by J.P. Ruiz
A day in the life of a soldier during the Gulf War.
|The Sirens screamed as the soldiers rushed to get into their chemical warfare suit. The suits were to protect the soldiers from chemical weapons that were delivered by SCUD missiles. This was the third time today, the 17th of January 1991, Iraq had invaded Kuwait on the 2nd day of August, 1990. The soldiers were told that SCUD missiles were empty and were only threats of the power the Iraq Army was attempting to maintain. The United States Army had a defense system to combat the SCUD missiles which was called the "Patriot" anti-missile system. This system would fire rockets at the in-coming missiles and intercept them in the air before they could reach their intended targets.
We had been trained to fight in the jungles, the desserts, and the mountains but we had very little training in fighting a war in chemical protection suits. We were in Kuwait and the dessert was hot and the suits only increased the heat. The soldiers did not have much confidence in the suits but would put them on anyway. It was mandatory to put these suits on every time the sirens blared as they warned of a missile attack that was imminent. The fact that the soldiers had never fought in these types of conditions placed a newly discovered fear in the Americans. The soldiers had heard of the horror stories of the chemicals Saddam Hussein had used against the Curds in an earlier conflict and were not looking forward to fighting in the same type of conditions.
There is something special of a voluntary fighting force, even after the possibilities had be counted, the patriotism maintained by the soldiers made the American fighting force a force to be reckoned with. Most every soldier that was an American was there because they believed in their hearts that freedom must be fought for and they had made the commitment to do the fighting, no matter what the conditions. The cost of freedom is not free, two out of three soldiers returned from the Gulf War suffering from many different conditions and ailments. These conditions progress in severity as the years go by. The Veteran's Administration continues to conducts studies but have not determined a cure so they just combat the symptoms the soldiers suffer from.
Once the soldiers had donned their protective suits, the soldiers immediately prepared for an attack. With weapons slung on their shoulders they assisted other soldiers with their protective gear. It wasn't long and the soldiers would first hear the explosions overhead as the patriot rockets intercepted the SCUD missiles, then the soldier were able to feel the rumble which trailed soon after the explosion. As the days went on these attacks began to take place three to five times a day. These attacks had no rhyme or reason as every American Compound was targeted, the bombing was random and did not give the soldiers any patterns to use in determining future attacks.
It was not long and the attacks became routine and the soldiers soon developed the attitude of "here we go again". Needless to say, the soldiers became relaxed and later it was discovered that some of these missiles did contain a payload of chemical weapons. Many soldiers returned home after the war suffering from a large array of illnesses and symptoms. These soldiers are still fighting this war today as they fight what has been labeled "The Gulf War Condition". The awesome thing about these soldiers is that after counting the cost, they would gladly return and do it all over again. They would do this in the name of America and the name of Freedom.
This war was short in comparison to other conflicts, it is also known as the one hundred day war but as a soldier I can assure you that it had its fair share of death and tragedy. War is tragic no matter what the outcome, the sad thing about this conflict was that we had to return years later to finish what had been started during Operation Desert Shield/Storm.
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