January 24 - February 3, 1991

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Preparing to Deploy to the Gulf

Thu 24 Jan

Cold but dry for 0600 PT. Morning was spent on a lecture on NCO responsibilities and cultural training; this time a State Department video. I got some interesting insights from it but it put most of the company to sleep. The tape consisted entirely of a lecture from a woman seated behind a desk; the unit called her "the talking head".

It started to rain hard about 1100. We had our compass navigation course in the afternoon. After a frigid and wet hour of refresher classes, we broke into teams and got our assigned courses, each a mile or so through the woods. A short distance into the woods the rain turned to light snow. I had my PT suit on under my BDU's; I got a bit wet but stayed warm. That night I had duty driver; I used the time to write some Arabic lessons and call home.

The real shocker of the day was that MAJ Gary Bomske was taken to the hospital for abdominal pains. Ultimately he ended up in surgery and did not deploy with us. He was sorely missed.

Fri 25 Jan

During the night I found out I was scheduled for language training today during my off time! I arranged for Wally Coyle and Tom Winchell to cover for me. The unit is basically using me to fill blanks in the training schedule, which I'm willing enough to do, but language should get higher priority.

There was no PT this morning. Lt Nellis had been pushing the idea that hard workouts every day do more harm than good (it also happens to be Army doctrine, though widely ignored), and maybe he finally had some effect. Because of duty last night I was off until 1300. I didn't eat lunch because of the makeup PT test scheduled for 1400. It was a perfect day for it, sunny and cool, but the test was postponed until Monday. We spent the afternoon on a CPX, talking over problems we had all seen before at Civil Affairs School, then played volleyball.

Sat 26 Jan

Clear with heavy frost for PT at 0600. The morning was spent on a short class on promotion procedures, followed by team training. In my case that meant free time, since all my subordinates were on some kind of duty and CPT Haney was off with another unit unsuccessfully trying to locate a training site. The afternoon called for "cleaning clothing and equipment", a way of avoiding saying "free time" on the training schedule. I went to the PX. The PX at Fort Bragg has a food mall; I'm not sure if it makes me feel good to go there or not. It's nice to be in a civilian atmosphere, but it's a sobering reminder of what we'll be missing.

A nice touch in the evening; my sisters Muriel and Louise sent a huge box of cookies for the unit. The postage on it was $37! A nice card inside thanked everyone for their efforts. Everyone was very touched by it. One of the 308th guys also got a care package to share.

Sun 27 Jan

Clear, sunny and cool. I went to church at 0800, then back to the PX for thank-you cards for the care packages. Everyone had to sign in by 1800, so I left the cards at the orderly room for people to sign as well. In the afternoon I joined a group to visit Major Bomske, who was doing well, then went to the post library. Later I called home to thank everyone for the care packages. That evening, everyone watched the Super Bowl, one of the closest and most exciting ever. The halftime show was an all-out patriotic extravaganza.

Mon 28 Jan

Cloudy and warm. No PT at 0600 but had PT test at 0900. There was light drizzle, which was not a problem. I finally validated: 49 push-ups, 50 sit-ups, and 17:56 in the run. That was my best time ever; it felt great. Then in a burst of enthusiasm, I volunteered to walk along with SSG John Holmes on the final leg of his 3-mile walk. He didn't need me at all. I could barely catch up to him, or keep up, he beat his previous time by three minutes, and my legs felt like Jello at the end. The rest of the morning was devoted to map reading, the afternoon to team training. My team went to the JFK library, an unproductive venture, since there was little material pertaining to my team, Public Welfare. I was still tired from the run, so went to bed early.

Tue 29 Jan

I was duty driver all day, and reported at 0700 so did not go to PT. I put on 90 miles by the time I was relieved at 1800, all of it on post. After supper we went to a briefing put on by the 408th, featuring a former Egyptian officer. He clarified some questions about Shiites and Sunnites, and refined my Arabic a bit. It was cloudy all day, with rain at night. I called Shawn late and got to bed at 2230.

Wed 30 Jan

Foggy all day, rain most of the time. Most of us had to get meningitis shots, so there was no PT. CPT Haney and CPT Elliott had a trip to the University of North Carolina planned, so we got in line firts, then changed into civvies. The car was borrowed from another unit, who insisted on the right to send two lieutenants instead of the one they had initially promised. We crammed 3 in the fromt seat and four in back; it was a cozy ride. It was the first time off-post since we got here. UNC is a beautiful and old campus, but there was only a small amount of useful material in the library. However, the bookstore had several good Arabic sources, which I bought.

After we got back I called Shawn, who told me the Journal of Geological Education had sent back a paper for revision. I explained the best I could how to revise it over the phone, but expected it would just have to wait for my return. To my surprise, it was published in the March, 1991 issue.

I also located the owner of the Arabic dictionary. By now I was thoroughly disenchanted with its small type size and poor printing, so I didn't miss it. The owner was instructor of a Headstart class for one of the other units, and he was very happy to get it back.

Our load date is February 5, and looking more and more firm. I felt a sore throat coming on, but fortunately nothing came of it.

Thu 31 Jan

PT at 0610. We took a cattle car to the gym for aerobics. It was exhausting and hurt a lot but it was a good workout. We spent most of the morning being briefed about Iraq, then the CO discussed plans for us in Saudi. We expect to stay near Dammam 4-6 weeks doing planning. (Like most advance plans, this turned out to be nowhere near reality!). Then I got in half an hour of language training. In the afternoon, we had team briefings; excruciatingly dull. There was a beautiful sunset, and mail call brought a nice valentine from Shawn. I also called home, only to find she had a migraine.

Joke of the day: one of our underachievers made the observation that "being startled is good for the heart rate". Todd Inman said "For him, that's profound. That's like E equals MC-squared!"

Fri 1 Feb

Clear and cold for PT at dawn. For a change, our load date is moved up, to Sunday. I spent most of the morning packing and napping. In the afternoon we took our trucks to the scales for preliminary weigh-in, then finished packing.

Sat 2 Feb

No PT this morning. Dawn was clear and cold, then it warmed up to a beautiful, sunny day, the nicest we've had since we got here. We loaded our B (nonessential) bags and rucksacks, then started tying down our loads. In the afternoon we went to CLACC for vehicle inspection, then to the Green Ramp. About 20 of us stayed there until midnight waiting vainly for inspectors to show up. We sent out for a pizza to pass the time. On the counter in the operations building was the sign "We send more people to more places they didn't want to go to than any other airline in the world". Most of us went back to the billets at 0030, 5 people stayed until the inspections were done at 0500.

People are very upset about losing this last weekend.

It's funny the ways nostalgia can strike. I was humming John Denver songs all day.

Sun 3 Feb

Clear and cold at dawn, no PT again. We got up at 0630, turned in linen, then went to briefings on movement procedures. Flights leave about six hours after we arrive at the Green Ramp. Groups depart today for the Green Ramp at 1630, 1830 (mine), 2100 and 2300, and on Monday at 1700 and 1830. We got our team assignments; I'm assigned to 2nd ACR headquarters. No surprise there, since I was capstoned to the ACR since 1985. CPT Wojta, the team chief, is already in country. Our plans to be in Dammam 4-6 weeks are already blown away; we will probably disperse soon after arrival. (These plans, too, changed!)

By noon it's a gorgeous day. At lunch I talked with Lt. Nellis and Lt. Wanta. COL Miller will be staying behind at Fort Bragg as preventive medicine officer. Sue Snethen and Kelly Ferris are not deploying for medical reasons, a real disappointment for both them and us.

Afternoon was mostly free time. The first group left at 1630. My group formed up at 1800. We drew our nerve agent antidote, loaded on a cattle car, then drew our weapon at the orderly room. From there we went to Pope AFB, to a luxurious waiting room with wooden benches. MAJ Dudley, one of the validators, showed up. His last job is to observe our loading and takeoff. He and LTC Climek were OK; they were fair and reasonable, but they upheld the standards, too.

I called Shawn about 2200 as the first flight was taxiing out. About 2300 the word comes that we go to Ramstein, Germany, not via Dover and Spain as originally planned.

Loading the Convoy

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A Last Fond (?) Look at Fort Bragg

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On To the Cattle Trucks

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At The Green Ramp

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Last Update January 14, 1997

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