Welcome to Stefan's Persian Gulf War diary. If you're looking for graphic violence, technical information, or shooting: you're in the wrong place. I was an officer, in the Air Force, and spent my time far from the front lines. These stories are more comical and anecdotal than exciting. But if you read them, I'm sure you will find them amusing and informative. There's even a SCUD attack in section three.
Pope AFB, North Carolina
In March 1988, while I was still attending the Aircraft Maintenance Officer's Course in Illinois, Pope AFB was deployed to provide airlift in Nicaragua in support of Operation Nimrod Dancer. I had been told earlier my first duty assignment was Pope after technical school, so I was excited to learn that my base was a key part of the BIG picture. When the President of the United States needed to flex his muscle: Pope AFB was the sword he used. I had no idea of what that really meant.
After graduation, I moved to my new home in North Carolina. Six months later, in December 1988, I was to spend my fist Christmas (not to be my last) deployed to Europe. Pope AFB had a regular mission to England that required a two month assignment, three times a year. Being the new guy: I got sent shortly after my arrival. I thought it was great that I would get many opportunities to travel. I guess I hadn't learned the significance of Pope AFB's role in world-wide airlift and politics.
The following year, I was looking forward to a nice relaxing Christmas at home. But in November 1989, we began a series of exhaustive exercises around the clock. Shortly after that, I missed another holiday season when we were deployed in support of Operation Just Cause, the liberation of Panama. Missing two Christmases in a row seemed, well, RUDE.
By now I guess I understood, that every time an event happened in the world (or could happen), Pope AFB would go. Even if only to serve as the back-up plan. Pope AFB was the pentagon's trump card for military rapid deployment and I was always going to be in the center of the action, whether I liked it or not.
Thursday August 2, 1990
I was driving to work at 6am, to my job as Officer-In-Charge of the Maintenance Control Center, when I heard on the radio that Iraq had Invaded Kuwait. It was too soon for an official US response, but I immediately knew what was coming. When I got to my office, I opened the safe and pulled out the war response orders. I ordered my staff to prepare the command center for aircraft generation (sending the planes to war) and prepared the briefing slides for the Wing commander's meetings.
At 6:45 my supervisor, Major Teiderman arrived for work and was surprised at what he saw. He said my actions were premature but that I could handle my staff as I thought appropriate. When I asked him if I could move some aircraft (to facilitate loading) he didn't object. All over base, I did what I could to initiate the preliminary preparations even though there hadn't been any communication from headquarters. I didn't do anything drastic, just little things to make life easier if we did get orders. I had planes repositioned, postponed some work and ordered other work to a higher priority. A little while later the Wing commander called a noon meeting; Major Teiderman and Colonel Fillare were surprised, but were prepared and carried my slides to the meeting. They were told that we should expect orders soon, but nothing official.
By noon the next day, we were all sure we were going to be tasked to deploy but had not received orders. That meant we could plan but not really do anything. Since I was in the command center, I wouldn't be part of the initial group to go: I thought. Preliminary information said that women could not deploy, so Captain Ashby asked me to join his group for the deployment. I knew Iraq had used chemical weapons in the past: I'm not a coward, but I wasn't anxious to volunteer for chemical warfare. Never the less I was scheduled for one of the first aircraft. On Saturday we were finally alerted to standby for immediate deployment. Since we'd already prepared the aircraft, everyone was sent home to pack their bags and shop for sun-tan lotion and lip balm. Throughout the weekend we waited for orders. We were surprised on Sunday: The directives had changed a women could be part of the deployment package. I was immediately bumped from the package as several higher ranking women were assigned key slots.
My best friend Gloria was assigned to the lead ship, ESTA (En Route Support Team - Alpha) which left Tuesday morning.
©2012 Stefan Oestreicher
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Last revised 13 Sept. 2012