Alconbury and Desert Shield/Desert Storm

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I stumbled across the “Commemorative Issue” of the Spartan Spirit base magazine from July, 1991. I was the editor at this time, and compiled all of the text and photos to create this edition. For some reason, there is no credit given to anybody for photos, and such. I’m sure my man Demetrius Lester took many of these photos.

Of all the memories I have of this significant time in history, a few stand out:

1) I was home on leave when the actually fighting broke out. I had just tacked on my Sergeant’s Star and was in Detroit visiting family en route from Osan Air Base, Korea to RAF Alconbury in the UK. I was fully aware that the 10th Tactical Fighter Wing, of which I was now assigned, was a fully active participant in this war. Some of my most patriotic family members took me to dinner to the legendary Loui’s Pizza in Detroit. While we were eating, the music playing on the PA system was replaced with the sound of bombs exploding and a news caster reporting that war had begun. I remember, vividly, the emotions running through me at that time. We often talk about it to this day….almost 25 years later. I was all set to depart to my new base in just a few days, and remember telling everybody, “I’m really sorry, but can somebody please take me home?”

2) My mother taking me to the airport a few days later was tough….real tough. It’s times like these, I believe, that are more difficult for the family members than for the service members. All she knew is that I was headed to a duty assignment in which my unit was actively engaged in war.

3) The other thing I remember is showing up for duty to a base that seemed half empty. So many troops were deployed to the middle east. I never ended up going. Rather, I worked in an office, for the most part, by myself when there should have been three people. Because of my position in public affairs, we would often receive bulletins and updates from out deployed units. And, of course, I remember the day folks started coming home from war.

4) Our A-10’s tore some shit up over there!

Here you go. Thanks for reading/looking.

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People from the 94th TAW go through last-minute chemical warfare training. Gear of both visiting and home teams were inspected and chemical warfare classes were conducted at Alconbury to ensure everyone was prepared to survive the desert experience.

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Alconbury’s in processing line quickly sent members of the 94th Tactical Airlift Wing on their way.

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SSgt. Maurice Briggs was just one of many security policemen who spent long hours on the flight line guarding visiting aircraft. Security on base was heightened during the war, as was evident by long lines of people waiting at the gates to get their ID’s checked.

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Members of the 10th Services Squadron set up hundreds of cots for transient people to catch forty winks in the AYA gym. The base gym and transient dorms were also, at times, filled with visitors.

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Members of the 17th Reconnaissance Wing said tearful and somber good-byes to spouses, children and friends before heading to the Gulf Aug. 23.

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Crews palletized tons of equipment, including deploying individuals “A” and “C” bags (above and below).

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Loaded pallets are pulled on to C-5’s for deployment.

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Deploying personnel lined up through the initial out processing phase. Personnel were briefed at various stations along the line by finance, chaplains, medical, legal, CBPO and the post office. Between August and April, the legal office processed approximately 934 powers of attorney and 634 wills, and the clinic administered approximately 3,800 inoculations.

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Sgt, Darrin A. Rennie and his wife, Eileen, share a sad, quiet moment together before saying a final good-bye, Christmas Eve.

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The Vultures left Alconbury Dec. 27, and arrived in the desert Dec. 28, ready to go to work.

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Col. John L. Sander, 17th RW commander, gave his deploying troops a pep talk prior to their departure.

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Secretary of State James Baker and Prime Minister John Major met at Alconbury Jan 13 to discuss the crisis in the Middle East. PM Major live in Huntingdon, the village just outside of Alconbury’s gates, and was often shuttled in and out of Alconbury.

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Shortly after Iraq invaded Kuwait Aug. 2, Alconbury people gave all visiting KC-135 and C-130 aircraft the red carpet treatment as they came through the base on their way to the desert.

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The day after arriving at King Fahd International Airport, Saudi Arabia, Alconbury people filled sand bags to build bunkers with protected their tents.

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Sand bag party!

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A little desert R & R to kill time.

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Anywhere from 6-12 people shared tents, but deployed people found unique ways to create privacy for themselves. Door art, “gardens’ of Astroturf and silk flowers, picnic tables and sun decks appeared within the first couple of weeks to make “the City” livable.

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Spouses quickly formed support groups both for the moral support and information Assistance was offered by others in the group and guest speakers from various agencies. The main concerns were mail and communication.

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Family support center volunteers stuffed envelopes with fliers and other information for distribution to families of deployed personnel.

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Throughout the deployment and war, approximately 100 “Love Faxes” a week went to and from the Gulf, and approximately 5,500 morale calls were made.

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Many base and Anglo-American organizations packed and sent care packages mostly filled with candy, toiletries and books to the desert.

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Children made and sent Valentine’s Day cards to their deployed parents and single Alconbury airman.

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More love as expressed when spouses and children tied yellow ribbons on everything on base that didn’t move!

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A Vulture Warthog prepared to take off on a mission “somewhere in the desert” after the war began Jan. 17.

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Alconbury maintainers got plenty of practice with aircraft battle damage repair, but, fortunately, Alconbury’s aircraft received relatively minor damage. Of the 144 A-10’s in theater, only five were lost in combat.

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An A-10 received another load of .30 mm ammunition before quickly turning around and going out on another mission. More than 80,000 rounds of .30 mm bullets were expended during the war.

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Capt. Rod Glass holds up a bullet which missed him by inches.

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A destroyed Iraqi tank sits by the side of a road in the desert. A-10’s were credited with destroying 987 tanks, 926 artillery pieces, 501 armored personnel carriers, 1,106 trucks and 51 Scud missile launchers.

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This is a small portion of the extensive damage done to an air base in Kuwait.

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Several Alconbury troops recollect seeing hundreds of burning oil wells destroyed by Iraqi troops during trips to Kuwait City.

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While some Vulture planes left King Fahd May 12, the remaining 12 planes took off June 7 and arrived back at Alconbury for a very warm homecoming on the 8th.

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Loading “A” and “C” bags in the desert was a very welcome chore — it meant short time!

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Re-packing for deployment home.

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Col. Roger Radcliff welcomes home a Desert Storm Warrior.

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Capt. Greg August of the 17th Reconnaissance Wing gets hugs and kisses from wife, Robin, and two children, Jennifer and Jonathan, upon his return home from the Middle East.

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The first group of deployed personnel step off the “freedom bird” at RAF Alonbury May 15th following a long deployment in the desert.

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And the crowd cheered for its heroes as the last of Alcobury’s warriors returned home victorious.

 

-30-

 

8 thoughts on “Alconbury and Desert Shield/Desert Storm

  1. Ray, I remember when the 51st TFW, Osan AB, left for the fight. We in PA (after you left) were left in Korea and watched all the “fun & games” on CNN with the rest of America. To bad we were not give the go ahead to take care of business in Iraq and Afghanistan…

  2. Ray, I was with the 2951st CLSS. We were the A-10 ABDR teams at FKIA and KKMC. Also had some F-111 ABDR teams elsewhere, but our A-10 teams as you know, did a lot of work. I’m adding my website about our work over there. Some nice photos in this piece.

  3. Good stuff Ray….. I’m amazed at how things have changed in the past 15 years from equipment to hair styles!

    • Woody — thanks for the 10 years buddy. I could sure use them! But this was about 25 years ago!! We thought fax machines were cutting edge. Thanks for reading.

  4. Thank you so much for this post! It brought back some good and hard memories! My dad was deployed with the U-2’s and I remember that day like it was yesterday! I can remember squad members taking me, my sister, and my mom to the hanger so we could talk to him on Christmas day! Alconbury families took such good care of us while he was deployed and I could not have been more proud to be apart of that base!

  5. Great post. I was there at KFIA with A-10’s from Myrtle Beach and shared the maintenance tent with some of the Alconbury guy’s.

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