On August 8th, 1990, I had just returned from a trip to California where my wife and I visited family. Right before the trip, I had just completed the NCO School at MCAS Yuma, Arizona with a 97% average. Things were going well since I had been promoted to corporal in January, attended NCO School, and was just back from vacation. Little did I know what was to come.
Carrie and I were walking out the front door at about noon. We lived in base housing about 1/2 mile from my maintenance shop and were on our way out to town to do some shopping. Just as I passed the phone walking toward the door, the phone rang. Out of pure reaction, I picked it up and the second I did, I cringed at my own stupidity. My fears were instantly confirmed when I heard the fateful words every night crew member hates to hear during the day.
Damn! There goes my liberty. Oh well, serves me right for answering the phone. The voice on the other end only said that there was an all-hands muster at the paraloft center. The paraloft center? Why there? And what was this about? Safety standown? CO's call? Regardless of what it was, my liberty was over and I was none too happy about it. But like a good little corporal, I got dressed and went to the paraloft.
"Where in the hell is Kuwait?" Rumors were flying and my own ignorance of current events put me behind the power curve. It seems that while I was relaxing in California, Iraq had invaded Kuwait and I had no idea what all of it meant. No one was too interested in explaining all of this to me. The major point of this meeting was to let us know that we might be deploying soon.
I knew something was serious when I realized why they had chosen the paraloft for this meeting: it had very large tables where the parachute packers did their packing. The large tables were also perfect for displaying large numbers of medical, dental, and service records. Basically, we were just put on high alert and our records were getting ready to go with us.
We were shuffled over to supply where we were issued a full set of field gear. During endless paperwork and inventorying, the realization set in that my life as I knew it was over. I spent the rest of the day being shuffled around and being briefed about what was happening. Word changed everyday but it was not hard to see that we would be leaving soon.
We left on August 12th, four days after the phonecall. Leading up to that morning was sheer Hell. Everyday, we were told we were leaving. In the morning, we were told we were leaving in the afternoon. In the afternoon, we were told to go home, go to sleep, and report back at 0500 to leave. This happened for four days and the difficulty was the good-byes. Carrie and I did not know which one would be the real one or if I would come walking through the door for another night together. By the twelfth, we both wanted me to go and do what I had to do and get back in one piece.
At 0500 on August 12, Carrie sat in the car as I reached down to kiss
her for the last time in a long time. We both knew this was most likely
it and I turned away from her, heading for the adventure of a lifetime.