Yesterday when work was so rough, one of my coworkers suggested I pretend to fall out. "Here, I'll catch you," she said, putting her arms out. Right away, I knew what today's post would be about.
Satellite Communications "C" School
U.S. Army Signal Center Fort Gordon, Georgia, just outside Augusta
I remember the day as if it were yesterday. It was August 2, 1990. I'd gone down to the office area of the barracks to meet up with the people with whom I rode to school. When I got there, everyone was clustered around the TV, concentrating intently on what was playing on the screen.
"What's going on?" I asked.
"Iraq invaded Kuwait last night," was the response. Immediately, I knew what that meant.
I can honestly say that during my entire time in the Navy, that was the closest I came to really being afraid. Even though they didn't put women in combat situations back in those days, still, I was in the military and we were going to war.
Over the next few weeks, the once busy post became virtually a ghost town. It was almost eerie how quickly the place emptied of equipment and personnel -- and how fast the woodland green camouflage changed into the chocolate chips. Almost weekly, we were attending a parade as another unit was sent to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield.
It was at one of these parades that the events of today's post occurred.
Now, first thing you must know, what we called a parade isn't what most civilians think of when they hear the word parade. There was no marching down the street with bands and floats and stuff. We formed up and marched out onto the parade grounds --a big field with bleachers on one side-- then listened to speeches, had a prayer, and the band played a song or two. Then the deploying unit would march off, and we'd all watch them go.
OK, I'm having a hard time translating into civilian speak, but just humor me and pretend you know what I'm talking about.
Usually, the unit being deployed would be front and center, then ranged out behind them were the Air Force Detachment, the Navy Detachment, and a few more Army units and stuff. At this particular parade, in the very last row of the Navy formation were myself, RM1 Danny Waller, and two RM3 women whose names escape me. The one woman immediately to the right of Danny was just griping and fussing.
"Why do we have to come to these? I've got better things to do."
Danny tried to tell her we were here to support the Army guys, give them a good send off, all the usual stuff, but she wasn't buying it.
"Yeah, but these are Army guys. Why do Navy people have to be here? We shouldn't have to come. It should just be the Army." Gripe, gripe, fuss fuss
About that time, the woman on the other side of the one complaining said, "I don't feel so good," and *thunk* did a face plant right there in the dirt. Here came the medics. They loaded her up onto a stretcher and took to get medical care. We watched them carry her off, and the one who'd been complaining so much turned to us and said, "Say, that's a good idea."
A couple of minutes later, she says, "I'm not feeling too good" and she turns and walks off the field, wobbling and staggering like she'd suddenly gone weak in the knees. Here came the medics to help her of the parade grounds. Oh, yeah, she was totally faking it, but it did get her out of that parade.
We watched them leave, then Danny turned to me and says, "You want to go next?"
"Nah, I'm good," I said.
(This photo is not really related to the topic of this post, but it's one of the few I have from my time in Georgia. Some of us had gone to Zoo Atlanta. The friend who took this picture wanted me to be sitting on the gorilla, but he was made of bronze and was HOT. If you look carefully, you can see I'm trying to only touch him where the shadows are.)
A few more parades, a few more weeks and my time at Ft. Gordon was done. They even pushed our class through, so the Army guys could go to Saudi. I was to end up in Naples, Italy. The day I got there, they had assigned me a sponsor. She came and picked me up at the airport, got me checked into the barracks, then invited me to spend that first night with her and her husband.
The next morning, January 17, my sponsor knocked on the guest room door.
"I think you ought to get up," she said.
"Why? What happened?" I responded
"We bombed Iraq last night."
Now, I was tired, cold, jet lagging, and you know me anyway. Naturally, first thing that popped out of my mouth was,
"Well, what do you expect me to do about it?"
And that, friends is how my adventures in Europe began.