What follows is a transcript of an interviewed conducted with a retired soldier, once a member of the 82nd Airborne Division during the Gulf War. His ideas and stories about this war are quite eye opening.
1. Where and when were you stationed? In 1984, Fort Dix New Jersey; 1984-1987 Fort Sill Oklahoma; 1987 Fort Benning Georgia; 1978-1995 Fort Bragg North Carolina; 1994-1996 Camp Coroner Korea
2. How many different foreign missions did you go on? How many different countries did you go to during your time in the Army? Most of my traveling came when I was stationed at Fort Bragg N.C. The following places are a list of countries while stationed at Fort Bragg with the 82nd Airborne Division: Puerto Rico, Egypt , Honduras, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Iraq , Kuwait. In 1994 I was reassigned to camp coroner Korea.
3. How long did you serve in the Army? I served in the army for 13 years before being medically retired. With gulf war syndrome.
4. Why did you choose to enlist in the Army? I chose to enlist in the army so I could travel. To see the world. Initially I was going to join the navy but then I realized I couldn’t walk on water.
5. What was your job(s) when you served during the Gulf War? I initially deployed in the gulf war as a Motor Sergeant because of my mechanical experience. Once we received a replacement I was moved to a gun chief position where I was responsible for a crew of 6 and a 105 mm gun (an artillery gun).
6. What was your most memorable experience when you were in Saudi Arabia/during the war? My most memorable experience while serving in Saudi Arabia was when we finally deployed across the border. I served in a very light quick strike unit, who was capable of being air dropped or air assaulted by helicopter deep in enemy territory. We were attached along with the French and British units to be air assaulted forward, cutting off any insurgents between Baghdad and Kuwait, we were taking heavy fire from the republican guard unit as we crossed there perimeter. Once we were in position we sat down and prepared for the worst. We dug in and fortified our positions. It was late into the 2nd night and all you could see were vehicles lights coming straight at your position. Once the vehicles were identified as foe we opened fire. Destroying any vehicle in sight, all you could see was tracer ammo from both directions. The sky was lit up like the fourth of July. After the dust had settled there were no injuries within the unit. But the guard was no longer. They call it a hundred hour war. It seemed like an eternity.
7. How has your time in the Army affected your life, both positively and negatively? The time in the army affected my life positively. It gave me a sense of discipline and a positive can do attitude that anything can be achieved no matter what. As for negatively, they say there was no chemical fowl play in Iraq. Yet I am living proof that there was something. I have a portion of my brain that is damaged that is believed to be from some sort of chemical exposure. But the government will never admit to this. I go from day to day not knowing how it will affect me.
8. What was the environment like in Saudi Arabia? The environment in Saudi Arabia was miserable. The weather was the hottest and coldest I have ever been in. It was 130 degrees in the day , and 70 degrees at night but there is such a sudden drop and difference it felt 20 below zero. The people of Saudi Arabia weren’t so warm either. They hated the fact we were there at all. It did not matter that we were there to help them. We were still scum in there eyes.
9. Would you have enlisted in the Army knowing what you know now? Why? Yes, I would have enlisted knowing what I know now. It still give me a sense of direction as well as discipline and this is something that just could not be taught anywhere else.
10. Did you learn any valuable life lessons from serving in the Army? Yes, I learned a lot of valuable lessons. The one that sinks in the most is to appreciate what we have in this country. You sit back and look at the protests that take place and if you truly think about it you want to get angry because you have been on the other end of those protests. But then you realize that you are a very large part of what gives them the right to protest whatever they believe. Look at Iraq. Do you really believe that they would be entitled to protest against there former government and not be killed for just disagreeing. You see so many different places that just do not have the freedom that so many Americans take for granted.
11.Would you recommend others enlist in the Army today? Why? Yes I would recommend others to enlist. So many of today’s youth lack the self discipline. The Army would do a lot of them good.