Desert Storm Veterans Join Liberation Day Celebration

AL-SUBIYA, Kuwait, Feb. 26, 2011 — Army Chief War­rant Offi­cer 4 Todd Sim­mons was a young sol­dier 20 years ago when his 82nd Air­borne Divi­sion arrived in Sau­di Ara­bia after Sad­dam Hus­sein ordered his troops to take over Kuwait.
Twen­ty years lat­er, Sim­mons is back in Kuwait, this time as a mil­i­tary advi­sor to the Kuwaiti army that, with its 34 coali­tion part­ners, cel­e­brat­ed the 20th anniver­sary of Kuwait’s lib­er­a­tion dur­ing Oper­a­tion Desert Storm.

 20th anniversary of Kuwait's liberation, Feb. 26, 2011
Army Chief War­rant Offi­cer 4 Todd Sim­mons par­tic­i­pat­ed in the ground cam­paign dur­ing Oper­a­tion Desert Storm. Now a U.S. mil­i­tary advi­sor to the Kuwaiti mil­i­tary, he’s par­tic­i­pat­ing in a huge parade cel­e­brat­ing the 20th anniver­sary of Kuwait’s lib­er­a­tion, Feb. 26, 2011.
DoD pho­to by Don­na Miles
Click to enlarge

Sim­mons was among about 300 U.S. mil­i­tary mem­bers of every ser­vice who par­tic­i­pat­ed in a mas­sive cel­e­bra­tion of free­dom and part­ner­ship.

The Desert Storm anniver­sary cel­e­bra­tion began last month, lead­ing up to today’s “Lib­er­a­tion Day” activ­i­ties that includ­ed a huge parade of march­ing troops, ground vehi­cles and air­pow­er.

Sim­mons, now an embed­ded mil­i­tary advi­sor to the Kuwaiti land forces assigned to the Office of Mil­i­tary Coop­er­a­tion Kuwait, remem­bered back to the day his 505th Para­chute Infantry Reg­i­ment hit the ground – Aug. 7, 1990.

They became the lead in a mas­sive coali­tion that would grow to near­ly 1 mil­lion lead­ing up to a coali­tion air cam­paign. After Sad­dam Hus­sein defied a U.N. man­date to with­draw his forces from Kuwait, they crossed the bor­der into Iraq and launched the 100-day ground war that led to Kuwait’s lib­er­a­tion.

Like Sim­mons, Army Maj. Miguel Juarez recalls those dark days when Kuwait­is suf­fered at the hands of Sad­dam Hussein’s Repub­li­can Guard forces.

Juarez was a young enlist­ed sol­dier and hus­band of just two weeks when his 343rd Air Defense Artillery unit deployed to Sau­di Ara­bia from Fort Bliss, Texas, on Sept. 26, 1990. Their Patri­ot air defense mis­siles were quick­ly put to work defend­ing against the Iraqi army’s Scud mis­siles.

“I remem­ber telling my wife back then, ‘We have to fight this fight so that my chil­dren don’t have to fight this fight,’ ” Juarez said.

Lit­tle did he know at the time that he and thou­sands of oth­er U.S. forces ulti­mate­ly would return here – this time dur­ing Oper­a­tion Iraqi Free­dom and now, Oper­a­tion New Dawn. He deployed to Iraq three times, from 2004 to 2005, from 2006 to 2008, then from 2009 to 2010.

Now work­ing with Head­quar­ters and Head­quar­ters Com­pa­ny, Area Sup­port Group, based at Camp Arif­jan, Kuwait, Juarez said he’s thrilled to help the Kuwait­is cel­e­brate the 20th anniver­sary of their lib­er­a­tion. It’s par­tic­u­lar­ly mean­ing­ful, he said, because it cor­re­lates with the year the Unit­ed States will draw down all its forces in Iraq.

“For me, this is clo­sure,” Juarez said. “I can hon­est­ly write my wife and tell her that our kids will not have to fight this fight – at least not this one, any­way.”

Army Staff Sgt. Scott Hamil­ton, a West Vir­ginia Nation­al Guards­men, was among thou­sands of reserve-com­po­nent forces mobi­lized to sup­port Oper­a­tion Desert Storm.

A how­itzer dri­ver and can­non crew mem­ber with the 1st Bat­tal­ion, 201st Field Artillery, he deployed with just one week’s notice in Decem­ber 1990 as part of the mas­sive mil­i­tary buildup here.

“I was young and kind of scared,” Hamil­ton admit­ted, fac­ing an uncer­tain ene­my and miss­ing the birth of his first daugh­ter.

But the deploy­ment changed him for­ev­er. “It made you real­ly appre­ci­ate what you have in the Unit­ed States, and the free­dom we have,” he said.

It also gave him insights into the Arab world, and under­stand­ing he said proved invalu­able dur­ing lat­er deploy­ments to the region.

Like Juarez, Hamil­ton said return­ing here for the 20th anniver­sary of Oper­a­tion Desert Storm brought clo­sure and grat­i­fi­ca­tion and an appre­ci­a­tion of the U.S.-Kuwaiti rela­tion­ship forged dur­ing the cam­paign. “They have become a stronger and bet­ter coun­try,” he said.

Many U.S. mil­i­tary par­tic­i­pants in today’s fes­tiv­i­ties, includ­ing Army Sgt. Steve Drefke from the Wash­ing­ton, D.C.-based 3rd Infantry Divi­sion, were too young to expe­ri­ence Oper­a­tion Desert Storm per­son­al­ly.

Drefke, among about 120 “Old Guard” sol­diers here, includ­ing a col­or guard car­ry­ing guidons of every Army unit in the Desert Storm cam­paign, remem­bers the war from the per­spec­tive of an 11-year-old boy fas­ci­nat­ed by events on the TV news.

“It had a huge influ­ence on me, and a lot to do with me com­ing into the Army,” he said.

Twen­ty years lat­er, with 12 years of Army ser­vice under his belt, Drefke said he’s hap­py to see the trans­for­ma­tion that’s occurred in Kuwait and the friend­ship that’s endured. “It’s real­ly neat that we are such great part­ners with the Kuwait­is,” he said.

Today, Sim­mons and his fel­low Oper­a­tion Desert Storm vet­er­ans say they’re grat­i­fied to see the fruits of their labors here – in terms of Kuwaiti mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties, and the free­doms being cel­e­brat­ed today.

As a Kuwaiti army advi­sor, Sim­mons said he’s built close ties to his Kuwaiti coun­ter­parts he said are “using the good-qual­i­ty equip­ment they have and mak­ing a good effort to do a real­ly, real­ly good job pro­tect­ing them­selves.”

As the force matures, Sim­mons said its mem­bers are anx­ious for advice as they acquire new tech­nolo­gies and increase their capa­bil­i­ties. Some­times they take it, he said, and some­times, increas­ing­ly self-con­fi­dent, they choose their own ways of doing busi­ness.

“The impor­tant thing is, we are here for them, what­ev­er it is they as a mil­i­tary want to do,” Sim­mons said.

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →