Our last full day in Kuwait. We spent the morning packing, then from 1100-1400 I went with SSG Jeff Poh, 1LT Jim O'Neill, 1LT Jeff Ponkratz, 1LT Mike Diamond and CPT Len Beekman on a farewell tour. O'Neill had a camcorder he'd borrowed from a Kuwaiti. We visited the burning oil wells, the choke point, and Iraqi positions on Doha Point. Then we visited the burned-out Sheraton Hotel.
We had to get back by 1430, because BG Mooney made a farewell speech to the unit. The rest of the day was spent waiting. At 2100 our interpreters laid on a farewell dinner for us. The food was good, the gesture was noble, the hour was lousy, considering we were getting up early for a convoy in the morning. The food showed up at 2230. Many of our people decked themselves out in local costumes, especially Jeff Poh and SGT Julie Lambrecht. Julie was very cute in a Kuwaiti outfit. I ate quickly and got to bed about 2300.
|The choke point again, April 6, 1991. Here's where a sabot round entered a T-72 tank turret....|
|...and here's where it came out the other side. You've heard of "smart" bombs? This is as dumb as a bomb can get - it doesn't even have an explosive charge - but it will punch through a tank. A sabot round is nothing more than a flying rod of depleted uranium, almost twice as dense as lead. It kills through sheer kinetic energy.|
When the round hits, it compresses the metal ahead of it and when it enters the tank, a spray of white-hot metal fragments precedes it. That in itself will kill everything in the tank and set off anything flammable or explosive. The round is also trailing a shock wave, so the tank goes from normal to several atmospheres to near-vacuum in milliseconds as the round enters and then exits. Tankers have told me of seeing training films where experimental animals inside the tank have been literally turned inside out or sucked out through the exit hole.
Today, a place like this would be cordoned off as off-limits due to DULLRAM (Depleted Uranium - Low-Level Radioactive Material) hazard. To be blunt, suspecting depleted uranium as a source of Gulf War Syndrome is grasping at straws.
|We're Making Up Your Room Now, Sir
More vandalism: the burned-out Sheraton.
Below: The Gates of Old Kuwait
Kuwait tore down its old mud-brick walls but left the old gates as monuments. This one is near the Sheraton.
|Kuwait City, April 6, 1991|
|On the left, SGT Julie Lambrecht in the Arab outfit. On the right, SSG Patricia Van Duerm (with glasses).|
|CPT Mark Haney, left, joins the interpreters in eating Middle-Eastern style|
|Whole Lotta Sheikin' Goin' On: SGT Julie Lambrecht and SSG Jeff Poh go native.|
I was in the first serial, led by CPT Mark Haney. We got up at 0500 and left at 0630, amazingly enough, punctually. Haney's concept of a convoy rate of march, as revealed on our Tapline Road trip, is "keep up". The second serial was led by CPT Jones, and was due to leave an hour and a half after us, and they kept up a good rate of march. We occasionally picked up their radio chatter on the way down.
We crossed the Saudi border about 0730. The Kuwaiti border station is fairly simple, but the Saudi complex looks like a bureaucratic Disneyland. Fortunately, we cruised on through. The trip was uneventful until we made a fuel stop about an hour north of Khobar, when we had a snafu over where to form up. Also, the march proved too fast for some of the heavier-loaded trucks, who stopped because of overheating. Nevertheless, we pulled into Khobar at 1345, and the second serial got in at 1530. We're in the same building we had when we first got here, except we're on the 6th and 7th floors. SSG Gene Jakubenas and I have a large room all to ourselves.
|My last - ever - shot of a burning oil well.
These pictures seemed commonplace at the time. By November, 1991 the last well was out - without loss of a single life - and I suddenly realized the pictures we had were the only ones there would ever be.
|Heading for Saudi Arabia.|
|Approaching the border.|
|Some of the Iraqi border obstacles.|
|The border crossing.|
|Khafji, Saudi Arabia, site of the first major battle of the war.|
Created January 10, 2000; Last Update 14 December 2009
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