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'JAGhdad'

Lt. Col. Deann Lehigh sits in the throne of one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces while on duty in Iraq.

Lt. Col. Deann Lehigh sits in the throne of one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces while on duty in Iraq. (Courtesy photo)

McConnell AFB, Kan. -- It was March when the 931st Air Refueling Group Judge Advocate General packed her bags and gear, boarded an aircraft and set off to work at the largest legal office in the Department of Defense.
Lt. Col. Deann Lehigh, the 931st Air Refueling Group Judge Advocate General recently returned from a five-month tour of duty with Task Force 134's Detainee Operations Legal Office at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq.
The largest office in DOD had a pretty big responsibility.
"We operated in three locations, including the United States Embassy and Abu Ghraib prison," said Lt. Col. Lehigh. "We ensured that detainees received their due process rights under Article III of the Geneva Convention (vice Article IV--POW)."
Lt. Col. Lehigh served as the Officer-in-charge of her office while deployed.
"I ran the office that did all post board and post-trial processing, special requests for release and special release boards," said Lt. Col. Lehigh. "Essentially if you removed our organization it would have been a Prisoner of War operation not a detainee operation."
The JAG had a hand in some of the major prisoner releases from the infamous prison.
"If you recall the mass release of prisoners that occurred in early June that coincided with the new Iraqi government I was in charge of that process," said Lt. Col. Lehigh.
Lt. Col. Lehigh spent her 'away from the office' time in a hardened 'trailer' and making trips to the shower in flip-flops.
"My trailer had concrete barricades and sand bags all around it because the locals would on occasion lob mortars and rockets at us," said Lt. Col. Lehigh." You had to 'flip-flop' to the latrine which was interesting at times."
The forward operating base was equipped with a dining hall.
"The food was incredible," Lt. Col. Lehigh exclaimed. "The selection was beyond description."
The dining experience seemed to take away from all that was going on around.
"You have to understand that chow was the highlight of our day," Lt. Col. Lehigh added.
There was plenty of support from the home front before, during and after.
"I can't even begin to tell you how much the group helped me," said Lt. Col. Lehigh. "From the moment I got the word I was going everyone did everything they could to make my life easier."
"It made me so proud to tell everyone I was a Reservist from the smallest organization in Air Force Reserve Command, said Lt. Col. Lehigh. 
"My trailer had concrete barricades andsand bags all around it because the locals would on occasion lob mortars and rockets at us," said Lt. Col. Lehigh." You had to 'flipflop' to the latrine which was interesting .at times." 
The forward operating base was equipped with a dining hall. "The food was incredible," Lt. Col. Lehigh exclaimed. "The selection was beyond description." 
The dining experience seemed to take away from all that was going on around. 
"You have to understand that chow was the highlight of our day," Lt. Col. Lehigh added. 
There was plenty of support from the home front before, during and after. 
"I can't even begin to tell you how much the group (931st ARG) helped me," said Lt. 
Col. Lehigh. "From the moment I got the word I was going everyone did everything they could to make my life easier." 
"It made me so proud to tell everyone I was a Reservist from the smallest 
organization in Air Force Reserve Command, said Lt. Col. Lehigh.