Published on January 20th, 2016 | by Millennium Magazine Staff0
Gulf veteran recalls ‘Storm in the Desert’
Col. Don Taylor, chief of information operations, United States Army Central, twenty-five years ago was a young lieutenant in the storm of uncertainty that existed at the onset of the Persian Gulf War. Here he stands by one of “Patton’s Own” tanks at the USARCENT Headquarters. (Army photo by Master Sgt. Gary L. Qualls, Jr., USARCENT Public Affairs)
By Master Sgt. Gary L. Qualls, Jr., USARCENT Public Affairs
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. – When young 2nd Lt. Don Taylor and his fellow Troopers in Company A, 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division arrived at Abdul Aziz Port to join the Persian Gulf War effort, he recalled a dark, billowing desert storm. It was not a storm of ferocious wind and sand and physical obscurity. He and his fellow Troopers had no need to hunker down in shelter and wait it out. Rather, it was a storm of uncertainty and apprehension of danger, not from nature, but from an enemy force in an impending larger than life gun battle that included the eerie threat of a nerve agent.
They were confident in their ability, but “We didn’t know what we were up against,” he said. “There hadn’t been a war since Grenada.”
Taylor’s unit was part of Commander of Coalition Forces Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf’s “Hail Mary left hook” up through Saudi Arabia and later into Iraq. This tactic utilized forces for the purpose of deception and as a reserve, if needed by the main effort, Taylor explained. January 17 marks the 25th anniversary of the start of the Persian Gulf War also known as Operation Desert Storm.
As a young platoon leader, Taylor and his men did find themselves in the action, in a firefight in a neutral zone called Wadi Al Batin. The threat of getting hit with the nerve agent Sarin was always on their minds, Taylor recalled.
“We thought we were going to get slimed,” he said.
Taylor and his men also saw some carnage during the war and had to help properly transport dead bodies discovered along the way. Moreover, he recalled he and his men having to take showers on the run and having to discard boxes and hurry everything up when engaging the enemy was “Time now!’ He remembered looking across the great expanse and seeing half a million troops worth of formations spread across the desert. He also remembered the best intelligence available was through the British Broadcasting Company. He recollected feelings of angst due to many of them being separated from family for the first time.
Taylor said he was glad it was over after the Coalition had driven Saddam’s forces out of Kuwait, but said it was a great experience training and fighting with his brothers, who depended on and came through for each other.
“They were a great bunch of men and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he said.