Nothing Else To Do CH. I
3.5 lbs of Double Bubble bubble gum in a bucket.
Hell, why not?
As soon as the first piece ran out of flavor I threw in another until my mouth was full.
I poured the bucket out on my cot and placed the chewed wad in it.
I turned 380 pieces into one sculpted mass.
The next 2 days I could not open or close my jaw.
Nothing Else To Do CH. II
I came across a 6.6 Lb can of peaches.
Oh man those were great. Even drank all the syrupy goodness out of the can.
The next day there was movement.
We used to run over to the rear decks of the M1 Abrams and heat up our food.
Someone forgot and left a can of chili on top. This happened more than once.
Nothing Else To Do CH. III
A bucket of sand, a green scorpion and a brown one.
2 things enter one thing leaves.
The green little ones were more venomous.
They usualLy won.
SSG Errol Thompson lost a match. He was deathly ill for over 24 hours.
Not The 80's Rock Band
You always dump out your shoes before stepping into them.
I found a scorpion underneath my canteen one day. The canteen was in the metal cup holder, in the canteen case, in the bustle rack of the Bradley, 10 feet off the ground.
Before The Age Of Identity Theft
Part of your mailing address used to be your Social Security Number. Written plainly on the outside of the envelope.
In war time, postage is free and you can write on almost anything and send it.
MRE cardboard. Water bottle labels. And the classic paper from Army Manuals that read, "This page intentionally left blank."
So those pages were never really blank. Else you wouldn't have the phrase written on it.
Navigation CH. I
Maps were very easy to read in the desert. There were no terrain features. Just one big sheet of brown square with lines on it. You could just point anywhere on the map and say, "This looks exactly like where we are."
Navigation CH. II
So you think your GPS is big?
The Block II series Rockwell Navstar GPS satellites were complete and operational in 1990.
The units in the Bradleys were the size of a home stereo and only displayed MGRS digits.
You still had to have the brown square "map" to plot your course.
Now you have them on every smart phone. They have true GPS chips but often use cellular towers to conserve battery life.
Hello Lucy, I'm Home
I entered a bunker in Kuwait creating a beautiful, ecliptic silhouette in the opening. I had zero CQB training. I had a Beretta M9 with very little range time and years of running a 1911.
I heard a shot fired. I checked myself for bullet holes. I had the hammer pulled back, safety off and so full of adrenaline I pulled the trigger and almost shot my foot.
Pulled some maps out of the bunker and handed them over to the BC. No one noticed the shot.
But I learned several lessons and should have known better.
I mostly sat on my PASGT helmet. Used it as booster seat in the turret. The webbing was so tight/uncomfortable that I would rather have been shot in the head or had a hole drilled in my skull to relieve the pain.
Out of sight, I wore my boonie hat and always the CVC helmet in the Bradleys.
The Original Desert Tan Boots
The SHTF and the whole division scrambled to Clothing Sales and every Army surplus store around to find last minute gear.
I barely found a pare of Viet Nam era jungle boots.
By the second month in Saudi Arabia, the finished black leather was sanded off to achieve the new suede look.
The eyelets meant to drain water out let sand in instead.
We cleaned our BDU's in split 55 gallon drums using water and powdered detergent.
After air drying on clothes lines, they were stiff as a board.
Our uniforms came from Ft. Irwin National Training Center. They were already used.
By the end of February 1991, they were falling apart and some of us looked like short timers in the Viet Nam jungle.
We wore our MOPP suits for 6-8 weeks straight. Most of us didn't bathe. Water was precious. The winter was cold and nothing to stop the wind.
Lacking cold weather gear - who knew a desert could be freezing cold? - the charcoal lined suits kept you warm.
Keeping them zipped up also kept the stink from leaking out.
It took me 6 long showers to see my original skin. And still charcoal was embedded in my pours.
I threw the old BDU's and MOPP suit on the burn pile after we were issued brand new Desert Camouflage BDU's and the new desert "Schwarzekopff Boots."
Grew A Tactical Beard Before It Was Cool
Out of razors, time and only so much water, many of us sported beards. They generally blended in with the dirt so it wasn't obvious.
Stepping off the plane in Dharan into the furnace, it reached 130 + degrees ambient. We existed like zombies for 20 hours a day with a cooling down time between 0100 - 0500 for night ops.
The Army Doesn't Starve You
A soldier can't fight well on an empty stomach. From the beginning of the air campaign we ate 3 MRE's and one hot meal a day. You burn through those calories fast.
Even so, I stepped off the plane in Georgia, 6'0", 145 lbs and a 24" waist.
There's A Reason Why They Wear Robes
Best way to prevent skin cancer is to cover up whether using serious sun block or keeping clothed from top to bottom. Leaving the wrist cuffs open on the last button helps air circulation.
We threw away sun block by the pallet. Ever since then, the stuff is expensive as hell.
When Does The Party Start? Or The True Meaning Behind Hurry Up And Wait
So I saw that the 24th INF DIV (MECH) RDF means "Rapid Deployment Force."
The SHTF, we kitted up. packed our belongings for storage. Received our experimental vaccines and other nefarious cocktails.
Hopped on an airplane with our 2 gallons jug of water for 17 hours (layover in Frankfurt). The restrooms clogged up maybe 3 hours into the flight.
The door to the plane opened and we stepped off into a nuclear oven.
When do we start shooting?
Nahhh. The Bradley's will be here in a couple of weeks by ship. Meanwhile enjoy being on the Mediterranean Coast overlooking the concrete docks.
Hitching A Ride
The Bradley's arrived by Merchant marine ships.
After debarking they were loaded on board tractor trailer rigs driven by locals.
We hopped on board Jingle Buses for a nice long excruciating ride to the DMZ.
I had the privilege of sitting in the back of the bus in the walled off female compartment. The benches were shallow and designed by 15th Century Spanish Inquisitors.
So You Squids Are Whining About No Canned Soda On Carriers
A canned soda was a treat. Nothing like a refreshing can of soda chilled to 101 degrees. The trick was to wrap the cans in wet cloth, hop in a vehicle and drive up and back down the road for a few miles. Evaporative cooling brought the beverage down to a manageable 70 degrees or so.
Sailors had to stick with iced fountain sodas. Canned goods are not allowed on Carriers as they get sucked up into turbines and may damage planes. They wanted something they could leave the mess hall with. 1-800-Waa-aaah!
Long before the 24 entrée MRE selections of today, we had 12. They were mostly edible. You just had to get to the box before everyone else did or you were stuck with Chicken al a King, Beef Stew or Tuna w/ Noodles.
Occasionally you found a previous generation of MRE's with Dehydrated Pork Patty, Dehydrated Beef Patty or Frankfurters.
Open the top of a foil packet of Dehydrated Beef patty. Add a bit of water and place in canteen cup of boiling water for a bit.
lay out a 4 square cracker
Add water to the dehydrated catsup packet and mix.
Spread the catchup on the cracker.
Kneed the tube of cheese substance.
Squeeze the tube on top of the red paste.
After the patty is sufficiently heated, crumble and place on top of the cheese.
For a Calzone, add the second 4 square cracker to the top.
She was a great Dj. The music was better than the Armed Forces Radio Network.
She was not without her faults.
First, I was not married and left without a girlfriend back home to worry about.
Second, I'm pretty sure that Bart Simpson was not sleeping with anyone's companion.
Betty should have gone the extra mile to study more of our pop culture.
Betty was "let go."
We snatched the frequency, used it to broadcast messages in Arabic to Saddam's troops.
Col. Jeff Jones of the Army's 8th PsyOps task Force said:
"We would tell them that tomorrow we would drop on them the biggest bomb we had. Then, exactly as promised, we dropped a Daisy Cutter (BLU-82) that looks like a small atom bomb detonating. The next time we said we were going to drop another big one like that, the defections increased dramatically."
NASA Was Forced To Actually Send A Rover To Mars
The rich environment of the southern coast of Saudi Arabia to the south of the Euphrates had many variations of clay, sand, rocks, sand and rocks.
The photos I took in the Winter in Iraq looked exactly like the images broadcasted back from the Mars Rover vehicles. During brief dismounts in Iraq, some soldiers were able to dig as deep as 5 cm before hitting solid rock then we had to leave.
We Pay Way Too Much Money For Gas
Returning from a range one day, I rode in the open back of a Humvee with several other guys. Following on the horizon down the 2 lane road were 2 vehicles taking up both the south and northbound lanes.
"I'm not sure these guys are going to slow down."
2 expensive brand new Mustangs materialized and one drove off the side of the road before crashing into us. The car was totaled.
The driver got out, threw the keys into the desert, hopped in his buddies car and they drove off laughing.
A Few Hours Of "R&R"
In 1991, Dubai was outpacing Mogadishu in development. But not by much. If I recall correctly, we went to some kind of outdoor pool club or something. Maybe we had a few extra snacks.
Now Dubai is one of the most incredible cities in the world.
We are obviously still paying way too much money for gas.
Dawn / Day / Night Of The Dead
We kicked their ass all the way back to Baghdad. The air campaign and siege left the world's 4th largest army in a sad state.
When the ground offensive launched, we destroyed everything in our path. Most of us hoped that the Air Force and Navy left something for us to blow up/shoot/kill.
There were bodies everywhere.
There were mortally and grievously wounded carpeting every surface and inside of every structure and vehicle.
Being a big fan of horror and post-apocalyptic movies, it was unreal. We had an incredible special effects department.
Often, we would pull body parts out between the road wheels.
Blood was not a problem. The desert is just a large kitty litter box filled with dry sweep.
They Stole Everything
The Iraqi Army looted, pillaged and raped the entire nation of Kuwait.
They stole everything of any value.
They stole doors and windows from homes.
They removed street lights and stop signs.
It Wasn't Propaganda
They sacked hospitals and left patients to die.
They raped, tortured and mutilated women, girls and boys.
And not just Kuwaitis but Iraqi civilians as well.
At a road block during the mass exodus from Iraq, I talked to an Iraqi family. I put a pressure dressing and bandaged up a boy's foot.
Saddam's Mukhabarat (Secret Police) had forced their way into the man's house. They shot the boy in the foot, tied up the man and raped his wife and daughter in front of him.
Blowing Shit Up
The Khamisiyah Munitions Complex was huge. There was roughly 1 zillion tons of ordinance.
So we blew up a lot of it as well as vehicles, artillery and anti-aircraft weapons.
There was a bunch of chemical nasties there that we didn't know about. Years later, the CIA would release a computer generated model of the fallout.
This is one of the things we worry about under the umbrella of Gulf War Syndrome.
Some Seriously Bad Air Quality
Saddam had a "scorched earth" policy. "If we can't have it, no one can."
So the Iraqis set fire to the Rumayla Oil Fields.
The fires turned the day into night.
Add petro-chemical exposure to the list of Gulf War Illness factors.
Cool. We Have Nuclear Bullets
We ate thru a trillion or so rounds of Depleted Uranium. Officially, you're okay as long as you are not breathing in the particles from impact sites where wind stirs up debris or around vehicles burning/cooking off.
I have 2 private medical insurance coverages outside of my VA coverage. So far, nothing has showed up.
There might be non-malignant/carcinogenic effects not fully understood or identified.
Add DU munitions to the Gulf War Illness umbrella.
Improving Second Language Skills
Amidst the constant bombardment of F-Bombs being dropped, we expanded our vocabulary to the very limits of man's dialectic exploration.
My assistant gunner and I logged hundreds of hours generating new insults and remarks about family heritage.
Years later I learned that a small passing Beduin tribe overhead our conversation, had to break from hundreds of years of nomadic life to seek professional counseling.
Hey. How About That Combat Stuff We came Over For?
The build up went for 7 months before the ground offensive. It's difficult for many to see the big picture. We brought in serious fire power, equipment, logistics and 750,000 troops. That doesn't happen overnight.
Like all wars, rumors spread like wild fire about going home or rotating out.
I soon got real sick of hearing the complaining and told people, "We'll go home when the job is done."
The military owns you for 8 years when you sign up. It may be 8 years of active duty or 8 months of active duty covering Basic and AIT then Reserve or national Guard commitment.
On January 17, 1991 I was in Iraq listening to the sweet sound of carpet bombing while mourning the loss of my original ETS date. We know this condition as "Stop-Loss."
After that date I asked people to call me Mister. No, I did not promote myself from SPC to Warrant Officer. It's my civilian rank. And I achieved the level of DD-214.
I knew going in what might happen and I secretly hoped for it. I idolized the combat vets and the heroes I read about and movies I watched.
I didn't want to be a hero, just contribute my share to freedom, take part in history and do something remarkable.
I was glad to be there for the fun and fireworks. Looked forward to some ass-kicking and taking out frustration on the enemy for the inhospitable stay.
I wouldn't have missed the fighting for all the money in the world. Not then and not now.
Who would want to pass up a free trip to the Moon?
Love & Hate
I hated every minute being in the desert. It sucked. Being thrown into a live volcano with fire ants eating me and Doritos dust being ground into my skin with sand paper would have been an upgrade.
I left part of my soul on the battlefields. I miss the life and my brothers every single day. But once you join, you are part of a large family and you never leave. It's a forever bond that only we can understand.