Operation Desert Storm
When Saddam invaded Kuwait I was pissed. I had to wait only couple of weeks to draw my desert uniforms and soon I was ready to rock and roll to take care of the problem. The Czech flag is not totally out of whack, at that time I still was a citizen of Czechoslovakia.

We arrived in the sandbox in the middle of September 1990. At the beginning our lodging facilities weren't that bad, we lived in a huge garage attached to unfinished King Fahd airport close to Dahran in Saudi Arabia. The whole task force was housed there, which was approx. 4000 souls. At first we had to sleep on the army issue sleeping mats placed on the concrete floor, since our luggage and other equipment including field cots caught with us couple of weeks later. At this place we were camping until 17 of January 1991, when the air war started and we moved out in the desert in the middle of nowhere.

On the picture on the left I am posing in our helicopter repair shop, set up close the the garage. On the other picture is Steve Martin, who came to visit us sometimes in October-November timeframe at Camp Bastogne, which was located approx. 40 miles south from Kuwait borders. We were rotating to and from the camp during the Desert Shield portion of our stay usually a couple of weeks at a time.

From the pictures above one should get a good idea how camp Bastogne got constructed. It consisted mostly of tents, wooden floors and sandbags.
Sometimes in December 1990 Saddam's forces tried to trick us and attacked a border town not too far from Camp Bastogne. While the Air Force and infantry units were butchering Iraqi army, our aviation support unit retreated and set up a defense perimeter of which I was part of. I had confidence in my M-60 machine gun and was ready to take out any of Saddam's henchmen who made it through our defenses. The other picture is from late December or beginning of January when a new repair shop at King Fahd airport was built and it included a lightweight hangar seen in the background.

When the air war started in January, we left to our battle position in the middle of Arabian peninsula near the town of Rafha. We camouflaged the tents and trucks and whatever and waited until February, the start of the ground offensive. The ground war lasted 100 hours and for my unit it involved driving around Iraq without any rest. I was spared of this madness since one of our helicopters broke down nearby and I and my buddy were left on the spot. We made our home in a couple of fuel tank boxes left laying around. The weather was good, we got plenty of sleep and sun tan, but the only regret I have that our colleagues have taken most of our stuff which included my camera.

Couple of days after everybody returned I shot this sunset with my new camera that I received by mail order. Below I shot a few pictures a few days before our final departure from the Arabian desert.

Camping in the desert was almost as ordinary camping one might gues. When the sun was up, it wasn't a big deal; before the gournd war started we were watching the bombers passing by overhead being refueled and later hearing dropping their payload. Especially memorable were the flashes on the horizon at night, looked and sounded like a thunder, but in reality it was more something out of this world. I definitivelly would not like to be on the receiving side of our air raids. When the shamal came, the pair of the pictures below pritty much sumarizes it. Even inside the tent there was everything covered with the brown dust and it got everywhere including the mouth, meals, you name it...

One day came a series of heavy storms, it was raining hard and tundering for a few days. Then a magic happened. The brown desert turned all of the sudden to green, endless herd of camels appeared on the horizon and soon a bunch of Bedouins camped in our neighbourhood. As you can tell from the pictures, the guys weren't too big. I almost felt that those who made trouble with us we could just easily stump to the ground using our boots and rifle butts to save our high tech weaponry.

It genuinelly looked like the Bedouins liked us. But I have a kind of mixed feeling about these pictures. There is no Bedouin girl nor lady. These people are really strict about their religion and customs effectivelly cutting their women off the ordinary life as we know it. I think this is very wrong.

On the other picture I am leaning against CH-46 Chinook helicopter, the person on the left is not an arabian street gang member, it is the helicopter's crew chief. Then next there is the last view of our campground; our home of the last three months. Below are couple of last views, one of a Saudi town and the other is the last herd of camels I have seen (so far)...


After the return to King Fahd airport the restrictions on taking pictures where lifted, so here is a couple of them. Above you can see the necessary mosque that can be found on every airport around Middle East. On the right are our quarters, at that time when our mission was just to wait for our departure. It took about another two weeks, I think it was March 25, 1991 when we finally departed.

On the left this was the long awaited day of the departure out of that hole where we were stuck for over six months. Luckilly, all fellow soldiers out of our unit came back with no injuries or illnesses. As we all know it wasn't always the case.