15th Anniversary of the Gulf War / Desert Storm




 
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January 17th, 2006  
MKopack
 

Topic: 15th Anniversary of the Gulf War / Desert Storm


It's been fifteen years since we were all glued to out televisions watching CNN during the Gulf War (even those of us who were deployed...)

The pilots and 24 (give or take) aircraft of the 401TFW(P) / 614TFS flew 1303 sorties, dropping 3.7 million pounds of bombs while deployed to Doha, Qatar from our home at Torrejon AB, Spain.

The Lucky Devils in the Gulf War
http://www.lucky-devils.net

Mike Kopack

Here's how I remember it...

Sirens blaring. It’s dark in the tent. Almost automatically my hand reaches down under the right side of my cot and pulls out my gas mask. It’s open, and over my head. Without even thinking, I cover the exhausts and blow hard to clear the mask. My palm is over the intake and inhale, there’s no air as I can feel the mask collapse and seal around my face with the vacuum. By this time, someone has turned the lights on and as I am suiting up in my chemical gear I can see all of my tentmates doing the same – with one exception. Our ‘Ninja’ has lost it; he’s running up and down the aisle in the center of the tent yelling:

“I don’t know how to put my mask on!”
“We’re all going to die.”

He’s ignored for the moment as I finish suiting up. It’s amazing how short a time it takes from a deep sleep, and over the next few weeks we’ll all get even faster. Suited up now, several of us grab our panicked compatriot, hold him down and get him into his mask and as much of his suit as we can. I grab my helmet and radio and head for the door. Through the first tent flap and a quick left turn after the second, up the steps and jump into our sandbag shelter – where I immediately, and rather forcefully encounter whoever it was that had jumped in just before. I slid over into a corner, all the time hearing the sirens and the recorded message, which went something like this:

“Air raid, air raid. MOPP 4, MOPP 4. All personnel don protective equipment.”

The commotion of suiting up in the tent gives way to silence in the bunker. The sirens have gone quiet and we’re just left with our thoughts. ‘What is going on? Did the Iraqi’s slip a bomber through the air defences?’ I can’t remember if the QEAF’s Mirages scrambled that night, but even if they did it would be a difficult intercept. I pulled out my shortwave radio and slipped the ear-piece beneath the seal of my mask. Turning the unit on quickly brought news from the BBC in London that had received word that a SCUD had been fired from Iraq that was headed towards the Saudi capital of Riyadh. It was a relief to know that even though Iraq was firing ballistic missiles, they weren’t directly at us.

Twenty minutes later we were given the “All Clear” signal and we were able to remove our gear. It was then, sometime after four in the morning of the sixteenth of January 1991 (since there was no use in trying to go back to sleep) that through radio and television that we learned that the war had in fact started and the aircraft from the first airstrikes were returning to their bases, all while we were asleep. The news was good, although there was no official confirmation, CNN reported that most, if not all of our aircraft were accounted for.

When we walked into the hangar that morning, it was a different place. The people, the aircraft and the tools were the same; but there was an entirely different ‘feeling’, a different attitude from the day before. It’s difficult to describe the change, there was a feeling of ‘seriousness’, yet also excitement. We’d been in the desert for almost five months and were finally to start what we came here for. The previous night President Bush had said:

"The liberation of Kuwait has begun. In conjunction with the forces of our coalition partners, the United States has moved under the code name Operation Desert Storm."
_________________
F-16A/B/C/D P&W/GE Crew Chief and Phased Maint.
56TTW/63TFTS 1987-1989
401TFW/614TFS 1989-1991
January 18th, 2006  
MightyMacbeth
 
 
yeah... what can I say
January 18th, 2006  
tomtom22
 
 
Excellent post, MKopack. A lot of the same stuff I heard from my son-in-law.
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January 18th, 2006  
mackie
 
 
Excellent post MKopack.

As a civillian I remember being glued to CNN at the time watching and listening and praying. For those veterans of Desert Storm, Desert Shield it's a significant anniversary, thanks to all for their service.
January 18th, 2006  
MightyMacbeth
 
 
yeah, and no one can forget the effort of the coalition forces that freed Koweit..
January 19th, 2006  
DTop
 
 
I remember that day. I remember all the troops processing in. I remember all the crates and crates filled with brand new desert brown uniforms all over the lawns by the barracks. I remember the buildings being instantly converted to processing centers with portable walls forming cubicles. I remember running around like a chicken with my head cut off at o'dark thirty that morning (and many others before that)when my company was picking up additional personnel from among those new veteran troops that were coming in.
I finally caught a break later that morning and went to the nearest PX to get something or other and I noticed that many of the people there were almost frozen in their tracks with their eyes glued to the many TV sets, all with CNN on them. I knew what was happening all along but it was just at that one moment that it really struck me (anyone who's been through it knows what I mean) that switch goe on and you say to youself: here we go again. I mean really and truly, here we go again. Within a few short days we were on our transports with all our vehicles and weapons being deployed to the middle east. Not much was said all the while we were enroute at least not much that I recall. I think we all slept as much as we could.
One thing I do remember that a short time after we landed, one of my Platoon Sergeants who had served with me in Vietnam said to me "Top, we're not in the jungle anymore". I looked at him and he was looking at some camels off in the distance while he was talking to me. That old duffle bag could crack a joke in the middle of a fire fight, and did many times.
Hard to believe it's been 15 years already!
January 19th, 2006  
Missileer
 
 
Ye Gods, I just realized I lost another 15 years. Tempus fugit.
January 19th, 2006  
MKopack
 
Heck, I was deployed and we were glued to CNN just as much as anybody... From the first day of the war the Qatar Broadcasting Service's English language broadcast was replaced throughout most of the day by a simulcast of CNN. I also always carried my shortwave radio with me and was able to bring in news from the BBC, Radio Canada International and occasionally the Voice of America. Probably two out of three days a week we would get local newspapers from 'town' (http://www.gulf-times.com) occasionally we'd get a 'Stars and Stripes' (http://www.estripes.com/) and we'd hit the jackpot when we'd be able to scrounge a recent stateside paper from a passing airlifter...

The Lucky Devils in the Gulf War
http://www.lucky-devils.net

Mike

Quote:
Originally Posted by mackie
Excellent post MKopack.

As a civillian I remember being glued to CNN at the time watching and listening and praying. For those veterans of Desert Storm, Desert Shield it's a significant anniversary, thanks to all for their service.
January 19th, 2006  
MKopack
 
Fifteen years ago today was the hardest day of the Gulf War for the 614TFS Lucky Devils.

On the 19th of January we lost two aircraft on what was the largest strike package of the war, against the nuclear research facility complex in Baghdad. Both Jeff Tice, flying 87-0257 and Mike Roberts in 87-0228 were hit by radar guided SAMS with their aircraft going down over Iraqi territory. Fortunatly both pilots were able to eject from their aircraft although both were captured and became POW's until the Iraqi surrender.

The Lucky Devils in the Gulf War
http://www.lucky-devils.net

Mike Kopack

Photo by Mike Kopack
January 19th, 2006  
Missileer
 
 
Great website MKopack. About being photographed by a plane, aviators and sailors are a superstitious lot, like the baseball pitcher who has to touch all the lucky places on their cap and uniform before his windup.