yesterday I am headed to Balad, after all. It's about 60 miles north of Baghdad and it's where half of my assigned unit (302nd Mobile Public Affairs Attachment) is. The other half is in Baghdad, at Camp Victory (where I thought I was going). Balad is great in that it is loaded with Morale Welfare and Recreation activities. Greg and I will be working closely with the USO while I am there but more on that later...I want to pack a punch with the announcement and want to make sure all of our ducks are in a row before I spill it...but it's SOOOO exciting for us!! Mission-wise, it will be good, too. I don't have details but there are a lot of Civil Affairs soldiers based in Balad and great opportunities for me to see firsthand some of the humanitarian work that is being done. Okay, let's get to it. Here is my address.....(wink wink)......if you mail something, like a package (wink wink) you MUST go to the post office and fill out a customs form. It's very simple and it's required! Postage rates are national so you will pay the same if you send it to California or to Iraq. For letters and/or cards, no customs form is required. Please, no porn, pork, or alcohol. Don't get me arrested. DVD's and TV Series DVD's are greatly appreciated as it gets VERY boring at night and that is what I watch on my computer as I fall asleep. Right now I am on Season 5 of Cheers. I love Cheers. Crystal Light On The Go's are AWESOME!!! And I love blow pops. Very good snacks to break up the day. That's all I can think of now. I'm sure there will be more so check back often! Thank you so much!

SSG Addie Zinone
302nd MPAD
APO AE 09391

4 Months...


Today, we've been married four months! Yay! We've really figured out the key to a long, lasting marriage - and it doesn't include being 8,000 miles away from one another (hehe)! I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU!!

Kuwait...Sandy, Hot Kuwait

Hello from the Middle East, where it's HOT HOT HOT and full of SAND SAND SAND! I'm doing well actually. I've been here for about 3 days (I am very disoriented time/day-wise because the trip was so long and the time change so drastic) and I've yet to get used to having sand in nearly every crevice. I have settled in to Camp Buehring in Kuwait, the in-processing and training area all soldiers are required to go through prior to getting to Iraq. It's just another stop on a seemingly never ending trip! I truly forgot how grueling and tiresome it is just to get to where I am headed. Since I've been here, it's been fairly easy. I do not have immediate access to the internet or the phones and the lines, they are LONG! Thousands of soldiers vying for the same resources and it takes a lesson in patience to deal with it. But I'm doing just fine. Right now, I'm currently in the USO Morale Tent with my own laptop hooked up to the land line...what a luxury! I have had minimal training so far; they are trying to determine what it is I need to get to Iraq. It's different for each MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) - our job - and since I'm here as an inidividual augmentee, they aren't sure what it is I need. While I wait, I hang out in my assigned tent with no less than 25 of my closest battle buddies...so many broads it's like a hostel! You can say the accommodations are less than stellar. See Exhibit A, B, C. The last picture is where I sleep...inviting, isn't it? Well today the air conditioner went off in the tent and it was so hot one soldier walked in from using the bathroom and fell right to her face from the heat. Poor child has scratches and bruises all over her legs and arms from hitting the wood floor without warning. Hopefully they have that fixed because sleeping is not an option when you're pruining from lying/sleeping in your own sweat. N to the ASTY. Fo realz.

As for the rest, here's a little tour. The endless row of tents that house thousands of transient soldiers: The trailer we shower in (only 15 gallons per soldier...aka a very cold, uncomfortable, dry shower):
This is self explanatory...but no less disgusting in 122 degree heat: Bomb shelters (rarely, if ever, used in Kuwait): And finally, here are some pictures from our trip to the range early yesterday morning to test fire our M16's and M9's:

The range was VERY far out in the desert but it was nice that early in the morning (we went there at 4:30am). We saw camels being herded (are camels herded??? if that sounded ignorant, I apologize): The more I see, the more surreal it seems! Someone commented that I need to remember all I see and do, and commit it to memory...they are so right because in spite of the pain this separation is causing me, this is truly a unique and interesting experience. I'm lucky to share it with you. I hope you are enjoying it. I miss you!

Saturday, September 8, 2007


I'm currently on the third stop of my of my two city, three country adventure. Ireland, where the Guiness is thick and the spirit is high. As we came off the plane and in to the terminal, the crowd erupted into spontaneous applause. That feels good because considering where we are heading, I anticipate that will be the last standing ovation we receive until we return home.

I have just a few minutes before we have to reboard but since I have an internet connection, I wanted to check in to let you know I am doing well. The week at Fort Benning was quick and easy. Greg was able to come down from Tuesday to Friday and although we didn't have as much time as we wanted, I was luckier than most because everyone else said goodbye to their family before leaving for Benning. That said, the final goodbye yesterday was/is gut-wrenching. It doesn't seem real to me that I will not return home in a week and fall in to his hug. In fact, when I wake up from sleeping on the plane, I painfully realize all over again that with each flight I am flying further and further away from the love of my life. I know it's only nine or ten months but right now, that does little to comfort me. One. Day. At. A. Time.

I've met some really great people in the airport just since I've been typing this. One very nice couple from Connecticut and a young man from West Virginia. Two West Virginian's meeting in an Irish Airport Hanger...who would have thought?

Time to go...from here, it only gets tougher so I have to psych myself up for this next leg! Next time you hear from me I should be there. I'm not sure when I can update because I have no idea what my living/working situation will be. But know I am doing well and concentrating on that return home! Until then, keep us all in your prayers and know all of us are serving with your Freedoms and safety foremost in our minds.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

So It Begins

In less than 3 hours I am leaving to catch my flight to Fort Benning, Georgia. This time next week, according to the most recent information I've received, I will be on a plane crossing the Atlantic. And so it begins....

It's late and I'm tired. For obvious reasons I can't sleep (note that Greg isn't one to lose sleep when he's stressed....God love him but he's out like a light!) so I thought I'd write a quick update because I'm not sure if I'll be able to do it from Georgia. Luckily, I don't have to say my final good-bye to Greg today. He is coming to Georgia on Tuesday to spend a few days with me. We're keeping our fingers crossed that I won't be training into the evening so that we'll have plenty of time together. Regardless, even if it's for 20 minutes a day, it's worth it. Gosh, I love my husband.

I will, however, have to say good-bye to Gumata. We've had this dog a little more than 2 months and I am so in love with her, I can't stand it!! Pets really do become your children! I mean, come on....how can you not love a dog who LOVES the beach (like her parents) and LOVES to sleep (like her parents)?

This little girl is only 9 months old and she's already close to 80lbs! When I get back, she is going to be HUGE! Gosh, I can't wait to hug her again....this is so hard. I've underestimated it for sure. More from Georgia....