New Job, New Home

So, I finished up my 4 years at Fort Riley as an M1A1 Tank Commander and decided to try something different, Air Traffic Control School at Fort Rucker, AL. There isn’t too much to talk about during my time there, however I did earn Distinguished Honor Graduate for my class and I got my first taste of Southern Style Sweet Tea, which is more like tea flavored syrup.

I guess it was about January of 1995 when I graduated and was assigned to the Air Traffic Control Tower at Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, GA. I’ll never forget my first look at Savannah, especially when compared to Ogden, KS. It was one of the most beautiful cities I had seen and I knew Paula and I would enjoy it there. I was there for a few weeks until I could get the time to go and get Paula. I took a Greyhound bus (my last Greyhound bus trip ever) from Savannah, GA to Clinton, MO and every little town in between, I think the trip ended up taking 26 hours or something like that. Well, I made it to Clinton, we rented a moving truck (much smaller of a truck back then, compared to what we used this last time), put Paula’s Olds Calais on a trailer and headed out for our new home in Savannah.

That went by fast.

I guess I never finished up my Army stories, heck, I didn’t even get out of Ft. Riley. I’m not too sure what to use this site for anymore, it seems like Facebook has taken the place of blogs and personal websites. I will think on it for a bit and see if I can come up with some way to use it. For now, I’ll just use it to post little things here and there from time to time.

Finish up with Fort Riley

So we left off with returning from Desert Shield/Storm and back to good old Ft Riley, Kansas. The rest of my time at at Riley was relatively routine, several field exercises, lots of gunnery practice, PLDC (Primary Leadership Development Course) but the most important thing that happened was I got married to my true love and best friend, Paula.

We would spend a couple of very good years in a very bad mobile home in Ogden, KS. When it came time to decide to stay in the Army or get out, we decided to stay in, but change jobs since I could not see much of a future in the civilian world for someone who could shoot a tank from 2000 meters. This is when I decided to go to Army Air Traffic Control School. After I re-enlisted for ATC school, my unit sent me to work as a special duty Life Guard at the pool on Fort Riley untilĀ  we left Fort Riley and started the next chapter in our military lives.

How the heck did that countdown get so low?

Ok, so I really suck at keeping this updated. I guess that is why I never kept a diary, that, and I am a guy so we don’t generally keep a diary. I believe I left off with me sitting in the desert, digging holes, playing spades and getting sand and dust in places I didn’t know you could get sand and dust. So I guess the next step would be to move into the “Storm” portion of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. I don’t want to make this post last longer then the ground war, so I will just add a few sort stories that I either experienced myself or heard through the “Grapevine”.

Let’s see, I remember the night before the ground war started and we moved from our spot in the desert to a new spot in the desert that was just a few yards away from the Iraq border.[singlepic id=7 w=320 h=240 float=right]

The night before the invasion, while we were sound asleep all tucked into our beds, an MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) unit moved into the same area just a little south from us, which put us between Iraq and them. Sometime during the night, I guess they thought it would be a good idea to launch a barrage of rockets into Iraq, directly over our heads, without letting us know what was going on. Suffice to say, this scared the shit out of me and everyone else around me since we thought Iraq decided to start a day early. We jumped out of our vehicles in full MOPP (Mission Oriented Protected Posture, for chemical attacks) gear, weapons loaded and hearts racing to the point that I didn’t think it was going to ever slow down. Once we found out what was going on, things calmed down but I don’t think I ever got back to sleep.

I was going to label the next few posts as Day 1, ground war, Day 2, etc, but to be honest, it was just all one long day of non-stop driving. I believe we figured that I drove that M113 for about 36 hours straight, and I was a bit tired. Apparently adrenaline can only keep you awake for so long. I remember the unit stopped to see what was going on, it was dark, I was tired and so was my vehicle commander (CPT guy with me in the picture). All I remember is waking up and not seeing any other vehicles, tail lights or anything and CPT asking where everyone went. Looks like we both decided to take a little nap. He has the map and tells me to head out straight ahead. It was dark as hell and my night vision goggles were not working too well so I told him I could not see a thing. He said he could, and that he would guide me. Well, we drove off about a 10 to 15 foot cliff which feels very nice on the face when you smack it against a metal wall. The good news is, 1. I woke up and 2, we caught up to the unit.

The war lasted I believe 1o0 hours, most of which I drove. The memories and stories I have from the time spent there are surprisingly a bit blurry, something that I thought would never happen. This is partly the reason I decided to write this blog, to try and refresh them and see if I could somehow keep them all in one place.

After the war was over, we spent some more time in the…? If you said “Desert”, you would be correct. We finally moved back to Saudi Arabia and began the arduous task of cleaning all the dust, sand and everything else that did not come from the United States out of our vehicles and equipment. I remember flying into New Jersey to a heroes welcome from local students. It was good to be home again, and it was good to see green and walk on grass too.

I think the next posts will start off a bit further down on the timeline, with a few small stories spanning longer timeframes. Since I retire in just a few months, I need to speed things up or I will never make it.

See you next time.

 

 

Desert Shield

Since I have neglected to keep this thing updated, I appear to be rapidly approaching my retirement date and we are just now getting to Desert Shield. I will see if I can sum that whole thing up in one post.

We arrived in Saudi Arabia on New Years eve 1990 (see last post) and spent a few days in Tent City, which was an area at the port in which we lived in tents (probably how it got the name). Here, I was introduced to community bathrooms. I don’t mean several urinals and toilets in a little room, I am talking about a small shack made of plywood and screen. The plywood went up about 3 feet then it was screened in from there on up. You would walk in and there would be three toilet seats side by side and you would just sit next to your buddy (or stranger) and do your doodoo while watching the world go by outside. The first few times, it was a bit intimidating, but that goes away after a while.

After a few days there, we traveled for what seemed like forever in custom outfitted buses, and by custom I mean these babies were loaded with really narrow seats, a nice customized smell, things hanging off the windows and a broken bathroom. On our way to our destination we would pass by trucks carrying our tanks and other vehicles, if a truck was broken down and it was your vehicle on it, you got off the bus and sat with it. Thankfully, ours was not on one of those trucks. Funny thing, I cannot remember where we got off the bus and how we got to our final destination in the middle of the desert, but somehow we ended up in the middle of the desert with nothing to see but the curvature of the earth in all directions.

We sat there for a long time waiting for something to happen and endured several sand storms that would entirely block out the noon time sun. One storm hit at night and blew away the tent that most of the guys were sleeping in. When I say “blew away”, I mean it, it was gone and never to be seen again. We tried many things to cure boredom but most of them did not work. We tried volleyball but were told we could not because they were afraid that the Antropine Injectors that we carried inside our protective masks would get hit and go off. What is an Antropine Injector you ask? It is the second line of defense (first being your mask) against chemical attacks. If you get hit with an attack without your mask on, you jab one of these babies into your keg and a nice long needle shoots out and gives you a nice dose of antropine. This, will supposedly save, or prolong, your life. I believe I ended up digging holes, some to live in, some for trash and also learned how to play spades and became pretty good at chess.

Well, since this post is a little longer then expected, I will have to continue later on. I will try to find some photos of the sand storms and maybe even the holes and wooden poop shacks and get those up. That’s all for now.

Happy New Year, 1991.

So, I believe I left off with spending time with Tim and his family during Christmas of 1990. Well, the day after Christmas, Tim drove me back to Fort Riley so I could get ready to go to Desert Shield. The events during the next few days are fairly blurry because it went by so fast and we did so much, but I do remember loading our bags onto a truck and getting on a bus and driving to Topeka, KS to get on a plane. It felt like we were on that plane for about 3 days and I remember making a fuel stop somewhere in either Canada or Greenland (maybe) and the plane did not stop in time and we went off the end of the runway. World Airlines I believe it was, wouldn’t recommend them, good luck finding them on Expedia. After a few more stops, we finally landed in Saudi Arabia. It was late, it was dark and we were tired. I remember getting off the plane and looking at my watch as it ticked past midnight on 31 December. I looked up and proclaimed, “Happy New Year”, to which I was greeted many expletives that would have made my father proud (a little inside joke, but since only my mother is reading this, she’ll get it).