Saturday, June 20, 2009

War Letters: Part 20

March 3, 1991

Somewhere outside Kuwait City, Kuwait

Dear Lynda:

Greetings from Kuwait once again.

This may be the last letter I write from here. I expect we’ll be heading south in a few days.

I got the radio and the chips today! Thanks a lot, babe!

I did something today that made this whole trip worthwhile. Cowan, Brown, and I commandeered a Hummer and went cruising around. We stopped first at an abandoned Iraqi barracks site. I stood guard as they rat-fucked the area to look for war trophies. They found the usual trash…grenades, mortar rounds, and gas masks, but nothing cool like rifles or pistols.

I can honestly say now that I have fired my rifle at an Iraqi target. I pulled up and took careful aim and fired. Bam! One round, dead center…a perfect shot. I blew that freakin’ Iraqi outhouse away! Am I BAD or what? I’m an outhouse killer and a heart-breaker! They wanna mess with me? I don’t think so!

We vacated the area soon after that and headed for parts unknown. I had no idea where we were going. (I was in the back of the canvas enclosed Hummer, and couldn’t see shit!)

Against orders and without permission, we went into and toured Kuwait City! I think we were the first in our unit to enter the city.

On the way there, the “interstate” was littered with blown up Iraqi tanks and trucks. There was a lot of civilian traffic also, with long lines at the one and only gas station we saw.

I’ve never seen people so happy. They were dancing in the streets, banging drums, and honking horns!

We talked to some of the people. They said, “Thanks,” and, “Congratulations,” and, “Keep up the good work!”

(Newsweek photo)

They asked us if we were British. When we told them we were US Marines, they were all excited and happy.

Kuwait City is very beautiful and modern, but it’s suffering some scars of war.

There are many huge mosques with gold and copper clad domes on top. There are all kinds of big spires and towers and “space needle” type structures all over, but the people were the best part. They were so thrilled and happy that their country was liberated. It made me feel good. The women were saying, “We love you,” and blowing us kisses! The little kids were smiling and running around and having a good old time also. It was cool to see them.

Now I know how our soldiers felt when Paris was liberated in WW2!

I saw a Hardee’s in the city. Of course, it was closed. I could really go for a bacon cheeseburger too!

Rumor Control has it that we reservists already have a flight chartered for 12 March!

Well…sure we do! I ain’t bitchin,’ but I’ll believe it when it happens. It’d be great though, wouldn’t it baby?

If it’s true, I’ll beat this letter to the states!

I think I’ll go now, babe. Pass this letter on. I’m sure my dad will enjoy it!

I love you lots.

See you very soon!

Love and Semper Fi!


War Letters: Part 19

March 1, 1991

In the desert outside Kuwait City, Kuwait

Dear Lynda:

Greetings and salutations from the Emirate of Kuwait!

From all indications, the war is over! You may get to see my ugly mug before you even get this letter!

We are all fine.

Our unit entered Kuwait on 26 February. Many other units crossed the border and went through the minefields before we did. I expected the worst, but going through the dreaded breaches and mines turned out to be a waltz in the park (for us).

The Iraqi defenses were pulverized before we went through them. I saw many enemy tanks blown to smithereens and burning, trucks and artillery pieces ablaze with live rounds spilled out all over the place. Some of the live rounds “cooked off” and exploded, slightly injuring a few.

There’s a lot of shit lying around, and we’ve been warned of booby traps. Two Marines were killed when they picked up Iraqi grenades. I’m not picking up anything!

The demolition crews have been busy cleaning up and blowing up Iraqi munitions.

Our unit is stationed on the outskirts of Kuwait City. We can barely see the city.

Most American forces were halted outside the city so that the Arab part of the coalition could go in and secure it. From what I hear, it was a real bloodbath. They executed all Iraqis that they captured in the city.

While we were still in convoy heading north, I saw a platoon of Iraqis wandering around in the desert looking for someone to surrender to. We were hauling ass north, so we couldn’t stop to take them in. I wonder what happened to them. (We threw some MREs at them and continued on. This could be considered a war crime!)

(Newsweek photo)

Just got word that reservists and the 1st Marine Division will be the first to go home! We are to start pulling back south in six days or so. I could be home, or at least back in the USA, by our anniversary! (April 21)

They said 3,000 Marines a day will be flying out soon. That’s around 60 charter flights per day.

Babe…I’ll be so happy if it happens!

We’re supposed to get mail today too! They choppered in 170 bags of mail for our division. Now all they gotta do is sort it! That’ll take forever. Because of the ground war, we haven’t had mail for a week. It’ll be good to get.

I can’t believe it’s almost over. It happened so quickly. I guess I expected it to last much longer.

Everybody is in high spirits…intoxicated with victory.

Some idiot on the other side of the compound just fired up the PA system, and is playing the theme from Star Wars…I think. Maybe it’s “The Ride Of The Valkyries” or something like that. They also played it in the movie “Apocalypse Now,” when the choppers were coming in to trash a Viet Cong village. I don’t know if you know what I’m talking about.

Anyway…back to the morale. We are all very happy. There’s a lot of backslapping and hand shaking going on. I guess we’re happy to have made it through alive. The regulars aren’t quite as happy as the reserves. They may have to stay two or three more months. Sour grapes. Oh well…

Thank you very much for the packages and mail. It really helps me to get by.

I hope what they’re telling us is true, and that we’ll be back in the states soon.

We’ll have a grand homecoming!

I love you, baby! I’ll see you soon.

I will write, or maybe get to call you, again very soon.

Take care. I will. Later!

Semper Fi!


War Letters: Part 18

February 20, 1991

Somewhere in the desert near the Kuwait border, Saudi Arabia

Dear Lynda:

I write to you today because of the many thoughts going through my head.

As I write, the “mother of all battles” looms ahead.

I expect to get my first glimpse of the horror and confusion of war within the next few days. By the time you read these words, I may have already done so.

I may have already witnessed the dreaded use of poison gas, which Saddam has so freely used in the past.

I may have already seen a good dear friend suffer and die as a result of enemy action.

Or ultimately, I may suffer that fatal wound which would break the hearts of you and all my loved ones.

I hope and pray that nothing like that happens to any of us, but I must face the possibilities.

I am not ready to die just yet. I have too much unfinished business.

I’ve lost too much time with you that I will never recover.

I need to raise a family with you and grow old and go on Social Security with you.

I don’t know if I can mentally handle combat.

Will I freeze up?
Will I make stupid mistakes and decisions that get the young men in my platoon killed?
Or, will I do my job as I have been trained and come home?

Only God knows.

I have cleaned and checked all of my equipment. My gear is ready, but am I?

Maybe I lack confidence in myself.

Many Marines have told me that they would not hesitate to go into combat with me. That makes me feel good, but I wonder if what they see in me is real.

The ultimate test of fortitude and discipline is upon me. I must not fail!

I hope and pray that I make it through this ordeal. I have so much to come home to and be thankful for. If I must experience war, I will be a changed man forever. War changes everyone involved in it.

You always said that you would love me no matter what happened. I’m confident in your love for me, but I wouldn’t want to put you through a lot of pain. I may be totally different from the man you married.

Please don’t misread me. I have no desire of ever letting you go! I want you to always be happy. I guess I don’t know what I’m trying to say…I can’t find the words. I guess what I’m trying to do is give you an out in case something should happen to me. I expect, and it is my desire, that you do everything possible to make your life happy and complete should I not return.

This is very difficult for me to write, and I imagine you are having a hard time reading it also. I’m not sure I should even mail this letter, but we never talked about these things.

Hell…we haven’t been married long enough!

Baby…I’m sorry if this letter upsets you. I felt I had to write and clear up some things that have been bothering me. You know how I hate loose ends! I like to be prepared too, as you well know!

Maybe, this will all be over quickly and the Iraqis will surrender in droves! They can’t possibly beat us, baby.

Hopefully, we’ll all be home soon, and we can forget about our old problems and my depressing letters! We can have the world’s biggest party, and then live our lives together peacefully, happily, and with much love!

I love you babe. Don’t ever forget it! We will be together again sometime soon.

Victory, and then home, are within our reach. I can’t wait!

Take care of yourself babe, because you are the only woman for me.

Be seeing you!

Love and Semper Fi,


PS-Our forces are gonna drop one bomb on the enemy tonight. Just one bomb…but it weighs 15,000 pounds! It oughta make ‘em say OUCH!

Monday, June 15, 2009

War Letters: Part 17

February 18, 1991

In the desert near the Kuwait border, Saudi Arabia

Dear Lynda:

Hello baby! How are you? I’m fine.

Sorry I haven’t written in a few days, but we’ve been real busy moving and setting in at our new site. As usual, I can’t tell you where we are, but we are getting VERY close!

Now, we can actually see the flames from the burning oil wells and the B-52 strikes. Outgoing artillery and rocket fire almost vibrates us out of our boots.

I found one of the surrender leaflets that we drop on the Iraqis. I’ve seen many other types.

When we weren't dropping cluster-bombs on their asses, we were dropping these leaflets on the Iraqis to convince them to surrender. There were many different variations of the leaflets, but this is the only one I brought home with me. If you can read Arabic, you now know the proper and prudent procedures for surrendering to coalition forces!

Two or three days ago we heard that Saddam was willing to abide by the UN sanctions and pull out of Kuwait. We were all hooping with joy, thinking the war might be over and we’d be going home soon.

Then, we heard Saddam wanted all kinds of conditions, and that Bush said, “Fuck you.”

We should have figured it was too good to be true. So, I guess things are going as planned as far as the ground attack goes.

We also heard that the King of Saudi Arabia wants to pay $20,000 to each service member over here. At first, of course, Bush said, “No way. We are not mercenaries.”

Then, the King said he’d be insulted if Bush didn’t accept. Moslems take it as a big slap in the face if you don’t accept their offerings.

So, now I guess the whole thing is up before Congress.

The King said if the US didn’t accept, that he would personally pay every service member at the airport on our way home. I really don’t see it happening! Congress will find some way of screwing us out of the money. I’m not even thinking about holding my hopes up on this one!

You should see how we’re living now. Dogs live better than this!

Since we’re so close to the front, we have to sleep in holes.

Stratton and I share a hole. It’s about four feet deep and plenty big enough that we can stretch out and lay down. Got canvas and ponchos for our roof, and a sand bag berm around the outside. It’s home, but not home sweet home. It rained last night and we stayed pretty dry.

The communication system is pretty much good to go now, so Wire Platoon will hopefully have some slack time for a while. We usually have to work our asses off the first two or three days at a new position.

Everybody and their mother needs a personal phone or hot-line installed. They are too lazy to walk to the tent next door to bullshit with their buddies.

Our bosses told us that we’re not going to give every Staff Sergeant Joe Schmoe a phone just because they want one. But, our bosses are spineless pogues, and are too afraid to say no to anyone.

I forgot to tell you that General Schwarzkopf came to our last camp. It was all bullshit, of course. We had to clean up and make the battlefield look pretty for the bastard, and I never even saw the fucker!

They even had a bunch of us do a “police call” on a big piece of desert! I expected them to tell us to rake the sand as well.

Schwarzkopf’s visit was what we call a “dog and pony show.”

…Lots of fancy displays, blinking lights, and ringing bells…but of no use and no purpose!

Well baby, I think I’ll go for now. I really don’t have anything else to do, but I can’t think of anything else to tell you either.

Take care and stay warm back there in Indiana. Sure wish I was there!

I love you a lot, extremely, a bunch, shit loads, severely, …etc.!

See you soon!

Love and Semper Fi!


War Letters: Part 16

February 9, 1991

Languishing in the sandy wastes near Kabrit, Saudi Arabia

Dear Lynda:

Howdy babe! How goes it? I’m doing great.

It was like Christmas this morning. We received a bunch of packages and mail. I got four from you and one from your parents. Thanks a lot. Be sure to tell your folks thanks for me. I really appreciate the boxes.

I’m on duty once again. It’s 10:30pm this time around. Things are pretty slow as I’m sipping on the coffee you sent.

My cold’s getting worse. I can barely breathe. I’m OK when I’m outside, but in this stuffy, dusty, nasty tent I get all clogged up.

I don’t really have a bunch to tell you this time around. I’ll try to think of something.

We stuffed our faces this morning with all the chow you sent. I shared half of my goodies with the troops, and chowed the rest with Cowan and Stratton. I’m saving the Oreos until I get some cartons of Saudi milk. The chow last night really sucked, so I was very happy to get the boxes.

My chow last night consisted of some sort of creamed chicken slime on top of bug-ridden rice. Somebody else said they found pieces of glass in their food. It’s rare when you can’t find something exotic in your chow. I guess I really can’t bitch too much. The Iraqis are not getting chow at all!

Got a good letter from you today too. Got one from my great Aunt Ruth and my barber as well. I really enjoy reading everyone’s letters. I don’t keep them, however. I’d have to have another pack for the mail I get. As soon as I read the letter and answer it, I burn it.

That may sound mean, but I don’t want some “Jack the Iraqi” searching through our trash and finding a loved one’s address. Hard telling what they might try to pull.

One thing you might send me, I think I may have mentioned already, is some reading material. Recent sports pages, paperbacks, whatever. Copies of the Indianapolis Star would be nice.

Did you ever find a short-wave radio to send? I’m not sure what they cost. Shouldn’t be too much. AM/FM radios aren’t worth a damn out here, and I don’t want to mess with a Walkman and tapes. My little transistor radio bit the dust a long time ago.

They’ve given priority to packages and mail, so we shouldn’t have any problems getting stuff…at least until the big push happens.

They’ve also effectively cut off our phone calls back home, so I don’t know when I’ll be able to talk to you again. Everyone called too much and tied up the tactical phone lines, so we can’t call any more…at least for a while.

I hear you’re having a pretty hard winter this year.

Cowan and I were talking about that, and we agreed that we’d love to be there…

You and I in front of the fireplace, bashing the cat, and eventually doing other things!

I have an hour remaining on my duty before I can hit the rack and start dreaming about you.

Take care of yourself, and I’ll do the same.

Keep the home fires burning warmly and brightly.

I love you forever.

Semper Fi!


War Letters: Part 15

February 8, 1991

Getting an attitude in the desert somewhere near Kabrit, Saudi Arabia

Dear Lynda:

Hi babe! How are you? I’m fine.

I’m on duty again, but it’s 1pm instead of 1am. I received three letters from you yesterday. I’ve gone 5 days without any mail, so I was happy to get them. Sounds like they are working you to death.

Cowan, Colyer, Lautner, and I went to another camp today. It was the first time I had left this position since I got here…about three weeks (since January 15). I wanted to get out of this place for a while and explore. It was an eye opener. The road trip was interesting too.

We were hauling ass in our Hummer down this sandy road …three or four lanes each direction…everybody passing on all sides…the dust so thick it was like fog! There were big holes and dips in the road that you couldn’t see until you went into them. We’d go flying into the air and come crashing down…kinda like Rat Patrol!

Out in front of us all over the place are tanks, infantry, and Patriot missile sites. Seeing them made me feel pretty comfortable.

We ended up at our Division Support Area (DSA), and it was something to see also. It is the biggest cluster-fuck I’ve ever seen…tanks guarding the entrances…everything sandbagged or with sand berms pushed around…and lots of Jarheads! I saw at least three semi-trailers full of mail. I can’t figure out why we aren’t getting any!

The wait in line to buy junk food and smokes was three hours long. I didn’t bother.

I talked with some of our Wiremen while out there. They said one of our WMs got married out here yesterday! Her boyfriend/fiancĂ©/husband is a Marine here too. They got hitched by the Battalion Chaplain, and were given a ½ hour honeymoon in the supply tent. The happy young couple consummated their marriage on a cot in between the food rations and the chemical protective suits…confident that they would not be disturbed, because they had guards posted all around the tent! How romantic! How pitiful!

It’s getting funnier around here all the time.

AFARTS has been saying that Elvis has been sighted in various places in Saudi Arabia. Yesterday, they broke in and said that Elvis and Janis Joplin were sighted in a Jeep cruising through Kuwait City!

I saw a tank yesterday with “Elvis Lives!” scrawled on the side. Another tank had “Saddam-izer” painted on its main gun. Everyone is giving their vehicles names. Some of the names are better than others, of course.

At the DSA there were helicopters coming and going…carrying cargo in nets suspended underneath. They even had a landing strip carved out of the desert, and we saw a big C-130 land on it and kick up a ton of dust.

All this made me realize that there’s no way we can lose this war. We can re-supply ourselves at will, with no worry of Iraqi attack. The Iraqis are lucky to get one truck through to get supplies to their troops! We saw tons and tons of food and other supplies it takes to keep the war machine moving, and it was all for us. Made me feel pretty good and secure!

I had a dream last night that Iraq surrendered and the war was over and that I was going home. Then I woke up.

Sometimes it seems that the time for going home is so far away that it will never come.

I heard that an Iraqi major surrendered yesterday, and he said his army wants to quit and go home, but Saddam won’t let them. The major said his army wants Saddam gone as much as we do, and that as soon as Saddam is dead, no Iraqis will fight.

Saddam threatens to kill any Iraqi soldier and his family if he doesn’t fight or surrenders. Saddam is a murdering scumbag!

On the bright side, Cowan got a package yesterday, and inside were some old Indianapolis Star newspapers. I was looking through one of them and was happy to see that Coors beer is now being sold in Indiana! That’s great! Can’t wait to get home and slam down a case of it!

You said Jarboe (and old civilian friend who joined the Navy about the same time I joined the Corps) called. I figured he would be out here long before me. Oh well…I guess I can kid him about being a greenhorn out here since I’m such a salty veteran now.

I think I’m finally starting to get sick out here. I’ve felt pretty good up until now, but I can feel a cold coming on. I’ve been sleeping outside for a month now, so I guess it’s about time I got sick. At least I haven’t had the flu or the runs yet. Colyer shit himself in the same way Cowan did a few days ago. I knew you’d be thrilled to know.

Have I described for you our head facilities yet? They are quite a feat of modern engineering! We dig a hole four feet deep, and place the shitter box on top of it. The box has two holes with lids, allowing an intimate shit with two men sitting back-to-back.

High-tech drawing of American field-expedient shitter engineering at its finest

Pretty neat, huh? Taking a pee is a little easier. Dig a hole, and do your business. Interesting stuff?

I’m really running out of subjects to write about.

Write back often and tell me what you’re thinking and doing. Miss you and love you a lot. Hope to see you soon. Keep the faith and take care.

Bye beloved.

Semper Fi.


War Letters: Part 14

February 6, 1991

Growing roots in the sand near Kabrit, Saudi Arabia

Dear Lynda:

Hello baby and good morning.

It’s 2am and I’m on duty right now watching the phones. Hopefully I won’t get any calls to fix phone lines that are down. I don’t feel like doing much except sit here and think about you and drink coffee!

It’s quiet and peaceful now, so I can write you and think of you without being disturbed. I’ve got a small radio playing softy…listening to music and news.

They’re saying Bush is sending Powell and Cheney over here to inspect the situation. They want to check out things before the ground assault starts. The ground war will probably be pretty hairy, and we will be taking part in it. I’m kind of nervous about that, but whatever happens I think I’ll handle it OK!

The powers that be went ahead and sent the WMs out here yesterday. My platoon got three of them. We had to swap three male Marines to get them too! They sent the males back to the rear area. The guys we sent back were pretty pissed off. They feel they’re being traded just so some left-wing women’s libber can make a political point…and they’re right. It is political. The decision was not made by the military. It was made due to political pressure back home. It’s a very sore point with all of us. Hopefully the women won’t be going with us when we start the push north.

We haven’t received any mail for three days now. It’s really beginning to piss us off! They say that there’s mail here, it’s just that it’s not getting picked up. Somebody made a rule that only the Sergeant Major could pick up mail. A Sergeant Major’s job is to look after the troops’ welfare…that’s really all he has to do. He ain’t doing it very good.

I shaved my moustache off a few days ago. I was tired of chow getting into it and messing up my pretty face! It was getting very bushy too, and I didn’t feel like trimming it, so I lopped it off!

Personal hygiene in luxurious accommodations

In an Arab newspaper we get they printed the pictures of five Marines killed in the fighting at Khafji and other recent clashes. Most of them were Lance Corporals, and they were all from 19 to 22 years old. The pictures and their ages really struck me. They were so young! Their faces were the same faces I’ve seen hundreds of times…young bucks so full of life…ready to take on the world…thinking they are invincible.

It seems like such a waste. I sometimes almost feel like crying, but I know I can’t. I think of their families and what they are going through. Their pain must be unbearable.

How’s your job going? I hope they are not working you too hard, and that you have some time for yourself. I wish you much success.

I know I’ve said it before babe, but I’m really missing you in the worst way. The day when we can be together cannot come too soon. What a wonderful and happy time that will be for us! We will never be separated again baby! I promise. We will grow old and wrinkled and senile together…every step of the way! You are the light at the end of my long tunnel!

Think I’ll go for now baby. Write soon. Know that I love you, need you, and want you forever!

Take care and good luck. I love you.


Semper Fidelis.


War Letters: Part 13

February 3, 1991

Rotting in a sandy hole somewhere near Kabrit, Saudi Arabia

Dear Lynda:

Hi baby! How are you? I’m fine.

We are suffering through a slight sandstorm right now, being made all the worse by helicopters taking off and landing right next to us. I’m in my little hooch so that I’m not getting sand blasted too much.

Cowan and I went to the top of a small hill last night near our position. We watched as the fighters and bombers hit Iraqi targets in the distance. We saw bomb and artillery flashes, and at least four large targets burning fiercely and lighting up the night sky. It’s really something to see! They bombed all night until early this morning. They are probably still bombing if the sandstorms haven’t reduced visibility too much.

I finally saw my first B-52 yesterday. Usually they are up too high to see, or flying at night. The lone B-52 I saw was just lazily circling the area at a fairly low altitude. Apparently, we aren’t too worried about Iraqi air defenses any more.

Cowan and I plan on going back up the hill tonight. We hope to borrow some night vision goggles so that we can see the light show on the border even better.

I got some mail yesterday from Tess and Mary (my sisters) detailing the pizza party for Greg’s (my brother) birthday. I hope the pizza was good.

I hear that Mom thinks I’m in Daharan, and that Dad thinks I’m going to take part in an amphibious assault. Well baby… you know I can’t tell you where I am or what I’m doing, but I can tell you that I’m not in Daharan and I’m not taking part in a beach assault.

We are in a fairly safe place with plenty of power all around us. The unit I’m with has some very high-ranking dudes, so they are definitely not going to risk them getting hurt or captured! That’s really all I can tell you. I hope it comforts you a little.

We’ve actually had a lot of slack time lately. We’ve been playing a lot of euchre, and spanking some ass doing it. Cowan and Colyer are usually my partners, and we’ve only lost once. We’ve been showing these non-Hoosiers a thing or two. It’s been fun. We’ve taught a bunch of them how to play, and they seem to like it, but they can’t beat us yet!

I finished the book I was reading. There’s nothing else I care to read laying around. I hope you sent me some stuff. I haven’t heard from you in a few days. I hope everything is OK.

I miss you more and more every day. I can’t get you off my mind. I hope you know how much I love and respect you.

If I stay busy, I’m usually OK. It’s during these slow times that I think about you and miss you and I want you so bad that I ache! It really almost hurts!

I realize there is nothing I can do to hasten our reunion, and it frustrates me. I guess I have to tough out the hard times. I’ve got no other choice. I can handle all the bullshit the Corps hands out. War, living conditions, bad weather, chow, water, head facilities, hygiene…all that ain’t shit to me. Being away from you is the worst thing about this. It’s the only thing that really sticks in my crawl!

There are several things, however, that we all like to do to keep our sanity. We like to talk about different scenarios about how this campaign will be ending in a short period of time.

For instance…the Arabs want us out of their lands by the time their religious holidays start. March, which is when the holiday of Ramadan starts, is when the Saudis and the rest of the Arab forces will be taking Kuwait City. That’s when we will be getting the hell out of here! Right!

…Hussein’s going to get assassinated and the war will be over and we can all head home. Sure!

We also like to talk about who will be the first back in the USA. We reserves feel that we will be home first, but of course, we don’t know that.

We talk about drinking beer and eating pizza, and all the wonderful things we’re going to do to our wives and girlfriends.

We talk about buying new cars, motorcycles, stereos, or anything else we’ve ever wanted and never had.

We talk about our civilian jobs, and how we’re going to take charge and finally run the business the right way.

The country boys talk about hoping to be home in time to bail hay, or put a crop in the field.

The city boys talk about cruising the streets and looking for women and hanging out with buddies.

What I do mostly is just kick back and think of you and home and being in a peaceful place where we can live our lives together. I think of our families a lot and how much I miss them.

Well baby, I’m getting kind of tired writing for now. I can’t think of much more to say to you…just that I love you and miss you and am anxious to get home.

Take care of yourself and remember me in your dreams.

Smash the cat once or twice for me.

See you soon. I love you darling! Bye.

Semper Fidelis.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

War Letters: Part 12

February 1, 1991

Stuck in a god-forsaken shithole desert somewhere near Kabrit, Saudi Arabia

Dear Lynda:

Hi lover! Yes…it’s your long lost husband writing to you from the battle zone again. Hope you are doing well. We are all fine.

Things seem to be going pretty well for us right now. We appear to be kicking Saddam’s ass every chance we get. I hope it stays that way.

The killing of eleven Marines has really ignited us all. It seems they were killed by a bunch of Iraqis who were pretending to surrender, and then opened fire on our guys when they were good and close. Such tricks and skullduggery only serves to increase our determination to stomp the enemy’s guts out! We will prevail!

Stratton talked to his wife yesterday, and he said that she couldn’t rest after hearing about the Marines being killed. It really saddens us all to think of how worried and concerned everyone is about us. It saddens us too to think about our brothers in arms being cut down, even though we never knew them. It really affects us all.

I hope this war ends quickly, and not just for you and myself. All of the Americans over here are volunteers, and in my mind are the best people on the earth…the cream of humanity. It would be such a waste for a lot of them to be lost. It would be a great loss for the entire country.

From all the news that we get, it seems that the country is very much behind us and supporting us. It’s very good for us to feel that way. The country seems to be united in this war…much like it was in WW2.

I read in The Stars and Stripes that the service star is coming back. I think that’s cool.

In WW2, people back home would hang a service star in their window, showing that they had a loved one serving in the war.

We hear that flags are flying everywhere, and that yellow ribbons adorn everything. It’s so great! I’d love to be home to see all of that, but then I’d feel like I should be over here doing my part. I’m really screwed up, ain’t I?

...for the free flow of oil at market prices.' shits.

Cowan just got two more packages today. I don’t think they’re done handing out the mail. I hope I get a package or something today, or I might begin to feel unloved!

We are getting ready to “rat-fuck" Cowan’s goodies that he just opened. We’re all just gonna sit around and stuff our sewers and get sick!

Well…we ate like pigs and finished it all off with a big cigar. It was great…almost like home.

Babe…I’m sorry I can’t be home for Valentine’s Day.

So…happy Valentine’s Day, dear darling beloved wife! I love you a bunch! And I miss you terribly!

Be careful in your travels, and please take care honey. I’ll see you soon.

Until then…I love you.


Semper Fi!


War Letters: Part 11

January 30, 1991

Out in the middle of a desert somewhere near Kabrit, Saudi Arabia

Dear Lynda:

Hello again, beloved wife!

It’s 2:10pm and I thought I’d take some time out of my busy schedule and write to you.

I’ve done nothing today except eat and read “The Choirboys.” It’s a police novel and real interesting, even though I’ve read it before.

Last night, however, was very exciting. It was 12:15am and a full moonlit night. We were all awakened by the shouts of our platoon commander. I jumped out of my sleeping bag and into my boots and looked to our north. The sky was lit up all along our front with five or six orange colored flares floating in the air.

I thought, “Oh shit,” and asked somebody what the hell was going on.

It wasn’t a SCUD missile alert.

I was told that Iraqi tanks had broken through our lines and that they were heading towards us!

“Here we go,” I thought.

I figured this was the baptism of fire I’ve been waiting on. I surprised myself in that I wasn’t freaking out and pissing my pants.

We were told to grab all our weapons, gear, and ammo and head out to the forward most fighting holes on our line. We did so, and I was amazed at how calm and determined we all were.

Sgt. Stratton and I occupied the same hole. I fixed my bayonet (effective against T-72 tanks!), and we waited for “Joe Gook the RagHead” to appear so that we could place one well aimed round into him and push his heart out his back!

A short amount of time elapsed, and I began to wonder why, with our lines supposedly breached by enemy armor and all hell breaking loose, I couldn’t hear the sound of a single shot of any kind being fired…or any sounds at all for that matter.

Well…we found out in about ten minutes when we were told to get out of the holes.

It seems that about an hour before our wake-up call, four or five Iraqi tanks had come down to the border and then turned east. The tanks were no closer than thirty miles from our position!

I understand there was a small tank battle, and that the Fly Boys got some of them AND some of us. I’m not sure. That kind of thing happens in war sometimes. Close air support is not always an exact science.

There was actually no reason at all for us to be put out into the holes. Somebody here was listening to distant radio traffic and lost it and thought we were going to get hosed!

But…it was good training!

I understand there is an entire tank brigade (ours) in front of us anyway! For the Iraqis to get through them without firing a shot would be nothing short of a miracle.

We departed our front and staggered back to our areas…all of us joking and bullshitting about how freakin’ inconvenient this war is getting to be! It took me about an hour to calm down to go back to sleep because I was so wired.

I finally got up around 6:30am and watched as a sandstorm ravaged my clothesline full of clean skivvies and socks that I had washed the day before. Such is life.

They are saying that they’re going to bring up the Woman Marines (WMs) from the rear areas to be with us. Cowan and I are bitching to our fullest to try to keep the WMs away! We don’t want them, don’t need them, and can’t stand them! We have a semi-good thing going here now. We can wash our nasty bits and do it in front of Allah and everybody, and not worry about offending. Bring the WMs in, and we have to make separate heads, showers, and sleeping areas.

And…we’ll also have to keep armed guards on their worthless bitchy asses so they don’t get mauled! If they do come out here, I’m going to ride them hard…like I do the guys. I’m not playing tea party with any of these school girls. Enough of that. You know how I feel.

I hope you are doing well back home, and hope you aren’t worrying yourself sick about me. I’ll be OK, baby. You can count on that. I’m too mean and nasty to get hurt anyway. I’m invincible!

I’ve got the best woman in the world to come home to, and I’m not messing around with that. Do you have any idea who she might be?

Well, baby…I think I’ll go now. I’ll mail this letter and see if anything came in for me from you. I hope so.

I love you forever.

Semper Fi!


War Letters: Part 10

January 27, 1991

Somewhere in the desert near Kabrit, Saudi Arabia

Dear Lynda:

Hello beloved! How are ya doin’? I’m still fine. Not much going on around here right now. Just thought I’d drop you a quick note.

Sgt. Joe Stratton got a letter from his wife yesterday saying that she heard we were being issued condoms for our use with the local prostitutes. I can tell you right now that the story is freakin’ crazy! We aren’t even close to any women. I haven’t seen any, except for a woman reporter. I hear that there’s a woman Marine or two around here somewhere, but I haven’t even seen them yet.

So…in case you’re worried about my carousing with whores, please don’t even think about it. You should know that I don’t and wouldn’t do such a thing, and, as far as I know, no one else has either! Enough about that…

The Armed Forces Radio and Television Network, we call it “AFARTS,” played “Chances Are” a couple of day ago while I was on phone watch duty. I nearly dropped to the floor. That song reminded me of such good times that I just had to put my book down and smile! (This song was our “First Dance” song at our wedding reception.)

The food around here has been lousy as usual. We were even out of water for a day and a half, but it’s been raining quite a bit, so it wasn’t hot and we weren’t drinking a lot anyway. I hope they get the water situation fixed before it starts getting unbearably hot out here. They say when it’s hot we must drink umpteen gallons of water a day.

I got some pictures from Mom yesterday of their Christmas. The photos showed all around the table and Monica (my niece). They also showed their massive beef roast. It made my mouth water. They were good pictures. I really miss them all.

It’s starting to get dark here…almost time for chow. I wonder what delicacies are in store for us this evening? You can bet your butt there will be some sort of rice. We always get rice. I don’t care if I ever have rice again once I get home.

Please try to keep everybody informed…especially Mom. In her letter, she sounded like she’s worrying herself to the point of an ulcer. I don’t want to have to be overly concerned about her as well. Try to stay upbeat and positive when you talk to her.

Well baby…think I’ll go for now. The Super Bowl will be on the radio at about 3am. I hope to catch some of it. Take care of yourself, and I’ll do the same.

Loving you and thinking of you more than ever! Beat up the cat for me!

Love you!

Semper Fidelis!


War Letters: Part 9

January 21-22, 1991

In the middle of the desert near Kabrit, Saudi Arabia

Dear Mom and Dad:

Greetings from the war zone. How are you? I’m doing fine! We’re all doing fine…all safe and sound so far.

I really don’t have a whole lot to write about. I sent Lynda a long letter yesterday, and I have directed her to pass my letters on to everyone because I don’t have a bunch of time to write.

I really enjoyed your letters describing Indiana University basketball games.

The fishing boat idea sounds pretty good to me, but I don’t know if Lynda’s too keen on fishing. When I finally get home, I don’t think I’m gonna want to fish for a while.

The days here are pretty much run together. I have to check my watch to see what day it is. We really don’t get days off. When you’ve been in the field for 20 days and are living semi-animalistic, you really don’t care what day it is. I’ve had two showers since we’ve been in the field…my last one two days ago.

I only have 1-½ sets of desert cammies, and they don’t fit worth a damn! The medium top and bottom are way too big, and the small/short a bit too short in the arms.

I didn’t get a desert cammo helmet cover, so I made one out of tan cammo netting that’s designed to cover tents and vehicles! I’m running around looking like a Japanese Marine and yelling “Banzai!”

We’ve got plenty of rounds for our M-16s. We were also issued two M-60 machine guns, one anti-tank rocket, and rounds to go with all of them.

I don’t think these M-16s are going to do too well out here. They are not chambering the rounds correctly because of sand. We clean weapons two or three times daily, but we can’t use oil because sand sticks to it like glue. They say we can use graphite as a lube, but of course we ain’t got none! So…send me some if you can.

Also…send Oreos!

Other than shitty weapons and shitty chow, life’s not too bad out here, I guess.

We had three air raid warnings that were exciting but turned out to be nothing.

Every now and then, some idiot somewhere will “accidentally” discharge a round, and it makes life interesting. I’m still amazed at the ineptness of a few of the people around here. Too bad that these few people are the ones in charge!

One of the worst is our platoon commander. He’s a complete pogue! He’s always in his little tent with his electric heaters and telling people to get him chow or an extension cord or something that’ll make his fat ass more comfortable! He’s a real puke!

Thanks a whole helluva lot for the care package! I got it today. What the hell’s the deal with the flea powder? You are some funny people! Everybody had a good laugh when I showed them the powder and the greeting card.

It rained again today, but my gear is dry and so am I. Sgt. Stratton and I built a makeshift hooch for ourselves, and it keeps the rain and wind off us pretty well. It’s been fairly cool…almost cold, the last few nights.

Last night we were advised that “possible aggressors” were within six or seven miles of our position. This happened at about 2 or 3am. It turned out to be nothing, but I slept with one eye open and my boots on the entire night. They just keep reminding us that this is a war and not an exercise.

I wrote Lynda and told her that when this thing is all over that I’ll probably be hanging up the old Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. I just feel that it’s time to get on with my life with her and avoid as many interruptions as possible. Also, I feel as if I’ll have done my duty…all that could be asked of me…once this is over.

We’re listening to Randy Travis right now on a tape player. We got a bunch of those Bob and Tom “Good Morning Saudi Arabia” tapes, and I listened to that also. We sent Bob and Tom a thank you picture with all our names on it. It’s weird listening to the Bob and Tom tape and realizing that back home all people are worried about is how bad the traffic is on 56th Street!

Show this letter to Lynda if you want to. She’s heard a lot of this already, but she’d like to see it anyway I’m sure.

I miss all of you guys a lot! Hope to see you soon, but probably won’t.

Take care.

Love and Semper Fi!


P.S. – Slap some freakin’ war protesters for us!

War Letters: Part 8

January 26, 1991

In the middle of the desert near Kabrit, Saudi Arabia

Dear Lynda:

Hello baby! How are you? I’m fine.

I called you again this morning. It sure was nice to hear your voice again, even though the line was bad and I could barely understand you. It’s been difficult to get a line around here. I’ve been trying to call you the last three days.

Jim tells me that you and Stacy got locked out of the Reserve Center, and it was cold as hell. What the heck were you doing?

It rained again here last night. I managed to stay pretty dry. It’s sunny and windy and kind of chilly right now. Life’s been pretty boring around here lately…not much to do. I guess that’s better than the alternatives!

They said on the radio this morning that the Iraqis dumped tons of oil into the Gulf. I guess that effectively cancels any plans for an amphibious landing on Kuwait. The Iraqis can set it afire and prevent us from making our beach assaults.

We got word that somebody’s wife at your support meeting blabbed that she knew where in Saudi that we’re set up. That’s not a good thing, babe, for several reasons.

One…it means that an idiot here told her. We all know we’re not supposed to tell our wives that stuff. We could get our phone privileges revoked.

Two…if the wives know, then the Iraqis probably know too, and that could compromise our safety. You’ve got to be careful about who you talk to and what you say. Security is important to all of us. I’m sure you’ll agree.

We’ve also heard that Cpl. Shortridge’s wife is starting some kind of peace or anti-war movement.

I hope you don’t get involved with some shit like that. I’d be very disappointed and ashamed. I don’t believe you’d do such a thing to me, baby!

I think all the protesters are dividing the country, and nobody needs that.

I pulled out my wallet last evening to look at your picture…like I normally do when I bed down. It’s one of our wedding photos. You look so incredibly beautiful, baby! I can’t believe what a babe I got for a wife! I’m such a lucky man to have you as my wife. You can’t imagine how much I love and miss you!

Lynda on our wedding day. This is the same photo I carried during the war. I still carry it in my wallet today.

I also look at Monica’s (my little niece) picture…almost as much as I look at yours. I’m really looking forward to the time when we can have a little one of our own! It will be the most beautiful child in the world…and the most spoiled.

Monica, my little niece.

Oh yeah…next time you send mail, please put “Wire Platoon” on the address somewhere. It’ll help the mail get sorted faster and easier. I’m happy to hear that you sent four packages. That’ll be very nice. Thanks a lot. I hope I get them!

Well…gotta go, babe. Please take care.

I “wub” you.

Semper Fi!


War Letters: Part 7

January 24, 1991

In the middle of the desert near Kabrit, Saudi Arabia

Dear Lynda:

Hello again and greetings from the combat zone!

How’s things back in Hoosierland?

We’re all still fine…nothing bad to report. The weather has cleared and allowed the planes to continue the bombing missions. We are told that the Iraqis are really getting their asses thumped.

The last two days have been pretty good. It didn’t rain yesterday, and today was a beautiful sunny day. I took a shower yesterday and felt like a new man. I may take one tomorrow.

A few days ago there was a black haze in the air from the oil wells and pipe lines that the Iraqis set afire. I guess the fires are out now because the smoke’s gone and so is the smell of burning crude oil.

I received Mom and Dad’s package two days ago and got yours and three letters today. The pictures were nice. Cowan and I commented that we’d love to have the chow pictured in our Christmas Feast photo. Yes… the food is still sucking here!

We’ve all got a year’s supply of instant coffee now, and a good supply of smokes. We really appreciate the packages! Did I tell you that I’d like to have a portable short-wave radio? See what you can do. Is my money getting to our account OK? Let me know.

A funny thing happened yesterday. The chow here has been giving us all (except me) gas and the runs. Anyway…we were all sitting around and bullshitting. Cowan was telling a good story…and farting a lot. Right in the middle of his story, he stops mid-sentence and a look of complete horror comes over his face. I figured he saw a SCUD (or “STUD” as Keith Colyer puts it) missile coming right at us.

He stands up and bitches, and announces to us all that he has just shit his trousers! Of course, we all damn near Hersheyed our knickers from laughing so hard!

Pretty soon, the entire camp was aware of Jim’s predicament. He waddled over to the shitter to cut off his soiled grundies…to the hoots and hollers of our guys! Just prior to Jim’s trouser chili experience, he had taken a shower. We all got a good laugh.

Another funny thing happened today. You remember Scott Lautner…my roommate at Camp Lejeune? Well…he came over to our camp to use our shower facilities. As he was in the stall merrily scrubbing his “nasty ass,” the SCUD missile siren sounded. We all dropped what we were doing and headed asshole over belly button into the holes. Scott was just a-bitchin’ as he grabbed his trash and headed for the hole. When the all-clear was sounded, there he was…all soapy and wet, a towel around his waist, flack jacket, boots, and helmet on, with his rifle!

It was the funniest god damned thing I’d seen in a while!

Somebody took pictures of him. It should be great!

Well, baby…as you can see, we can have good days around here. Decent weather, not much to do, and nobody fucking with us! War’s not always hell, I guess.

I think I’ll go kick around in the sand and hit the rack now. I’ve been trying to call you and my folks, but I can’t get a line. I’ll try again later. Jim says “Hi.”

Write you later.

I love you.

Semper Fi!


War Letters: Part 6

January 20, 1991

In the middle of the desert near Kabrit, Saudi Arabia

Dear Lynda:

Hello baby, and greetings from “Saudee Raybee” and the war zone! I and everyone else are doing fine.

Since the last time I wrote, a lot has happened.

Remember how I said it didn’t rain much? Well…the day after I wrote that, it started raining and rained steadily for 36 hours. We were all drenched, cold, and all our gear was soaked. It really sucked.

Then we got the word to pack up and move north. We did that, and set up camp a lot closer to Kuwait…where we are now.

We’ve got a small radio, and we heard that Iraq declared war on us. That really got our attention because we are close enough for the SCUD missile and long-range Iraqi artillery!

We all had a new sense of purpose to our jobs, as you can imagine. We dug a bunch of shoulder-high holes to jump into in case of an attack.

Two days ago we got the alarm for incoming fire and we hauled ass into the holes. It turned out to be nothing, but it makes you nervous and scared.

We’ve had two air raid warnings since then, and nothing happened then either, but we’re all on our toes!

Day and night, British fighter-bombers fly over our position on their way to bomb Iraqi targets. I guess we’ve really hit them hard.

When we got the word that some SCUDS hit Israel, we figured we’d probably get hit also. But, it hasn’t happened yet. I guess we’ve been too far back, or, they don’t know where we are.

We will be moving again…VERY close to the Kuwait border. We may stay here another week so that the Air Force can kick the shit out of Iraq. They haven’t been able to bomb them as much as they wanted because of the weather. We won’t move north until the bombing’s all done.

It was nice to talk to you again, baby. I talked to you from a phone outside our tent that we installed, and it didn’t cost us nuthin’! It was 6 or 7am here, and pretty late there, but I didn’t think you’d mind.

I received some of your mail yesterday, and got some from Dad and Tess (my sister) also. It took two weeks to get it, but it sure is nice when it gets here.

Did you send any care packages? Send food! You know what I like. If you send a ton of it, I’ll share it with the fellas! Junk food! Yeah!

The food’s really been sucking lately. We didn’t even get food one night! The MREs are getting real old. When it gets slow around here, all there is to do is eat, smoke, clean weapons and gear, or sleep.

And you wanna talk about a cluster-fuck? Some of these people are real assholes! I don’t mean in Wire Platoon…I mean some of the other platoons and the people in charge.

They don’t want to cooperate or pass any word that will make anyone’s job easier. The politicking going on is crazy. It seems they don’t realize there’s a war going on.

Somebody’s always wanting a phone put in or a line checked, and it’s usually at 2am or something stupid. But, I guess that’s the way it goes on active duty.

Baby…I really miss you a lot. I think about you all the time. Home seems so far away, and sometimes it feels like I’ll never get to see you again. I think about how easy, simple, safe, warm, and nice it is at home, and I can hardly believe I’m here. I don’t know. I guess I’m feeling sorry for myself. I didn’t realize how easy and good I had it with you at home. This will make me appreciate home more than anything ever could. And, I’ll tell you what…once I get back, I’m NEVER leaving again!

I’ve pretty much decided that I’ll get out of the Corps. I’m not bitching about being here, but I figure I’ve done all I’m supposed to do. I’ll have done my duty, and then it will be time to get on with my life with you. I don’t want to put you through this again, or go through it again myself.

It’s looking like it’s gonna piss and pour again tonight. If it does, I’m gonna have a real bad attitude. Then, I’ll get over it!

Well baby, I guess I’ve chewed your ear long enough. Hot evening chow has arrived! So, I must go force some of it down and then get ready to hit the rack.

Write back soon!

I’ll see you when I see you.

I love you, and be careful when you’re out and about.

Semper Fi.


Washing my ass in the middle of the desert.

War Letters: Part 5

January 9, 1991

Somewhere in the desert, Saudi Arabia

Dear Lynda:

Hello babe from the great desert of “Saudee Raybee.” I’m writing this in the dark with a red flashlight, so my writing will look a lot worse than it usually does.

We’re on our third day in the field. We’ll probably stay here one more day and then move up even further north. It hasn’t been too bad yet. We’ve been working hard, and the food really sucks. For breakfast this morning, I had a spoonful of rice, three pieces of bread, a little carton of milk, and apple juice. Luckily, I had parts of an MRE leftover to make me feel full. The chow’s really the only thing I’ve had to bitch about…so far!

The weather has been fairly warm during the day, and pretty cold at night. It even frosts a little.

Right now I’m sleeping on a cot outside the tent because it’s too crowded inside.

It’s supposed to be the rainy season here. It rains for about a minute in the morning and evening…not much to bother with.

I think of you often, and wonder what you’re doing.

My watch has two clocks on it. I keep the digital clock on Indiana time so I can look at it and think about when you are working, sleeping, or whatever. It kind of keeps me sane. I have to check my watch calendar every now and then so I can find out what day it is. All the days run together, so they all seem the same. We don’t get any days off.

Jim Cowan said he talked to Stacy the other day. I hope you don’t think I’m gaffing you off by not calling or writing you much. Since Jim got promoted, he’s got just a little more time to do such things. I’m pretty busy baby-sitting the troops. Sometimes it’s like they can’t even take a shit without being told how to do it!

I hope my first letter from Saudi didn’t upset you or worry you too much. I wanted to tell you what’s been going on. You may not want to tell the people at the support group some of the things I told you. I don’t know. If you think it’s better not to worry them more, don’t tell ‘em nuthin’!

But, here’s another bummer story. It doesn’t involve me, or anyone from Indy…

On the day we left the main camp for the north, they issued us all ammunition. A Marine from another unit shot himself in the head with his pistol…right down the road from our barracks. As far as was reported, he didn’t die. I guess he had a family too. It was a depressing thing to hear about. The poor dumb bastard couldn’t handle the stress, and his leadership didn’t see the signs of someone about the break.

Please wish my dad and my brother a happy birthday. I’m afraid I can’t find a card to send out here!

I hope I’m home soon, babe. I love you with all my heart and my big toe too!

Beat up Boo Vomitus for me and tell all hello and that I’m doing fine. I haven’t received any mail yet, but it takes 14-20 days to get here sometimes, so keep them coming. I love you very much. See you soon!

Semper Fi!



P.S. – Tell Dad that I’m carrying over 200 rounds of real ammo, so I’m not a sitting duck! We weren’t supposed to get that much, but Cowan took it when their backs were turned! What a guy!


War Letters: Part 4

January 3, 1991

Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia

Dear Lynda:

Hi baby! How are you? I’m finally here in “Saudee Raybee.”

The flight here was the absolute worst.

We left Cherry Point, North Carolina at about 10am New Year’s Day on a Boeing 747. We flew over the ocean to Nova Scotia, over London, England and France, and finally landed in Brussels, Belgium.

I couldn’t see anything from the plane because I had an aisle seat, and because it was dark or cloudy. We never even got off the plane in Brussels while they refueled. The takeoff from Brussels was pretty scary. It was rainy and very windy…pretty much a thunderstorm. The plane was getting thrown around like a rag doll.

We eventually landed in Saudi Arabia at 10am yesterday (local time).

This country is a real armpit. There’s nothing here, and it’s windy and cold. The chow sucks, and there’s long lines for everything. But, it could be worse.

Right now we’re sleeping in real beds in real buildings with running water. The water from the sinks and showers is not drinkable, but from the water fountains it is.

They’re saying that we’re going to move closer to the front pretty soon, but right now we’re about 150 miles from it. We’re supposed to hook up with the French Foreign Legion, the British Royal Marines, and the Saudi Army when we move up. I’m kinda looking forward to that because it should be interesting to work with soldiers from other countries.

I hope you had a Happy New Year. I heard you’ve been having some flooding back home. I hope all is well.

The place we’re staying now is OK. It’s a camp that was built for the oil field workers. There are pipelines and refineries all over.

The highways here are a lot like home, but all of the sudden, they just end and turn into one-lane dirt roads!

The security around the camp is very good. They’ve got Marines patrolling and in sandbagged bunkers with real bullets! I guess Beirut taught us something after all! They said that they found some rag head going through the trash looking for return addresses on envelopes…supposedly so terrorists could write back to “Mommy” and tell her lies and try to freak people out.

So…don’t put return addresses on the mail you send to me. Also, don’t put anything about the 2nd Marine Division on letters or other mail either.

They also told us they nabbed another rag head running around on a bike with a pistol. They called him a terrorist, but I don’t know…

You gotta love the rumors floating around here now. They say we’ll be out of here by April because that’s when a bunch of Islamic holidays are. I really don’t believe it. The Saudis may want us out of here for their holidays, but not if there’s a war going on.

I really glad you were able to come down for Christmas. I wish it could have been better for us, but for me it was almost like a second honeymoon. I was also glad when you went back home, because I felt that with you in town I could not concentrate on the job at hand. I think that I have to try to keep from worrying about you too much. I hope you understand.

Our first Christmas and our feast at Lejeune. All the restaurants were closed or awash in Jarheads. Bologna, M&Ms, chips, beer, and soda...but we were together!

If you can, send me some smokes, Folgers Coffee Singles, and chow and candy of any kind. Don’t send a ton of the stuff. Whatever…

Let me know if you’re getting my Direct Deposit money.

You can pass this letter on to who ever you want. I don’t know how much time I’ll have to write.

I love you very much, Lynda. I pledge my love to you forever.

When I get home we’ll take a vacation, buy a truck, and start a family…not necessarily in that order!

See you later!



War Letters: Part 3

December 13, 1990

Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

Dear Lynda:

Yes…it’s me again! How are you?

I’m a little bent, but not broken.

We’ve been playing volleyball quite a bit at the end of each day. Last Saturday, we were playing and I was going for the ball. I was hit by a teammate and I fell and landed back-first on to a truck wheel that supports the net pole.

I quit playing after that and lay down for a while. An hour later, I tried to get up and just about passed out. I was taken to the base hospital and X-rayed many times. The doctors said nothing was broken and that my spine was OK. They said I had a very deep bruise in my lower left back muscle. They gave me a bunch of drugs and ordered me to three days bed rest.

I am now on “light duty,” which means I can’t run, hump, or lift heavy things. I hate being on “light duty.” I feel worthless. The pain really sucks, but it’s slowly getting better. I’m still in good spirits.

The training as yet has not been very busy. We’ve had quite a bit of free time. I’m confident that when we get to the Persian Gulf we can do our jobs well.

It was nice to hear your voice again. You sounded like you were happy and doing well. I’m glad your sister was able to spend some time with you. I want you to do whatever it takes so that you feel happy and safe.

We’ll probably be here for Christmas, but I can’t say for sure. Many of the guys are having their wives come down. I would love to see you again, but I really don’t want to go through all the “good-byes” again. The scene at the Reserve Center really tore me up. But if you want to come down, let me know. I’ll try to arrange it that I can see you.

I love you very much! Take care of yourself and be careful. Beat up Boo for me. See you!

Semper Fi.



War Letters: Part 2

December 1990

Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

Dear Lynda:

I think I’ve said just about everything I wanted to say to you about how I feel about you and our coming separation. I just wanted to write a few words to you. This will not be easy for either of us, but we’ll come through it OK. You must know how much I love you. You are my only reason for living.

I know you don’t really understand why we Marines feel the way we do. We see it as our duty to do as we’re ordered. This country is like no other. As Marines, we’ll do anything to get the job done. We fight. We like to fight. It’s our job.

In many ways, I’m glad I’m going. I feel I’ll be a part of history, at the same time helping others who have been abused very badly.

I’d feel even more gung-ho if it wasn’t for you. If I didn’t have you waiting for me back home, I’d probably go all out and do crazy things. But don’t worry. I’m not volunteering for anything.

My sense of honor and duty for the Corps is almost as strong as my love, respect, and faith for you. At least I hope I can perform that way in all my duties.

I’m sorry I made you cry with all my talk about possibly not coming back, but I feel we must discuss all possibilities. Try not to worry about me while I’m gone. There’s not a whole lot you can do for me. The Corps will take care of me. You do what’s best for you and take care of yourself and the house…and don’t forget to beat up Boo Vomitus (our cat) every now and then.

Boo Vomitus kitty...stupid-assed cat

Remember…you’re tough and strong. You’re a Marine wife. It’s one of the toughest jobs in the world, so be proud.

Don’t forget that you have many friends and family that are willing to help you. Please don’t hesitate to call them. I’d be disappointed if you got into a bind and didn’t ask for some help.

Keep the flag flying and keep your spirits up, baby. I love you very much, and I’ll be coming home to you before too long.

Semper Fi!

Love always,


War Letters: Part 1

Sometimes, my thoughts and memories of events build up in my head, and I feel that if I don’t write them down I will go fucking nuts.

The following is an unfinished narrative I wrote and enclosed with a personal letter to my wife. Copies of this narrative were distributed to family members.

My younger sister, Teresa (Tess), a grade school teacher, read it to her class. Later, I would receive many humorous pieces of mail from the school kids voicing their support and well wishes for my comrades and me.



December 1990

Indianapolis, Indiana

I always imagined the scene…the soldier going off to war and saying his goodbyes to his wife and loved ones. I thought it was a romantic scene. I imagined myself as that soldier…bravely leaving behind everything he cared about. It was a part that I thought I wanted to play, with everyone saying how brave and tough I was.

Well…one very cold and snowy December morning, the romantic scene became a reality. Lee Greenwood singing “Proud To Be An American…” My wife of only seven months, and my mother and father…sitting in the crowd.

Up to that point, I had already dealt with Lynda’s frequent tears, but the look on Dad’s face was something I’ll never forget. I knew Mom would be a wreck. Dad, though, was another story. He was crying as we were ordered on to the busses. I rushed over to them and said some last quick farewells. I couldn’t look at Mom and Dad for more than a few seconds for fear that I too would tear up.

I was one of the last Marines on the bus. I was able to kiss Lynda once more, and I then boarded the bus. We got an escort from the Indianapolis Police Department to the airport. We all commented that we only get treated decently when something really bad is on the horizon.

We had to load the plane ourselves. Packs were falling apart all over the tarmac. Half of these guys can’t even pack their trash securely. How in the hell are they going to perform in a combat situation? Someone’s bolt from their weapon fell out of their sea bag and on to the ground. Oh boy! (This was a commercial aircraft. We had to remove the bolts from our weapons and stash them in our sea bags in the luggage/cargo area of the plane so that we would not have access to them in flight.)

The plane was finally loaded, and we boarded. As the plane taxied away from the area, the Inspector/Instructor staff was all doing flutter kicks in our honor. These Marines are our active duty counterparts…sort of like our teachers. Most of them had tried many times to go with us. Such is the mind of a good Marine. If there’s a fight, Marines want to be in on it.

Our craft was given clearance for takeoff. It lurched forward and became airborne. My adventure had started. As I watched Indiana disappear into a snowy bank of clouds, I began to think…

“Goodbye, Hoosierland. I hope this isn’t the last time I get to see you”

Marines like to think about the first and last times they do or did things.

“This is the last time I’ll get a home cooked meal.”
“This is the last look at Mom and Dad.”
“This is the last time I’ll make love to my wife.”
“I won’t need my car keys anymore…at least not until I get back.”

Everything hasn’t been all doom and gloom, however. The gallows humor abounds. One guy is constantly reminded of the fact that he was due to be discharged from the Marine Reserves. He was rather bitter at first, but he has gotten over it.

I keep reminding anybody that will listen that I’m “non-ob” also. “Non-ob” means, “not obligated,” which is a status that a Marine gets when he fulfills his initial enlistment.

Well…I had done that and extended for a year. I was due to get out in April of 1991. I could have checked out and become a civilian at anytime before that date. Uncle Sam has a way of changing your plans sometimes…

“Wait a minute! I don’t have to do this! I’m non-ob!”

Not any more you ain’t!


December 1990

Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

We finally arrived at Camp Lejeune and got settled in. We’ve been going to classes that are designed as refresher courses in various subjects. The classrooms aren’t typical…usually outside…rain or shine. It’s been cold and rainy lately. There are a hundred or more Marines in attendance…Marines with many different jobs:

Engineers—they go out and find and defuse mines.
Communications—our unit.
Recon—bad asses who snoop and poop.
Cannon cockers—artillery.
MPs—military police.

We all have the best unit, and there’s a lot of good-natured rivalry.

Somebody’s always falling asleep or not paying attention during the classes.

Will their lack of discipline get them or someone else killed? Maybe…and it really makes me mad. Some of these guys don’t seem to realize what the hell is going on here. It seems to me that they can’t grasp the fact that this isn’t summer camp. This isn’t a game. There isn’t time to train in-depth.

Listen. Pay attention. Do the right thing.

In a month, we’ll be in a potential combat zone. By the time the bullets start flying, it’ll be too late to worry.

I want to slap some of these kids who are screwing around.

Kids…that’s how some of these guys are acting.

Christmas is approaching fast. Lynda is coming down from Indiana to see me. I’m very happy about that. I don’t have much Christmas spirit though. I’ve never spent a Christmas away from home. I received a letter from Mom telling me about their Christmas tree and everything. She doesn’t have the Christmas spirit either. She’s taking this very hard.

I hope she’ll be OK.

War Letters: Introduction

The following are personal letters I wrote to my wife and family while serving as an activated U.S. Marine Corps reservist during Operation Desert Shield/Storm from December of 1990 until April of 1991.

The opinions expressed here are mine, and I have reasons for them. My opinions are based on my experiences and observations. If you don’t like those opinions, tough shit.

Names were not changed to protect the innocent or guilty. If you don’t like it, tough shit.

Events are as I remember them, and I can’t be arsed to research for accuracy. If you don’t like it, tough shit.


I was a member of Detachment Communications Company, Headquarters Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Indianapolis, Indiana, (DetCommCoHQBN4thMarDiv), from 1984 until 1992.

Roughly half of my Indianapolis unit was activated, and we were folded into our active duty counterparts with Communications Company, Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division (CommCoHQBN2ndMarDiv), out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

It may help to understand and remember a few things about those times…seemingly long, long ago.

I had been married only seven months when my reserve unit got activated.

As interested possible participants to war, we closely followed the news of the day and Saddam Hussein’s adventure into Kuwait. We were warned repeatedly by our higher-ups to be prepared for the “balloon to go up,” so it was no real surprise when I received a phone call at work stating my narrow ass was being activated. Nevertheless, it was a sobering realization that I was now going to be expected to do what I’d been paid and somewhat trained to do!

US military digital and satellite communications were just getting off the ground at that point. In my experience, the technology didn’t work real well. As wireman in the field, occasionally we could hook up our “state-of-the-art” TA-838 field telephones, scam on to some kind of satellite uplink known to us as AUTOVON, and make infrequent and poor quality phone calls home. It was down more than it was up, and we learned on the fly how to install its technology. Before our deployment, few communications reservists had ever worked with it before.

Ta-838 Field Telephone

These were the days before the internet and email, and at the time nobody had heard of personal computers, laptops, mP3 players, digital cameras, or cell phones. Compact discs were all the rage for listening to music, but cassette tapes were still very much in use.

During the run up to the war, nobody really knew how it would play out. There were serious fears that Saddam Hussein would use his vast arsenal of chemical weapons, and that if he did, we would resort to nuclear retaliation.

There were reports of tens of thousands of body bags being deployed and staged to accommodate the casualties anticipated on all sides. The “Mother of All Battles” was most likely coming, and we faced it with grim determination.

I want to state up front that I did not participate in combat. I was not a grunt infantryman or a war hero. I never fired my M-16 in anger. I spent three months in god-forsaken foreign lands, sleeping in holes, and trying to keep communications functioning. I just did my job the best I could. That is all.

What I did many years ago pales in comparison to what the current generation of Marines is doing.

I dedicate these intimate stories to my comrades in arms who have made the ultimate sacrifice, to my brothers in arms who fight the good fight today, and to my wife Lynda, who remains the love of my life.

Semper Fidelis.

Paul A. Johnson