Handing Over Victory

The U.S. military handed over Camp Victory to the Iraqis today. At the height of the war Camp Victory was home to 46,000 U.S. troops. I was one of them.

There is only so much to see, and even less to do, when confined for a year to an area of only a few square miles. So, week after week, I haunted the same places carrying my camera and a sense of obligation to chronicle all that I saw.

It feels strange to me now, knowing that much of what I photographed—bombed palaces, relics of Saddam’s reign and marks of a vast and prolonged U.S. presence—will soon be gone.

I took thousands of photos while in Iraq. Still, when I left I found myself wondering whether I had captured everything there was to see. I wondered whether I had fulfilled my obligation. Now, I believe I have.

Four-and-a-half years after I returned from Iraq I finally self-published a book of my Iraq photos. Turns out, on-demand self-publishing is not the way to go if you want to sell books. The price is high, to say the least, around $150. It’s an 11×13-inch 100+ page hard cover book with a dust jacket and every possible upgrade to the paper, cover, end pages and binding, all of which substantially increased the price. My profit (as if) is only $10 per book. I’m still glad I did it and think it turned out well. The best part is that it’s done and I can now look for more reasonable publishing options.

The book is dedicated to all the men and women of the Armed Forces who selflessly serve our nation. And to my husband, Lt Col Paul Roelle, USAF, who I love, admire and respect, and for whom I would do anything (even join the Army) and go anywhere (even Iraq). And to my friends and fellow soldiers—Will Bratton (former SGT, USA); Gray Broughton (former CPT, USA); Tamara Broughton (former CPT, USA); MAJ Derek Brown, USA; MAJ Annemarie Drazenovich, USAR; Christine Duey (former CPT, USA); MAJ Benjamin Grimes, USA; CW4 Scott Higdon, USA; MAJ Jeannine Smith, USAR; and COL Steven Swann, USA. I am ever grateful to have served with these fine soldiers.

I also wish to acknowledge my friends and fellow soldiers of the 30th Medical Brigade with whom I deployed.

Finally, I would like to give a special thanks to CW4 Scott Higdon, a friend and gifted photographer who accompanied me when I photographed most of the images in this book.

You can view and purchase the book, titled Victory Over America, at blurb.com. The forward and photos are also posted on my blog.

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