What it's like being a woman on the front lines

October 14, 2014 — Print this Page

Miyoko Hikiji joined the U.S. Army in Iowa as a way to pay for a college education. Near the end of her enlistment contract in the Iowa National Guard and before completing her degree in journalism, her unit was called to active duty in Iraq in early 2003. Good looking at 5’3” and 120 lbs., she didn’t “look the part,” but passed all of the qualifying tests, including weapons training and a 12.5 mile march in full uniform carrying a rifle and a 50-pound backpack.

All I Could Be: My Story as a Woman Warrior in Iraq is Miyoko Hikiji’s account of the year she spent in the Iraqi war. It’s her personal journey, but also a convincing argument that women in the military are beneficial to the mission, whatever it might be.

Her job in Iraq was to drive a five-ton truck transporting supplies, equipment, troops, and enemy prisoners in support of a regiment securing the northwest quadrant of the war-torn country. Her role was considered non-combatant, but it was dangerous and nerve-wracking. She was required to carry a rifle at all times.

“Our convoys of vehicles moving slowly across the open desert were an easy target,” she says. “Ambushes and explosions along the road were common.”

“You constantly have to prove that you were just as capable as the men. They often overlook the fact that women possess organizational and multi-tasking skills and a high level of selfless service that contribute to the mission.”

In addition to coping with the same fears, discomforts and frustrations as the men—long days, boiling heat, sand in their sweat, bad food, sleep deprivation, boredom, loneliness, homesickness, low morale, and the constant threat of an attack from any direction, women also have to deal with other soldiers’ snide remarks, crude behavior, and sexual harassment.

“Men enjoy having women around, but when men have to compete for their attention or affection, they often get angry, jealous and resentful.”

Military policy that forbids romantic relationships are ignored. In one relationship she was able to remain discreet and never allowed the relationship to interfere with her responsibilities. Assignments kept them apart for weeks at a time. Still, they were blamed for damaging morale.

“As long as a woman soldier does her duty in a war zone, as I did, she should be allowed to enjoy the comfort and support of a loving companion”, she says.

Hikiji earned respect from many of her comrades as well as 12 decorations during her full military career. Her company received the second highest unit decoration, The Valorous Unit Award, for extraordinary heroism.

All I Could Be is part military history, part memoire and part personal therapy. The book is a tribute to every man and woman in uniform for the sacrifices they make for their country.

All I Could Be: My Story as a Woman Warrior in Iraq
Miyoko Hikiji
List $26.95
Hardcover 224 pages,
History Publishing Company
March 26, 2013
ISBN: 975-1-933909585

About the Author

Miyoko Hikiji, whose father is of Japanese descent, served a total of nine years in the U.S. Army and in the Iowa National Guard, five on active duty. Among her 12 military decorations are two Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and an Iowa Humanitarian Service Medal.

Miyoko completed her B.S. degrees in journalism and psychology from Iowa State University in 2004. She is represented by Peak Modeling Agency and has been featured in print advertising and commercials regionally and internationally. She and her husband and two children live in Iowa.

What People Are Saying

“Given names such as Bev, Marlis, and Di now grace the combat roles of the American Army. This list also includes the name of Iowan Miyoko Hikiji, and her chronicle ‘female Soldier’ is a compelling and enlightening read of life and combat in a land of foreign sands, weather, culture, and language. Her sojourn of Operation Iraqi Freedom comes during the disjointed combat that saw females fight alongside and interchangeably with male soldiers and her story is a first that reveals that the Ameri...
— Scott Ayres, Colonel, Iowa Army National Guard

“A powerful story detailing the challenges, struggles and triumphs faced by the female Soldier on the non-linear battlefield.”
— Colonel Paul Ladd, U.S. Marine Corps (ret)

“If you read only one book about the Iraq war, read this important record of America’s Army today. I met Miyoko Hikiji on one of Iraq’s most dangerous roads. We were struck by her team’s courage, driving unarmored vehicles at a time when insurgents knew such vehicles were easy targets. This book shows how Hikiji fought to complete her mission and describes an important period of change for women in the U.S. military. It should be studied as a unique record of history.”
—Alastair Wanklyn, former Baghdad Bureau Chief Foxnews.

Sample TV Interview
http://www.kcci.com/news/central-iowa/Iowa-Army-veteran-writes-book-on-woman-in-combat/-/9357080/18423360/-/grj7uz/-/index.html


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