Today as I put on my uniform I took a moment to think about those who had worn the uniform before me. Specifically my dad. For those of you who don't know, today marks the 20 year anniversary of the ground war for Desert Storm. On Feb. 24, 1991 my dad was sitting in a humvee preparing to drive through a minefield to Kuwait.
His experience during war was very different than mine. He left the states, Dec. 15, 1990. They didn't know what to expect but were prepared for the worst. The military provided councilors to prepare families for what to expect while their spouses were away. Unlike me, he received very little communication from back home. There was no email, facebook, or skype. Service members today have the luxury of being able to reach back home easily. Since I've been on Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan I have received several care packages from friends and family and email with them on a daily basis.
He said he'd never worked so hard in his life. There wasn't much downtime and in the four days of Desert Storm he got 1-2 hours of sleep a night either under his humvee or sitting up in it. They were constantly on the move.
It was also the first time he'd ever used GPS. One day before the ground war began he and a Gunnery Sergeant configured the GPS while sitting in a tent. They had to go somewhere and wanted to be sure they could find their way back. By the time they returned it was dark. Since they were in a combat situation they had to run on blackout lights which meant they couldn't turn on their headlights. For anybody who has been out in the wilderness you know it gets dark, especially when the moon isn't out.
When they got close my dad said, "I can't see the tent."
The gunny said "It's 20 meters away."
"I still can't see it."
"I can't-" bam. He ran into the tent, knocking down a pole. The GPS had worked, perhaps a little too well. It had tried to take them to the exact point they'd set it at. He told me the next time they used it, they went outside to configure the GPS.
Now, 20 years later, here I am in the same part of the world fighting in a war. Our experiences greatly differ. When he came home, he didn't come home empty handed. In our family, story telling is something of an art form. Some of his stories are sad, some are happy, and others are funny. It is my hope that when I leave here I will have interesting stories of my experiences. Perhaps some day, 20 years from now I will be able to tell my children about my experiences here.