I’ve spent the last couple of weeks capturing stories from veterans who served during Operation Desert Storm. It’s been a project that I’ve really enjoyed. You should go watch some of the videos on the Rocket’s or Team Redstone’s Facebook page.
ODS is the first conflict I can remember. I was in elementary school at the time. It was either first or second grade. I could do the math and tell you exactly how old I was, but I didn’t get into journalism to do math.
Let’s be honest, if I was going to do math then I wouldn’t be doing this. I’d be doing something that made a lot more money and something that might actually make a difference.
So instead of doing math, I’m going to compare and contrast my thoughts about war as an elementary school student with the thoughts and feelings of the people who were actually going to war. Because even as young as I was I did know enough to know war was a big deal.
I don’t remember exactly how we found out about it, but I remember standing in the lunchroom at Weatherly Elementary and it was all we were talking about.
One guy, I’m going to call him a friend, but I don’t think he was, he was just some random guy that I probably had never spoken to until that moment said “My dad is over there.”
I remember being sympathetic. We all were, because at that age having a parent just jet off to the other side of the world to fight some guy named Saddam Hussein is traumatic.
It’s worth noting here that us knowing:
• The U.S. had sent its military to the Middle East to fight;
• The guy we were fighting was named Saddam Hussein.
That was the extent of our factual knowledge about Operation Desert Storm.
But what we didn’t know we filled in with what we’d learned from Rambo: First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo III and the Saturday morning GI Joe cartoons.
And it was based on this knowledge that we had absolutely zero fear that our new buddy’s dad would return safely and that this war definitely wouldn’t last any longer than a two-hour Rambo movie.
Turns out we were close. The ground war only lasted 100 hours and our friend’s dad made it back unharmed.
To me it was interesting to listen to all of the vets who sat down with us talk about their experiences, their fears, their shock, and contrast it with that unbridled confidence that you only have when you’re a kid.
It’s been 30 years since Operation Desert Storm. So if you know someone who served, be sure to thank them.