It was a slow day as far as action was concerned. We were still moving various elements of 2nd Marine Division to our next and final position before the ground war attack. I'm sure it was a massive logistics nightmare to move, not only Marine supplies, but 20,000 Marines across the 1st Marine Division's positions. In my opinion, it was a cluster.... But it was accomplished.
There was another Scud attack on Saudi Arabia today. I don't know the results but I'm sure if there were casualties, I would have known. That kind of information is usually readily available in our daily briefings.
Three more Iraqi SU-22s were shot down today. They were downed by F-15s from the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing as they attempted to flee to Iran. Though unreported, MAG 11 (Marine Air Group) was flying more than forty sorties per hour on several targets.
The "First Team" was making its presence known in the Wadi-al-Batin. While flying the border, another Cobra from 1-7 Cavalry found Iraqis still in the solitary observation tower. The pilot reported his discovery and within minutes a laser-guided "Copperhead" 155-mm round slammed into the tower; one shot, one direct hit! The Iraqi sentries were the unfortunate recipients of the first Copperhead ever fired in combat. To the west, 1st Infantry Division helicopters also roamed the border, destroying enemy communications facilities.
President Bush’s top two war advisers – Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell – leave for gulf to assess war. Cheney gives strongest indication to date ground war is coming, but doesn't say when.
I was going to attend a meeting today with Ryder after we had morning chow, but thought I'd use my time to write home instead. Usually I would try to catch some sleep, and/or read or write a letter while he was in the meetings. Today, I felt like joining in and hearing the latest news, but decided not to. We spent the night at Romeo One's position, which was the radar team positioned farthest to the west. They were close to Tiger Brigade. One of the benefits I enjoyed as I spent time with Romeo One was getting some hot chow. I didn't get it very often, but when we were near the Army units such as Tiger Brigade, they served hot chow. I always thought they were treated like the favorite child while the Marines were the red headed step-children. We usually got the hand-me-down gear and equipment while they had all the good stuff. We weren't getting hot chow delivered to us. I guess I was a little jealous.
I almost laughed when I saw their chow line. They actually have a water container with warm water and some soap to wash your hands while going through the line. I usually just used my dirty hands and it didn't bother me. I felt like I was in a fine outdoor restaurant or something.
Even though I wrote a lot of people, I only have the letters I wrote to my grandmother and my sister, Robin. After twenty five years, I'm sure the others are long gone. I couldn't write to my mom, because she was working a temporary job out of town and staying in a hotel. Today I wrote my sister:
"How are you and the family doing? I'm not doing too bad. I had a satisfying breakfast this morning. Scrambled eggs, rice, bacon, chocolate milk, and cereal." It seemed like every time I had some hot chow, it involved rice. I wrote: "That must be the $10 million contribution that Japan made to the U.S. Forces. They paid us in rice."
"I'm used to the eggs now. I can eat them without turning my stomach. Today was the first time I had cereal in a while. They gave us plenty of everything too. I guess that's because we share this camp with the Army. I just got here yesterday from up north. We were going to move up north to give ground troops radar support who were going to storm in Kuwait on a raid. Then we decided to put it off. I don't know why. Now I'm about 50 miles from the border instead of 13. Anyway, back to the Army, they're spoiled. They get so much stuff. They're like the rich kids. My radar team traded all their bayonets for a bunch of food with the Army soldiers. Food that was given to them. We're starting to get a little bit ourselves. We got a lot of bread, can of jelly, can of peanut butter, and a can of pineapples. I had three sandwiches yesterday after I ate my lunch (MRE)."
"I cleaned out my tape player a little so now it plays. Sounds a little funny, but it plays. It won't rewind though. I don't know what it would sound like if I tried to record. I should have kept it in a Ziploc bag or something. I sure was happy to hear my tapes again though. I might get a few batteries today. My last ones ran out last night." I not only enjoyed listening to the few tapes from home, but there were other tapes, music mostly, that I had with me. One of the tapes was called "Voices That Care" and was a song sung by many artists along with several celebrities singing along in the background. They distributed these tapes among us as encouragement that America was behind us and supporting us. On the other side was "Messages of Care" that had personal messages for the Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen serving in the Gulf War. This is just one of the little things that made a big difference in troop morale and encouraged us to stay strong and focused on what we had to do. I must have listened to it a thousand times and it still swells my heart with pride when I listen to it today. If you have a few minutes, click on the image and it will take you to my video page where you can see the video.
From the Iraqi Lieutenant's diary:
"Not many air strikes on us. I thought of my relatives. My illness is getting worse and I feel tired. The planes come and go, and the shelter holds many a comrade."
History on Saddam, Part 3
On assuming the presidency of Iraq in the summer of 1979, Saddam Hussein set his nation on a new course, motivated by both ambition and fear. Saddam's ambition was to make Iraq the dominant power in the Persian Gulf and in the Arab world. His fear was that Iraq's Shiite majority would be stirred to revolt by the fiery rhetoric of the Ayatollah Khomeini, who had returned triumphant to Iran on February 1, 1979 after fifteen long years of exile.
Iran's politics had a decisive impact on Iraq and the region as a whole. A propaganda war broke out between Tehran and Baghdad. In June, tensions escalated into border clashes. This continued for months. On November 4, 1979, radical elements in Tehran, backed by Khomeini, seized the U.S. embassy and took its staff hostage. All the Gulf Arab states felt threatened by Iran and the new government. Saddam responded by exploiting the political and ideological threat from Iran to establish Iraq's primacy. He offered to assume the role of protector of the weak Arab monarchies.
After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in late December, President Jimmy Carter announced what would be known as "the Carter Doctrine" promising to protect Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states against foreign aggression. On February 8, Saddam issued the "Pan-Arab Charter" which would be dubbed the "Hussein Doctrine," which called for collective Arab defense and rejected any foreign presence in the Gulf.
On April 1, 1980, the revolutionary Shiite Islamic party, al-Daawa, tried to assassinate Tariq Aziz, Iraq's deputy prime minister. Aziz survived, but others present at the time died. Four days later the Daawa launched another assault at the funeral procession for the victims of the first attack. Saddam responded ruthlessly. Membership in the Daawa party was made punishable by death. He began deporting many Shiite Kurds as well as many of the middle-class Shiite population of Iraq's major cities. Ayatollah Mohammad Baqr al-Sadr was the Arab's leading Shiite religious figure. He and his sister were arrested by Saddam, taken to Baghdad, and tortured. The sister was assaulted in the presence of her brother. The brother was then killed by burning his beard and driving nails through his head.
In spite of efforts to calm the tensions between the two Gulf states, war would eventually break out; and it would be long, bloody, and at a great cost financially.
It goes on and on and on until one cannot eat enough to vomit enough.”
― Christopher Hitchens