Deployment: Week 10, 11, & 12

Oops, three weeks have passed since my last deployment update! Which is a good thing, I suppose --- the time is flying by! I'd say although we still have a while to go, we've knocked a pretty good chunk out of this deployment, and I'm really proud of both of us :)

I never know what to say during the deployment posts, because truthfully... it's less than thrilling and not much changes. Zach's still fine, it's still hot, there's still sand, etc. However, everyone is so supportive and constantly asking how things are going, which is super sweet, so update I will! Also, I just drew this super cute USMC-Zach doodle and needed to post it.

• • •

As cute as the doodle is, I'd much rather have some real pictures... and that finally happened last week! Zach was able to upload some pictures from his camera and send them via email, so I got to stare at this precious face all day long.

Did your heart just melt? Because mine did.

He also sent along a pic of his little corner of the hooch---Franklin County hat on the bedpost and all :)

That, my friends, is some serious luxury.

• • •

In other Zach-related news, boyfriend turned TWENTY-TWO this past week. I'm not sure why, but it definitely sounds way older than 21. I love my old man.

We didn't get to talk ON his actual birthday, because he was traveling outside the wire and I was chilling on Assateague Island off the eastern coast of Virginia. However, we decided that we were together in spirit since we both got to "play in the sand" all day. Wah wah.

Communication has been sporadic, not only due to him being in the middle of the Afghanistan desert, but also due to my camp responsibilities. There have been multiple times this summer where I've felt my phone vibrate in my pocket, but was unable to answer because I was leading announcements at Hillside or singing songs after lunch. The only time in the past three months when Zach was at a FOB with a webcam and microphone, the internet connection at camp stopped working for a day, so we still have yet to Skype. And as horrible as it may sound, you've gotta admit---it's funny. It's real, it's life, and it's not the end of the world (shock!)

With that being said, the times that we do get to talk are wonderful and filled with an intense voice delay that is also mildly hysterical. There are lots of long pauses as we wait for our words to travel 7000 miles across the ocean, and lots of accidental talking at the same time due to said sound delay, but we're getting better at it... sort of :) After talking on the phone only once in over two weeks, we got to talk on Friday AND Saturday for a combined 3 1/2 hours. Oh happy day!

He tells me stories of his conversations with the Afghanistan children while he's outside the wire (funny stuff!) and the crazy dust tornado storms that he's seen. The temperature is staying strong in the 130s over there, and is only supposed to get hotter throughout August & September before beginning to "cool down."

(Side note---it does cool off quite a bit at night, and Zach said that once it got down to the upper-80s... and he was cold! You don't understand how great this is! Boyfriend is SO hot-natured and typically tries to run my AC when he visits in the middle of winter. I won't have to worry about freezing once he gets back... at least for a while!)

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As of yesterday, Zach is on guard force for the next couple of months. (All the guys rotate in and out of guard force during the deployment.) He won't be going up in any more helicopters or leaving the FOB for a while, because he'll be standing at the edge of it for 12 hours at a time. It definitely has its perks and its disadvantages, but hopefully it will be something different to shake things up for a bit.

There are always two guys standing watch at a time, and Bell gets to be with Zach (Hiiii, Bell!). They were roommates back at Lejeune, and we pretty much became best friends after I made him a paracord bracelet before they deployed. Bell promised me months ago that he would take care of Zach for me, and he's done a very good job :) If Zach's gotta stand watch every day for 12 hours straight with someone, I'm glad it's Bell.

(Zach helping Bell with his sleeves the day before the boys deployed)

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So many people have been sweet enough to send letters & packages over the past few months, and I know they absolutely make Zach's day! Package-wise, boyfriend says he has enough socks and foot care products to last a lifetime, but no Skittles. Sad day, especially considering the fact that I received FOUR different packages containing Skittles this summer at camp. Boyfriend is jealous. If you want to send a little Skittle loving, the address is:

LCpl Jones Zacharie K
1st BN 9th MAR H&S Armory
Unit 74095
FPO AE 09510-4095

The address is also posted under the "Deployment" tab for future reference. The boys are doing fine on basic necessities---so packages are mostly just for morale boosting: anything exciting and creative and fun. Like magazines. Or school supplies for the Afghanistan children. Or random Dollar Store finds. Or Skittles :)

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And that, my friends, has been a mega-summary of deployment life these days. If I left anything out that you've been wondering about, let me know in the comments below! Or feel free to use the comment section to leave a little shout out to Zach & the rest of 1/9 --- it's bizarrely funny how many of the guys in the armory read my blog from time to time :)

I love you, LCpl Jones... SOON-to-be Cpl Jones!
Guess I'll have to go to the beach again next month and take a new picture :)