Two days after our arrival in the UAE, we were briefed
that the Iraqis had nearly 200,000 men and 20 percent of their 5,500 tanks stationed on the northern border of Saudi Arabia. A military strike across the border appeared imminent, and it was what the U.S. leadership feared most.
Our country needed time. Fortunately, Saddam Hussein was giving it to us. Giant C-5 and C-141 transport planes, along with a large contingent of civilian aircraft from the nation's airline industry, continued to transport troops and supplies into the Middle East theater. Most of their heavy equipment would have to be transported by ship, which takes weeks, if not months. But with each passing day, America's presence in the region grew stronger.
The population of the base almost doubled with the arrival of the 421st Black Widows
on 1 September, adding twenty-three more F-16s to the base. With the addition of the 421st, Al Minhad quickly turned into an American fighter base. C-141 transports continued to arrive every few hours, bringing in more personnel and equipment from Hill AFB. The 421st set up shop in the helicopter squadron while the 4th continued to work out of the fighter squadron.
We were informed by intel that it would be a few more days before their communication network was fully
operational. In the meantime, bad news arrived by way of a C-141 transport. A four-day-old USA Today, circulating around the club, quoted several U.S. congressmen as saying, "Economic sanctions should be given a year to work!" A cautious attitude seemed to be forming, and words like "negotiation" and "patience" were being used. Morale suddenly plummeted.
After our first local area-orientation flight, Lt. Col. Scott briefed the squadron
that the wing would conduct operations during the day and at night. According to Col. Navarro, the 421st would function as the night squadron and the 4th would fly during the day.
After the meeting, Lt. Col. Scott asked Vicious and me to meet him in his office. We walked in and he asked me to close the door. "Rosey, I've got some bad news for you. Col. Navarro and Col. Huddle told me this morning that you and
Kevin Perry are going to be transferred over to the 421st. Since you and Duck are LANTIRN-qualified, both of you will be needed in the unit."
I was shocked by the
announcement. I took the shuttle bus back to the o'club. I felt like I had just been traded from the 1927 World Champion New York Yankees to the 1962 expansion New York Mets.