• Chapter 38: “I Was Dead to the World”

    February 2, 2016
  • Two More Aircraft Lost

    The Allies stepped up their sorties today to twenty six hundred. Two more U.S. aircraft were shot down. As A-10s continued to swoop in and attack tanks and other armored vehicles, Air Force Captain Richard D. Storr was captured when his A-10 was shot down.

    Lieutenant Commander Barry T. Cooke and Lieutenant Patrick K. Conner were lost when their A-6E was shot down. Both Naval pilots were initially reported as missing, but on March 31st, the remains of navigator Lt. Conner were found. The family of pilot Lt. Cmdr Cooke decided to accept the inevitable, especially when the POWs were released and there was still no sign of him. Cooke's mother said, "After Iraq said they had released all the prisoners and there was no word, our hopes started to crumble". The following is a story that was published in the Daily Press about the native of Austin, Texas:

    "Cooke, 35, a career naval aviator stationed at Oceana, was flying an A-6E Intruder over Kuwait Feb. 2 when he was hit by what the military believes was anti-aircraft fire.

    The remains of Cooke's bombardier/navigator, Lt. Patrick K. Connor, 25, were found by accident March 31 on the nothern shoreline of the Persian Gulf. Since the war ended, helicopters with infrared imagery equipment have spent almost 200 hours searching the area where the crash was believed to have occurred.

    Military officials visited late last week with Cooke's wife, Letitia Faught Cooke, in Virginia Beach, and she agreed with the government's recommendation to end the official search. Cooke's status will be changed from missing in action to killed in action.

    It's hard to accept,' said his father, Thomas P. Preston Cooke, of Austin, 'but we don't have any choice.''

    Lt. Cmdr. Cooke will be memorialized with full military honors May 17 at Arlington National Cemetery, in what will be `a celebration,'' said Cooke's mother, Shirley Cooke. `Barry loved life and we want to celebrate that love.'

    The 1973 graduate of McCallum High School is survived by his wife, a 1975 Lanier High School graduate. They have three children - 4-year-old twins Justin and Ashley, and a 15-month-old son, Nathan."

  • Naval Based Strike Effectiveness

    U.S. Marine jets destroyed twenty more tanks. Navy A-6Es also bombed the Al Kalia naval facility. Using laser guided bombs, they sank one patrol boat that was capable of launching Exocet missiles. Another was sunk with a 500 lb. bomb. Helicopters from the USS Nicholas damaged two patrol boats and sank another near Maradim Island, while A-6Es destroyed an Iraqi patrol boat in Kuwait City harbor.

    The joint air campaign was successful beyond the most optimistic expectations. As full partners in that campaign, Navy and Marine Corps aviators flew from carriers and amphibious ships in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, and from bases ashore, from the day hostilities began until the cease-fire was ordered. Navy aircraft struck targets up to 700 miles distant, with Red Sea sorties averaging 3.7 hours in length, and Persian Gulf sorties averaging 2.5 hours. As was also the case for their ground-based Air Force counterparts, many flights lasted as long as five hours, and virtually every flight required airborne refueling at both ends of the journey.

    The four carrier battle groups operating in the Persian Gulf, together with the two additional battle groups in the Red Sea, complemented the striking power of land-based coalition air forces in Saudi Arabia and other coalition Gulf states, and the USAF units in eastern Turkey. This effectively surrounded Iraq with strike capability and demonstrated the mobility, flexibility and firepower which naval forces bring to the battlefield.

    Naval forces destroyed the Iraqi Navy and contributed directly to the liberation of Kuwait. They continued the maritime interception campaign throughout the war. They supported the ground campaign with air power and naval gunfire.

    To fully appreciate the contribution of the Navy and Marine Corps to the campaign ashore, one need only consider the large scale models of Iraqi defenses discovered in Kuwait City. Those defenses were pointed seaward. Iraqi forces were committed to defend Kuwait against amphibious attack. This diversion of forces was a critical element in the overall campaign plan. It set the stage for coalition armored forces on the western flank to rapidly envelop the Iraqi forces facing seaward and southward towards the central thrust spearheaded by the Marines.

  • Finishing My Letters

    I was determined to finish the letters I started yesterday. To my grandmother I wrote:

    "I got your package with two tapes in it, I also got a letter today from you dated the 13th. I haven't listened to both tapes yet. My batteries are down. I'm thinking I have some somewhere but I can't find them. I wish I could send a tape. They said we couldn't send any. I don't know why. I've been so busy this last week. I won't be able to write much. I don't know if I told you about my New Year's resolution or not. One of them is to read my Bible every day. I've been able to do that no matter how busy I am. Another is to memorize a verse every day. I'm proud to say that I know 32 verses today by heart that I didn't know before. By the end of the year, I'll know 365. Another is to carry my Bible around with me everywhere I go. I've done that so far too. I carry around the one that Martin (the preacher from my home congregation) gave me."

    Another letter I wrote to my sister, Robin, was started at 5:30 PM on 2-1-91 and then finished the next morning.

    "I got the tape of you and Caron and momma and grandma. It was good to hear from all of you. I wish I could call. Something is wrong with my Walkman. If you could send me another I would appreciate it. I have to borrow someone else's to listen to you. I'd like to have some gummy bears also. I ate some out here one day and got hooked on them. I'd also like some chocolate Kisses, Starbursts, and M&Ms. I also need a few more envelopes."

    " Anyway, I slept real good last night (night of the 31st). I didn't even wake up when B-52s started bombing the Kuwaiti border. Everyone said that the sky was lit up and the ground shook pretty hard. We're only a few miles from the border. I guess I slept good because I hadn't had much sleep lately. Two hours one night and four hours the next night. I can still hear bombings going on right now. It happens all day and all night." I don't remember a whole lot from that night, but I remember seeing the bombing before I went to sleep as I sat on the hood of my Humvee. I remember waking up the next morning and hearing everyone tell me about the incredible bombing that went on all night. They asked me how I could have slept through all of that. While I was asleep, I was dead to the world. I'm normally a light sleeper, but I was just too exhausted. One Marine even thought I was dead because I not only never woke up, but never once moved.

    "It's 9:30 am Saturday 2-2-91.  I didn't get to finish my letter last night. We're moving somewhere in a half hour so I'll have to go for now. Take care of yourself and say hi to the kids and James for me. I'm praying for you all every night. Don't worry about me. I'm just fine. Love you very much. P.S. I got a letter from an eleven year old boy from Virginia. Pretty neat, huh?" We were starting to get letters, fan mail I called it, from people all over the country. I'll mention one special one later when I actually receive it. It was cool that people, mostly kids, wanted to write to us. On one hand, it was nice to hear from someone you don't know that actually cares enough to write you. On the other hand, it was one more person I had to find time to write back.

    From the Iraqi Lieutenant's diary:

    "I was awakened this morning by the noise of an enemy air raid. I ran and hid in the nearby trench. I had breakfast and afterwards something indescribable happened. Two enemy planes came toward us and began firing at us, in turn, with missiles, machine guns and rockets. I was almost killed. Death was a yard away from me. The missiles, machine guns and rockets didn't let up. One of the rockets hit and pierced our shelter, which was penetrated by shrapnel. Over and over we said, "Allah, Allah, Allah." One tank burned and three other tanks belonging to 3rd Company, which we were with, were destroyed. That was a very bad experience. Time passed and we waited to die. The munitions dump of the 68th Tank Battalion exploded. A cannon shell fell on one of the soldiers' positions, but, thank God, no one was there. The soldiers were somewhere else. The attack lasted about 15 minutes, but it seemed like a year to me. I read chapters in the Qur'an. How hard it is to be killed by someone you don't know, you've never seen and can't confront. He is in the sky and you're on the ground. Our ground resistance is magnificent. After the air raid, I gave great thanks to God and joined some soldiers to ask how each of them was. While I was doing that, another air attack began. 2 February at 2000 hours."

    “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery,
    today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”
    ― Bil Keane