> NORMAL -- During her
deployment in Kuwait as a truck driver with the Army National Guard
, Tammy Johnson
frequently maneuvered the vehicle while pointing an M-16 rifle out the window.
So when she
was scolded by her
parents in August for leaving a friend's house at midnight, she
was surprised and a bit taken aback."I was getting into the mode of being a daughter when I thought, 'Where was I two weeks ago,'" said Johnson, 25, of Bloomington, who served with the 1244th Transportation Co. based in North Riverside.
"I had just spent a year and a half driving a five-ton truck through a combat zone," she
said, recalling the incident.Johnson, a graduate student in political science at Illinois State University, was one of two featured speakers Thursday at the university's Veterans Day Ceremony in the Bowling and Billiards Center.
About 100 people attended.
unit were stationed in Kuwait but she
often drove into Iraq to deliver supplies and weapons.Among the cities Johnson
went to were Baghdad and Fallujah, currently the focus of an intense American military effort to rid the area of insurgents.
"When we were in Iraq we were always locked and loaded," Johnson
said."We had to drive with our M-16's pointed out the windows."
Among the items carried on the 30-foot bed of Johnson's truck were medical supplies, equipment for Army and Marine units, missiles and grenades.
While carrying a load of grenades, Johnson
was always mindful of potholes.
"Especially at night," she
said."Sometimes you couldn't miss them, but we tried to be careful."Johnson
was called up in January 2003.She
had 36 hours notice before being deployed.During her
remarks Thursday, she
applauded the university for having procedures in place to help soldiers."They tied up any loose ends I couldn't deal with before leaving," she said, noting she likely will return to classes at ISU in January.