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Operation Desert Storm - 23rd Anniversary
My Desert Shield & Desert Storm Photo Album - Join Me in this Journey!
It is hard to believe that the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Shield & Operation Desert Storm, is already 23 years old. I was there and it still feels like yesterday. Please join me in my journey, with original photographs, of my experiences there. Although I have many stories to tell, this website will focus on my photographic journey. I hope you enjoy and please feel free to leave me some comments below! Hoo-Ahh!
Photo Credits - Unless otherwise cited, all photos are from the author of this website, Terry Villars
This won "Lens of the Day" on December 5, 2011.
Thank you Squidoo Staff for this great honor!
God Bless the USA - Lee Greenwood
Someone sent me a cassette of this song during Desert Shield, yes, remember cassettes? It still brings a tear to my eyes!
Operation Desert Shield / Operation Desert Storm
There are many websites and information out there that explain this war. I would prefer to tell you in my own words. The following photos describe my journey but you do need a little background.
Operation Desert Shield started in reaction to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The Iraqis felt that the Kuwaitis did not own the regions of oil that they were drilling. There was a lot of speculation about "slant drilling" and other encroachments that could excuse the Iraqi claims, however, nothing excuses the invasion of another country and the war crimes that were committed against those people. Saddam Hussein chose to go this route instead of some other type of negotiation. This was not acceptable to the United States and other Nato countries. President George H.W. Bush authorized troop movement and military buildup in the Middle East in early August of 2009 to try to force the Iraqis out of Kuwait. While the buildup did not intimidate Hussein, it actually increased hostilities. This troop buildup was called "Operation Desert Shield."
In January of 1991, Saddam Hussein did not relent and the AIr War Phase of Operation Desert Storm began. This lasted for 6 weeks and finally, the ground war phase of Operation Desert Storm began. The Air War had all but wiped out the Iraqui Army but there was still some resistance from the tough Republican Guard Divisions of the Iraqi Army. The Ground War offensive only lasted one week and the war was virtually over...although Saddam Hussein continued with his terror leading up to the second Gulf War...and now you know the rest of the story!
Operation Desert Shield - How the People saw it!
My First Base Camp, Ad Dammam, Saudi Arabia
This map is actually an operational overview of the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Our unit, the 20th Engineer Brigade went on basically the same path as they did, in support of the 5th Division. I will be putting pushpins on these maps to show where I am and will go in sequence of my movement.
Our First Base in Ad Damman - Ad Damman, Saudi Arabia
We actually didn't have to build an encampment, our base camp was in an old abandoned factory warehouse. The administrative offices served as our operations center and we slept in the warehouse. The barracks warehouse had a blockade in front of it to prevent a car bomb from entering the sleeping area, although we had a guard post, gate and outside perimeter fence to keep out the outsiders. We performed all functions in this camp although we did get to go outside. This was a several month waiting period during the buildup so we had to keep occupied. We listened to a lot of music and also read and wrote. I had a Nintendo Game Boy which helped during off time.
In this photo, you can see our makeshift sinks and mirrors...gotta look good!
Toilets, Almost as Good as Home! - Ad Damman, Saudi Arabia
In this photo, you can see our makeshift toilet structures to the right. These were like wooden outhouses with several holes, so you can have someone to keep you company. Unfortunately, the flies were so bad that it was hard to keep them off of you.
Inside the Barracks Warehouse - Ad Damman, Saudi Arabia
As you can see, the makeshift tents are very eclectic! ha! Each soldier had a cot and you created your home to your own taste. Everyone needed a mosquito net that helped keep out the mosquitoes and flies out. Unfortunately, they always found a way in anyway. There were so many flies that they would stick to you and you got so used to them, that you didn't even notice.
Reds Win the World Series in 1990 - Dedicated to Us!
My hometown team, the Cincinnati Reds won the World Series. Although we heard some of it on the radio, we didn't hear the end of it. My mother sent me a copy of it via VHS video tape. Yes, remember the VHS? haha!
My Home! - Ad Damman, Saudi Arabia
My cot (to the left). Sorry I didn't make my bed before taking my photo. My trusty M-16 leaning up against my lock box. Had to protect those valuables and especially that Game Boy! I had my chemical mask strapped on and we always had to have it strapped to us at all times and have easy access to our chemical gear in case Sadaam decided to launch some nasty stuff into our camp!
Desert Shield / Storm Fun Fact
The military used toilet paper to camouflage their tanks in Saudi Arabia, during the Desert Storm War.
Me after Phyical Training - Yes We Still Needed to Do it no Matter Where Were at! - Ad Damman, Saudi Arabia
No, I am not related to Hitler and no, my hair has not been that short for a long long time!
Operation Desert Storm Merchandise - Show Your Support!
Captured Iraqi Uniforms - Ad Damman, Saudi Arabia
Since I was part of the Intelligence section, we had to familiarize others with the enemy. These are 2 American soldiers in captured Iraqi uniforms that I used as props before my briefing. It was difficult to find appropriate models, the Iraqis were very skinny.
On the Way to Bahrain - Ad Damman, Saudi Arabia
This is the bridge from Saudi Arabia to the country of Bahrain. I got to make a trip there to get maps from the warehouse which we had there. Very few had this opportunity and I took a photo to commemorate it. I remember that alcohol was banned in Saudi Arabia and many Saudis went to Bahrain, just to drink. I did enjoy a beer even though it was very poor in taste, it tasted good to me. Bahrain was also where the Naval hospital ships of Mercy and Comfort were docked. A lot of very cute nurses!
King Khalid Military City (KKMC)
Around the end of 1990, I was shipped off to King Khalid Military City (KKMC) which was a staging area for our unit prior to the Air Campaign. Our Staff Sergeant was injured and I took his place. At this location, I started briefing the Colonels on all military intelligence matters including locations of enemy units.
A few weeks after my arrival, in the early morning hours of January 17, 1991, we were awoken and sent out to foxholes in full gear. We watched the planes take off from KKMC in the first phase of the air war. While many in the USA were watching this on television, I was in a foxhole in the freezing rain. Sortie after sortie took off and I still have this very vivid in my memories.
Desert Shield / Storm Fun Fact
The Coalition Forces buried dumpsters along the Iraq border to lead the Iraqi radar into thinking there were actually tanks there.
Operation Desert Storm - The Air War - As the People Saw it and Some They May Not Have Seen!
Leaving KKMC and Heading to the Iraqi Border, Log Base Willow - Castle Hill - Desert Storm - Air War
A few days after the Air War began, we started "bugging out" and headed towards the Iraqi border at Log Base Willow, Castle Hill.
In this photo, I am loading up a truck and handing a bag to one of my troops in the truck. Notice that we are not in full desert camouflage yet. We had to wait for our issue and due to demand, we didn't get a full set immediately.
Log Base (LB) Willow - Castle Hill
This was our final base camp in Saudi Arabia and we stayed here for several weeks until the Ground War began. This location was only one mile from Iraq. At this location, the fires and smoke in Kuwait, set by Sadaam Hussein were visible and we could also smell them. We could also hear the air attacks on the Iraqi forces and every once in a while, we would see a SCUD missile flying in.
Base Camp - 1 Mile from the Iraqi Border - Log Base (LB) Willow (Castle Hill) - Desert Storm - Air War
This was our base camp at Log Base Willow- Castle Hill. The road near us was filled with little white trucks, mostly Toyotas and were packed highly with possessions. Most of the Saudis were evacuating due to impending attack from Iraq and during any hostilities, they didn't want to be around.
This was a desolate place and was truly barren. It got so cold in the morning that there was ice outside. In the afternoon, it reached temperatures over 100F.
A SCUD Attack by Sadaam Hussein on Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
We drove to Riyadh for a reconnaissance mission during the stay at Willow and during that time, an Iraqi Scud Missile was launched in our direction. As you can see, the SCUD was hit by one Patriot Missile and the other Patriot missed it. This strike did not detonate the warhead and it fell in a school parking lot, killing a Saudi janitor. This thing came so close to us that it really frightened me more than I had been since I had arrived. Seeing this made you realize that all of this was real. This is a photo of an Iraqi SCUD missile downed by a Patriot Missile.
Desert Shield / Storm Fun Fact
The Coalition Forces used cardboard tanks to disguise actual tank positions.
Another shot of Log Base WIllow - Castle Hill - Log Base (LB) Willow (Castle Hill) - Desert Storm - Air War
We used space heaters in these tents and also had to go to the bathroom out in the desert. Nothing scarier than a completely dark night and you out there doing your business.
Desert Shield / Storm Fun Fact
The Iraqis unsuccessfully tried to used radio propaganda and the character "Baghdad Betty" against the American forces in a way that the Germans used "Axis Sally", the Japanese used "Tokyo Rose" (Both during World War II), and the Vietnamese used "Hanoi Hannah" during the Vietnam War.
Operation Desert Storm - The Ground War
Crossing the Iraqi Border - Desert Storm - Ground War
Shortly after the Ground War began, we moved to our base camp in Iraq near Jalibah, Iraq. One mile into the trip was the Iraq border.
This photos shows the Iraq border and the dirt berm that was built by Sadaam Hussein's troops as a defensive wall. On the other side of this berm were positions that were used by Iraqi troops. It is interesting to note that this berm extended all the way to Kuwait and in some positions, Iraq put captured Kuwaiti citizens into them to fight against the coalition forces and kept them in at gunpoint.
This sign was constructed by V-Corps 24th Infantry Division and erected after plowing through the berm.
On the way to Jalibah in my truck - Desert Storm - Ground War
I was driving my 5/4 ton pickup truck and took this shot. Looks like I could use a car wash, huh? I am driving North, last vehicle in a convoy. If you look ahead to the left, you can see the smoke near As Salman airfield and beyond near the Euphrates River.
My truck broke down several miles in and I had to abandon it. It was a little unnerving sitting there all by myself with nobody noticing and to the left, you could hear the Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) going off in succession.
Arrival at Base Camp Near Jalibah Iraq - Desert Storm - Ground War
If you think I look a little scared, you can imagine why.
Desert Shield / Storm Fun Fact
At the request of the US government; many nations sent token forces to the Gulf region. The primary combatants were the US, Britain, Canada, France, and Saudi Arabia (the host nation for US forces).
Base Camp in Jalibah Iraq - Desert Storm - Ground War
Another shot of the Iraq. We used abandoned buildings, most already riddled by bullet holes.
Sunset in Iraq - Desert Storm - Ground War
Nothing is eerier than seeing a beautiful sunset and hearing gunfire. To this day, I still get a little cold chill at sunset.
Captured Iraqi Anti- Aircraft Gun - Near Jalibah, Iraq - - Desert Storm - Ground War
You could pretty much pick up any type of abandoned equipment that you wanted. This was hooked to the back of our trucks and pulled along with us.
Iraqi Foxhole - Desert Storm - Ground War
A lot of abandoned equipment along the roads. You had to be careful because some of it was booby-trapped. I got several uniforms and other small items. This was a box of ammo near an abandoned foxhole. It had chemical rounds in it that were never deployed.
It is interesting to note that the Iraqis lived in their foxholes. They were covered with lice & sores and didn't even leave to go to the bathroom. Their excrement was right in there with them. They had little piles of rice around the rim of the foxhole, each one was a meal or a partial meal. Many of them were held in the foxhole by gunpoint under fear that they would get shot if they abandoned it. I found a full box of detergent in one foxhole, I don't think they had the water supply to use it.
The coalition thought it would be easy to get Iraqi soldiers to surrender because of the conditions in which they lived, however, it was common for an Iraqi to live this way and it wasn't as bad to them as it was to us.
An Unforturnate Iraqi Trucker - Desert Storm - Ground War
Photo taken close to Jalibah, Iraq. There were more things that I just couldn't stomach and would never take a photo of...but many did anyway.
I hope you enjoyed this little visit to my life