The deadline was upon us. The U.N. had previously approved United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 which demanded Iraq to withdraw its troops from Kuwait immediately and unconditionally to positions they held on August 1, 1990. Since Iraq defied this and several other resolutions that were passed, the U.N. adopted Resolution 678 on November 29, 1990 which gave the deadline of January 15, 1991 for Iraq to comply with Resolution 660. If Iraq did not withdraw completely by midnight tonight, coalition forces were authorized to use all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660, including forceful means. This was the legal authorization for the Gulf War, as Iraq did not withdraw by the deadline.
Furthermore, President George H. W. Bush requested a Congressional joint resolution on January 8, 1991, one week before the January 15, 1991 deadline of U.N. Resolution 678. By now President Bush had deployed over 500,000 U.S. troops without Congressional authorization to Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf region in the preceding five months. The Senate approved Senate Joint Resolution 2 on January 12, 1991 by a vote of 52 to 47. House Joint Resolution 77 was approved in the United States House of Representatives on January 12, 1991 by a vote of 250 to 183. The table was set and dinner was about to be served. The main course was the liberation of Kuwait. If there was room for dessert, Baghdad.
A Post Card Home
Now that the deadline was upon us, Marines were beginning to show their traditional Espirit de Corps. We were eager and expectant to go into battle. There is definitely a warrior's spirit among us all. After so many weeks of training, being taken from our homeland, and enduring the worst food and weather, someone was going to pay dearly.
I sent a post card (pictured here) home on this date and in it I stated that we had been in country for 19 days now and were finally getting letters from home. This particular day I got three. They all happened to be from my grandmother. She was retired so she had plenty of time to write. She had sons in previous wars and knew how much it meant for us to hear from home. It brought a sense of normalcy in an otherwise abnormal environment.
In the letter I mentioned getting pictures that were taken on Christmas. I wrote, "I can look at the pictures and imagine the sounds that were being made at the time. The clinging sounds of dishes in the kitchen, someone laughing every now and then, paper being crumbled, kids playing with their toys, and even the baby crying. I can also imagine how you and others might have paused individually in thought of me every now and then and I appreciate that. That's what Christmas is to me; thinking of others."
A Worried Marine
An Iraqi Lieutenant kept a diary, of which I only have a part of. It begins today, January 15, 1991. He writes:
"Leave was suspended today for officers and men because of the end of the period, (granted) by the Security Council for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. We are there and it is a historic right that was stolen from us when we could do nothing. The army is in a state of total alert to prepare itself against allied and American aggression expected against our well-loved territory. I am very worried for my parents because I know what these conditions represent for them. But God is good. We wish the war had not happened, but it has, so combat would be welcome."
Both sides knew that we were about to start the war. Just like any plans, when the first shots are fired, anything can happen. We were well trained and we knew what we were up against, but there are always surprises and always failures. It's only natural to be concerned and think about the worst. You also can't help but think about loved ones back home.
For Lance Corporal Montero, I think he thought too much about these things and it worried him. Not every Marine was there voluntarily or looking forward to battle. I never asked him, but I'm pretty sure Montero wasn't one of the volunteers. He and I were studying the Bible together on this day when we went over a part that talks about God not listening to sinners, but only hears the prayers of the righteous: "We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will." (John 9:31). Montero asked me if I thought God was listening to him. My answer to him was, "If God didn't want to hear from you, I wouldn't be here talking to you about Him right now." I believed that the two of us were at the same place at the time because God knew Montero needed Him and needed to hear those words. I was playing the part of the messenger. It was a role I played throughout the war. I won't mention them all but this particular one is significant as you will soon see. Anyway, this role I was playing was a confusing role at times. Was I supposed to be the hard core, hard charging Marine that they trained me to be, ready to kill enemies of war? Or was I supposed to be the person Lance Corporal Tanner described, a meek and humble messenger of the Almighty God? Perhaps it was both. I recently bought a Marine Corps t-shirt that says, "I have three sides...1. The quiet side 2. The fun and crazy side 3. The side you never want to see." I don't think I could sum up my life any better than that. Anyway, I believe that God has a role for all of us. We have to first recognize our purpose in life before we can fulfill it.
I've included a picture of Montero (sitting on the left) and another Marine whose name I can't seem to remember. Montero was sitting on my cot when I took this picture. You can see my boonie hat on the cot, my Alice pack at the head of it, and some of the goodies I got in one of my care packages underneath it.
The Mother of all Prayer Requests
After our little discussion about answering prayers, he asked me to pray with him. I agreed and asked him if there was anything in particular he wanted me to pray about. He said, "Pray that the war will be over quickly." I said, "Okay." Then he asked me if I really believed that was possible. And I quoted from Matthew 19:26, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Every single day I had been reading my little pocket Bible that I kept with me in my left breast pocket at all times and memorizing a different verse every day. It was times like this I realized I was equipping myself to be that messenger I mentioned earlier. It became known among others that I had all of these Bible verses memorized to the point that Marines would test me and ask me what that day's memory verse was. I could quote it every time. It was almost like I was a military chaplain, only better. I was in the trenches right along with them, and they appreciated that.
So Montero asked me to do something that would be the greatest test of my faith I had ever had at that point in my life. He asked me to pray that the war would end by this time next month which would be February 15th, 1991. I have to admit, I didn't think that was going to happen. I didn't expect God to interfere with a global conflict just because of the prayers of one person, but I told him I would pray every day until God answered my prayer.
I know that a lot of people are reading my posts. Some are reading out of curiosity about what it was like over there for me and what I did in the war. Others may want to hear good war stories or simply want a Gulf War history lesson. I've been told several times I should be writing this as a book and make money off of it, but this is how I chose to tell my story. Rather than make people pay to read about it, I want everyone to have access to this so that they can know what I know; and like I stated early on, it's a story that only I can tell. You can hear about the Gulf War from many sources, but what you will hear from me can not be told by anyone else. I am the only one who knows first hand the most amazing story you will ever read regarding the Gulf War. And I'm sure you will be as amazed as I was when you read about it.
Regardless of the reason you are reading these posts, you will certainly come to know a little about what it was I did in the war, what it was like, and hear some good war stories along the way as well. But the biggest reason I'm writing these posts is to tell my story about a war on faith. I was about to begin praying for the greatest miracle ever seen in my lifetime. And so, for me, the war had just begun.
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”