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Tracings in the Sand

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Donald Shawver

Date Posted:
Personal Website:Not Disclosed

I was sitting in PLDC at Monteith Barracks in Nuremburg Germany when over the loud speaker CSM Ross stated all soldiers from the 2nd ACR get up go to the barracks and pack your stuff were going to Saudi. So I graduated PLDC one week early.That was in November 1990. I was stationed with 3rd Sqdn 2nd ACR L troop. I arrived in Germany in March of 1988. Our unit deployed to SWA sometime just before Thanksgiving 1990. I joined the Regular Army in 1987 after 4 years with the reserves. We returned from Desert Storm April 1991. I am a Bradley Mechanic and I was with the maintenance Platoon of L troop. I look back on that war and it seems so long ago. Like a dream with bittersweet memories. 2nd ACR was a kick a-- unit. Maybe at the time I was with them I did'nt know it, but by far and in retrospect to other units I have been in since it was the best. Very hard unit and difficult to function in, but overwhelmingly rewarding. We arrived at Saudi with coats on from Germany, what a heat change. We got our equipment off the boats and began to prep for operations. After a couple of weeks at the do drop in we set out for the real desert. Up until Jan we sat around waiting for the ground invasion. I remeber our SQDN Commander came down to our position one day to brief. He said amongst other false information that 2 ACR would suffer 30% losses or more. Once he left we began to figure out the exact number. Some 40 people out of our troop would not make it. That would be 1 to 2 off every track. You see 2nd ACR was a combat heavy CAV unit with Bradleys and Tanks. A very lethal force. Well after that wore off I began not to care. From not recieving any mail, no phone privelages (because some dumb a-- told his wife some classified on the phone), no good food, just 3 Mre's a day, no hot water, rationed drinking water, a beach with no ocean, etc.. I figured what the heck, life just sucks and soon I hope we will be outa here. Another soldier in the unit said he dealt with not knowing when we would get to go home by saying we have 30 days from today left. He lost it one day and through his Kevlar across the tent and hit another soldier in the face with it, they evac'd him out. Oh by the way at night it is about 30 degrees and in the day about 110. So the change is hell on your body. I recall listening to Bagdad betty on the radio during christmass. She was transmitting from a radio station in Bagdad. She kept saying we should all go home to our families and not fight and die in the deserts of Iraq. Man was she wrong. The day the air war started her station went off the air they blasted it with a bomb.About a couple of weeks before the ground invasion started we had a report that a Tank Bn of Iraqi T-72's was coming at us and about 60 klicks away. We fired up our equipment and headed directly towards them, At that point I knew this was the real deal, would I die here or live. I began to think about my family and my home back in Fort Worth. The whole world seemed to stop or go in slow motion. I could here the spot reports on the radio that the Apaches were giving. Then the Iraqi tank unit stopped before they crossed the border so we did not engage, our mission to was more important than going after an enemy tank un it, the mission was to lead 7th Corp into the left hook of the ground invasion. Finaly about three weeks after that the ballon went up and away we went.2nd ACR shot into Iraq with lightning speed. We made conrtact and destroyed many Iraqi op's. Then we came upon the mighty Republican Guard. I can recall our bradleys and tankers kicking their a-- big time. I saw T-72 and T-64 turrets get blown clean off. I think one of the contributing factors to our fierce fire upon them was back in Kafji before the ground invasion started US Marines got into a fire fight called the battle of Kafji. There was this one Marine track that allowed an Iraqi tank to surrender. As the tank approached flying a white flag it fired on the Marine vehicle killing 7 Marines. Well we were told about that and it pissed me and every body in our unit off. Marines might be Jar heads or Knuckle heads to an Army guy but in no way does an american stand by and watch another american on the battlefield get killed in such a way. It makes you fire a-- mad as hell. I to this day hate the Iraqi low life so called soldiers for doing that. Dont get me wrong the Iraqi people I think for the most part just need a new leader. But the other is unacceptable. Well they paid for that, I think that is clear. The second day of the ground war a friend of mine from K Troop Cpl James R. Mccoy was killed. To this day I have not talked about it much. He was killed in action during a fire fight. I helped clean up the mess in his track (M113) after they removed his body. The TC got his arm blown off and is now living near Ft. Stewart Ga. Mccoy is burried at Arlington and one day I will go there and visit his grave. He left behind a wife and three kids. Died for his country, a true hero. He and I went back to port from our location in the desert to receive Bradley update training about a month before the ground invasion. We were sitting around in a tent laughing about jokes that he made. He had said that he could not wait to get back to the states and just colud not see himself dying in the desert. I was not sure if he was joking or not. I can still smell the burnt flesh smell left over in his track. I recall packing up his things including letters that were lying around from his family inside the drivers compartment. War sux. I got the opportunity to fire at the enemy and be fired upon. My traning sustained me and I am thankful for the hard training I received in germany with the CAV. The cease fire went into affect and I could not believe we were not going to Bagdad. What a mistake. We were about 100 miles south and we had to stop. We were kicken a-- and killin everything, it was great. The M1 and The Bradley are deadly pieces of machinery. Saddam should have never let it get to a ground invasion, he really lost big time. Well in the course of all of this I learned a great deal about life and I learned what the human body can withstand. Made alot of friends and saw what alot of people are really about. After the cease fire we went up to An-Nasiriyah in southern Iraq and conducted DMZ duty. Then we went to KKMC and deployed back to germany. There are so many things to write about, I have hardly even touched on the experience over there. I am still on active duty but I am ETSing in Jan 1999. I just got finished with three years of recruiting. Recruiting is the biggest bunch of bull-sh-- I have ever been apart of in my life. The career recruiters are all lyers all of them, well except for maybe just afew. They stay in recruiting because the were deadbeats and duds in the main stream army and were having a hard time with what the Army is really like. So they hang out till retirement sucking up to the 1st SGT and the Bn commander, and telling kids all kinda lies and stories just to get them in boots. As far as I am concerned a career recruiter in town is an enemy to people ages 17 to 34. And a suck butt to every body else. Of course this is my personal opinion and not directed at any person military or civilian, nor am I expressing this opinion as an agent or the like of the US Government Since about 6 months to a year after the gulf I have experienced fatigue, rashes, memory loss, joint pain. Staying in shape is very hard and the PT test hurts for a couple of weeks after I take it I work out do PT but I can only pass it with about 65%. I went on medical TDY to William Beumont Med center at Ft Bliss. They said I had a obvious memory problem, and the other symptoms they could not explain. They offered no medical diagnosis or treatment. Just documented everything and sent me on my merry way. I believe there is a cover up to save face and money. I think the government knows the deal but there are certain people who would eventually be sought after and made to look bad. So those people have created a scandal and pulled all of this off. Merely scepticism, but you explain all of this in a logicla way. So many suffer like vietnam and agent orange. But we are suppopsed to believe there is no disease or problem or whatever but suffer from symptoms that are real and true. I think not. Soon the baby boomer generations parents will come to retirement and the Social security will be overwhelmed as well as the Veterans funding for the sick veterans etc.. It's a money issue and a save face issue. I have to struggle to do my jod everyday with benefits fading fast and pay so far behind the civilian market it is crazy. Privates on food stamps and all. Promotion system drags along and we are being downsized to nothing and on top of that we deploy all over the world with no mission clearly defined. I love the Army it has been my life for over 11 years but it is time to go. Overall I am glad I could serve my country in the manner I have been able to. I can sleep at night knowing I did my best to serve my country and make the Army a better place.

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