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Tracings in The Sand: First hand testimonials

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Tracings in the Sand

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John Pettit

Date Posted:
Email Address:Not Disclosed
Personal Website:Not Disclosed

The Darkest Night

I was with "C" Co 1st BN 5th Marines, and we were moving towards Kuwait City. It was the second or third night after K day, and we had already moved a considerable distance into Kuwait and the blazing oil fields. The rain had been falling nearly all day, and we were in MOP 3, which consists of coat, pants, rupbber boots, and gloves. We had incoming artillery earlier in the day after which the cry of gas, gas, gas could be heard echoing across the open desert. We quickly donned our masks and prayed that nothing would fall on us and that the all clear signal would come soon.

It was dark by noon with the smoke from the fires, and visability was very limited. As the sun went down we could not see a thing. A huge battle was going on somewher to our front, and rocket propelled artillery was flying over our heads. It made for a very eerie and scary situation. We finally stopped for the night and by this time we could not see our armored personnel carriers that were less than 20 feet behind us. The Iraqis could walk right up on us and we wouldnt know the difference. My sense of hearing has never been as acute as it was that night. We were attempting to dig in with two people per fighting hole accross the front. Unfortunately, we hit rock about two inches blow the sand. We had set down our gear while we dug, and could not find it by sight. Once we turned around to find gear, and started crawling around feeling for it, we would lose sense of direction and not know which way was front. Sometime during the digging I took off my protective gloves because they were making me sweat so much. The battle that was going on was increasing and so was the artillery going over us. Suddenly we recieved more incoming artillery, and everyone scrambled for their"holes", gear, and weapons. Throught the darkness I heard another cry of gas, gas, gas echoe through the night. I struggled to get my mask on as quickly as possible, but could not find the gloves I had removed. I pulled my hands into the sleeves of my British MOP jacket in an attempt to keep them from being contaminated by whatever may be falling on us.

The night went terribly quit after this except for the screaming from my left. One of the younger Marines had lost his bearing and started ripping off his MOP suit and trying to run. The Marines close enough to see this had tackled him and were trying to calm him. I was still preoccupied by finding my NBC gloves, and the explosions to the front of us were increasing and getting closer. This made for one of the scariest nights of my life. We later found out that a member of a tank crew attached to us died that evening of a heart attack. The 9th Marines had encountered a counter attack that was looking for us which was the battle to our front, and the attacking Iraki forces had dismounted and been literaly mowed down by the ninth Marines. They encountered tanks and infantry in the fight.

We didn't do any sleeping that night and went on to Kuwait City. That is a whole other story though, and I don't feel like getting into this now. It feels kind of good to write this and I hope it makes it onto the GULF sight. It may not seem much to readers who weren't there, but if you ask anyone from "C" Co 1/5 they will probably know what you are talking about. In total, we went to MOP 4 at least 4 times befor leaving Kuwait. When we returned to the states it was denied that we encountered any chemical weapons. I don't believe this and I hope that you don't either.

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