Melia Meichelbock

Melia Meichelbock
In the Company of Soldiers


Meet Melia Meichelbock

Melia Meichelbock currently works as a CEO of a Southern California financial institution. She has won numerous state and national awards for developing various marketing, public relations, and community development programs, including the prized Tomorrow’s Star Award for promising young professionals. She has won multiple national and international book awards for her memoir In the Company of Soldiers. Meichelbock has twice served as the California State Representative for the California Youth Involvement Board, which promotes youth financial literacy. As a Civil Affairs Sergeant in the United States Army Reserve Special Operations Command, Meichelbock received the Combat Action Badge, the Army Commendation Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal for her service in Iraq.


A Personal Note from the Author

I began my journey alone. From day one I was isolated. There was a mix up with my orders. So while my battalion went off to Kuwait to continue training, I was sent directly to Baghdad. Soon after, I was assigned to a new battalion. I knew no one. My new battalion began an investigation against my company commander for misconduct and I was caught in the middle. I didn’t know who to be loyal to, and I constantly felt like I was stuck in the middle or used as a pawn.

I tried to find my place in this war—where I fit in and where I belong. I sincerely wanted to do my part, but I found myself doing a new job every few weeks. My tasks usually consisted of something for which I had no experience or training. I finally found a comfort zone through my work with contract projects, village visits, sharing with the locals, and making a few close friends. The positive was sometimes overshadowed with occasional death or destruction. I often mourned the death of soldiers, Iraqis, and the projects we worked so hard to complete.

About half way through my tour, my original company pulled me back and I started all over again. But this time I had the relief of familiar faces, all male faces. On the base I was one of just five female enlisted soldiers. By then I was used to my nickname: “soldier moral,” just for being one of very few attractive females on the base. The boys teased me often and played practical jokes on me. I would reciprocate, but sometimes the teasing would hurt. Eventually, my skin toughened.

By the end I was burned out. We all were. I was tired of the backstabbing and the politics. The drama continued when not everyone got what they deserved during the awards ceremonies. No one wanted to go outside the wire (i.e. outside the military gates) anymore because we were so close to the end. We didn’t want to be one of those soldiers that were killed right before coming home. Then there was the fear of going home itself. Have I changed? Will I be different? Go crazy? I finally found my place as a soldier and now I was to return home to my husband and my regular job.

This journal follows me from day to day as I tried to survive and do my best to fit in to a world far from anything I had ever known. I searched for something to read before I left for Iraq, something that could tell me what to expect. There was nothing. My vision in publishing this journal is to give soldiers an idea of what to expect when deploying and to also give civilians insight to what life is really like over there. It’s a viewpoint far different from anything a reporter could tell you—a very personal one.

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