March 22-24, 1991:Weapons Fire and Day Turns Into Night

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

Fri 22 Mar

It dawned clear but got very dark by 0900. Some of us got to the firing range to fire captured weapons. I fired 120 rounds with an AK, 100 rounds with a Soviet machine gun. I also got to fire the European FAL rifle and the Soviet SVD sniper rifle. In the afternoon we met briefly about EER's, then I played volleyball and went for a 2-mile run for PT.

The women have a (strictly unauthorized) pup they inherited from the Brits, a little black terrier type they call Lucy. Cute.

Only a week after nailing Todd Inman in cribbage with a 12-peg, I did it again tonight! Hoo-hah! How sweet it is! (Reading this is bittersweet. Todd was killed in a highway accident during an exercise in Germany in 1995 preparing for Bosnia.)

Firing Iraqi Weapons, March 22, 1991

The bright speck in the sky in the photo below is a ricocheting tracer.

Downed Lines

West of Kuwait City, March 22, 1991

Oil Fires, March 22, 1991

Sat 23 Mar

We had sprinkles and light rain all day, and a heavy thunderstorm in the evening. We spent the morning checking Sabah-as-Salem, Dhaher, and Sabahiya food centers. The last few days I have been getting counts of the food, as exactly as can be done with piles of sacks. I can see the movie now -- Combat Stockboy, with Stallone and Schwarzenegger fighting over who gets to play me. In the afternoon I got in two laps (2 miles). Mail brought a nice letter from Shawn and more stuff from Roth's space committee. After supper I watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Sun 24 Mar

Palm Sunday morning brought thick smoke and low clouds. When it's like this, it stays night until 0800 or so. If the smoke is low and thin, a bright patch appears above 45 degrees elevation. The horizon sky is very dark but enough light comes through from overhead to see. When the Sun gets 30-45 degrees high it becomes visible, often dimly.

Other times the smoke layer overhead may be opaque but the sky near the horizon will be bright. I have so far not seen true night conditions with horizon-to-horizon opaque smoke, though it does get dark as late twilight.

I wrote those lines in my diary about 0900. They lasted all of two hours. I got a box ready to ship home, went out at 1115 and found literal night. Only a faint band of light showed on the western horizon. It was literally impossible to tell if it was 11 AM or PM. The darkness lasted about half an hour. About 1430 it got almost as dark.

There was a huge naked eye sunspot group visible on the Sun today. I borrowed a rifle scope from Kuyper and saw a huge main spot with a trail of smaller spots. The Sun was so dim it was perfectly safe to look at it.

In the afternoon some of us went to the Media Center to view videotapes on Iraqi atrocities and see art works dealing with the occupation. Art critics would call much of the art naive but it was graphic and powerful nevertheless. I spent the rest of the afternoon working on Arabic. In the evening a group of us went to Mass at the cathedral in town. The priest told us the church had not been disturbed much during the occupation, unlike the Catholic church in Al-Ahmadi which was vandalized, and that some Iraqi Christian soldiers came there at times. The services are in English and Konkani, a language I didn't recognize. It turns out to be a south Indian language. There have been Christians in south India since the second century, and a lot of Indians worked in Kuwait. Even though Mass was only at 1700, the smoke made it very dark, and the church was lit by only a few candles.

As Dark as it Gets, Mid-morning, March 24, 1991

Inside the compound at Camp Freedom. There was no daylight visible horizon to horizon.

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Created January 10, 2000; Last Update 11 June 2020

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