Catching up with...Jeannie Deakyne
When Jeannie Panton Deakyne gets up in the morning, she doesn't have to decide whether to wear a dress, a pantsuit or jeans to work.
Instead, she dons the uniform of the United States Army.
Stationed in Iraq, Deakyne (pronounced Dee-kine) is a captain in the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
The former Student Congress president earned her bachelor's degree in political science from UTA in 1998. In December of that year, she received her commission as an Army second lieutenant. Her active duty commitment ended in June 2004, but she extended it to "voluntary indefinite" so she could serve in Iraq.
She arrived in the Middle East in March, spent two weeks in Kuwait, then moved north to Iraq's Camp Cooke, approximately 20 miles northwest of Baghdad in the town of Taji. Camp Cooke, named after a sergeant major who was killed in action in Iraq, is bordered to the east by the Tigris River.
"The landscape just west of the Tigris is straight out of a children's picture Bible," she said. "Palm trees and rushes follow the river inland about 100 feet. The remainder of the camp, however, is barren, with rocks, sand and gravel as far as the eye can see."
The camp was formerly the Al Taji Airfield, used as a base for the elite Iraqi Republican Guard as well as a munitions storage facility.
Deakyne's section of two officers, six noncommissioned officers and seven soldiers spends each day providing administrative support, conducting records management and processing awards and evaluations. But additional combat duties, including guard duty and tracking operations, are really what keep the Brigade S1 section busy.
"We also have the mission to process casualties and notify their families. To date, we have had 11 casualties, including two killed in action as two Apache pilots were shot down on Easter Sunday. We held a memorial service the following Tuesday, and I witnessed emotion I never thought I would see in the Army."
Jeannie married Capt. Will Deakyne on July 4, 2001, and he's not far away, stationed at Camp Victory South in Baghdad. The couple recently returned to Arlington for the Independence Day parade and sponsored UTA's award-winning float (see next page) before heading back to Iraq.
"Will works in one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen, with marble walls and staircases, gold fixtures in the bathrooms and a huge chandelier in the rotunda," Jeannie said.
The building was the main palace on Saddam Hussein's hunting grounds. It now houses the Multi National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I). Will works in the C3 Future Operations section, where he helps develop combat operations plans for all of the coalition forces.
"I take every chance I get to visit Will there," Jeannie said. "Not only is it great to see him, but his dining facilities are the best in Iraq."
Jeannie enjoys some of the comforts of home and says she's surrounded by good people. But she?s never far from danger.
"I'm constantly aware that we are in the presence of people who will stop at nothing to drive us out of this place. But I know I'm fortunate to have a chance to do something I love doing, something that will actually change the way these people and their children live their lives."
Jeannie and Will expect to remain in Iraq until March 2005.
— Jim Patterson