Al Minhad Air Base, surrounded by nothing but sand, is roughly
twenty miles inland from the Persian Gulf. Our F-16s
were parked in front of a large hanger on the east side of the airfield next to ten small jets that looked like British Hawks. The aircraft bore a desert camouflage paint scheme along with the UAE flag. A large building adjacent to the hanger appeared to be the headquarters for the fighter squadron. The base had only one runway. Several helicopters were parked on another ramp on the west side of the field. Both ramps were separated by desert. The air-traffic control tower sat between the two ramps and was surrounded by a few more buildings.
After visiting with a few of the UAE pilots, we were led to the west end of the base where are new quarters were. Vicious and Senseless began to unload our gear while Sudds and I checked out one of the rooms. The cool air was a welcome relief from the heat. The living room was pretty big, and it had a couch and three beds. A small kitchen was near the front door, and the bedroom was next to the living room. Three more beds were set up in the bedroom, and a
five-drawer dresser sat next to the doorway leading to a bathroom and shower.
At 17:40, everyone headed over to the officer's club, anxious to meet our new hosts. We entered the O'club through large glass doors leading into a marble entryway. One area was set up with about twenty long tables.
Adjacent to this dining hall was a large lounge, furnished with leather couches, chairs, and a few coffee tables. Adjoining the lounge area was a game room equipped with a pool table and a Ping-Pong table. On the other side of the lounge, near the club entrance, was another room with more couches and a television.
After dinner, many of us conversed with the UAE pilots, who expressed shock that Saddam Hussein would attack the country of an Arab brother. They considered
Saddam a tyrant for what he had done, and they feared he would soon attack Saudi Arabia and possibly even the UAE. They expressed relief and gratitude that we had come to their country in defense of the region, but assured us that Saddam Hussein had made a terrible miscalculation and would soon realize his error and withdraw his forces.
After a couple of games of pool, I went back to my room to finally get some sleep. I'd been awake for more than twenty-four hours, and the
effects of my last go pill had already worn off. When I walked into the room, I was surprised to find three new roommates, Capt. Jeff "Ark" Arkell, Capt. Mike "Redman" O'Grady, and our squadron flight surgeon, Capt. Tim "Doc" Hursh. The three beds in our bedroom had been replaced by three bunk beds.
I went to bed thinking about Colette, Candice, and Kristen. It was almost dinnertime in Utah, and I wondered what the three of them were
doing. The more I thought about them, the more I wished I were at home. The more I thought about being home, the more depressed I got.
I woke up and saw that it was 03:15. I'd been in bed for six hours. I tried to go back to sleep, but it was no use. My body clock was still on Mountain Time. With everyone else asleep, I took out a flashlight, pen, and paper, and wrote a letter to Colette - hoping it would make me feel better.