Search Makings and Musings

December 18, 2011


Okay my lovelies...when I left off last Saturday I had just arrived at my first duty station in Yongsan, South Korea.  I didn't mention the day I arrived there.  It was September 11th, 2001.  Yep, you got it...9/11.  THE 9/11.  So what happened.  Did I arrive safely?  Did we get high jacked?  Did the smell of kimchee bowl me over?  Did I ever get used to the crazy signs, packaging and clothing slogans?
If you want to on!

Yes, I arrived safely in Korea.  I had no idea the terrorist attack was happening as I was checking into my hotel, the Dragon Inn.  I was with a fairly large group of soldiers who were also being assigned to Korea.  After the usual confusion we were all told to go to our rooms and be at the in-briefing room in the morning.  I was told I would just be at the hotel a few days and then I could get an apartment off post.  Good.  I went to my room which was actually rather nice.  I was exhausted and had some MAJOR jet lag.  I called my fiance and let him know I was there safely and I got into some pajamas and hit the sack.  About an hour later the phone rang.  Strangely I knew who it was, the only person in the country I knew was a friend from my Officer Basic Course in Arizona.  Sure enough it was her.  She welcomed me to Korea and said she had no time to talk, and that I needed to turn on my television.  I asked, "What channel?"  She said, "Any".  After hanging up I turned on the tube just in time to see a jet crashing into the second tower.  Oh my God.  My stomach turned.  My head got fuzzy.  What the heck is going on?  I watched transfixed to the screen, thinking that my children were in the States where all hell was breaking loose, and I was in freaking South Korea, where I could do nothing to protect them!  My sister was interning in D.C.  This was a living nightmare!  Just then my phone rang again.  I thought it would be my friend from OBC again.  Not this time. The voice said, "Lieutenant Duncan?"  It was a man's voice.  Who was this?  "Yes?" I said.  It was the Major that I would be working for.  He said, "I need you to get your uniform on and report to work immediately".  Hmmm...I didn't even know where I had been assigned!  He had a car come get me in about 15 minutes.  I was waiting in the drive, quite anxious.  We rode to my new office, it wasn't far at all.  There I met Major S.  He informed me that I was the new Brigade Intelligence Officer.  Wow.  A pretty ostentatious job for a lowly 1st Lieutenant.  He told me I needed to get to work, we were going on 24 hour operations due to the activity in the States.  I needed to set up the Operations Center and track the activity in the States.  Great.  My very first real Army job.  A job usually held by a Captain, and I had massive jet lag.  No problem.  Since we were on 24 hour ops, I only had to stay awake for the next 12 hours.  Yikes.  I won't get into the intricacies of my job, but I did it and I did it well.  Not bragging, I was just good at what I did.  While we weren't working we watched in horror as the scene played out on television.  It was awful.  I learned later that my sister was at the Justice Center Building in D.C. when the Pentagon was hit.  She was among the crowds running away from the smoke and debris.  That broke my heart.  My little sister shouldn't have to deal with something like that.  I have always felt super protective over her and this was not my idea of her experience as an intern in D.C.  I made it through my 12 hours and briefed my replacement, then I had 12 hours off to catch up on sleep.  I went straight to the shoppette and bought a six pack of beer and a pack of cigarettes.  I went up to my room, smoked a cigarette, opened a beer and passed out.  This was the routine for the next 30 days.  I was not allowed to move off post because of the security threat level.  So I was stuck in the hotel.  Luckily there was a fairly decent bar downstairs, two restaurants, a shoppette, and a casino.  There was also some shopping and a really nice patio area in the back where I would go to read and catch some fresh air.  Eventually things settled down and I was able to settle into my job.  When things were calm I mostly did office work.  Processed security clearances, taught Intel related classes, and traveled to our out lying units to take care of anything they needed.  I got to see a lot of Korea since we had units all over.  I was finally allowed to move off post and got super lucky.  As I was entering the Housing Office, a Staff Sergeant asked me if I was looking for a place.  She said she had an apartment, a car and cell phone she would sell me.  Wonderful!  Everything I needed just landed in my lap!  We did the deal and I ended up with a super nice place, a decent car for $400.00, and she threw in the phone for free!  Thus began my adventure of living on the economy in Korea.  Shortly after I settled in I noticed my fiance was acting rather odd.  I finally confronted him and found out he and his WIFE just had a baby boy.  WHAT?!?  OMG, I dropped him like a hot rock.  I was truly heart broken and I threw myself into my job and swore off men forever!  So there I was, in the Army, in Korea, SINGLE.  Life was pretty good.  I wonder what happens next?
Where were you on 9/11?  Do you remember the sick feeling in your stomach?  Did you know immediately it was an attack or did you think at first it was some kind of accident?  Let's chat about it!!!  More next week!
Here are some more of those crazy signs.  I never understood why they didn't have an American friend proof-read them!  You can get lots more from  Be prepared to laugh your buttocks off!

Love and hugs,

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