Friday, August 13, 2010

Desert Storm - More Preparations

I cannot overemphasize the great help my friends, family and the entire community around Fort Bliss were to me and my fellow troopers. I cannot imagine having pulled off a success deployment such as we did without the support of those dedicated civilians who took on the cause of helping out. Here are some examples:

  1. The folks at the Sun City Amateur Radio Club (K5WPH) were good friends and helped me out quite a bit. They were among the first to offer their support to help me get anything I needed for the trip. I especially need to single out John and Jeannie who offered to let me park my truck in their yard and their willingness to let me borrow their truck during the final days before we left.
  2. GEICO Insurance: I was renting an apartment when we received notice to deploy. I moved all my worldly possessions into a storage unit and they were very nice about letting me transfer my renter policy to cover the storage unit even though they don't do that kind of thing. I appreciated it very much. (If their rates were more competitive I'd still be a customer!)
  3. The manager of the Wallington Plaza Apartments where I lived was nice enough to let me out of my lease even though I didn't have a set of paper orders sending me away. A deployment isn't quite the same as a permanent change of station.
  4. The El Paso Independent School District was nice enough to pair some of us up with elementary school students who were great about sending us care packages and mail. Although the sheer volume of mail we got there was astounding (more about that later), it was very nice to get mail from someone I met in person.
  5. Of course, my family was great before and after I deployed. My mom and step-dad and my dad flew out to visit me for a few days before we left. Thankfully we had enough time getting ready that they had the opportunity to come down for a visit.
I know there are some I missed who were very helpful. Please accept my apologies for not singling you out. These are just the ones that stick out in my mind 20 years later.

We got all packed up and ready. By the time we actually got on a plane to go it was October. So in all, it took the better part of three months to make ready and leave.

On the day we left we met up in the large hangar on Biggs Army Airfield (across from the hangar where our aircraft and offices were housed) and waited. This was one of those famous Army "Hurry Up And Wait" occasions. I remember we were supposed to get on the plane early in the morning and ended up waiting until sometime in the late afternoon before our plane finally arrived to take us to Germany.

I don't remember much about the flight to Rhein-Main Air Base (near Frankfurt, Germany). We may have stopped somewhere along the way for fuel, but I my memory is a bit fuzzy on the details. I do remember everyone on the flight crew was very nice. One of the pilots in the group ended up getting the address of one of the flight attendants, with whom he corresponded regularly while we were overseas.

In Frankfurt, we deplaned and waited for our flight to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. This is a port city in the east, central part of Saudi Arabia. There were tents set up with recreation areas and mess facilities. I remember parking in front of a TV watching Armed Forces Network while we waited for our flight out. More "Hurry Up And Wait."

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I remember the vast number of commercial aircraft parked in a row as we walked out to our plane. There were a large number of wide-bodied aircraft such as 747, DC-10 and such. I think we walked a couple miles down the flight line before we got to the plane which was to take us on the final leg of our trip.

All in all, it took about three days to get where we were going. And this was really just the beginning.

This is part 3 in a series. Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19

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