Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Part I 'Watching the slowly growing sparse desert grass, while occasionally herds of brown riderless camels pass'

A herd of camels passes close by our position. Marines were curious about these hump back creatures that most of us had only seen in pictures or the zoo up until this deployment. Photo by me, Feb 1991. The lines you see across the sky are not overhead wires. Something bad happened to this roll of 35mm film in between unloading it and getting it processed back in the States months later. After that night we moved twice over the next three and a half weeks to arrive at our final defensive position five miles south of the border of Iraqi occupied Kuwait. It was around the 15th or the 16th of February when we dug in this spot that would be our last home before we rolled into Kuwait to meet what was left of the decimated, hungry, uninformed and generally confused Iraqi military force. Up until this position our Amtrack transportation support stayed far behind our hole, sometimes over 100 meters back. At this location these huge armored amphibious tractors dug in right behind us by using hard left and right turns without moving the track forward or back. Full throttle side to side power caused the heavy machine to grind itself into the soft sand. I watched as every few minutes the giant beast would back out of the nose down hole it was creating and then its crew would jump down in with shovels and go to work. Then the track would drive back down and continue the side to side shift that eventually left its roof even with the desert floor. It looked buried in under a half hour of effort.

While time at this spot seemed to stop for us, the planes continued their round the clock bombing runs prepping the battlefield in Kuwait and Iraq. The daytime sky was crystal clear and there were little sporadic tufts of green grass growing out of what once had to be the ocean's floor but now was a vast sandy plain. We knew that as close to the Kuwaiti line as we were that an op-order had to be only days away. In the meantime we were issued more ammunition for our crew served and personal weapons. The long days of time standing still were filled with the monotony of all final preparations for going into the ground combat design created by the Bush Administration in cooperation with the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia, the House of Saud. One day they called us to formation behind the line of buried Amtracks and defensive positions to issue us up to six frag grenades per person. I am not sure exactly how or why but I wound up with two and by the end of the day I figured out where to carry them when it was time to go in. The pockets of my flack jacket were accessible through the sand cammie cover and I was not worried about the spoons hanging on anything because they would be safely taped and tucked in against the lining of my pocket.

Then a day later brand new charcoal chemical suits were delivered to our team's hole and the track crew directly behind us. Our little chain of command told us not to break the new suits out of the foil packages until we were told to do so. We were also given new filters for our gas masks around this time. Not one day went by during the previous two months that we were not reminded about the potential threat of Chemical weapons being delivered to us in the form of Scud Transfer. The Biological and Chemical Weapon possibility of attack against us was open communication that came across as matter of fact as, "Please pass the potatoes."

Another day passes and we were given more food in the form of MRE. Break em down, field strip them and tuck them in your packs where ever you can. Make sure they are in the least amount of packaging so as to make room for more. Here are a few examples of our choices: Ham Loaf, Turkey Loaf, Chicken Tetrazzini, Dehydrated Beef Patty, Dehydrated Pork Patty, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Chocolate Chip Cake, Orange Nut Cake, Fruite Cake, Apple Sauce, Tabasco Sauce, Crackers, Cheese and Peanut Butter. Good Stuff.

Everything that we were issued came in the form of a corporate business contract. I made this photo of all my contracted gear shortly before receiving the op-order to move with the rest of 2/4 into Kuwait. The theoretical date of this image based on what I see is the afternoon of February 23, 1991. Notice that I used duct tape on the spoons of my two lonely grenades.

1 comment:

spokejunky said...

Some of the guys that were in 3rd ID and 4th Infantry/Army were on the southern portion where Irag and Kuwait meet. A few of those guys came back to Benning and months later started having hair fall out with red splotches on their necks and faces. Turns out they remembered having a NBC attack during the push north. They weren't sure if it was the attack or the shots they got before going in country that caused the 'Gulf War Syndrome'.