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Vipers in the Storm
Chapter Review


On Monday, 6 August 1990, I pulled into the 4th TFS parking lot behind the 388th TFW headquarters building.  Lt. Col. Scott, commander of the 4th TFS, scheduled a pilot meeting for 08:00, and after everyone took their seats, a member of wing intel stepped up to the podium and updated us on the situation in Kuwait.  It became apparent rather quickly that Saddam Hussein had no intention of pulling back.  His army was more than one million strong and was armed with the latest Soviet equipment.  According to intel, the Iraqis fielded the fourth largest army in the world, equipped with more than 5,500 tanks and an air force of approximately 635 combat aircraft.

When intel finished, our wing commander, Col. Michael Navarro, faced the group.

"Two F-16 squadrons from Shaw AFB took off this morning for a base in the Middle East.  At the moment, there are no plans to send any of the three squadrons assigned to the 388th, but that doesn't mean we aren't going to be prepared to go.  I spoke with Gen. Horner this morning, and the next few days are going to be critical."

When I returned home later that evening, Colette greeted me and said, "So when are you leaving?"

I knew she was scared, and I tried to calm her fears.  Part of me wanted to go, to take on the Iraqis.  The thought of remaining home while friends in other units fought the war was something I could not stomach.  But I felt my obligations to Colette and the girls just as powerfully.  I had recently returned from a remote tour in Korea, and a day didn't go by without my dreaming of being with them.  Now that I was back, it was hard to justify leaving again.

As the American buildup continued, the Bush administration held out hope that U.S. forces could be in position before Saddam Hussein decided to attack Saudi Arabia.  President Bush warned the Iraqi dictator that the United States would not tolerate any further aggression.  Saddam Hussein did not back down.  What President Bush needed most was time.  In order to increase America's presence in the Gulf, a massive airlift campaign had to begin.  Many of us believed our wing would be part of the campaign.  Rumors of a deployment were soon rampant, and it was hard not to notice that the air logistics center was working twenty-four hours a day.  On my way back from the commissary one evening, I noticed dozens of pallets heaped with equipment sitting in front of the loading dock.  The girls were in the back seat of our car, and when I looked into Kristen's eyes, I realized that I would soon be leaving her.

A few days later, Lt. Col. Scott told us to pack for a ninety-day deployment.  The 4th TFS Fightin Fuujins would deploy within the next 72 hours, and the 421st TFS Black Widows would follow a day or two later.

The day before the deployment, Colette and I took the girls to McDonalds for lunch and then to the park to feed the ducks.  Later that evening, I made a video tape for the girls.  I told Colette to play it for them every day I was gone.  I knew Candice and Kristen wouldn't understand my leaving, and I didn't want them to forget me.


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Copyright © 2003 by Keith A. Rosenkranz.  All rights reserved.
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