March 10 - 11, 1991: A Chopper Ride

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

Sun 10 Mar

A busy day. First we went to Sabah-al-Salem. They are getting food, but not enough for everyone, and they cannot easily transport it from the "central" depot at Ash-Shuwaikh, which is actually on the west side of Kuwait and well removed from most of the places that get food. This would be a recurring complaint all day.

Then we visited Egeila. Despite a large U.S. supply unit in town, the Kuwaiti captain told us the town was still not entirely secure. There are a lot of vacant blocks, where Iraqis may still be hiding. In a trash heap nearby were the remains of a still-unburied Iraqi, badly decomposed. A piece of his skull was lying nearby. We went with the captain to check out several Iraqi headquarters buildings; I bet we helped clear them for him. Then we visited an antiaircraft battery on the edge of town. There was a lot of ammo lying about, plus, at one bunker, a large pile of women's clothing. I had seen this before and we would see it again repeatedly; strong evidence for rape.

From an Iraqi headquarters we got a situation board to be translated, but it turned out to contain nothing significant. Egeila was not a nice place, while checking buildings I chambered a round for the first time. Yet the houses are some of the most attractive I've seen.

From Egeila we went on to Fintas. The food situation there was the same as at Sabah as Salem: not enough for everyone and insufficient transport.

Then we went south to Abu Hulaifa. The first odd thing we noticed was the most intricate barricade system we'd yet seen, plus a long line of vehicles waiting to be searched, plus a soldier in a foxhole on guard. From the high-rises I surmised (correctly, it turned out) that this was a Palestinian area. Kuwaitis don't like high-rises; they prefer their own homes of one or two stories. The high-rises are occupied mostly by foreigners. We went down the coast road looking for a housing area that turned out to be nonexistent, or at least misplotted on our map. The tanker terminal here had been fiercely ablaze when we came through on March 5, but the fire was dying out. Evidently the oil in the pipeline had largely burned off.

At another barricade, a Special Forces Humvee stopped us. The 352d was supposed to have warned us to stay out of this area, since Palestinians have been sniping at Americans. Okay, we're out of here. They said somebody had been promising the Palestinians relief supplies. If so, that was big-time stupid, since the US has no control over relief supplies and the Kuwait government line is relief supplies for Kuwaitis only. The SF said they were told the promises were made by someone with a USACAPOC patch. I doubt anyone in USACAPOC would be that rash. There are several unit patches that could be confused with ours, or possibly someone interpreted a statement as a promise when it wasn't meant that way.

We dropped Salem off at his home in Sabahiya, then returned to Camp Freedom.

A lot of Arabs seem genuinely surprised by black Americans. Several have asked CPT Yancy if he's Arab!

gwh310f.jpg (36437 bytes) The Lotus Flowers
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gwh310i.jpg (45263 bytes) Along the Coast in Kuwait City
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gwh310e.jpg (49054 bytes) Left: Before oil, there were pearls and fishing. The boat is a model of a dhow, the local water craft and symbol of Kuwait.

Below: Oil Fires, 7th Ring Road

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Below: Darkness in the Daytime: Under the smoke pall.
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Mon 11 Mar

A good day. We started off with a gag. Because of the smoke, plus LTC Christopherson's laryngitis, everyone lined up for 0800 formation wearing blue surgical masks. When MAJ Bob Dickson came up to speak, he said "Good morning, Smurfs". That was too good a straight line to pass up. We all replied "Good morning, Papa Smurf".

We spent the morning checking out Kuwaiti defense installations. One vehicle maintenance complex was hit by two bombs. One had hit the side of the office, blew a large hole in the wall, and took down every ceiling tile in the place. The other hit a maintenance bay and exploded when it hit a roof girder. Shrapnel riddled the heavy, double-walled sliding doors. You could go to any shrapnel hole, look through the mating hole on the inside, and look straight back to the point of burst.

A nearby brigade headquarters had several bomb craters 20 feet across and 6 feet deep, each with a waist-high rim. Another bomb had brought down a radio tower. A Marine detachment was billeted on the base. Their captain told us the Iraqis had a food warehouse here, piled roof-high. By the time we got there, the Kuwaitis had stripped it clean and were sweeping grain off the floor, all in less than a day. Unfortunately, because I had a feeling (unfounded) we might be going to sensitive places, I didn't take my camera out of the vehicle and missed some incredible shots.

In the afternoon, I finally got my helicopter ride. Our route took us northeast to the coast, around the shore to the Choke Point, then back south through the burning Maqwa oil field. A spectacular trip.

The PX van opened here today. Life is getting a tad more normal. I hand-washed some laundry. The bag I turned in for Quartermaster laundry on Friday only went in this morning. I got a shower in the evening after a half-hour wait.

Bomb Craters, March 11, 1991

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Baskin Robbins Arrives

That's what the writing on the truck says in Arabic: "Baskin Robbins Ice Cream."

The plus side of this adventure was getting to see Kuwait from the air. The downside was that I could only see out one side and so missed some good shots. Also, between the speed, the vibration, and the windows, some shots aren't as clear as I'd like.

Chopper Flight Around Kuwait City

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gwh311ac.jpg (48754 bytes) The Emir's palace
Gulf War Image A stunning Iraqi naval victory - a burned-out cruise ship.
Gulf War Image Tidal flats west of Kuwait City
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The Choke Point

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Oil Drops are Fallin' On My Head...

It rained that night. This white bucket is catching runoff from the roof.

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Created January 10, 2000; Last Update 11 June 2020

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