There are times in our lives that we look at a calendar or some reminder from the past jogs a memory and we utter to ourselves, “Where has all the time gone. It seems like yesterday when this happened. The memory is so vivid.” This is exactly what happened to me twenty-one years ago.

At 12:30 on the morning of January 17th I laid down in my bed in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia. It was 3:30 in the afternoon of January 16th in Farmerville. I had eaten supper in the International Hotel in Al Khobar and had enjoyed walking around the hotel and observing the press core. All the news agencies were housed there and they would broadcast the war from the hotel. I stopped into the Kuwaiti information center and befriended a member of the Public Relations team hired by Kuwait to help get the countries story told. That is when I learned that we would be at war the next day.

Exhausted I laid in the dark and for the first time in six months I finally had knowledge of what was coming and when. As I closed my eyes I thought of all the excitement and anticipation that had built up to this night. Saddam had invaded Kuwait on August 2nd and I awoke to hear about it from BBC radio. Then for days there was no official response from the government nor the company. I had my escape route identified and if I drove out I would cross the border in the south and make my way to Dubai. A week after the invasion the 82nd Airborne arrived. Our softball team sponsored the SEALs into the camp every week. Winds of war finally led to a mass exodus of the expatriate families as planes continually left with wives and children.

By November the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia was swarming with American and other troops from around the world. Russia backed the coalition but the Saudis disdain of Communism would make Russia’s as well as other Eastern Block countries military involvement an impossible option.

I saw Wayne Patterson from Spearsville at a fireworks stand in Ruston. It was our first encounter since we were lieutenants in the 528th Combat Engineers thirteen years earlier. He had become the XO of the 527 Engineers and was preparing to take his battalion to Saudi. Wayne exemplified himself and eventually became General Wayne Patterson. Ronny Savage and Andy Roan and other residents of our area had arrived in Arabia and prepared for the inevitable.

When I closed my eyes to go to sleep everyone and everything was in place an I knew that I would get a full nights sleep and await for something to happen the next day.

Two hours later the phone rang. “Hello” I said in a groggy voice.

“Tommy it’s Lou Stroble. It’s started. Planes are blasting out of here like bats out of Hades. They have been flying out of here as fast as they can get off the ground for fifteen minutes. Listen to the sirens going off. We’re at war.”

America took the lead in Desert Storm and regained the role of world supremacy. Russia sat in shock as they watched the armaments they had sold to Iraq get turned into scrap metal. It is important for us to realize that a strong military is the best deterrent for tyranny.

Where has all the time gone. It seems like yesterday when all this happened. The memory is so vivid.

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