The mountains, dust and wind make her base in Zabul province somehow beautiful and unpleasant at the same time, she said. She's a single mom who misses her 9-month-old son, Jack, and her parents, whom she talks to every day. "I do miss Mountain View a lot," she said.
At 20 years old, Gomez keeps soldiers on the ground as safe as possible as she collects and disperses classified intelligence at night.
Gomez, who grew up in an apartment complex on Old Middlefield Way, joined the Army — a longtime dream — right after graduating from Los Altos High School. She said it has been a good opportunity for her to see the world.
"This is the first time I'm going to be away" for Christmas, she said. "That's really the hardest part. I know they will still celebrate Christmas and I know they are fine. Talking to them and seeing how things are going back home makes me feel like I'm not missing anything."
She wants to join the Central Intelligence Agency or the Federal Bureau of Investigation someday, and hopes her job will give her experience towards that goal.
Gomez was able to see Germany when her unit was stationed there until deploying to Afghanistan three months ago. She trained in Missouri and will return to the U.S. in six months to be stationed in Kentucky. She has not been able to experience Afghani culture yet, however, as the base is too far for a quick trip to the nearest populated area, Qalat City.
While conditions in Afghanistan are as bad as they have ever been, according to reports from the Red Cross, there isn't any fighting going on near Gomez's base, and the base has never been the target of attack during her stay there.
On a weekly basis soldiers meet village elders to see if they need something built, such as a well, a school or a mosque. The U.S. will pay the villagers to do the work, she said. Some take the U.S. soldiers up on the offer but others don't, while some will continue to support the insurgency despite the new infrastructure.
"We're just trying to give them a hand, hoping that puts them on our side," Gomez said.