Monday, January 5, 2009

My All Expense Paid “Trip”???

Well, well, well, I have ended up on another one of those all expense paid trips courtesy of Uncle Sam. (Awe-some!) This adventure all began September 2008 in Morrisville, NC and upon my arrival in Baghdad, it is STILL amazing me, and it’s early yet. You see, once we got started on this deployment, I was chosen to do a job that has certainly taken me OUT of my comfort zone. I have often been told that if doing a certain job doesn’t make your stomach turn in knots, then it’s not really worth doing at all. Well, now I can honestly say that I have experienced that feeling first hand for the first time in a long time! Normally I would be working in Flight Operations doing what I do best which is tracking aircraft and flight crews but NO! Not this time! I hear a voice say to me somewhere along the way, “SGT Fortune, you have been selected to be the Colonel’s Executive Assistant.” (Whoa! I hope and pray that I don’t disappoint! And I emphasize the pray part.) Of course, in good old Army tradition I got a “bonus!” It turns out that not only do I work for the Colonel, but I also got myself two Lieutenant Colonels and one Command Sergeant Major! (All of whom are wonderful to work for.) It certainly isn’t a bad thing, just a tad overwhelming at first. (That military rank can get pretty “heavy” when it’s staring you back in the face ya’ know…) Now, I would not describe myself as being a “people” person but if I ever needed to be one, now would be the time. So far, this experience has really shown me that I can bend like “Gumby” and “adjust fire”; however and whenever necessary, and yes, be a “people” person…no chance for boredom here! My days consist of scheduling appointments for all of the above mentioned leaders, VTCs, (Video Tele-Conferences), moving necessary paperwork through the Chain of Command and then, by golly, the phone rings and what comes out of the blue? A what?! A who?? A visit from the General! ?? Whew! I have to follow Protocol (all the do’s and don’ts) and make sure that all things, as well as people are in order for this VIP visit. It can be quite a rush, other times it can be quite intimidating, but in the end, things always come together, because we all work as a team to make it happen.

Now talk about being out of your comfort zone. Never in a million years would I have expected to EVER have to, or NEED to use a pressure washer, discover the difference between drill bits for masonry and drill bits for wood, and squeeze a little bit of “graffiti” in there somewhere as well. (The Command Section needs a sign to know where they are supposed to park….). If anything, I will be of better use to my husband, who I would like to mention is also here with me, by being more “handy” around the house.

With this deployment just getting off to a blazing start, I have discovered that there isn’t a whole lot that I can’t do. In the end, I am just thankful that I am privileged enough to be a small spoke in this big wheel that we call the Army. Holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s have already come and gone here for us, but if I am not able to be at home to celebrate them with my “blood” relatives, then I will be thankful that I was able to share the holidays with my military family. I am here for a reason, it’s not for me to question why I am here, but how I can take my small contribution and make life better for someone else.

Sgt. Audra Fortune, a flight operations specialist with Task Force 449 Aviation Brigade, is deployed to Baghdad, Iraq and currently works as an executive assistant for the Brigade Commander and his senior staff. Once her tour is complete, she will return home to working in flight operations.

Sgt. Audra Fortune and husband, CW5 Richard Fortune, both residents of Kinston, N.C., are currently assigned to Task Force 449 Aviation Brigade and deployed in Baghdad, Iraq. This North Carolina Army National Guard couple is on their second deployment and will return home next fall.


  1. Love your blog, Audra! It's so nice to see your smiling face and read up on how you're doing! There's not a challenge that you can't handle so I'm sure you'll do great! You're a fabulous woman and strong NCO and I am so proud of you! You've always been a good-hearted, compassionate person so I know God is using you over there. God bless you and all the troops!

  2. What a handsome couple! From one veteran and family, thanks for all your sacrifice and devotion to duty.

  3. Mrs. Cheryl CarterJanuary 5, 2009 at 1:10 PM

    Howdy Sgt. Fortune, and hello to CW5 Fortune as well! Good to see your name running across the screen of my TV. We sure miss here at home! Miss our partying too! We'll have to plan a ride when you get back.
    WOW executive assistant to the big guys! Judging by the success of your last party, if anyone can carry off your job with skill and a sunny disposition it is YOU! :)
    Lots of love your way,
    MSG and Mrs Douglas Carter

  4. Way to go cuz see you in a couple of months hopefully. The homefires are going good. Pray for all of our troops. TSG

  5. Hey Audra!! Me and Samantha was reading your blog here at work!! We LOVED it!! You should write a book, your a great, detailed writer!! Anyway, be safe!! Hope ya'll had a great holidays!!
    Amanda Carroll

  6. Hello SGT Fortune...My husband is currently serving with you there. Hope you all have a safe deployment & we're praying for you all back here!

  7. Hello SGT Fortune, It was nice to read you blog on the web. Neal e-mailed me and told me about what you all are doing. You have a full time job keeping all of those guys in line. Good Luck. Tell everyone hello for us and keep the information coming. It's great to hear that everyone is doing ok. Take care and let everyone know that we are praying for all of you and wishing you a safe return. Love Lynne, Devan and Heather Purvis

  8. My husband is currently stationed over there with your guard unit.

    Hope you all have a safe deployment good thoughts for you from IN.

  9. Hello Audra, so good to see your pic on the screen.So Proud of you. take care and be safe,
    this goes for Richard too. VA. Clyde

  10. WOW!impressive!!! sorry i didnt get to see you guys before you left,but this way i can check in on you once in awhile...stay safe, kick @ss, and knock-'em dead you little "firecracker" :)

    luv ya bunches! Kim L.

  11. Hey Audra, my husband is over there as well with the 449th, MSG Wiedel. Looking forward to reading about your experiences. Thanks for taking the time.

  12. Thanks to you all for the well wishes and the prayers! I really enjoyed the wonderful opportunity to tell a bit of my story. We are all doing well over here and can't wait to get back home safely to those that we love, miss and appreciate so much! Your words are truly encouraging and motivating! God bless you all! Warm Regards, SGT Audra Fortune

  13. You must be one smart cookie! You two are why I'm so proud to be an American.
    When you get back go to and sign up for a fun filled family and fishing day on us.
    Going to be in the teens Friday here.
    Take care and God bless!

  14. Hello Audra, Hope you 2 are doing well, It is very cold here in NC. Am still proud of you , as one commenter put it You Little Firecracker"
    Yes , you are why we are proud to be an American. Clyde T. and VA

  15. Audra and Rich, we miss you at River Hills. We are praying for you daily. I hope you recieved my email about dad.
    Kim C.

  16. Snow and 26 Deg today Jan.20th in Smithfield. I am a contractor at LMH..Wanted to say thank you all for what you do so well. Take care and Godspeed back home safe.

  17. Hello,
    To you all. You are a special team that is near and dear to our NC hearts. I miss being with you.
    MSG Jay Berube (ret)