VAntage Point
Official Blog of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Operation Desert Storm:

What were you doing in the service 25 years ago?

Back in 1990, the Berlin Wall had fallen, so Eastern Europe was free. The “Russian Bear” (then the U.S.S.R.), was no longer seen as a major threat, and, because of it, DoD’s budget was plummeting, as war was considered “obsolete.” Plans were escalating on how to best spend what was being called the “peace dividend.”

And back then, most National Guard and Reserve units hadn’t deployed anywhere since World War II, except for a small few that may have had individuals supporting Grenada/Panama. Yes, back in the day, one weekend a month WAS one weekend a month and two weeks a year at a real post for training.

In my case, I was in the U.S. Army Reserves. We were on an exercise at Fort Bragg, N.C., with the 82nd Airborne Division. During the exercise, I happened to see a local Fayetteville newspaper with the large headline, “Iraqi Tanks Invade Kuwait.” I thought, “Hey, that’s weird, that’s just like our scenario here … wait a second.” It was spooky.

The next day, an active duty lieutenant requested that we Reservists stop the exercise and go to the Fort Bragg post library to try and get the names/addresses of hardware stores, building supply stores, etc., in Saudi Arabia for his unit. He knew that they would need supplies in country that they could not take with them. And yes, I said library, remember this was before the Internet, Google, the online CIA Fact Book..

Our lieutenant had, no doubt, been given a warning order, and soon enough, we would be heading off to the Pope AFB Green Ramp to be part of the designated 82nd Airborne “speed bump” in the Saudi Arabian desert for Operation Desert Shield/Storm.

A month later, my Reserve unit was told we would be joining the buildup, as well.

So, what were YOU doing in the summer of 1990 leading up to Operation Desert Storm?

Ken Mac Garrigle is a retired U.S. Army Reserve Major who deployed overseas three times – Desert Storm, Bosnia and Iraqi Freedom.

David J. De Lancey

SSG, USA (Ret)

"I was at Fort Dix, NJ assigned to the 5th Training brigade in the 36th Transportation, Battalion as an instructor cadre in the Motor Transport Operators Course (MTOC). I was in the battalion HQ the following morning after the Iraqi invasion when one of the company 1st Sergeants came in and had asked me if I knew we were going to war. I thought he was full of it but he had explained a little more about the recent news of Iraq invading Kuwait. I really dismissed it until General James Wurman Ft Dix CG then had spoke with all cadre/ permanent party stating “Fort Dix will do its part to support Operation Desert Shield”. After that eventually we all went through the “P.O.M” at the Griffin Field House where we would get wills, dog tags and shots. We also were surprised to see the trainees in Basic Training and AIT trainees who if they were not regular army were pretty much “federalized” on the spot no longer going home but instead going to the Reception Station and CIF to be issued their desert gear. I was already on orders for another tour in the MFO Peacekeeping mission in the Sinai when I was to have my orders changed to go to Saudi Arabia. Turns out The MFO was still a higher priority so I ended up going to Ft Bragg for processing and then back to Egypt. It was amazing the mobilization at Ft Dix and McGuire AFB that took place. It was non stop cargo aircraft anything from C-5, C-141, Commercial air including Kaletta Air and UPS to name a few. many of us on the North Base Camp in Sinai got to see the first SCUD missile go into Tel-Aviv from the camp. It was an interesting time in history."