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Finally, on April 20, 2003, Easter Sunday, it was time for my unit to move north into Iraq. Not wanting my fiancée or family to spend their Easter worrying about me, I didn’t tell them I where I was headed until after I had arrived there.

Before crossing the border, I locked a magazine of ammunition into my rifle and placed my fiancée’s photo on the windshield of my Humvee so it would feel like she was with me. Within minutes of crossing the border, we encountered our first Iraqi village.

The drive soon became tense: Iraqi civilians were standing in the middle of the road to try to force us to stop so they could sell us trinkets. My driver -- a 20-year-old woman who had never deployed before -- began to slow down. But stopping would make us a target for attack. My operations sergeant -- who was sitting behind me -- got on the radio and informed the other convoy vehicles what we were experiencing. Simultaneously, I yelled ...

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