Two months ago, Kate Dilworth was preparing for her new life as a college graduate. She had taken the LSAT exam, finished her classes in December, and was ready for anything the world had to offer her. It turned out that the world was about to ask more of her than she probably anticipated. Dilworth is also a sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve and very proud of it. If you have ever had a class with her, you know that she’d never let you forget that. In January, Sgt. Dilworth was called to active duty in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Dilworth was stationed stateside for a month before being sent abroad in February. Her unit, Kuwaitnat CSSB12 communications, provides power to the lines of communications in the camp. According to Dilworth, “We are basically the AT&T of the field.”
A typical day for Dilworth is a far cry from a 10:55 class and lunch in the Food Court. After a 5:30 a.m. wake up call, getting dressed and going to the “bathroom,” she heads off to one of two hot meals for the day. They have hot chow in the morning and at night while lunch consists of a meal ready to eat, an MRE.
“An MRE is a meal full of preservatives in a thick plastic bag,” Dilworth said. Basically you have your choice of beef stew, chicken teriyaki, pasta with vegetables, hot dogs and grilled chicken among other things. All of the meals come with a heater so that you can have a hot meal, and all you need is water. They also come with snacks like granola bars, skittles and m&m’s. “Some are good but nothing beats a good Wendy’s burger, which I could really use right now,” Dilworth said.
After breakfast she checks with the night watch to make sure that there was no change in communications and continues with her duties for the day. Each person is responsible for some aspect of the unit. If there is a fault in the system, Dilworth will get woken up in the middle of the night to come fix the problem. After a long day, Dilworth usually goes to bed around 2200 (10:00 p.m.).
Even though Dilworth can’t say exactly where she is due to a special clearance, she said that living in the desert is definitely an experience. They live and work in tents and sandstorms are something they have gotten used to. She said that the weather is very inconsistent, ranging from hot to cold, rain and even hail.
With the warmer weather this past week, many students have complained about the heat in the buildings. I’m sure none of us would want to trade our living arrangements with Dilworth’s unit.
With America stepping full fledged into war, morale in the country runs the gamut from extremely upset to increasingly supportive. What about the people on the front lines? Surprisingly, the people who are most affected by the war are still in high spirits. Dilworth says that humor is something that is used to keep the days light. Like in any situation she also says that there is no sense in dwelling on the negative because you will just depress yourself. “We are ready to kick ass and go home,” Dilworth said, summing up the general feeling in her unit.
So with the crazy weather, alright food and so-called bathrooms, would Dilworth enlist again? “I always said that I love the Marine Corps and there is nothing changed. I knew the possibility of deployment when I joined. This is the real deal and what I’ve been trained for. I would join again any day of the week and twice on Sunday. The corps is more than just fighting for freedom, it is pride, honor, courage, commitment, loyalty, integrity, leadership, challenges and heart. Some people never get the true meaning of these words. I feel them everyday. Just like any job you have parts that suck, but what I do saves lives- so therefore we suck it up and call it a day.”