14 October 2005
Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 16 Aug 90
16 AUG 90
160179, 1A1, 1.0, 140, Nemo
Spend all day waiting for gas. Time to go with what we got. First flight time in Saudi, in BuNo 160179 1A1 / 1 hour, .5 night, 140 w Nemo. Dhahrahn to NAF Jubail. Spot decides we’re going with the fuel we have onboard. Flight of 6 departs, LORAN seems to be working. About 15 minutes from Jubail, Spot says he’s going to land because he’s down to 50 pounds of fuel. Irish is also low and lands. Bean and another Huey keep going to Jubail to refuel and ferry back some fuel. Spot tells us to land to give him some fuel. We have 170 pounds left, so he sends us on to catch Bean. So now we’re single ship, it’s getting dark , we’re going into a trigger-happy strange airfield, but at least I have the LORAN operator’s manual out. I wonder if they have any SAMs there or MEZ RTB procedures. If Tower would just answer us, I’d feel a little better about not getting shot down. We finally spot the field in the dusk, I guess they've turned off all the runway lights and TACAN so that Saddam can't find them, but left all the hangar lights on. We give up, turn on the landing light and make some radio calls in the blind. Finally Tower talks to us and we land. Jubail is a brand new facility, not even on the map. I was wondering why we were about 7 miles inland vs going up the coastline to the "Port" of Jubail.
There is a unit from the 82d AIrborne here, Apaches, Blackhawks and AHIPs. They start quizzing us for info. What’s the intel update, got any comm with the States etc... Reminds me of the scene from Apocalypse Now when Willard asks “Who's in charge here?” and the response is “Ain’t you?” We ask them to point us to the Airfield Ops shack so we can coordinate refueling.
Now the Abbott and Costello routine starts with the Saudis as we try to get fuel. They ask, “How much fuel do you need?” We tell them about 1000 pounds or 220 gallons per aircraft. “How many liters is that.” We don’t know and spend 10 -15 minutes trying to find a conversion chart, meanwhile unsuccessfully trying to get them to just “top it off.” It’s going to be a fun time here. I’ll also remember for the rest of my life that a gallon equals 3.8 liters.
The first section of Hueys flies back out to refuel Spot and Irish. As they are inbound to the LZ, one of the Cobra guys waiting for the fuel shakes his copilot awake and says “Gas”. Still half asleep, the drowsy Marine starts to pull out his gas mask, thinking there is a chemical attack. Confusion, then laughter.. The Hueys arrive with the “gas”, refuel Spot and Irish, then everyone repositions to Jubail.