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20 years later

February 24, 2011 | Specialist Tobey White

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."

"7 meters."

"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.


7 Comments

  • Monika Wood
    2/24/2011 8:25 AM
    I enjoyed your trip down memory lane, from your Dad's point of view. And like you said, things are very different now. The soldiers today are still away from their families, but being able to have contact with them on a daily basis eases the pain of separation. I am sure your family is proud of you, following in your Dad's footsteps. There are many brave men and women who have worn a uniform of the United States military and served our country proudly and honorably. So, you are in great company. Stay save, and someday you too, will be sharing stories of your experience with your children.
    God bless,
    Army wife and mother-in-law of a deployed soldier, Monika Wood
  • Pamela J. Andrews
    2/24/2011 6:46 PM
    Hi Tobey, I can just picture your Dad bamming right into the tent .. LOL. I think I can hear him as he did it too! I remember the night the war started; I was driving home from the class I was taking and heard about it on the radio. I couldn't get home fast enough to call your Mom; she was so strong about all of it. I also remember the first time we all saw your Dad when he first got back; your Grandfather shook his hand in special, knowing way. It seemed like they had a special bond after that. Good story, as always. Love, Aunt Pam.
  • Lisa
    3/4/2011 7:45 PM
    You have a gift, Tobey. I bookmarked your blog and I'll keep reading. Thanks for giving us a perspective of what goes on; the story about the pen and pencil brought tears to my eyes...probably because I'm a teacher. Thanks for finding the time to blog!
  • dani
    3/9/2011 12:20 AM
    thank you so much for your blog, i will soon join you... but i will be working at the Aafes store there. However, because of your blog, you are making the transition easier for my family as well! :) thank you for everything you do, and i'm sure i'll run into you around "town" Keep up the great work!
    Serving the best customers in the world,
    dani
    • Tobey White
      3/10/2011 12:52 AM
      We'll look forward to having you. The AAFES stores really make increase the living quality over here. Safe journey!!
  • Kevin Finisterre
    3/11/2011 3:42 PM
    Thanks for the flashback Tobey... I personally won't ever forget watching the news and seeing the night vision green colored screen flash with tracer fire all night. Its neat to hear about your old man on the ground.

    Here is a link to the CNN news broadcast I remember being glued to.
    http://tinypic.com/r/vdd5k4/7

  • David White (GySgt USMC retired) plus Dad
    3/25/2011 1:02 PM
    Tobo,

    I must of missed this one, as I just read it! It is amazing how generations cross the divide. Another great story! Allergies momentary confused my vision. Best of luck to you.

    Dad,

    P.S. Fair Winds and Following Sea's!!!

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