June 3-7, 1991: Last Days in Kurdistan

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

Mon 3 Jun

Formation at 0830. We are released from the mission. 40 of us drove to Silopi with personal gear. The plan throughout the departure was to avoid Turkish border formalities by dribbling through a vehicle at a time. We carefully packed our vehicles so nothing excess showed from outside. We spent the morning tearing down tents. I drove out with PFC Dave Mabin about 1320. We unloaded, then drove back only to find out we weren't needed. We detoured south from Zakho a bit (I wanted to check out the geology) then went back to Silopi. Silopi, marvel of marvels, has a shower point which is utterly glorious.

We have not brought eternal peace to the Middle East. The Kurds marched on the police station in Dohuk today, and the Iraqis opened fire. The Kurds returned with weapons and a shoot-out ensued; two Iraqis and four Kurds died.

Camp Redeye Comes Down

Dale Pagel and Russ Oestreich ready to leacve.


We nicknamed the strip of souvenir sellers outside the camp "the Silopi Mall."

Tue 4 Jun

We returned to Zakho at 0730 and finished breaking down the camp. At 1130 Major General Garner came and gave the three Civil Affairs companies (ours, the 431st and the 418th) a farewell address. To our surprise, it was short and informal (he broke the formation and just had everyone gather around). It was also very complimentary. Our plan to "convoy" out at intervals degenerated into an Indy-500 start. My own departure was delayed a bit when the 418th's trash burn started a small grass fire. Considering the burn area was surrounded on all sides by bare earth, it still created quite a hubbub.

It gets very hot soon after sunup, reaches over 100 during the day, and cools off only at sunset. The camp at Silopi is bleak and shadeless. It gets huge dust devils; one took down two GP-Medium tents today.

I sent home most of my excess clothing to make room. (This would be the only box to suffer damage or loss; it broke open en route. I lost a few clothing items, but what hurt much more was losing a box of old music tapes). Mailing it used up most of the money I got from Finance the other day.

Funny remark of the day: on the way out of Iraq, I was talking with CPT Pressner about the designs on the "Turkish" rugs. He said he liked the naked ladies on the unicorns best. I said I didn't think my wife would approve. He said "My wife doesn't like unicorns either".

A formation was set for 1800, then cancelled. The word now is we may send our vehicles out on flatbeds instead of convoying them.

The tent next door is occupied by Marines who like loud music. I went out at 2300 to ask them to turn it down and bashed my toe on a tent stake. Then when I fell down I took of half the skin on my leg sliding down the rope. Ouch!

Gettin' Outta Dodge, June 5, 1991

Wed 5 Jun

It was a dull day until 1600, then got very exciting indeed. There was a formation at 0830, then I washed my laundry. In the afternoon I visited the Silopi Mall. There were some spectacular dust devils, some forming perfect hollow tubes that went up hundreds of feet. Mostly it is too hot to do anything except try to avoid the heat.

There was enough shadow along the side of the tent for me to lie down about 1600. I had only been there a few minutes when MAJ Bob Johanson came by and told me to pack for a chopper flight at 1700. I threw my stuff together and loaded up in a truck for the helipad. The "terminal" was a garden gazebo.

Miraculously, it all came together. We were just on the point of giving up when a French Gazelle came in at 1700. It was a fantastic flight. We buzzed the fields about ten feet off the ground, then set down briefly in Zakho. We took off again, flew by the camps, then went on to Sirsenk. We landed and were rolling when the pilot lifted off and set us down about 50 feet away; the shortest flight I ever took. We got thoroughly sandblasted by the propwash. We made the MAC flight to Incirlik by 5 minutes. The flight, in a C-130, took two hours. Johanson called headquarters when we got in. By sheer luck LTC Bukowski was in (at 2000). He took us to the camp, then we went to the burger shop and the gym for showers.

We got four people on the morning bus run with just minutes to spare. We could have gotten a lot of others since there were only two other people on the bus. They beat us in by 20 minutes.

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Created January 10, 2000; Last Update 11 June 2020

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