Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
Liftoff about 0030, sitting in web seats alongside our strapped-in vehicles. We have to carry web gear, mask, and weapon since we have know way of knowing what conditions will be like when we land. Once airborne, people got up and found places to sleep. I laid down on the web seats, but awoke a couple of hours later very cold and aching. I looked out the window and, to my surprise, saw distant city lights; our flight path probably takes us up the east coast. I guessed the lights might be Halifax or St. John's, judging by the time. Then I laid down on the hood of a truck and slept until 0630 (Bragg time). The plane, a C141, is cold in most places but nice and warm near the heat vents. Later on I found the best spot of all: on top of a pile of duffle bags next to a porthole.
We landed in Ramstein about 1530 local time, and were bused to the mess hall. Ramstein is an attractive base in the hill country near Kaiserslautern. It was nice to eat like civilized people again. I saw my first normal-sized spoon in a month; the spoons at Bragg are all large soup spoons. We waited around the terminal several hours, and finally departed about 2100. Once in the air again, I sacked out in my favorite spot atop the duffle bags.
En route I saw ships' lights in the Mediterranean, and gas flares from oil wells, probably in Egypt. It was still dark when we were ordered to strap ourselves in for landing, but to my surprise, it was daylight when we landed at Dhahran about 0630. the temperature was 60 degrees, a nice change from the 32 degrees in Germany. The scale of the military operations is huge; there were vast lots full of supplies and fighters taking off every minute or so.
First impressions are indelible. I was struck by the warm tropical feel of the air. On one side was a long covered shed with pallets filling some stalls and a fighter plane another. Vast stacks of pallets everywhere. A pair of fighters roared off the runway in tandem. We were met by a couple of friendly officers who welcomed us, pointed to a stack of fruit boxes and fruit juice, and told us to help ourselves.
We took a bus to Khobar Village, where we billeted. [This is the same Khobar that was struck by a terrorist attack in 1996. The terrorist truck bomb parked by the former main gate, near where we parked our vehicles.] The buildings, originally built in a largely futile effort to settle the Bedouins, are seven-story apartment blocks. There are four suites on each floor, each suite with a common room and balcony, kitchen, two bathrooms, and five bedrooms. We had 3-4 people per room. The floors are marble. On the down-side, the elevators are small, slow, and easily-broken, and the sewer pipes are such small diameter that we cannot flush toilet paper. The uniform is full gear, mask, and weapon; even though we're 200 miles from Iraq, post perimeter guards, and have about 10,000 troops in the area.
It's a gorgeous day, warm but with afresh breeze, and reminded me of Hawaii. About 1700 I called Shawn, who was surprised and delighted, and checked out the PX, which was crowded but pretty well-stocked. We met most of our advance group today, though a few are still in the field. I have guard duty tonight, so I went to bed about 1900.
|Gene Jakubenas and Bob Anderson|
|And yours truly|
Last Update January 14, 1997
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