22 November 2005

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 22 Nov 90

22 NOV 90

Celebrated Thanksgiving by coming in to work late. Flew late last night, so I took a meritorious morning off. Got to the terminal at 1030. Wrote some letters, basically sat around all day waiting for noon chow. It certainly was worth the wait. We had turkey breast and ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, corn and all kinds of salads, nuts, carrots, pickles, fruit etc... plus Pepsi and OJ. The meat was great. The mess tent was decorated with centerpieces, tablecloths and napkins so it felt like Thanksgiving, without the beer and football. For desert there was pumpkin pie with whipped cream or pecan, cherry apple and ice cream, candy bars and pudding. This one meal almost made up for all the crap we've been eating since we got here. They worked very hard to get all of this together and it did lift some spirits.
After chow, back to the terminal to read some mail. Got some cookies from Aunt Mary, passed them out and they went fast. Went back to tent at 1730 and looked through some aviation catalogs.
Some of our tent mates got to go eat dinner with President and Mrs Bush, along with about 1500 other Marines. They were several miles away from us, so we didn't see them. Maybe when they come back next year? Road Kill got to go with a few other guys and they gave the standard "nothing special..." report. Wow, I guess they won't mind if I go next time. Too bad they didn't bring Millie and Ranger. Did see some of the HMX helos, they look funny over here, all shiny green. They'll be dumping sand out of them for years to come.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 21 Nov 90

21 NOV 90

160624, 5T2, 4.7, 260, Peewee

Flew MGen Pearson, BGen Myatt and BGen Brabham around in the morning. Then, as Luck would have it, a Cobra broke down in Bahrain and we were sent to recover it. We spent 3-4 hours there while they fiddled with it, but ended up leaving it there overnight. Flew to JNA at night.
Quote from a Marine in the paper "There's all kinds of dead animals lying around over here, probably people too, cuz I haven't seen a graveyard yet". True, but he probably hasn't been near a city yet either. All we have seen is Bedouins roaming the desert with trucks and tents. Usually have some kind of tanker truck for water and feed. They take their tents, camels and goats and cruise the desert. Largest herd I've seen is 300-400 goats, a little black blob an the desert floor. They scatter a little as we fly over them. Haven't seen a fence anywhere except around the airfield. Or a Taco Bell. From the air Dhahran was lit up, like a real city. Even so, it didn't appear that big. It will be interesting to see what's in Kuwait, if we ever get that far.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 19 Nov 90

19 NOV 90

159204, 5T2, 5.1, 260, Diamond

Briefed at 0800, went on Standby, flew backup for Gen Boomer's aircraft for 2 hours. Saw Gen Schwarzkopf. Came back in time to configure aircraft for night flight to film Cobra shoot. Flew 3.1 hours, practiced some night desert landings, then flew form on the Cobras for 2 hours. Conditions were never right for them to shoot, so we eventually made it back to the field at 2030. Debriefed, walked to tent, got a shower and hit the rack.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 18 Nov 90

18 NOV 90

Scheduled to test, but Peewee flew Mooch to finish his FCP syllabus He's finished now, so we'll have 5 FCPs for 6 Hueys. Maybe Jughead will be next. Actually, Spot is an FCP too. Let's see, Peewee is the only one who won't be due for orders when we get back. May have to grab one of the new guys. There's no doubt in my mind that I have my Overseas Control Date now, of course, so do a lot of other people. Right now we have 5 Hueys up, pretty good considering parts availability. The maintenance guys are doing an incredible job, especially when you consider how much extra work they have to do when they swap parts around. Injun tested a bird the other day that had over 50 maintenance actions that required either a ground turn or functional check flight. It's not ideal to move so many parts around, but we can't afford to let one bird sit as a parts bin. We do our best to make sure an aircraft doesn't sit over 30 days. I just flew one that sat for 55 days, and it's the best bird we have, so go figure. And these are Hueys. Imagine the Cobra nightmare. The guys are working their butts off, Walt probably has the toughest job here.
Got some Christmas decorations in the mail, so I could decorate my tent. Red and gold garland around my desk, icicles and a stocking. Looks pretty festive. It cheers the place up a bit and marks the passage of time. Figure we'll have to be rotated in about a year or guys will just start wandering off into the desert. Got an inflatable Frosty the Snowman too. We'll find a place for him in the terminal.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 17 Nov 90

17 NOV 90

160438, 5T2, 3.6, 362, Pickle

This morning got to sleep in because we were flying late. It was hard to sit around in tent but I managed. Went in to terminal at 1030, spent a few hours prepping for the brief. Our mission was to go out and use the FLIR to ensure no one was on a range that the Cobras were going to shoot on later. There was no moon, so we weren't authorized to use the NVGs. We went out during the day to locate target and make sure it hadn't blown down. Winds were high today and it was very dusty. Target was okay, and we landed to turn a goat herder away from the area. He spoke no English, so there I was, pointing up, saying "helicopter,...bang bang" and motioning which way for him to go. The goats had the right idea but he wasn't getting it. He was busy holding mama goat down so baby goat could get some chow.
Took off and followed Cobras around for an hour. That was LOTS of fun in the pitch black haze. Basically, set the low altitude warning on the radar altimeter to an altitude that you don't want to go below and chase 2 other sets of lights around. The closer you fly formation, the easier to see the other ships, but then you run the risk of hitting them. Finally, as part of the mission, the other Cobras fired some illumination rounds. Much easier to get around after that. We followed them tonight to get some practice for hauling a photographer around on Monday.
We had shot some instrument approaches a few days ago, so that helped. On nights like tonight, there is no horizon and no ground lights to give any visual reference. I think that it is the most demanding flying that we do, except for night boat landings when it's hazy and no moon. That's why I like the NVGs for nights like tonight. Better than no help at all. I haven't flown nights in a while, most of our frags have been during the day. We did one night approach also.
Got back late, shut down and debriefed. I guess the papers are building this up as a huge exercise? Well, it's nothing we haven't been doing since we got here, but you know how the media likes to blow things out of proportion. I'm sure SH is worried. Guess he said he would let 100 Americans go today, haven't heard yet whether that happened. We see fewer and fewer reporters, so I guess they aren't getting around as much or relying more on speculation. Or the chow is much better in the rear.
Got back to tent in time to hear Texas-TCU game on Armed Forces Radio, Even better, it was the Longhorn football announcers. It was about 2200, I listened to it with Russ until 4th quarter, then he went to sleep and let me borrow his radio. The game was real close until the 4th quarter. There I was, sitting on my cot, with all the lights off, listening to Longhorn football with the earphones. It was so dark that I couldn't see anything at all, kind of weird. I was going to be mad if they blew the game, as it was probably the only one that I would hear live. The Rice-Texas game was on a few weeks back, but I only heard a few minutes. Maybe Texas-A&M will be on, as it is at such a weird time.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 16 Nov 90

16 NOV 90

160438, 5T2, 5.7, 450, Bean

Got up at 0430, briefed at 0500 with Injun, Jughead and Bean to carry some pax out to the USS Wisconsin. Flew 140 miles to pick up the pax and get to the battleship. After initial confusion (ops normal at a boat) we landed to drop our guys off. First landing on a battleship, and never thought this is where it would happen. We couldn't shut down and stay because they were going to be shooting, which probably would have rattled the Huey into a little pile of spare parts. They coordinated putting us on the USS Guam and Nassau to wait for 3 hours. We went to the Nassua and I got the landing there too. It felt good to be talking "boat talk" again. Figure the ships thought they were going to get some landlubbers, they got me and Injun instead. I got to sign for the aircraft today too, with Bean as copilot. Made a real smooth landing in front of a turning 46, with about a 20 knot headwind. You could hear the surprise (and relief) in their voices over the radio when it became obvious we knew how to come aboard. We shut down and walked into flight deck control. Raised a few eyebrows when they saw us taking magazines out of our pistols. The guys in flight deck control looked at us funny for a few seconds, finally saw our patches and said "you're not CIA?" Guess they had no idea who we were, and we show up in a tan and grey Huey with no markings. Good rumor. We'll have to strip off the patches too next time.
Dropped off gear in locker room and went to find the wardroom. Got a quick bite. Wardroom was pretty full and someone yelled, "phone call for Capt Lewis, HMLA-369." So I went cruising over, pistol and all, to find out they wanted us to launch early. No one else was carrying pistols on the ship, so they must have been curious why we were there. I knew the ACE XO, he was the Senior Marine at HT-8. Talked to him real quick, then had to hop in and fly off. Bean landed next time on the Wisconsin, and we flew back to JNA. Not many guys get to land on a battleship. And now I've landed on 4 of 5 LHAs; Belleau Wood, Nassau, Tarawa. Peleliu. I need to find the Saipan somewhere. Maybe they'll bring the Wasp out here for me to land on, too.
Had a fun day, got back to camp, wrote some letters. And all of my laundry came back. Oh, guys on boats have been out 90 days, no phone calls!

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 15 Nov 90

15 NOV 90

160171, 5T2, 3.3, 260, Peewee

Flew a General out to an Army camp for a change of command. About 20 Army pilots came by to look at our Huey 1) because it was tan and 2) it has one more engine than their Hueys. They have the single engine models with less armament. I can't imagine anyone having less than us. No whiz bang GPS. Fewer instruments. Wow.
Flight was uneventful, got back in time for mail call.

08 November 2005

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 14 Nov 90

14 NOV 90

0545 Brief. Sat around waiting for a VIP today, then flew back to the field to be put on Standby. Sure was cool today. Forgot to mention that I spent yesterday afternoon and evening running around to the AV-8 base and MEF HQ. Stopped at Camp 1 and made some phone calls, then back to tent to bitch about how rough we have it!

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 13 Nov 90

13 NOV 90

Spent most of the day at the shop, talking to Marines. No classes, but kept busy. Got some good pogey bait in the mail, went to chow, back to terminal briefly, then walked to tent with Mooch. Wrote some letters and talked to Peewee, BB, Diamond. Finally got shower and hit the rack. Fell asleep wondering how we'll heat these tents if it ever gets cold.

06 November 2005

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 12 Nov 90

12 NOV 90

Had briefings all day, a threat update, brief on 367 crash, a combat stress brief and a safety discussion group. The 367 brief didn't;t tell us anything we didn't already know, the driveshaft failed at low altitude and Bob's quick reaction saved everyone. Intel brief was informative and reviewed key weapons systems. Combat stress brief gave us some ideas on how to deal with the normal stuff now before the heavy stuff arrives. Best news of the day, the showers will now be open from 1300-1400 for us regular PTers!
Tried out my new attitude this afternoon, nobody noticed. Maybe I'll try the village idiot role, "golly, I'd like to help, but I'm too stupid!" Nemo led the safety group, he's still settling in after being a liaison to 7th MEB. Some suggestions were simple things like setting a lights out time in the tents of 2200, other addressed a comprehensive training management system. Nemo is really trying to get some credibility built in to the safety program, blended together with our real time mission. He's been fun to talk to, and has to be closer to Spot's office than me. Whew!

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 11 Nov 90

11 NOV 90

Another day off! Got some chow, came back to tent and decided to PT. Light workout for about an hour. I don't know why I started, if the war breaks out, we won't have time to work out. I'd hate to get going on a good PT program, only to have a war screw it up!
PT for an hour, nap for an hour and a half. Always wanted to do that since Boot Camp. In Boot Camp we were running and singing for the first time, "What are we gonna do when we get back, Take a shower and hit the rack..." I had no idea as a new guy, I remember thinking that maybe we got some kind of rest period after a long run. Boy was I wrong!
Wrote some letters. More chow, it was decent today, rice with chicken stew, and a Pepsi. I think they finally found the salt. Started to get a headache, probably dehydrated. Drank some water, cleaned my end of the hooch, went and took a shower. Hit the rack!

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 10 Nov 90

10 NOV 90

159204, 5T2, 1.9, 260, Peewee

Today was the Marine Corps Birthday. Got to the best thing on my birthday, fly! Peewee and I took off at 0745, flew BGen Brabham (CG 1st FSSG) around to see his combat support units in the field. First we went to the FAARP and dropped him off for 30 minutes. The aide brought us some cake, it was great. I have to say it was a beautiful day out in the sun, with my Huey, some M&Ms and a little bit of cake on the 215th birthday. The temps hover in the 90s these days, and the breeze is a little more steady. We took him to 2 more locations, then back to JNA. The best part of flying this morning was missing our own MAG-16 formation (mill about smartly in desert cammies). Or at least we thought we'd miss it. We managed to contribute to the festivities in our own little way. When we got to the field, they were still having the ceremony, over an hour and a half late. They were almost through as we came putting in..wop..wop..wop. 5 miles from the field, the tower asked if we had a "Code", or VIP on board. We told them to call our ops, didn't feel like broadcasting to the world "yea, we got a General back here..." Ops must have clued them in, because they cleared us in to land while the ceremony was going on. We landed 1/2 a mile away on a taxiway, luckily the Gen's driver was smart enough to come out and get him. Got rid of him, shut down until ceremony was breaking up. By that time there were 6 53s, 2 46s, a C-12 and a C-130 waiting for the pits. We turned up, slid over to the pits before everyone else even got started. Refueled, taxied in, shut down and went to eat birthday meal.
Finally some good chow, maybe even better than the other Marine Corps Ball dinners. Could be perspective. Onion soup, shrimp pasta, salad, corn on the cob, and steak with mushrooms. The steaks were marinated overnight, then grilled. All kinds of beverages, I picked Pepsi and a fake beer. For desert birthday cake and ice cream.
Back to the terminal, a short day for the Marines, 6 hours. Read letters, got 25 letters from Joan's elementary school. I'll write them back as a class. I think she read one of my letters to them, must have been the one where I mentioned being sick and them using human waste to fertilize the vegetables. Great! The life of a Marine.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 09 Nov 90

09 NOV 90

Great day. I was scheduled to fly a late, late hop, brief at 2200, takeoff 0030, land 0230. So I got to sleep in this morning. Slept til about 1130, read some magazines, got some chow and made it in for the 1430 AOM. Basically they said "keep your head on a swivel out there, you never know what's goin to happen." Next, I went to get the ODO's brief at 1500 and they say "you're cancelled". Oh darn, after I slept all morning. We were supposed to fly around a RPV receiving station so a guy in the back could look at video or FLIR image that the RPV was shooting. I like the idea of having the RPV out front looking around, vs Super Huey. We can't be too far away, though, but we still get to see the forward battle area. The console operator can then relay target info, etc on to the best asset to shoot it/avoid it/whichever. The FLIR is great because it pick up heat, making targets easier to find at night. Anyway, the RPV guys dropped out at the last minute so our part was scrubbed. Talked to Boingo for a bit, waited for tomorrow's schedule to come out. Looks like I'll be flying some Generals around to cake-cutting ceremonies. Much better than standing in formation at our airfield.
Before chow a group of people came by from the White House Staff came through, a liaison visit in case ol George comes to visit at Thanksgiving. The had everyone from speechwriters, communications, press, Secret Service, HMX up to and including the most important person, the food coordinator. Neato. We talked to some guy from the speechwriter's office for 15-20 minutes. He offered to mail letters for us when he gets back to DC. He asked a lot of questions, to which most of our answers were positive. I asked him to tell GB to bring Millie and Ranger. He said Mrs Bush is coming over too?! Wonder who will feed the puppies? Wonder if I could get that job? Executive scooper...

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 08 Nov 90

08 NOV 90

Worked on projects. Had KFC for lunch, then made phone calls at Camp 5. Got dropped off while car went off to do other business. Walked over to what Mark described as the best phone, and there was no on in line. Got 3 calls out before some Brits showed up, then finished up so they could make some calls.
Need a shovel to go find my good attitude. It must be out here somewhere. I can't believe that the chow sucks so bad here. What happened to all those guys who win the CamPen field mess competition every year? At the General's mess maybe? They damn sure aint here.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 07 Nov 90

07 NOV 90

Rapidly approaching 3 months, so does that mean we're 1/2 done or 1/4 done or what? I'm disappointed that our "expeditionary forces" aren't being replaced quicker with heavier sustaining forces. It feels like the border is still wide open. We should put down a minefield along the border, park a few nuke subs off the coast and go home. Let the Arab world figure it out.
Are the sanctions working. Can't believe the rest of the world won't shut SH down. Or will it take longer for sanctions to work? This routine is getting old, but it has been fun watching all the supposed deadlines and operation commencement dates go by. Never did the big "Night Camel" exercise, now we're suppose to have a standdown to fix all the birds, for a no moon strike mid-month. Seems I've heard that before. I know the sanctions need at least 4-6 months to be effective, and that maybe the Arabs can work something out. It's hard dealing with the peacetime/wartime footing. Hard to stay focused when you've stared at something for 3 months. 5 days off in 3 months though, not too bad. Wouldn't have had much more time off in Oki.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 06 Nov 90

6 NOV 90

160438, 2K2, 1.8, FCF, Jughead

Spent another day tracking and balancing 213's rotor system. Finally fixed it. Took several shots in the dark, we took off the rocket pod/machine gun mounts, put a seatbelt on the TACAN transceiver and voila, all of our readings changed. From there, 2 more adjustments and the aircraft flies great now. Talk about unusual. The mounts were loose and the TACAN mount had some bad vibration viscous dampenener mounts, so they were adding an unacceptable vertical beat to the bird. We'll shim the DAS mounts and get a new TACAN mount to get the bird flying now.
Evening chow, walked back to tent, mentally and physically exhausted. Read a book for a bit. Talked to Injun about his girls, he really misses them.

04 November 2005

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 05 Nov 90

05 NOV 90

160438, 2K2, 2.3, FCF, Mooch

Spent all day testing 213 with Mooch, it's propellers are out of alignment with the afterburner. Actually, rotor blades won't track and balance. Spent all day on it Saturday and said there was no more that could be done with it, there's something weird going on with it. For a track and balance on a main rotor system, we might have to add weight to the hubs for spanwise balance, sweep blades for chord alignment, adjust pitch for track and rpm, and fine tune with trim tabs to compensate for a diving or climbing blade. We measure vibration with vertical and lateral accelerometers with a test set to narrow down balance issues. Track is measured by bolting reflective targets onto the blade tips and firing a strobe at them. One target is a horizontal strip of reflective tape, the other is vertical. If the blades track together, the targets will make a plus sign. Targets are checked in a hover and at various in flight speeds to see if the blades fly "together" or diverge. If one blade climbs or descends because of its individual aerodynamic characteristics, the strobe targets will split and vertical vibration (beat) increases. Then you have to figure out did one blade climb or the other blade dive? We pick one blade to be the target blade and try to make it fly like the other blade. SO then you may end up with 2 crummy blades and eventually go back to square one. Problems crop up when one blade is relatively new and it gets matched with an older blade with more flight hours. The newer blade is more elastic, older blade rigid. The maintenance books can't cover every scenario, as there is no way of knowing how Mr Molecule will interact with every blade. Add 2 pieces of 20 foot protective tape to the leading edge of every blade, plus a patch job here or there into the equation and you're ready to go ground turn all day in 120 degree heat. Are we having fun yet? Sure we are!
Flew 2.3 today experimenting with numerous combinations and corrections. Minimum test standard is having a vertical vibration level of less than 2/10 of an inch per second at 110 knots. Saturday it was 3.5/10, which means a 100 hour component would last about 60 hours and give a bumpier ride. If I can get this hub and blade assembly to track and balance, I will have rewritten the procedures. Following the maintenance pub sequence, it can't be done. Sometimes you have to accept more deviation in the hover to get the in flight track to fall within tolerances. So after 2-3 days of following the book we'll look at some other things tomorrow that aren't in the book. We're trying to avoid removing the entire assembly and swapping out a blade. I have 18 years of crew chief experience out there working on the problem and they aren't too happy about it. We spent all day on it and have an idea of what might fix it, which will be great if it works and gets put in the maintenance manual someday. Then some old salt can say, "Oh yeah, we knew that. You mean you didn't check that first?" Well, it aint in the book. SO I don't know which will be better, figuring out the bird is AFU or that the book is AFU. As long as it's not me that was AFU.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 04 Nov 90

04 NOV 90

Got up at 0730, on my "day off", to go get a hepatitis shot. My butt is still sore. Ate breakfast, went back to tent, took a nap and watched Texas-OU video. Wrote some letters. Finally went in to work to plan, brief and preflight to be a standby crew from 1800-0600. We have a Huey and 2 Cobras on standby in case something comes up somewhere. Given approval to launch by a "competent authority", we would go out and recon the situation. So, in other words, we'll never launch...
Chow was disgusting again. I swear I wouldn't feed half of this stuff to the dogs. Back to tent, read Leatherneck, then 100 pages in a new book called Stinger. Showered, called it an evening.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Storm 03 Nov 90

03 NOV 90

160438, 2K2, 1.3, FCF, Crawford

Spent all day testing an aircraft with SSgt Crawford, then wandered aimlessly for a few hours. Post maintenance, a few engine adjustments, leak check and vibrex. Fun flying, got away from the pit for a while.
Got lots of mail. Need some new socks, maybe Spike can bring some back. He's been gone for a few weeks now, and might get to come back. We really miss him, he let us pick on him. Maybe I'll fly home instead with Gen Boomer for the Christmas parade. Should only take a few weeks to get there in the Super Huey. I can also get a tape to replace Paula Abdul, she's getting kind of old.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 02 Nov 90

02 NOV 90

Not on the schedule, except for test flights, and no aircraft came up for test today. Guess I slowed down flying in Oct, only 15 hours. Nothing like a little continuity. They're trying to keep us a 25 hours a month, actually the airframes at 25 hours a month. Now if we can use those hours to TRAIN, it will be great. And give us some ordnance too.
Scooted around all day, pretending to be busy while actually doing nothing, and pretty much succeeded. Oh, we finally got our desert cammies! 2 trousers, 1 blouse, 1 cover, 4 t-shirts, 1 scarf, 1 long john top, 1 long john bottom, 1 night desert parka (green and dark green blocks?) parka liner, night desert trousers. Also got flak jacket cover, helmet cover and "pack-sack", a bag to put pack in. Aren't we the desert ninja warriors now? I like the night desert coat, it looks like a duster.
Went to disgusting chow, hauled new desert wardrobe and mail from terminal to tent. This plus putting it all away wore me out. Fell asleep at 1830, woke up long enough to crawl into sleeping bag.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 01 Nov 90

01 NOV 90

Reveille. Shaved, maintenance meeting, went to breakfast then hung around shop all day just to see how things are going. The Tiger team from North Island came by, they're a group of Parachute Riggers and Flight Physiologists that travel around to introduce new flight equipment to the Fleet, ensure standardization, troubleshoot problems and see how the FE business is going. Their answer for most of our questions was "we're working on it..." The said new helo helmets are #1 priority at NavAir Development Center. Maybe we'll see something in the next year. All we can do is keep in contact with them about it.
Checked on desert flight suits again, because Irish heard from someone else who knew someone who saw what they thought was a khaki flight suit. One small group from an East coast Hornet squadron bought about 20 just before they left, and now we're wondering if the MAG will float us $9,000 dollars to go out an open purchase our own. Like the rest of the Army/Navy/Air Force and Marine Corps don't want any? We might have been able to get some in Sep, but now that everyone else is here or on the way, It's purt near impossible. But, did hear that the contractor is gearing up to produce 300,000 for all services. Maybe we'll see those in about 6 weeks. We'll put in our request and let the supply system figure out how to fill it.
Had a camel and cheese hoagie for lunch, or was that supposed to be steak? I'm sure I did something this afternoon, I just can't remember what that was. Hey I guess we've been here long enough for this to be Combined Arms Exercise (CAX) 8, 9, 10 and 11-90 now. No word on rotation plan yet, Ha! 6-12 months is my guess. Scuttlebutt says plan will be out within the week, after Commandant's visit. Once again, I say Ha!
Watched clock for about a while, talked to an Army pilot for an hour about FE. The guys did some repairs on some flight gear for him and swapped out a few flight suits. He gave us some tips on how to order the land survival vests, knives, waterproof matches etc. The vests not only look cooler but ARE cooler, made of mesh. He was from Temple, worked in Garland Police Dept, went to SWTSU. They don't have shit where they are at, just sand and MREs. They do have tents, but they are very isolated. So I don't feel so bad for myself now. They've only been here 3 weeks, if that matters. We're going to try and get them into our supply system, if possible and they'll get us into theirs for things that we each can't get. They have better access to the NVG lip lights than we do, plus another NVG finger light that can be velcroed on to a flight glove. These things are pretty handy, considering the cockpits are not NVG compatible. Another thing on our wish list. We gave him some Pepsis to take back, he was impressed, probably thinking how great we had it. Yep, we used to be like that too. Now we're the old men of the desert and have a steady supply.

27 October 2005

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 31 Oct 90

31 OCT 90

No trick or treaters, strange? Last day at Camp 5. The shower here has teddy bear shower curtains. Interesting. Made a phone call. Ride shows up 2 hours late, waited by gate. Ran into Witzel from college, he's at Camp 5 with 9th Comm. Trying to make sure they've got everything needed when the time comes.
Buzz and Nasty finally showed up with next crew and we rode back to airfield. They aren't too happy with the hurry up and wait situation either, which made them seem more normal to me. Got back to the squadron, got a headache, ate crappy chow, got mail, came back to tent and crashed.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 30 Oct 90

30 OCT 90

Day 2 in Camp 5, a garden spot with bushes and trees. Slept late, got up, showered, stood in line to make a phone call. Finished book, walked over to HQ building to find the guy who is letting us use the rooms and tell him thanks.
Talked to some East coast Cobra guys at lunch, they're supposed to move up where we are in a week. They've been living in a hangar with regular access to phones. Won't they be happy when they get up to where we are. The cruel joke in at JNA is that there are pay phones on the wall and in telephone booths, but none of them are hooked up.
Made another call, bugged Jughead for 20 minutes, hit the rack. Oh most important they had Dr Pepper at the small exchange. If they had M&Ms too, why ever leave?

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 28 Oct 90

28 OCT 90

Had a formation today, supposed to get Desert cammies Wed. No new info passed at AOM. Dutch, Stoney, Freddie and I left for a 2 day R&R at Camp 5 around 1100. Camp 5 is an oil worker facility that has been commandeered to house around 1000 Marines. There are chow halls, air conditioned rooms and clubs set up. Spot knows a LtCol over here who is letting us use 2 rooms, pretty cool.
Met Injun on the way our, traded room keys for car keys and went to lunch. Had a cheeseburger, fries and Pepsi (No Coke!) Mine was $4.35, Injun's was $6.00 He said he asked them to not spit in his. Watched a movie, did some reading, made a phone call and got to sleep in air conditioning again.

26 October 2005

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 28 Oct 90

28 OCT 90

Our first legitimate day off. I slept until about 0900, someone woke me up sweeping out the tent. I got up and started cleaning out the junk I was accumulating under my cot. Emptied out my two parachute bags and overnight bag. Filled a trash bag with crap and consolidated. Got rid of old skivvies for new. Passed out extra pogey bait to tentmates. Ended up with 4 piles of stuff, military, books, clothes and gedunk box. Decided I needed a writing desk and/or shelf. Built a lap desk out of some scrap wood, now just need to cover it with some scrap vinyl and I'll be living the high life!
Next made a small shelf out of 1x2s, and stacked some empty water bottle boxes to put clothes into. Made some doors out of cardboard with duct tape hinges. Maybe will keep some sand out? Naaaaaaaaah! Finally got everything stowed and another box arrives with....more stuff. Good timing. Cold weather gear. Groucho glasses with big nose. Candy for Halloween. Important stuff. Pink flamingos finally arrived for our tent also.
Put everything away and went to grab a burger from picnic. Everyone had a good time, mainly played volleyball, horseshoes and drank faux beer. I put cajun spice on the burger. Had a twinkie!
CG 3rd MAW solicited input to improve aviation safety. Lots of mishaps since we arrived. I'm sure he's expecting to hear personally from me. We just need to steal all the good stuff and ideas from the other services. And we need to work together with other services. Next will be to do away with knee jerk safety stand downs when there is a mishap. WE should continue with realistic, standardized and objective based training. These breaks only pay lip service to the true pursuit of aviation safety.
Blanket restrictions on altitude, angle of bank, number of pax are not the answer. Flying 1990s missions with 1960s technology is not the answer. Increased tasking, reduced training, less money and reduction in assets are not answers. Promoting pilots based on their ground job vs their flying skills is certainly not the answer.
Give the Staff jobs to Warrant Officers or SNCOs. Promote me based on my Combat Readiness Percentage, not how well I inventoried the flight equipment or got paint for the barracks.
The answers are to train, train and train some more using objective, graduated training and readiness syllabus. Qualifications need to be in a computer database, and mission tasking matched to pilot capabilities. More night training, LAT quals, TERF and NVG quals are answers. Put a grunt liaison in every squadron. And get me a NVG compatible cockpit. Good equipment plus realistic training equal mission safety.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 27 Oct 90

27 OCT 90

160171, 5T2, 1.5, 140, Peewee

Flew all day, actually flew to range, then sat all day to test fire machine guns. The crew chiefs loaded us up with 50 Cals and 7.62, we took a bunch of door guns over to test fire.
Chuck came in this morning, helped him haul his gear over to the tent. Said he couldn't stand being home, knowing we were here. He brought my custody cards. Now I can consolidate my FE account and verify who has what.

25 October 2005

Gunfighter Diary Desert Storm 26 Oct 90

26 OCT 90

160176, 5T2, 3.4, 260, Jughead
Got up at 0555, got ready for the brief. I was section leader on a hop to pick up a Regimental CO and take him up to northern Saudi positions. These turn out to be about 20 miles from the border. I'm sure there has to be someone further north, doesn't there? Anyway, I was happy that I got to sign for the bird AND lead the section. After we briefed, we were told that there were only 4 pax, so you only need 1 Huey. Dash 2 was told to stay at JNA. I reminded Ops that the frag listed 8 pax in one zone and 4 in another. Ops said they had confirmed only 4 pax. SO guess how many were standing next to the LZ when we showed up, single ship? We landed, I explained to the Colonel and contacted controlling agency to launch Dash-2. We took the first 4 up north, Dash-2 caught up with us eventually with the other 4. We then completed the rest of the frag, 3.4 hours of flying. I'm sure the Iraquis saw us flying around and are shivering in their boots, in awe of the mighty Devil Dog Super Huey.
Missed breakfast, missed lunch, had 1 canteen of water and some M&Ms. By 1630 I had a headache so bad I couldn't even walk to the chow hall. Drank a lot of water and laid down on the FE floor for an hour. Finally got up, wandered to the chow tent, had 2 bites of brown rice, 1 bite of spicy chili, a cup of salt flavored with chicken broth, slice of bread with peanut butter and orange soda. Stumbled back to work, laid down for another 45 minutes. Finally made it back to Chez Tent, got a shower. Bitched about field grade and felt better.
Routine is becoming routine. Supposed to have another Safety Standdown soon, using new ideas to stress safety. They're asking for input. If they could guarantee that ideas would actually leave the squadron they might get some. Otherwise, most people will say that everything is fine. I'll work on my dream sheet in the morning while trying to stay out of my Marine's way. They need someone to show them how to manage their time a little better. I'll certainly be of no help doing that.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 25 Oct 90

25 OCT 90

Kept busy all day transferring Lessons Learned info onto disk. Trying to get info to appropriate action agencies so that we can get fixes/support/new stuff/etc...If the Army can afford to have people working on making chocolate that won't melt, we should be able to get some decent flight equipment. Or would that be too much to ask?
Mail call, got some newspapers from Joan. Already had seen most of them, but the thought was nice. Message came in identifying those guys whose video home got taped over. Sections will be redone to send home again. Went to chow, came to tent at 1645, thought I'd lay down for a few minutes at 1745. Woke up at 2200 long enough to find out I'm flying at 0730 tomorrow. Took off flight suit and crashed.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 24 Oct 90

24 OCT 90

No flying, spent al day watching the shop. Tried to do as little as possible, but still a few projects that I'm interested in. Got the flight equipment log books from CamPen finally, but still no Equipment Custody Receipts. Maybe Chuck has them, they are the cards that list all the DS90 gear that was checked out. Chuck is also supposed to bring another VCR, the first one got sent to the FAARP.
Rotating groups of 15-20 to the phones again . If someone hasn't been able to call home by now, it's their fault. Another nearby R&R spot may open up soon, on 1 Nov. Not sure how many will get to go, but it will have phones. Only the night crew has slept in air conditioning for the last month, and now no one does from our squadron. It's cooler now, but not by much. I desperately need Morgan Fairchild's address.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 23 Oct 90

23 OCT 90

Another day in paradise. Our day off yesterday was nice. The flying has slowed down as more units have come in to spread out the tasking, and there is not as much need for recon missions as there was initially. Plus they have more Hummers to drive around, in addition to all the Land Cruisers, Suburbans, Cherokees, and Range Rovers that are popping up over here. Evidently there is a need for "admin" vehicles, for everyone to move around without having to take a Hummer or a tank. But since the vehicles are going out to the forward areas, they sprayed them all over with tan paint. It's funny to see a brand new truck, covered in tan paint, with the paint scraped off of just the windows, headlights and tail lights. Maybe I can get a good deal on one when this is over.
With the ops tempo slowing, everyone wants to slack off a bit. Since my shop was going round the clock when they first got here, they are really tired. We have one guy out on guard duty, and I'm trying to deflect the routine tasks away while they catch up. They'll be spooled up again soon enough, and they're ready. I'm moving around from around 0615 until 1830-1900. Some days I feel like I've accomplished absolutely nothing, sometimes the brain gives itself the day off whether I want it to or not. Other days everything gets done. My Marines are a good bunch and we finally have some other Flight Equipment shops over here to share info and material with. The MAILS Marines are very good, MAILS-16 is ahead of MAILS-39 with the gas masks and Nevis. But everyone is working together.
Had a post-phase Huey today. Preflight, rinsed engines, ground turned. It had a lot of small gripes, but other wise a very solid aircraft. I like flying and testing when it's just me, a crew chief and a camel. We don't go too far from the field, probably around 5 miles, just far enough to get away and get clear of the pattern. Once clear we can start writing down gauge indications, checking performance. My favorite test in when you check the flight control rigging. Sometimes it is just one continuous maneuver. Start out going forward then slowly pivot the helicopter around the transmission. Bring the tail slowly around as you continue straight ahead. Sideways, then backwards, sideways, then pointing straight ahead again. It's a good coordination exercise, and a fun time to be in a helo.
Chow was burgers with gravy and rice, not too bad after being doused with Worcestershire sauce. Had an awesome piece of chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Wrote a letter in the terminal, where it's cool. Butted in to other people's business for an hour or so. Quote of the day "You can't row the boat without making some waves."
No Iraqui hordes yet, guess the Holy Day invasion rumor was wrong. Guess leaving on the 23rd rumor was wrong also. Guess 45 day ultimatum was false. Still in the same spot, no word on anyone moving anywhere. But we're ready. Been ready in Memphis. Been ready in 323 as part of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force. Not too ready in college. All kinds of times on the MEU. Panama. Manila. Sri Lanka and Burma. Some I missed, some never happened. In some ways this has been no different than sponging up oil in Alaska, snuffing out fires in Yellowstone or chasing drug smugglers around the border. Each situation offered its own unique challenges. We're going to be ready and do our best.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 22 Oct 90

22 OCT 90

Training all day, briefs every 2 hours. I gave a class on the AR-5 gas mask, everyone said it was good. Probably just glad we didn't go into the box with the tear gas tabs to try em out.
KFC for lunch. More briefs on intel and tactics. Evening chow at 1830, gossip on our tent porch for an hour, letters. Yes, our tent has a porch now, we're moving on up. Some guys found some scrap lumber and fashioned a front entry for the tent. We make this place too nice and I'm sure we'll be booted out.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 21 Oct 90

21 OCT 90

Today was our picnic, turned into a day off, kind of. The picnic was cancelled because it was "too hot?" But it hasn't been too hot to have been working on and flying helicopters for the last 2 months? OK, I figured maybe the guys weren't that interested in mandatory fun anyway. Then Spot decides to have a formation at 1200 for all the enlisted Marines. Boy are they pissed. They have to get up, shave, etc and walk down to the terminal for a pep talk.
I slept til 1000, wrote a letter, ate some CJs (Cracker Jacks), looked at the clouds....yes, clouds. We had some cumulus clouds roll through today. Highlight of the day so far. Set up my mosquito net and "slepted" (sleep/sweat) until 1430. Went to terminal to shave, pick up laundry, write a letter and buy a Pepsi. Several Os were there, wandering aimlessly. Went to chow, stew over noodles, Pepsi and a new treat, ICE CREAM. Tasted like cold pudding, but hey, who's complaining?
Been taking pictures, working on capturing the perfect "Gunfighter into the Sunset" photo. Hope to get a good one for the cruise book or to send in to Navy photo contest. I've got a few from the past, they don't have to be from this year.

18 October 2005

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 20 Oct 90

Looking at 3 million gallons of fuel...

20 OCT 90

Busy at work today, no flying. Tomorrow is supposed to be a day off for the Marines, with burgers, sodas, volleyball etc...Talked to Nemo about pros/cons of going to 303 or HMX after we get back. Haven't seen any HMX guys over here. I did see were they crashed one of the Presidential helos in Illinois, the first that's been crashed. Everyone's OK, no VIPs on board. They were doing a rehearsal and some snow fence may have been blown into the tail rotor. What a great year Marine Corps aviation is having!
Got a letter from my mom, said they had a good time in Vegas at Ernest's softball tournament. Can't believe the guys pick the desert to run around in and play softball. It's so cool there this time of year. She's been having a hard time with me being here. She heard about the Hueys from the ship and it made her cry. I had mentioned to Injun that I was worried that she had only written twice and was hoping that she wasn't too worried about me. One thing I hadn't considered is that she works at the Times-Herald, so all she hears and sees all day is the media hype and bad news.
Projects continue. Spot came by today and asked "How are we doing on the LASER pointers?" I told him we were missing two. He asks "How come it took me 60 days to find this out?" I don't know, selective memory. Irish and Nasty remember being told the first week we were here. Then the best line, he says "Well, I hope you have $2000 dollars." He walked off before I could point out that 2 of them would actually be $4000 dollars. I cooled of for 30 minutes, then went to see Irish. He had predicted this conversation 2 days ago, said just to give him the info on the custody cards and inventory sheets. It will be fun to keep track of all this stuff in the coming months, when the rockets are flying and helos are going to every corner of the theater. Don't worry, be happy.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 19 Oct 90

The shop is really starting to come together...Megaughey and Chames practice the Gunfighter handshake.

19 OCT 90

Rawheid came by and brought me an AAFES catalog. What a great guy, there's lingerie models in there! How did this make it in country. I'll have to start a waiting list for guys who want to order stuff for Christmas. Wonder if they understand they'll only get the lingerie, not the model? Made me think of the lingerie auctions at the 29 Palms O Club, where guys were buying things that would never fit their wives. Once again, I missed the whole point of the exercise, but it was entertaining. And a politically correct step away from the strippers.
Good news, found the two sets of wayward NVGs. $40,000 dollars of good news. They're in Florida. Yup, Florida. Finally got to call VX-5, they gave me Sonny's number in Florida, out at Eglin for some project. He says, "Yea, I got 'em, you guys left town too fast for me to get them back." Evidently we confused out MAWTS-1 augment guys goggle with the ones we lent to VX-5, they had the same numbers, just scrambled around. I told him to hold on to them, no telling where they'd end up if tried to get them too us. Boy was that a relief. Nasty also says I can use the car to drive to Dhahran to scope out the area where we were the first day to look for the LASER pointer and AR-5 that are missing. I figure they're in one of 3 places 1) back in CamPen 2) 169 pilots who checked in then checked back out before we left have them or 3)rattling around in the bottom of someone's parachute bag. I appreciate Nasty's attitude because it was "well, they're probably gone, but it won't hurt to look for them" vs "where are they?" Irish has been helpful too. I asked him about my dilemma with the Flight Equipment "Gift Shop", we're giving out a lot of gear I figure we'll never see again. Flight suit, helmets, GPS receivers, LASER pointers, PVS-5s. He said to just keep him up to speed, and we'll consolidate the account and get Spot to authorize dropping the gear later, if we don't get it back. Out here, some of the gear is consumable, like the flight suits. They'll get worn out and surveyed anyway. It'll be a balancing act between keeping some spares on hand while supporting the folks we can with what we have. Best course of action is to just let the FE boys do their swap and trade magic, it reminds me of the old war movies where the gear show up, the Officer asks "where did we get that" and the Sgt says "you don't want to know, sir."
Called on amen to check on the new Cobra helmet. The old helmets are the old style helo helmet, Vietnam era. Outer shell with inner retention/ suspension strap design, with the addition of amount for the Helmet Sight System (HSS). Very heavy and required FE to remove and insert spacer cushions to fit each pilot. The HSS helmet is considered part of the aircraft inventory, so we only rate one per seat. One of the FE shop's coups at CamPen was scrounging enough "spare" parts to make sure each Cobra pilot had their own helmet, so they could get the best fit for each pilot and leave it alone. The new helmet is similar to the fixed wing helmet, light weight, custom fit. It will be out soon and is supposed to be personal issue. If not, maybe we can buy some ourselves.
No mail. Cooling off enough in the evening to get in the sleeping bag. No rotation message yet, to send us home. Wonder what the hold up is. Maybe Mooch can type up a fake one? He did this during Westac 89 to mess with Mankid, a Captain who continually talked about how he was "getting out of the Suck" as soon as the float was over. The typed up a message from HQMC that notified Mankid that his commitment was extended "indefinitely" due to the building crisis in Panama. They put a date time stamp on it, copied it a few times to make a really poor copy, ad posted it on the message board. We were snickering in the back of the ready room as he read it. He was standing at first, then slumped into a chair. After a few minutes, he took of looking for the CO. Checked the wardroom first, then found him in his stateroom. CO was confused, "I don't know anything about this..." Someone decided it was time to clue Mankid in. Didn't hear anything else about him getting out, but he did promise to get even someday.
Heard Steve Martin visited the REMFs, never made it out to us. Also heard that he has the runs now. Welcome to the sandbox Steve. Enjoy your salad!

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 18 Oct 90

Walt tells Spike, Charlie and Ducky what he thinks of their flight schedule

18 OCT 90

No flying to day. Engine rinse, projects, awards, chow, check out what the other Marines are doing. We've got a really good maintenance crew. Hate to admit there's a couple of Cobra guys running the show, Irish and Talon. Can't always figure out where they are coming from, but the Marines respond and we are doing great with aircraft availability, esp now that the Huey blade issue has been resolved. Walt is our MMCO, he's a Mustang and is pretty squared away. He must be the man who's really pulling the strings. The SNCOs and enlisted Marines are a motivating crowd, any time I want a laugh I just corral one of these Marines. I have a great shop, it runs itself, but Sgt Lee is kind enough to let me come by and he pretends like I'm really helping by being the OIC. As long as I'm there to get them the recognition they've earned, I'll have done my part.
We seem to be settling in to a routine. The airfield is growing. C-5s, C-141s, C-130s and the CRAF come and go 24 hours a day. The joke about the Air Force transport guys is that we figure they get Air Medal points for coming in to our "Forward Deployed" area, especially if they have to go north of the field and land to the south. There is never a quiet moment at the airfield. The ramp, pits and staging areas are lit up with floodlights all night while the planes are unloaded. The ALCE was established out by the runway soon after we arrived, they have some impressive capabilities. I went over to check out their trailer after they set up, their comm gear lets them talk to just about anyone and most importantly they have air conditioning. It's they're job to coordinate the airhead here at Jubail, and it seems like a pretty cool job for the Air Force.
We have held on to our spot in front of the terminal, and keep several spots open for alert aircraft. We also have helos parked out on the apron on the other side of the taxiway, some slashed and a couple ready to go for the day's mission. Also have some ordnance prestaged for the Slugs and Snakes. The 82nd has moved on to who knows where, guess the neighborhood went downhill once the Jarheads showed up. They are going to put down matting for the transport helos, south of the field, lots of Frogs starting to show up. The Shitters are over at a nearby camp, where they'll have a little more room to move around. They're huge, and the ramp here is just too packed for them to move around. The pits are running non-stop and the fuel farm has grown to a huge maze of fuel bladders. I'm told each bladder holds 10,000 gallons of fuel. I can't figure out how they get all the valves set correctly to get the fuel pumped anywhere. And guess everyone figures out 1 gallon equals 3.8 liters.
Got back to Chez Tent at 1900, fell asleep, then got up to take a shower. Portable showers have arrived, evidently one side is hot water and the other side it cold water. I found the cold water side. That explains why the other side was full. Shower unit consists of a 4 plastic tub with rubberized canvas sides, individual shower head. Several units have been hooked together to make two blocks of 12 showers. Water is pumped from a huge bladder, through a heater for one side. Other side is somewhat warm because the water comes from a bladder that heats up during the day. As it empties and refills, the water cools off again. Can't complain about that, it's free and we get to hose off after flying around in our portable sandstorm all day.

17 October 2005

Gunfighter Diary Desert Storm 17 Oct 90

Here's a picture of our flight surgeon, Doc Aubuchon, waiting to embark C-5 in El Toro. We'll blend in nicely with all the woodland camouflage.

17 OCT 90

Made the mistake of eating breakfast with our 2 flight docs, Aubuchon and Leong, aka "Pair-o-Docs." We walked up to their table and said, "Can we sit here, you guys don't talk about amoebas and bacteria at breakfast do you?' Doc Leong said "No, only Dysentery." So I asked "How about violent diarrhea?" Leong responds"Actually, the proper term is projectile diarrhea...Boy, you should have seen the place, it was a mess. We'd just waxed the floors and that poor guy just went shootin across the room. Looked like Halley's comet. Not a pretty sight." Guess we won't sit with them again, at least not at the chow tent.

Unidentified sources report that two Marine choppers were seen carrying military personnel to airfields in Saudi today. Unfortunately, the whirlybird pilots were overcome by excessive ultraviolet exposure and disabling flatulence. In other words, they were sunburned and had gas. The glamorous life of a Naval Aviator. These pilots have been restricted to Saudy Acres, a retirement home for wannabe airline pilots. Please write.
Flew some Group guys around today with Peewee. Showed them the airfield, Marines in the field, Port of Jubail, all of the usual spots, including the golf course. Worked on projects and goofed around this afternoon. Wrote letters to family.

16 October 2005

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 16 Oct 90

16 Oct 90

Got up at 0500 to rinse engines, only took til 1030 to finish. Worked on more inventories, avoided field grade, then worked on awards. Turning LOA recommendations into CG CerComs per Irish's direction. He thinks they rate one, I've never written one so sounds good to me. Trying to get a call back to Chuck to see if any gear was left in the shop, like NVGs. I'd rather not cough up 15 grand per copy for the two pair that are still wandering around somewhere. We think we may have them checked out to VX-5 still, as I have 2 custody cards still, but one of my Marines telling me he "thinks" that a Major brought them back. Won't know until I get a serialized inventory from SSD and my ECR cards. Probably should have brought those.
Nearby 53 base thought they had incoming this evening, opened up with return fire. We launched 2 Hueys to check it out, 1 with a FLIR and put 4 Cobras on standby. Spot got a a nice bump on his head, got hit with a door while preflighting. I saw it happen and couldn't believe that he wasn't knocked out. Maybe he'll be more careful around Mooch now. Mooch claims to not hve done it on purpose. Hueys were gone scouting around for about 40 minutes, luckily didn't get shot at by our own guys. No bodies were found, maybe we'll know more in the morning. Nervous grunts maybe?
Our quick reaction team went out too, our inner defense if anyone wiggles through the Battalion protecting us. Mooch was in charge of organizing and training the guys, they dug foxholes and have teams set up to protect the airfield. They did this for the first week or so until the Bn showed up. That was one of my favorites, when the Bn showed up and asked "who's out in front of us?" No one.

15 October 2005

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 15 Oct 90

60 day time lapse photo of UV exposure effects. Actually, mug shot of Dutch, EggFu and Diamond

15 OCT 90

160171, 5T2, 1.1, 260, Barnett

Flew out to Division HQ and slept all day. We were medevac/VIP standby. The had a few cots handy, so we borrowed them and looked like little sundials, chasing the shade around the helicopter. Slept, ate chow, slept, read 5 pages in a book, swatted flies, slept, flew to JNA. Boy were we baked, I drank plenty of water.
Got a letter from my pen pal. I am impressed that the kids are interested, esp enough to write back. And anyone who likes airplanes and baseball is fine by me. Maybe some letters will help them put all of this into context. I told her mailing camels was “forbidden” and sending goats would be “baaaad” also. Too tired to shower.
Oh, supposedly 3rd MAW says no one can fly below 500 feet now. Guess an A-6 clipped a radio tower, flying 800 feet lower at night than they were supposed to be, without an updated hazard map. As always, penalize everyone. I never try to go ABOVE 300 feet. Staying low is about the only defense we have. The MAG is checking, as we’ve seen nothing in writing yet. Should be for fixed wing only? I hope so.
Getting up at 0500 to rinse engines. Fun fun.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 14 Oct 90

Me: "Buzz, I like your Paula Abdul poster..."
Buzz: "Thanks. Get rid of that mustache. And you're off the flight schedule."

14 OCT 90

Being Sunday and all, I thought I'd relax as much as possible. Spent most of the morning reading an aviation humor book. It was good, but made me want to be home, going to airshows. I don't know whether Nemo's story will ever make it (He was a pilot who had a seaplane "mishap" near Whidbey, resulting in a short swim in the lake and generation of the callsign "Nemo".) Plus he's trying to change his callsign from Nemo to Salvo anyway. Yesterday, he inadvertently fired off some flares by bumping a switch to the salvo position. Could have been a mechanical problem, a glitch. Anyway, no one was injured but new call signs may abound.
About 1130 some guy from Group comes through and asks if we have a spare helmet that we can give LtGen Boomer. I figured Spot would want to give one up. I'm glad the guy came to see me first. Before we left, we had drawn 7 new helmets from SSD as spares, so we do have extras. I also know how hard it is for a crew chief to try to get the General a good headset every time. Anyway, had the guys start gathering up the goodies (helmet bag, skull cap, gloves, dark visor) and Buzz comes "buzzing" up. Wait, Spot came by first. He suggested FE make a name tag and take along some NVGs and the new aviation gas mask to show him how it attached to the helmet. The about 10 minutes later Buzz comes zipping by an tells me that "you're going to fit the General's helmet". I told him I'd go with along one of my Marines. Then he told me to shave my mustache. Yes, I had a one week old cheesy mustache growing. It must have really been a problem for him because he'd already commented on it twice during the week. I was flattered that anyone could tell I was even trying to grow one. Actually, it wsn't so much as if anything was growing, I just hadn't shaved my upper lip for a week. Buzz really has a body hair fixation, he had more than a few comments about my about a really short haircut a got a few weeks back. Well, the mustache would have disappeared without him saying anything, my theory being I didn't want my only memory of Saudi Arabia being the Commander of all Marine Forces telling me to "shave that thing off." I only grew it to annoy the field grade, and evidently it served it's purpose.
We drove to the port facility, where MEF HQ is, stood around for a while, and went in to let the Gen check out his stuff. Gen Boomer was very nice, but seemed preocupied. Gee, I can't imagine why. He said he really appreciated it, that he hated "not being able to talk and hear in the back, and bugging the crew chiefs". The aide is probably mad because now he has more things to tote around. The Gen didn't ask the standard "where ya from?....Never heard of it..."questions, which to me meant he was busy. He seemed mildly interested in the NVGs, not so much the gas mask. It was cool to met him, and someday maybe I'll see a news clip of him with a flight helmet and say "hey...".
30 minute ride back from HQ in the back of a pickup, I am fried. Buzz had a huge bag of pistachios, so the trip wasn't too bad. Got mail. One of the guys' wife is a reporter, is getting a visa and soliciting the CamPen PAO to make a 48 hour trip to Saudi.
Listening to my music tape, it's playing the song "Don't Worry, Be Happy..." We should play it before every maintenance meeting. Maybe I'll sneak over to the mosque and play it over the loudspeaker. Anyone can obviously go in at any time and pray to Allah over the loudspeaker. 3, 4, 5 a.m, doesn't seem to matter. The first few times I heard it at King Fahd, it was kind of eerie. My plan is to have someone sneak in with a boom box and play some Tone Loc or M C Hammer. Wonder if this would bother the locals?
The Marine Corps suspended our Low Light Level training indefinitely. They just started it 3 weeks ago. Guess the timing isn't right? Army identified a problem with helmet retention straps, there's a fix coming out. I'll try not to crash in the meantime. I figure if you hit something that hard, you're not going to be worried about your helmet. The MAG is going to use this as ammo to push for the lighter, quieter, safer helo helmet. I called North Island to get the repair info for the old helmets.
I think being here is a big plot to reduce the forces, everyone's gonna be so mad when we're done that they won't reenlist.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 13 Oct 90

13 OCT 90

Spent all morning typing Logistics Support Requests, 2 rosters, a letter to the LASER pointer company and some other things. I was on the computer for about 4-5 hours. Entering project info, serialized inventories, wish I had more computer sense. Don't know how high speed I need to be at this point. Feels good to have a backup for correspondence for my own records. Copiers hard to come by over here. I’d like ot send feedback on the GPS receivers. They work great when the satellites are up, but our gray visor works as a polarizing filter with the LCD readout; you can’t see the display. Oh well, they can fix that easy enough. Cashed a check for 60 dollars so I could pay my Officer dues? They say the money wil be used to buy some film, cruise book items, party fund, etc...Oh well, we did get a VCR. Life goes on.
According to rumor control I’ll be home by November. I’m still predicting Valentine’s Day. Nothing is happening fast. Goofed around for an hour, treated myself to chicken at 1430, talked to Injun, S-4, did some more work, trying to round up some wayward FE gear.
Spike is leaving?! Yes?! Kind of surprised me. Who are we gonna pick on now? Seriously, I wish him the best of luck for his wife’s sake. I don’t know if this was his scheduled departure or not Maybe he’s going home to fight the promotion board some more. Probably shouldn’t have been sent here in the first place. It’ll be interesting got see if Ops changes when he’s gone. All of the Lts will miss him...
Well, no great ideas for me today. Need t go to Dhahran to see if our missing gear is just sitting down there somewhere. NVGs may have been turned in at CamPen by guys who checked out at the last minute. Jim amd I shot the shit for a while, nothing of substance. Ate chow, spread rumors. Grabbed gear, back to tent at 1830, pinged on the field grade.. We have a good group of guys, Capts and Lts, there’s just a wide gap between them and the field grade. Spot is nuts. Just think how impressed everyone will be when they realize that we did all these neat things with Spot as our CO. We certainly checked off all the boxes we could this year, Eagle Claw, 2 CAXs.
Chow sucks. It’ll be hard to get the Christmas spirit over here, probably prohibited.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 12 Oct 90

12 OCT 90

A lovely little sand dune, in the middle of nowhere. Eastern BFSA. Looking for the book Dunk’s Almanac, Marine Corps vignettes. Got up, went to work. Worked. Wrote letters. Looked at Huey. Wrote more letters. Wrote MORE letters. Ate. Cleaned hooch. Listened to tapes. 2 Beers article on the Cobra driveshaft failure was published in Approach, document of subsequent airmanship and heroics. We’re using heat sensitive tape to monitor them for now, and it has caught a few problems, so good things have evolved from this. Today was busy but boring. Attitude above average, Chow wasn’t bad. Spaghetti, but the cooked the noodles? back to hooch at 1800, dusted off cot, listened to music, bitched about Majors and LtCols, read Newsweek, looking for mail. Shower and try to get a few more hours sleep.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 11 Oct 90

11 OCT 90

Slept good, it’s cooling off considerably. Forgot laundry. Wrinkled cammies. Must find hot rocks.
Had classes all day. No flying/turning. Better than CamPen. I guess the day off for E’s last week was a one time thing. Spent the morning typing NATOPS change recommendations. Turned them in to NATOPS, they’ll send off to conference, or urgent change if warranted. Spent rest of afternoon in classes, formation, eating, monitoring projects. Irish said if we don’t turn in our awards recommendations, he’s “gona mark us all the way to the left” in the Handling Enlisted fit rep block. his is something I don’t mind being reminded about, so I spent a lot of time writing Letters of Appreciation for Samuel, Chames and Megaughey, and a NAM for Sgt Lee. I’ll eventually write up Sgt Legg for a NAM, because of all of his work on the new AR-5 gas masks. He’s doing really well, very conscientious and studious. The LOAs may get upgraded to CG Certificates of Commendation, they worked hard but maybe not as smart as this award rates.
Called CamPen, inventory sheets were sent out a few days ago. Still missing 2 sets of NVGs as of 2 days ago. I had 76 sets here, but 2 belong to to our augment MAWTS-1 guys. They never told us they were leaving them in FE. So now I’m 2 sets short. Sgt Lee told me the first day we were here one of our gas masks was brought in by a squid, who said he saw it fall off the back of a truck! It was in the back of a 5 ton for 60 miles. Guess I’ll know more when I get the custody cards, or when we get back to CamPen.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 10 Oct 90

10 OCT 90

159204, 5T2, 2.3, 260/140, Peewee

Today was spent flying a British General around. He kept asking for cereal? Finally I said “General, I don’t have any Cheerios….” Yuk yuk!! He will be in charge of all the Brits. Best frag we’ve had so far, they wanted to do what the frag sheet said, got changes to us early, all our radios were crystal clear, freqs were right, etc…Plew with Peewee, I’m over 80 hours now. I think we were the first Marines to fly BritCent over here.
Tried to relax a bit. Worked on getting clearing barrels put outside the terminal and updating the mishap plan to incude an “Overdue Aircraft” checklist. We had no procedure for that, it started because someone called to tell us an aircraft was down. Well, what if it hadn’t come back when it was supposed to be back? Hmmm. So that’s done now. Also suggested we have an Emergency Reclamation Checklist broken down by S-shops, Maintenance, then even further as necessary, so we aren’t scrambling looking for chemlights, shovels, security, crane, comm gear, chow, water, dragon wagon etc… when something happens. So that is happening. S-4 actually sent a letter to MWSS saying listing what equipment they’ll need to borrow should we park a bird somewhere that we don’t want to leave it. I fed the experience I had from recovering 2 Beer’s Cobra in Yuma to Nemo, and he’s making them happen.
I’m remaining cognizant of my ballistic intolerance. Small MCX is open, AAFES catalogs are all snapped up, lingerie pages are dog eared. We are a hopeless bunch.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 09 Oct 90

9 OCT 90

Bugged my guys all day. They ordered some new straps for the helmets. Got taksed by Group to give them a vest, float gear and body armor for….swim qual? Boy was I steamed. Lot’s of swimming going on over here.
267 had a mishap, deployed with the 13th MEU. 2 Hueys flew away with 8 Marines and never returned. They were off of the Okinawa (LPH), operating in the Arabian Sea, just outside the Straits of Hormuz. The ship lost radio and radar contact with them about 30 minutes before sunrise. They had NVGs, but it is not known whether they were using them or not. The goggles start to wash out as the sun starts to come up. Weather was clear, I’ve heard wreckage has been spotted but no survivors. I consider being lost at sea one of the worst ways to perish, primarily because of the questions that remain unanswered for the families. I hate to think of all the lives that go on hold, as they try to make sense of this tragedy.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 08 Oct 90

Flight Equipment's "Hog Board" (pictures of round-eyed American women) is growing, creating a steady stream of visitors to our shop...which is starting to get old.

8 OCT 90

159204, 2K2, 1.0, FCF, Mooch
Returned from Manifa this morning. Boy am I beat. Sat around all day waiting to rinse 201’a engines. We have to rinse the engines daily now, to cut down on salt accumulation. The aircraft commander has to motor the engines for the maintenance crew. It really takes long time for the engines to cool down, to break down the rinse fittings, gather the wash cart, power cart etc. I finished at 1930…hmmm. Bet I get to sign more often now, so I can stay late every night. Guess my hot dates will have to wait.
21 was about an 8 on my flying scale. I won’t sign off a 5. Spent some time putting Mooch’s FCP training forms in the computer. Spent some more time shooting the breeze with our maintenance Marines. Oh, Flt Equip will probably be voted Shop of the Year because 1) Sgt Legg’s friend sent him photos from the McCabe’s Hot Legs, Bikini and T-Shirt contest. He also got a letter from a FSU sorority girl, with a group photo. She wrote that if guys would circle a girl’s face and send their name, she would ask them to write. She also asked that we guess the names of certain girls, and the correct guesser would get a letter. Cute, huh? I read the letter, she’s an airhead. Studies Communications but never watches news, reads paper or listens to the radio? Clueless as to why we are here….then again, so am I at this point. And 2) Passes out Aunt Mary’s cookie crumbs. So there was a crowd in our shop all day, it was fun for about an hour.
Chow was beef gristle stew, wallpaper paste on lumpy potatoes. Sucked. 3rd worst meal so far. I’m realy dehydrated, got a great headache, have to lug my bag of stuff around everywhere (towel, CPOG, gas mask, NBC kit). Called it a day.

GUnfighter Diary Desert Shield 07 Oct 90

Irish says "Clark, why don't you take the rest of the week off!!"
7 OCT 90

159204, 2K2, 1.0, FCF, Mooch

Rode to Manifa/Gunfighter Osis, now officially known as LZ Foss, in the back of a pickup with Mooch and crew chief. Saw several convoys of civilians heading south, and a few camels. It was our job to retrieve the second Huey that had been there for 18 days. Spent all day in the sun, tested for about 2.5 hours to get the bird up. They had replaced the swashplate and also the blades. It took 7 adjustments to get the rotor track and balance acceptable, vs 2 the day before on 210. Plus the a/c had no rotor brake, which means it takes about 5 minutes to shut down for every runup. Anyway, got finished at sundown, ran out of crew day to fly back to base. Spent night at FAARP, brought some gear this time to sleep with and clean up. Slept terrible, got up, worked with Mooch for .5 on FCP training, then got escorted to JNA by 2 Cobras. So I’m 2 for 2 on Huey blade swaps. Injun is trying to fix another bird, its blades may be too mismatched (low hour, high hour) to get it rigged. Tomorrow will tell. I’ll probably get to fly it. So now we have 3 up Hueys, should have 2 more in a few days. Irish told me “good jo” when I called him last night to tell him 201 was up.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 06 Oct90

6 OCT 90

Flew Bu No 160179, 2K2, 1.1, .7, 140, Test hop with Mooch

2 Hueys have been sitting at Manifa for 17 days, and we finally have the blades to fix them. Mooch and I got up this a.m., waited about 2 hours for the paperwork to be finished on 210. Preflighted and cranked her up. Surprisingly, this was the quickest vibrex I’ve ever done. Only had to make 2 adjustments to track, no adjustments to balance. The a/c flew really smooth at 120 knots, best I’ve felt in along time. Maybe we should tape all the blades? Actually we will. Flew 1.1 track and balance, the .6 returning to base.
We’re not usually authorized to fly anywhere single ship, in case there’s a problem, but Buzz had said “whe you get the a/c up, climb high, call tower and tell them you’re inbound”. So we did, tower didn’t answer and we asked another air control agency to relay. Flew back to base IFR (I Follow Roads). Got back to JNA, shut down, Spot walked by and asked “So I guess this means 210 is back?” and wanted to know how we got back. We told him single ship and he asked “Who authorized that?” Surprise, Buzz popped in and said that he did. Amazing, nothing else was said. Irish looked relieved, because he had told me to come back also. SO here’s an instance where Spot listened before spooling.
Probably do the same thing tomorrow. Could’ve done the other Huey today but the crane wasn’t available to put the hub and blades on. Guess it’s another first for me, First Scocth Tape/3M Huey Pilot in S.A. I was surprised that Irish asked me if I wanted to go tackle 201 yesterday, of course, anything to get some distance from the flagpole.

Uno: “Dad, the phone’s ringing. We’ll watch your plate for you…Trust us…”

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 05 Oct 90

5 OCT 90

Had classes on bugs and snakes. Sent to Manifa (Gunfighter Oasis) late to fix a Huey. The repaired blades had been trucked up there, had some tape applied to the leading edges to protect them. I was skeptical at first, but the tape is very thick and sticks really well if the blade is prepped properly. It’l eventually chip and wear, we’ll just remove it and put new tape on.
My job was go get the bird tracked and balanced, then fly it back to JNA. Didn’t have any notice, Mooch and I scrambled up there with our flight gear and Red Cross kits. Finally got there at 1430. Turns out the Huey I came to get had a stripped bolt on the swashplate , so they had to undo all their work, remove 210’s hub and blades, put 201’s hub on 210, and break down 210’s hub and blades to be returned to JNA on a truck.
So basically we stood around and waited for the bird to come up, which it didn’t. Mooch and I grabbed some chow and secured racks for the evening.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 04 Oct 90

4 OCT 90

Once again, it’s training day in Gunfighterville. Had some cool classes on RPVs, NBC, Intel. Had an AOM. Irish stood up, said a few things, then ended up giving Flt Equip a compliment, That they had been “busting their ass to get all the equipment covers made.” I thought it meant something and told my Marines that it did. After the meeting, he got all the Maint Os together and reminded us we need to start awards write ups. Said FE was doing good Spot has also been in a few times to tell the guys that they’re doing great. He pokes me and smiles, it’s kind of cute. Amazing how things have changed since I adjusted my attitude. Our ops tempo is also slowing down. The MAG only wants us to fly 30 hours per airframe per month, unless there’s a combat necessity. Hopefully, they’ll reduce our frag load so the we can train a bit. We’ve fired no ordnance over here yet, I’m sure our proficiency is staying really high. Worked some more on the project list. Not much headway. A fine fruit cocktail dinner and off to the tent.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 02 Oct 90

2 OCT 90

Today was a good day. Got up, went in to the maintenance meeting with Injun, went to breakfast with Mooch and Sgt Legg. Had a few grits, some juice, milk and french toast. Meals are usually the bitch session, luckily over the last week most people’s senses of humor are returning. My shop finished the turret covers for the Cobras; 2 projects down, ? to go. They made them out of old tent canvas that guess who had to “procure”? They look very nice, almost tactical. 367 has some that are bright yellow. The Ordnance Officer was glad to have them, but Grif, whose guys have to install them, was not too happy. Eventually they’ll have 4 covers per aircraft to keep track of. SO we’re gonna make covers for the covers, once we get a list of the lists and a form to order the forms that list the lists of covers that cover the covers and so on.
Two days ago we received 150 square yards of terry cloth material, which we ordered when Spot was ranting about getting “anything” that we could in the cockpits to knock the sun down a little. It came 3 days after we got our silver bubble wrap junk, which flight line is really enjoying taking in and out. It is working though to cool the cockpits down a little and keep some sand out. So yesterday, Maint Control comes by and says “Give us all the terrycloth, we need it to clean blades.” I said for them to do whatever the AMO wanted done with it, but still want my guys to have some to make cockpit curtains with, for when the bubble wrap is destroyed or gets lost.
Anyway, 2 days ago Sgt Lee tells me “I ordered 300 square yards of artificial leather for gun covers, and found out later the stuff comes in regular yards, so we may get 3-4 times what I wanted, depending on how wide it is.” We ordered tan and brown “artificial leather”, a rubberized cloth, to make, you guessed it, COVERS. Specifically the turret covers that we just finished making out of canvas. So about 1000, the parts expediter walks up and says “there’s a forklift on the way with your leather.” I looked at Sgt Lee and we busted up laughing. The forklift pulls up with about 700 ponds of the stuff, 6 4 foot rolls about as big around as telephone poles. And here’s the best part. Spot walks by and says “What did you order all of this for?” “Duh, gee george, I don’t know, COVERS, maybe?” I told him I was sure we could think of something to do with it. Cover bags, cranial bags, bag bags, we are now “Bags-R-Us.” And we still have an outstanding order for desert cammy material, 4 rolls of day desert cammy, and 2 rolls of night desert cammy. We also received 600 yards of strap and buckles to modify the exterior canopy covers, which we promptly used to make holddown straps for the Cobra inlet screen covers and exhaust covers. Spot now wants bungee cord to hook them all together because the wind blows them off. “So solly, me checkee suppry, no bungee for you GI.” So now we’ll sew straps to the covers and maybe dummy cord them to each aircraft. Shouldn’t cause too many problems to just fly with them left on. Irish is now bugging Grif about how come aircraft 230 doesn’t have a LORAN cover and 235 doesn’t have a turret cover and there’s no sunscreen in 237, etc...Grif is loving every minute of it, I’m sure.
Wrote a helo shade company in Dallas. Holding my breath. Next project is aircrew survivability, helmets, crashworthy seats, flight suits, body armor, vests, NVG lighting. Probably never see anything to fruition, but maybe can get the ball rolling. At least I’m not bored, and it will be good to deal more with people outside the squadron. Worked on awards for a while, had KFC for lunch, ate dinner, got a haircut. Came to tent. Bitched about Spot and Nasty. Got mail
Dog dreams:
Uno: What’s that?
Austin: It’s a camel.
Uno: Are you sure?
Austin: Maybe it’s cow on steroids?
Uno: Go back to sleep.
Austin: O.K.
Uno: What an idiot.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 01 Oct 90

1 OCT 90

Another day, another....who knows. We’ve been getting letters from elementary schools all over with some precious quotes. “The Marines, a fun place to be” with a drawing of a guy standing below saying “why did I ever get this job?” 4th graders?! “Chicken a la keen looked like barf but tasted good.” Here’s the classic. It's lengthy, a typed letter from a Vietnamese boy. “Dear Marine, my name is Dung Vuong. Iwas born in Vietnam....” A classic. And an interesting perspective. I’m sure Sgt Legg wrote him a suitable reply.
Slept in til 0830 this morning. Came to work, wasted 6-8 hours, called Pendleton to check on my gear. Air Force General got canned. Nasty got promoted to LtCol and said “I’m still doing the same job, only now I can be an even bigger asshole.” Peewee said “Impossible” loud enough for almost everyone to hear, and we all had a good chuckle. But then he gives his Major’s oak leaves to Spike and says “I want you to have these, because I know, just like everyone else here, that you’ll be wearing these someday.” I thought they were going to start swapping spit right there.
Started getting Imminent Danger Pay, but since they’re not back dating it to 16 Aug, it’s obvious we weren’t in imminent danger until all the REMFs got here and started running the show. Also, went over 4 years flying. Now that everyone’s stopped sending underwear, they’ve cancelled the laundry and bottled water contracts. Funny how it coincided with Big Al’s morale visit. Hmmm? Well, new fiscal year and all. MWSS is setting up some washers and dryers we think, and we can get water at the terminal. It worries me that the nicer they try to make it here, the longer I see us staying. I’d sooner sleep on the floor and get the hell out of here faster. The Saudis won’t tolerate us for too long, just long enough to get advanced weapons to use on the Israelis.

Gunfighter DIary Desert Shield 30 Sep 90

30 SEP 90

160171, 5T2, 1.2, 601, Bean

Flew my NATOPS check with Bean. Did ok considering I haven’t flown for 12 days. Left my crew chief standing in the desert because I forgot to ask if they were “all set” in the back. It’s a good trick to play on a guy getting a check ride, learned a lesson. I expected them to tell me if they were getting out while we’re in an LZ. Anyway, we goofed around for an hour and that was it. Next it was to the rack for some MORP, kind of tired from sitting around doing NOTHING!.. No movie worth watching tonight. Had something resembling a steak and cheese sub from the Pizza Sheikh, not too bad all things considered. So of course the chow hall has a decent meal also, steak-kind-of. I went for atmosphere only.
Marine band is supposed to be coming over. Haven’t seen them yet, maybe they’re wearing our desert cammies.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 29 Sep 90

29 SEP 90

Another day in the litter box. Boring day but a chance to catch up on some rest. Got up, made the 0615 maintenance meeting, went and ate breakfast, then came to tent and slept til 1030. I seem to be over my stomach flu, but I’m still a little tired for whatever reason. Haven’t flown in 11 days, that’s unusual.. Not many Huey guys have been flying. Bean has more hours than me now, bastard!. They’re concentrating on getting the new guys 25 hours of goggle time so they can carry passengers and training NVG Phase III instructors, so we can fly during low light conditions. So of course, I’m in the middle of the group, not flying anything. I’ve enjoyed the break, but it’s getting old fast.
Went to the squadron, tried to look busy for 4 hours, tried to figure out where all my goggles were, then ate dinner and watched a movie with Injun, Iron Eagle II. I would have been upset if I had wasted electricity to watch this at home, it was really lame. No, I mean really lame...
Guess where I was 11 years ago? Standing on those yellow footprints at MCRD San Diego. I wish I were there again now, at least those guys have self respect and adult leadership. Who would’ve thought I’d be here today? Not me, certainly. It’s been a challenge at times.
More favorite past times at Desert Shield. Herd scorpions, collect dung beetles, fight over newspaper lingerie ads.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 28 Sep 90

28 SEP 90

Let’s see, who did I bother today. Sat around most of the day and wrote Aunt Mary, Aunt Martha, Susan, Kati and my parents. No fair, I had to write to lots of folks. The price I pay for getting mail. Got kicked out of flight equipment so they could film some more. The video was shot in my shop, at my desk (on loan from the Saudis).
Wrote some info on laser safety to post by the checkout counter, it’s fun using big laser words. We had classes all morning and one of the MAWTS guys came to me to get laser info. Hmmmm. Our glasses will protect against the low-tech threat, so unless Iraq has something we don’t know about, we’re good. Cool words like Neodymium Yitrium Aluminized Garnet. We’re developing lasers that use liquid dyes and are “agile”, meaning you can dial in any wavelength (color) that you want. Cool, until you try to protect against it. I’ll probably brief everyone again on our lasers and their usage, plus we’ll have a nice class on everyone’s favorite, the gas mask. We’ve received nothing but compliments so far on how good a job my guys have done on the masks from the MALS guys that check them. Plus they’re happy that we had the inflatable gear looked at before we came over (Sgt Lee’s idea). I’m proud of the fact that we’ve asked no one for help yet and have had all kinds of people coming to us for assistance, including the AV-8 guys, East coast HMLAs, Saudi Navy and yes, even the mighty 82nd Airborne helo drivers. They’ve been the most appreciative, we’ve rebuilt entire helmets for them, patched flight suits, plus numerous other things. GPS receivers are on loan to the AV-8s, HMLA-269 and the FACs at 1/5. Made some 50 pound weight bags for the Saudis, and who knows what else they’ve been making.
Missed evening chow because Irish wanted a significant events list for a unit history/awards/etc...? Just turned in the same list that we had to turn in to ops 2 weeks ago.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 27 Sep 90

27 SEP 90

Got up early, went to work at 0615, then went to chow with Injun, brownie points because Irish showed up. Asked Buzz if he was serious about me being grounded. He said “you don’t expect to fly when you have more hours than anyone else do you?“, I’m thinking “yes” but say “must have been a hard decision seeing as we only have one up Huey. I guess my NATOPS check will expire, too.“ He said we’ll waive that. Told Irish “things would be different if we had some bogus VIP missions to fly” and surprise, he agreed. We had an AOM, pilot training, some good stuff. Spot’s comments were supportive, said “don’t push anything we’re uncomfortable with.”, not much else. Irish got us together for a decent pep talk, since he’s been gone to the FAARP for 10 days. He said to let him take the heat from the CO, then he can come and jump in our shit vs. Spot. Also to keep our guys motivated, even if we have to lie to them and tell them “we like it here.“ He was funny. “I personally hate it here. The place sucks, the chow sucks, mail sucks, I can’t see my wife, no fun, no beer, etc....but we have a mission to do.“ I agree, 100 percent. Much better than the “all you guys pull your head out of your asses speech.“
More filming in the flight equipment office for the wive’s video. Terrible chow again. Now I’m sweating away in tent #4. Trying out new “boxwood” desk, and so far it’s still too hot. It must be about 85 degrees with 85 percent humidity right now. Guilt free letter writing in the tent may have to wait til it cools off. Little blue pills seem to be curing the diarrhea, though, by turning it into gas. A real treat.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 26 Sep 90

S-3 hard at...work.

26 SEP 90

Went to sickbay to get some antibiotics and anti-diarrhea medicine. It was foggy this morning.
Here’s what I did the rest of the day. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.........ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. It was hot in the tent, but I zonked out. Finally got up at 1630, came back to work and had KFC for dinner. Then I spent the rest of the evening getting interrupted while I tried to write.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 25 Sep 90

2Beers stylin in new desert cammies.

25 SEP 90

What I did today. Hmmm, can’t remember. Wait, “today’ was yesterday, I’m a day behind. Yes, that’s right, it’s 2300 26 SEP and I’m trying to remember what went on yesterday. Got up, went by the chow hall, grabbed a milk and an apple. I’ve had the runs for a day now. I don’t know if it’s called the runs because it runs out or because you have to run to the bathroom.
Oh, that’s right, the Commandant came by today, so we straightened up most of the morning, I checked all of my little projects, and polished my boots. Had a pizza for lunch from the snack stand. It didn’t suck, but I won’t be rushing over to buy one tomorrow. Talked to Injun for a bit, then CMC arrived. He tooled around for an hour or so, I guess. He looked at our Huey, with the FLIR pod modification. We’re trying to get more FLIRs for “night fightin.” He walked by later and said “how ya doin” to a group of us, then choppered away. We still have one Huey to fly, so Buzz was brave enough to come by and tell me I was grounded because I had too many flight hours. I laughed and shook my head. Went to dinner, had bread, butter, pepsi, apple juice, salt (flavored with soup) and one bite of tuna. More than enough. Then I went and watched a movie at the “Desert Drive-In,” The Abyss. It was quite relaxing. Sat on a cot, it was relatively cool, and for a brief moment I forgot I was in Saudi....problem was, I thought I was at 29 Palms instead.
We are making another video. We do a section on our Top Ten Favorite Pastimes and have a uniform fashion show. Went to see the Doc, now I’m med down for dysentery. Fun. Got a desert cammie floppy hat in the mail, my ears are thankful. No desert cammies yet, though. Big Al said he would take care of it though. Actually they are heavier and warmer than the old cammies, it’s going to take a few washings to break them in. 2 Beers isn’t too thrilled with them. He was in a few days ago and my guys patched some boots for him. He’s doing fine and not getting tasked with all the BS that he would as a FAC back in the States. He also enjoys being one of a few Captains in the Battalion and being treated like a God.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 24 Sep 90

24 SEP 90

Got up at 0600, went back to sleep. Repeated same until 1230. I was blah today, stomach not great, no Hueys to test fly, I’m not on the schedule, no meetings, no major fires to stomp out that couldn’t burn til the afternoon. Finally got up and helped Pat and Russ tie our tent to frame. Worked on my corner a bit, ate chocolate chip cookies, fritos, brushed boots, gathered boxes to make a book shelf, and tried to plan my storage cubicle. I’ll need more lumber/time/plans. Here’s how the tent is set up. We have all the sides, end flaps propped up to let breeze through and provide shade. The sides are connected to the next tent’s flaps, so it’s like a dog run/porch area. We have wood and pallets on both ends to form an actual porch. No lights yet. Tent mates are Dinger, Meynier, Maas, Road Kill, Dirt, Ducky, Blubaugh, McGee, Larson, Diamond, Super Davee.
It’s great. I get the morning sun, cooler, and winds are generally from the North/NW, so everyone else’s rack gets dusted before mine. Plus a road goes by the other end (more dust). My corner includes lots of nails to hang things on, some shelves made from busted pallets, and a small desk made from an MRE box. The gear stored under the cot is parachute bags, one with uniforms, one with MREs, maps, NBC gear, and an ALICE pack with 782 gear and flak jacket. Luckily the cot has a mosquito net, too. Lots of guys are using MRE cartons to store their stuff . My “boxwood” furniture will replace parachute bags, but only if I can design them to be dust resistant. My little world could use a small camping light, because there will only be two light bulbs in the tent, if we get wired up soon. It will be fun to tear all of this down.
Sgt Lee showed me a nice poem his mom had written. Her local paper published it. We liked it and want to put it in our cruise book. Need some film. We know we need lots of photos and involvement from every rank. The boat cruise book mainly had officer pictures because they were the ones who took pix and weren’t in the bars. Could use a bar right now. Get some shop photos, nicknames, quotes from famous Gunfighter’s like Spot’s “you can’t go down swingin with the bat jammed up your ass”, and “You can’t go on liberty if you’re dead”. Make the bios funny vs sterile. Wonder if we can do it?
Digress. No clue as to what an ottoman is, a German guy from Jamaica? Philosophers are idiots on acid. They made me dream up an imaginary squirrel friend while studying them in college.
Told Spot I was interested in going to HMX-1 and he asked “why would you want to go there, they don’t do anything tactical?” Well, can’t get them to send me to WTI, and Bean said he would’ve replied “hey, we’ve been in Saudi for five weeks and all we’ve done is TACVIP.” At least FE was “Shop of the Week” in our Squadron newsletter.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 23 Sep 90

23 SEP 90

Got up this morning, shaved, brushed teeth, cruised in to work and grabbed my bag of goodies (running shoes, shorts, tank top, towel, book) to go “fill sandbags”. Today we took 369 and 367 Marines, I was the only officer to go with 36 enlisted. After agreeing on where it was that we were actually going, accounting for everyone and splitting into 3 groups, we loaded onto 5 tom trucks for the 25 minute ride to the camp. The drive was through open desert and deserted highways, uneventful, saw about five cars. Glad I was up front versus sitting in the truck bed, where the nice hot air was blowing at about 50 miles per hour. Arrived at the camp and talked to the manager, then turned everyone loose on the phones, pool, basketball court, store, snack bar, pool tables, bowling lane, barber shop, laundry etc... We made a phone list from junior guy up to me and started calling. The receptionist dialed the numbers, told the guys to pick up one of three phones, and connect the call. Then you tell whoever you’re calling the number, to call you back and hang up. Go to the desk, pay three dollars for the one minute call and wait for return call. The switchboard would connect you and you had 10 minutes. We let everyone police themselves on how long they talked, told them to make one quick call so everyone could get through, then hop back in line if they wanted to make another call. Basically it would be three hours before it was my turn. First I went down and talked to Mr Wilson, the man who runs the camp. He was a very interesting man. He retired in 1978 after 25 years in the British Army as a Sergeant Major. Mainly in tanks, spending 17 years in and around Saudi Arabia. He did most of the talking, but basically he said that he wished someone had done this for him when he was a troop. He is opening the camp up for as many as 40 per day, plus he gets a lot of stragglers, and charges nothing, other than the cost of food. I was eager to hear his opinions on our military and political situation. Seeing as this will be a tank war with lots of air and arty support. I asked his opinions on what he would do if he were in charge. He said roll into Kuwait and kick Iraqs butt out, maybe put a bulge in Iraq’s border, see if anyone has shot Hussein by then, and see what happens. SH has already been more daring than Hitler, and every day we wait he is bleeding Kuwait dry by stealing their resources and hardware, driving citizens out and leaving an empty shell for Iraquis to fill up. If he moves northwest through Jordan and bumps off Israel, he’ll be the hero of the Arab world. Wouldn’t that be special?
I asked if he thought Hussein would move into S.A., and he said only as far south as the oil rich Saffiniya area. He thought we should defend against him by channelizing him into a valley or onto a road, cut his logistics train and shoot him up. Interestingly enough he pointed out the same areas along the coast where we plan to do this. We talked about tank vs helo, form both aspects. He thinks SH Armies are worthless, but says yes, we will lose people. He was adamant about not concerning ourselves about “hostages” taken from oil camps. He said everyone comes over here for the money and knows the risks, and that it is not fair for us to risk more lives worrying about them.
He also told where the best places to go for liberty, basically south, along the Persian Gulf shoreline, even down into UAE. Says there’s a Hilton down there with an ice rink! Ha, wouldn’t that be a great picture? He showed me a picture of his house in Portugal and in England. His wife was home in England when this kicked off and she was worried about him, so he told her to stop watching the news and come over. So, she’s here now.
The camp has small houses, one to two bedroom, a small community. Mainly Asian workers to clean and refurbish oil production equipment, with an Arab staff. You can walk across the camp in about 10 minutes. The main office has several little used rooms with phones, about the size of a double wide. After I talked to him for a while, he went home for “tea”. Went down to see what they had in the store. I got a Very Berry Strawberry ice cream at the Baskin Robbins, a coke and a bag of Fritos. Walked back and sat in Mr Wilson’s outer office, ate ice cream and Fritos, drank Coke, while he visited with our Sgt Major. He brought an Arab News and I read about S.A.’s 58th National Day. King Abdul Aziz unified them in 1932, from a bunch of marauding Bedouins into one country. They’ve done a lot in a short time, lots of growing pains, lots more to do. They’ve cancelled all celebrations as a show of solidarity for Kuwait. The paper gave a good, short history lesson. Probably learned more from reading it than all of my history classes and intel briefs.
Tried calling home again, no luck, ate camel burger and fries, drank a Pepsi, bought brush, fly swatter, M&Ms, scotch tape. Went back to office, read Newsweek, talked to Group Sgt Maj, and tried phone call again. Finally got through on call. Passed word on what our everyday routine was.
Got some things right in my mind about coming to grips with situations that I can’t change, and realizing that I have to go back to simple life of doing what I think is right, and be willing to accept the consequences. That way I get in trouble for my own screw ups, not someone else’s. The trick is, I have to let my Marines make their own mistakes, not mine, and be willing to take the heat for them. I had a long talk with Sgt Lee about lots of things. Basically I don’t want deficient leadership to hold them back, I want to be a friend, but sometimes I have to be the boss. Since Flight Equipment has so many projects, it’s hard for me to keep from butting in all the time. Lots of “engineering” going on here. These guys have worked “so hard for so long with so little, they will now attempt the impossible with nothing.” I want them to keep their drive and initiative, so I cut them back to 8 hours a day. I refuse to punish them any longer for the Marine Corps’ “idiocracies” in manpower management, especially when Marines from MALS who have nothing to work on yet are sitting in their tents all day and do nothing when they could be helping out. We rate 9 guys for a squadron of 12 Hueys and 12 Cobras, now we have 18 more advanced aircraft with only 3 guys who are school trained, and 2 more who are OV-10 ejection seat mechanics and were trained on the job. My Sgt, filling a SNCO billet, is a seat mech. So, needless to say, I am in awe of the work these guys do. The Sgt handles everything, including message traffic, logistics, fiscal accounts, and explosive safety maintenance and monitoring. I wanted him to know how much I appreciate their efforts and told them only to expect “mo betta” things in the future. We talked about our families, he has a little girl. It was fun talking about families, leadership hurdles, new challenges. I told him we’ve got a good crew and I’ll do my best to screen them from the br-ass.
Had the best Marine Corps spaghetti I’ve ever had, but no mail, so it’s a break even day. Mail is probably enjoying liberty in England somewhere. Got my hair trimmed, it’s growing back. I’m never cutting it short again. Buzz gave me crap about it, it did look funny, like Curious George or something. It’s growing out and staying out this time, and I just hope someone says something.