Early on Monday, March 4, 1991, a contingent of International Red Cross volunteers occupied the entire Nova hotel in downtown Baghdad and began preparations for the repatriation effort. They had brought everything with them that they needed to assist the soon-to-be-release prisoners, including a fully staffed and equipped medical team and their own food. To protect the ex-prisoners from angry Iraqis, the Red Cross planned to place them on the upper floors. The fourth floor was reserved for the Americans and all others would be put in rooms on the third floor.
Six American POWs and four others were released first. The ten prisoners were collected from various locations around Baghdad and brought by bus to the Nova hotel. There they were introduced to a gaggle of international reporters. After the impromptu exposure to the media they were herded back onto a bus and driven from Baghdad across Western Iraqi to freedom in Jordan.
The Americans in the first group were Colonel David Eberly's Weapons officer, Tom Griffith; lost Army drivers Melissa Rathburn-Healy and David Locket; Navy Lieutenants Robert Wetzel and Jeffrey Zaun; and Captain Michael Berryman. Two of Andy McNab's SAS team (Ian Robert "Dinger" Pring, and Malcom Graham "Stan" MacGown) were in the group, as well as one of the Italian pilots, Captain Maurizio Cocciolone, and a British pilot, John Peters.
The Iraqis began collecting the Allied prisoners from prisons and hospitals scattered in and around Baghdad. They cleaned them up and dressed them in yellow POW jumpsuits. Some were told of their coming release, others were not. For all of the Coalition prisoners, this would be their last night in Iraqi control.
My Letter Continued
Continuing with my letter I wrote to Robin,
"I've got good news. I don't have to drive the Warrant Officer around anymore. He was driving me crazy. I was suffering from too much stress."
I had about enough of being around him and I think he could tell. Every time I tried listening to one of my taped messages from home he was getting me to do something like clean the sand out of the Humvee. He finally allowed me to go back to my radar team and had a new driver which was fine by me.
"I got a letter from a seven year old boy four days ago. His name is Zachary [last name redacted]. He sent a picture of himself. He's also from Mesquite. I might pay him a visit when I get back."
I'll share the contents of that letter in a later post as it was pretty special to me. It wasn't like the other "Any soldier" or "Any Marine" letters we got.
"Well, I guess I won't use stamps anymore. You and grandma both mentioned about a letter I put a stamp on that took almost a month to get there. That's weird. Anyway, I got other letters to write and things to do so I'll close for now. I'll be seeing you."
After being reunited with my radar team, it was like going home. I slept through the nights like a baby; most nights anyways. There were still nights that I had nightmares, but for the most part,I was finally getting the rest I needed. Things were looking up and I was thankful that God at least answered part of my prayer so far. The war was over. Now came the waiting game on going home.