Women of the Military

Serving During Desert Storm - Episode 57

Episode Summary

Angela joined the National Guard as a cook and then headed off to basic training the summer between her junior and senior year of high school. She realized after basic training that being a cook wasn’t what she wanted to do. She couldn’t get out of that career field because she had received a bonus on her enlistment. She looked into going active duty, joining the Marines, but nothing panned out. She did get to switch from being a cook to water purification. The National Guard was in charge of primarily all the water purification for the Army so they were required to head to Camp Pendleton in California each year for training. She had been working in that job in the National Guard for about two years when Sadam Husain invaded Kuwait. They were immediately set on high alert with the expectation they would be deploying soon. The North Dakota National Guard had not been called up for a deployment for over 30 years so everyone was surprised, but also ready to meet the needs of the Army. They were mobilized and sent to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin for training and soon after arriving they were sent to Kuwait. One of the first to be deployed to Kuwait for Operation Desert Storm. It was pretty shocking to deploy and to be one of the first to leave was even more unexpected. She said there was a lot of learning as you went and making due with what you had. Luckily, they deployed with their vehicles and were very fortunate to have their trucks. So many other people did not deploy with vehicles. Her unit was small and made up of people who grew up together so she described it like the Brady Bunch going to war. She said there were sibling rivalry and other squabbles, but they were also a tight-knit group. But the six girls were often given the hard jobs that no one wanted to do and none of the guys were willing to help them put up their tent so it caused animosity between the group. While they were acclimating to their new environment their Sargent found them a job to do. They were training people on how to use a Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit (ROWPU) which turns salt water or dirty water to drinking water. They left the nasty camp they were at and headed to the Persian Gulf for training. She said it was beautiful. Her job overseas was to distribute out the water. They had to use so much chlorine to treat the water that they found their water sources somewhere else. They were lucky because they were at a base and had another supply point. They were pretty far North and the Iraqis that were near them had been cut off from supplies so they surrendered and they didn’t have to worry about that threat. But they did have to worry about chemical attacks and were constantly in their chemical gear. And one time a chemical plant was attached and after 3 days they told them they could take off their chemical protection gear because it wasn’t too bad. But it doesn’t mean there were no health issues caused by deploying for Operation Desert Storm. Coming home was a difficult transition. Honking horns had meant to get into MOPP gear and that was a daily part of life at home. And it was also so quiet. After being deployed and having constant noise ranging from generators, and other random noises to complete quiet was difficult. She also talked about the lack of reintegration and not having anyone to talk to about her experience. She was one of the first to come home from her deployment. The unit had been picked to be part of a parade to celebrate the end of the war, but their plane got a fuel leak and they had to stop in Maine for repairs and missed the parade. Mentioned in this Episode: Nice Girls Don’t Join the Military Thank you to my Patreon Supporters: Kevin Barba (Colonel)

Episode Notes

Angela joined the National Guard as a cook and then headed off to basic training the summer between her junior and senior year of high school. She realized after basic training that being a cook wasn’t what she wanted to do. She couldn’t get out of that career field because she had received a bonus on her enlistment. She looked into going active duty, joining the Marines, but nothing panned out. She did get to switch from being a cook to water purification.

The National Guard was in charge of primarily all the water purification for the Army so they were required to head to Camp Pendleton in California each year for training. She had been working in that job in the National Guard for about two years when Sadam Husain invaded Kuwait. They were immediately set on high alert with the expectation they would be deploying soon. The North Dakota National Guard had not been called up for a deployment for over 30 years so everyone was surprised, but also ready to meet the needs of the Army. They were mobilized and sent to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin for training and soon after arriving they were sent to Kuwait. One of the first to be deployed to Kuwait for Operation Desert Storm.

It was pretty shocking to deploy and to be one of the first to leave was even more unexpected. She said there was a lot of learning as you went and making due with what you had. Luckily, they deployed with their vehicles and were very fortunate to have their trucks. So many other people did not deploy with vehicles.

Her unit was small and made up of people who grew up together so she described it like the Brady Bunch going to war. She said there were sibling rivalry and other squabbles, but they were also a tight-knit group. But the six girls were often given the hard jobs that no one wanted to do and none of the guys were willing to help them put up their tent so it caused animosity between the group.

While they were acclimating to their new environment their Sargent found them a job to do. They were training people on how to use a Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit (ROWPU) which turns salt water or dirty water to drinking water. They left the nasty camp they were at and headed to the Persian Gulf for training. She said it was beautiful.

Her job overseas was to distribute out the water. They had to use so much chlorine to treat the water that they found their water sources somewhere else. They were lucky because they were at a base and had another supply point.

They were pretty far North and the Iraqis that were near them had been cut off from supplies so they surrendered and they didn’t have to worry about that threat. But they did have to worry about chemical attacks and were constantly in their chemical gear. And one time a chemical plant was attached and after 3 days they told them they could take off their chemical protection gear because it wasn’t too bad. But it doesn’t mean there were no health issues caused by deploying for Operation Desert Storm.

Coming home was a difficult transition. Honking horns had meant to get into MOPP gear and that was a daily part of life at home. And it was also so quiet. After being deployed and having constant noise ranging from generators, and other random noises to complete quiet was difficult. She also talked about the lack of reintegration and not having anyone to talk to about her experience.

She was one of the first to come home from her deployment. The unit had been picked to be part of a parade to celebrate the end of the war, but their plane got a fuel leak and they had to stop in Maine for repairs and missed the parade.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Nice Girls Don’t Join the Military

Thank you to my Patreon Supporters: Kevin Barba (Colonel)