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Patrick major thankful to serve others

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- From her desk at Patrick AFB, Maj. Janice Hance could hear waves rolling in and rockets flying from Cape Canaveral AFS. From her desk at Phoenix Base in Baghdad, she hears a daily barrage of gunfire and explosions, and sees people scarred by war. Yet, she feels she has lots to be thankful for.

"I'm thankful just to be alive, to be an American and that I'm not out there fighting in the Red Zone ... dodging bullets and insurgents. I make it a point that when I see our guys going back and forth in their Humvees to thank them for what they're doing," said Major Hance, 45th Space Wing chief of operations plans. "I'm also thankful for the support from my family and people back home. Those care packages mean a lot."

Major Hance has served two months of a 12-month tour of duty in Iraq where she along with Lt. Col. Rob Lindsay of the DoD Manned Space Flight Support Office are working with coalition forces to help build the Iraqi Air Force. Both volunteered for this hazardous duty.

Major Hance knew going in she'd miss holidays and other important dates with her family and friends. She says she volunteered because she firmly believes in what the U.S. is doing in Iraq and wanted to make a difference in helping the country stand on its own.

"The challenge of helping stand up an Air Force really appeals to me. We're making progress. This is the chance of a lifetime for a space operator," said Major Hance, who serves as an advisor to the Director of Plans and Programs for the Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq/Coalition Air Force Transition Team.

Major Hance and Colonel Lindsay are among the approximately 80 troops from the 45th Space Wing and its mission partners currently deployed overseas.

"Being away from my family is tough, especially at this time of the year," said Maj. Hance. "I miss my hula group. I miss my baseball team. I miss being out at the launch pads and that space mission. But I meet Iraqis every day who make me believe all the sacrifices are worth it."