There are certain points in a person’s life that it seems like an incident happened yesterday even though it may have taken place decades earlier. We have these in our personal lives. It could be a marriage, a birth or a death; we remember these type of events with crystal clarity. Then there are those events that we are witnesses to but yet they have such an emotional impact on us that we can conjure up the image of the moment with minute detail. How many of us remember hearing the announcement that John Kennedy had been assassinated or that Elvis was dead. I remember; and I also vividly recall when BBC broadcasted that Kuwait had been invaded by Iraq. And to think it has been twenty-five years.
In October, twenty-five years ago, the world was on edge. August 2nd had come and gone. I awoke at 6:00 that morning to hear the British Broadcasting Company declare that we were at war. America was going to bed on the 1st when the same message was heard. The SEALS arrived soon after that and the 82nd Airborne followed. Quickly the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia was beginning to look like a forward staging area for something big. Military trucks were everywhere. The port of Dammam was clogged with transport ships bringing heavy equipment to the Saudi shores and camo clad military were on the streets of Al Khobar
ARAMCO had arranged for an early evacuation of women and children only to cancel it and then rearranged it. This evacuation was extremely well organized. The expatriates had busses assigned to ride from outlying areas. They all converged to a central point in Dhahran where wives and children wept as they told their husbands good bye. This image will never be forgotten as I stood back and watched this emotional scene that transpired on a hot week end morning in late August. A gut wrenching experience and how proud of the men that stayed behind, determined to keep oil flowing to the free world and not let Suddam Hussein intimidate the expats and disrupt the flow of oil to the free world. Not one husband was on the flight home.
By the end of August Americans and British living in the Middle East were coming into their own. Softball teams were sponsoring military teams on the weekends and treated the military to home cooking before sending them back to the desert. A hundred troops a week were treated to meals, clothes washing and calls home; courtesy of Americans civilians in Dhahran. By September civilian convoys were going to the desert to provide home cooking to hundreds of troops on post in the Arabian Desert. Many an American dipped deep into savings to help fund these trips. There was no government nor company support for these excursions, it was totally American patriotism.
By the end of October, twenty-five years ago it was the norm to work, observe military movements, support troops where possible, listen to BBC, Voice of American and the newly beamed in station of Armed Forces Radio. We would then attempt to sleep when possible. It was just as stressful on the home front. People like Ruth Mixon and Donna Tucker and countless others were providing support for the troops. Donna sent me a long list of Farmerville Students that would be happy to be pen pals with the troops. This got wide coverage. Gary Howze passed the lists out to troops he visited while in the desert. Ruth built a support group for wives and mothers who were sending their loved ones to an unknown fate.
We had been visited by a British Gas Warfare specialist who guaranteed that we were safe from gas and told us how there was absolutely no way that the SCUD missiles would ever get to us. We were completely safe.
Twenty-five years ago we were greeted with a letter from the State Department informing us to be aware that there was a treat of International Terrorism. This was a somewhat new concept that been used only randomly and seldom had America been directly targeted. Amazing how this has changed over the years.
By this time, the British SAS was preparing to get operatives into Baghdad disguised as Arab merchants. This was a noble gesture and reaped great benefits for the intelligence community but ended in a most horrible manner.
Hard to believe it’s been twenty-five years.


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