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Taylor Reports for Duty at UAlbany

by Greta Petry (March 7, 2006)

Lisa Taylor in Tikrit with a fellow soldier.
Lisa Taylor in Tikrit with a fellow soldier.

Lisa Taylor, secretary to Vice President for Governmental, Public and Media Relations Charles Williams, resumed her duties at the University at Albany Feb. 1 after serving in Iraq with the 42nd Infantry Rainbow Division of the New York Army National Guard since January 2005.

"I arrived in Iraq on Jan. 25, 2005," Taylor said. "It was my 32nd birthday." Taylor first trained at Fort Drum in Watertown, N.Y., and headed to Kuwait with the advance team in October 2004.

Taylor's days on the fourth floor of the University Administration Building are a lot different from her days in Iraq, with the 642nd Military Intelligence Battalion in Tikrit. There, her unit stayed in Saddam Hussein's palace compound, where the power would go out several times a day, and there was not always enough water to take a shower.

In summer, the temperature rose to more than 110 degrees F., sometimes as high as 120 degrees. As a health care specialist, Taylor taught combat life-saving courses, and updated medical records. She also handled personnel issues in the battalion's S-1 office.

"On top of regular work days, there were security details," Taylor said. These included guarding the mess hall, sometimes getting off duty at 2 a.m., and searching female visitors at the front gate.

Now and then, rockets and mortars were launched at the base. "You never knew when it was going to happen, so you had to be constantly prepared," said Taylor, who was a hospital corpsman with the Navy Reserves after 9/11 at Ground Zero before switching to the Army National Guard in 2002.

The best thing about her unit? "I had a great support group over there. You become very close with a core group of people. Every night we would get together and meet outside around 8 p.m. and talk with four or five friends. You really need that over there because you are without your family and friends," Taylor said.

After 13 years of military service, Taylor was separated from active duty in December. Returning to the U.S. has been an adjustment. At first, "You'd hear a loud noise and you'd jump," Taylor said.

Now, "It's just getting used to being able to come and go as you please, and doing the things you did before you left," said Taylor. "In Iraq, it's not like you could just walk down the street or go to the mall."

In addition, "You appreciate things a lot more because you see what the people have over there. The Iraqi people don't have the opportunities we have here in education or in jobs. For safety reasons, they can't even go to the movies, or out to dinner. And they don't have much money."

Today, Taylor is thankful having enough water for a hot shower, and lights that don't blink on and off. In conclusion, she "appreciates all the support I received from the University and my family while I was deployed."


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