| 24 February 1991: The I Marine Expeditionary Force and coalition forces began a ground assault on Iraqi defenses in the final chapter of Operation Desert Storm. The 1st and 2d Marine Divisions stormed into the teeth of Iraqi defenses while heavily armored allied forces attacked the Iraqi defenses in Iraq from behind. In 100 hours, U.S. and allied forces defeated the Iraqi Army.
"It must be hell up there."
"No, we're not in hell but we can see it from here."
~ Radio call between the regimental command post and the U.S. Marine Corps' forward reconnaissance unit ~
* Pictures are of Kuwait International Airport and Kuwait City 1991 during Operation Desert Storm. *
The 120-degree temperature hit us in the face like a jet blast as we disembarked from the Air Force C-141 Starlifter. A day had passed since we left California for our new, albeit temporary home, at Shaikh-Isa Air Base [Sheik Isa Airbase] located on the 240-square-mile island nation of Bahrain, in the Arabian Gulf. It was August 1990 and my Marines and I were part of the initial force buildup from the Seventh Marine Expeditionary Brigade that deployed to the Persian Gulf in response to Saddam Hussein invasion of Kuwait. Operation Desert Shield was in its early stages as America rushed her warriors to meet the impending threat of Iraqi invaders now massed along Kuwait's southern border with Saudi Arabia.
But on this day, January 16, 1991, the days had turned cold as did the tactical situation - we were now at full combat strength and readiness not only capable of defending against attack but equally capable of initiating offensive operations ourselves.
I walked into the Third Marine Aircraft Wing's Tactical Air Command Center (TACC) wondering if we'd still be here in August to again experience those 120-degree temperatures. In late November our unit moved north to Al Jabayl International Airport in Saudi Arabia as the multi-national coalition forces repositioned to conduct offensive operations against the hostile Iraqi forces.
In our remote command post we sat quietly and listened to the Armed Forces radio station about how the United Nation's eleventh hour diplomacy efforts continued. For many of us sitting in the Saudi desert it was simply another ineffectual attempt at trying to negotiate with a madman. So we silently waited for orders from our Commander In Chief, because we all knew deep in our hearts that we would need to take that first step on the long and dangerous road that would eventually lead to returning home.
At 1800 the TACC crew changes got underway and as I entered the tent the General Royal Moore, Commanding General 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing motioned for me join him. After a courteous greeting the general said there was an immediate Top Secret message at Communications Center to pickup that had just arrived from Washington D.C.
I exited the TACC into the desert darkness and walked to the Comm. Center, went through the security checks and signed my name to receive the sealed folder that contained the immediate Top Secret message. It was addressed to all commanders:
"Execute Operation Desert Storm. Godspeed."