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Travel

R&R for a Soldier

An Army captain in Iraq wins our $1,000 to backpack in Europe.

When we offered to bankroll a great inspiration for spending $1,000 ("What $1,000 Can Do," July), hundreds of you responded with ideas both practical and fanciful. Some of you wanted to use the grand prize to insulate your home or start a small business. Dozens of you simply wanted to indulge your wanderlust.

Of all the dream-vacation ideas, the one that caught our eye (and won the prize) came from Timothy Hogan, a captain in the U.S. Army. Hogan has spent two years in Iraq, immersed in his work, surrounded by desert and sweltering through days when it's 120 degrees in the shade. Hogan, 27, said he'd use the $1,000 to help make good on his high school dream: to backpack through Europe for a month.

He figures that after spending $500 for a round-trip plane ticket and $100 for a backpack, he'll have $400 to put toward "the things I haven't been able to enjoy in Iraq: good wine and good food." He plans to start in Spain, hop over to Italy and end up in Croatia, "taking my time and meeting new people before beginning the rest of my life."

Hogan, who's from Dubuque, Iowa, will complete his service at the end of March, and he is considering management or leadership consulting as career options to build on the experience he gained in Iraq. But he'll miss the sense of purpose and teamwork that comes with being in the military. Says Hogan, "After putting on a uniform for ten years, it'll be hard to take it off."

-- Elizabeth Ody