We were finally getting incoming mail. You thought I was going to talk about incoming artillery, huh? Patience everyone, patience. Anyway, I wrote some letters home dated 1-11-91, thanking my grandmother and aunt for their care packages, and also mentioned in another letter that I got two care packages from one of my sisters, Caron. Boy I was a rich man over in Saudi. I had fudge, chips, cookies, and a ton of other stuff. We weren't getting letters yet, but at least the packages were arriving. As a joke in my letter to my other sister I said, "I'd write my congressman, but he probably wouldn't get my letter."
At this point I have to mention that when you are separated from loved ones, in a foreign place, and especially involved in a stressful situation as we were in, there was no bigger pick-me-up than to receive letters and care packages from home. That sense of love, support, and comfort from home goes a long way. In a few days, I'll be sharing parts of an Iraqi soldier's diary and you will see what goes through his mind as he is suffers through the same ordeal, only without the same support.
I also mentioned in my letter getting my bi-weekly paycheck and the amount was a whopping $295. I don't remember how much of an increase we were getting in country, but future checks would include an increase for Hazardous Duty Pay, Imminent Danger Pay and another increase for Combat Action Pay once we were actually in combat. All I needed now was to get shot and I would be close to making minimum wage.
Last ditch efforts to avoid Gulf War
The United Nations Secretary General left for Baghdad in a final diplomatic effort to avoid war against Iraq. They were talking about sending a UN peacekeeping force to Kuwait to oversee the peaceful withdrawal of Iraqi troops. It would be a waste of time. Saddam was under UN orders to pull his soldiers out of Kuwait within a few days. A Security Council resolution authorized the use of force against Iraq if he failed to comply.
Talks in Geneva between the Iraqi Foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, and the American Secretary of State, James Baker, broke down yesterday 1-10-91. After more than six hours of negotiations, Mr Baker said he had heard nothing from the Iraqis to suggest they were preparing to meet the UN deadline. An official statement from Iraq today said the army was longing for a showdown. The UK Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, said the time for diplomacy was past: "If Saddam Hussein does stay in Kuwait then he will be attacked." Mr Baker left for Saudi Arabia where he would be discussing plans for war rather than peace. He said: "I think there is still a path for peace, that path leads from Baghdad now and the choice is with the government of Iraq."
One more thing I mentioned in my letters was a good friend of mine that was pulling guard duty with me at the port of Al Jubayl. It was the Marine I mentioned in an earlier post that I was playing chess with, Lance Corporal Montero. He knew I was a Christian and wanted to study the Bible with me. You know what they say, "There are no atheists in fox holes." I knew that he was getting more and more concerned about the pending war and worried about his family at home. He mentioned hearing about anti-war protests back in the States and feared this would be another Vietnam like Saddam claimed it would be. I think he could also see a sense of calm and peace in me and attributed that to my faith. I believe our studying, our talks, and our prayers together was encouraging and strengthening for the both of us. In my next post, I'll mention the biggest challenge to my faith, which to me, was the "Mother of all battles."
"Do not fear the king of Babylon (Iraq), of whom you are afraid.
Do not fear him, declares the Lord, for I am with you,