DESERT STORM AT 25 YEARS – AUGUST RELIVED

Posted: August 16, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

This will appear in the Bernice Banner, Bernice, Louisiana, USA the week of August 17, 2015

It’s been twenty-five years since the United States sent some of its’ bravest young patriots to the Saudi Arabian desert to form a coalition of countries to remove Iraq from an invaded Kuwait. In jeopardy was the loss of one of the most prolific oil countries to a despot that was determined to control the entire Middle East and thus hold an oil dependent world hostage. While the ultimate mission was a success the world lost a great opportunity of a lasting global peace.
On the morning of August 2nd, Saudi time, units of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army launched a devastating invasion of Kuwait. Within a couple of hours Kuwait was over run. Within a couple of hours Kuwait was lost and Iraq began what was referred to as the rape of Kuwait. That morning I drove through the Saudi village located just outside the gates of the compound where I lived. There was no sign of concern. I went to the dining hall for breakfast and the few westerners in the cafeteria seemed oblivious to what was happening. I even questioned my own sanity as I began questioning if I had really heard what had just taken place. My friend, Loren Schoenholtz called from Colorado and reinforced my sanity as he said the press was fully covering the invasion and excitement was rampant. Still, nothing was coming over the Saudi radio.
Finally the Saudi’s announced two days after the invasion that there were rumors of an incursion in Kuwait but felt confident the forces would soon return to Iraq. The next day, August 5th, I celebrated my birthday playing a softball game in Dhahran. It was the middle of the vacation period and a large number of Americans were in the states during school break. When I returned after dark to my compound, Abqaiq, that is located thirty miles west of Dhahran I came close to the entrance to the compound. The arms of the train warning gate came down as I approached. Lights flashed and bells rang as I sat and waited for the train that connected Hofuf Oasis in the south to Dammam on the coast then on to points north.
I had sat at this location on numerous occasions and watched the train pass; lights on the passenger cars would illuminate Saudi men, women and children as the train transported its’ civilian cargo. This night was different. There were no passenger cars and no lights. In the moon lit night the silhouette of tracked vehicles with pipes sticking out could be made out. “Tanks”, I said to myself. “The Saudi Army is on the move”, going from its post in Hofuf to the north. It was relocating.
By August 7th concern was rising from the civilians in the Eastern province. I visited Dhahran and a coworker said he wanted to get his family out. There were planes available but it would take days for his family to get exit visas and without a visa no one leaves. He was also concerned about his horses as he was sure that in case of an invasion the soldiers would possibly eat them. He did get his dog shipped to his daughter in the States. There was a story that airplanes had been readied to evacuate the American civilians from ARAMCO but the flights were cancelled. The man went on to say that Fort Bragg, home of the Eighty-Second Airborne, was closed. We realized it wouldn’t be long. That same day the Saudi papers denied there had been any troop movements inside its’ country.
Americans in the United States were glued to their televisions as history was being created in front of their eyes. Talk of troop support was beginning to take place.
At 4:30 A.M. on the 8th I heard the Eighty-second airborne was in the air. At 7:00 A.M. I got a call from a friend who had returned the night before and was asking for a ride to the office. It was incredulous to hear that he had brought his family back with him. When I picked him up the wife was chipper and up-beat. An hour later she was in tears as she realized what she just flew into. This was not the only incident of this as families continued to return to Arabia with their husbands during August. They felt that if they had to weather this storm they would do it together. This would soon change.

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