My husband is older than me by nine years and five months. When I was in sixth grade, he was a specialist driving a HEMTT for the United States Army during the Persian Gulf War.
In 1990, Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion and occupation of Kuwait. Hussein refused to withdraw in defiance of the United Nations Security Council, so in 1991, the Persian Gulf War began with a U.S. led air offensive called Operation Desert Storm. For 42 days, the allied coalition attacked in the air and on the ground. By mid-February, air attacks shifted to ground attacks—troops headed from northeastern Saudi Arabia into Kuwait and southern Iraq. Over the span of four days, Kuwait was liberated; 120 miles west, the Iraqi Republican Guard defending the armored reserves was defeated on 27 February, 1991. On 28 February, President George H.W. Bush declared a cease-fire. By then, most of the Iraqi forces had either surrendered or fled. In accordance to the cease-fire and the peace terms Hussein had accepted, Iraq would recognize Kuwait’s sovereignty and get rid of all weapons of mass destruction.
It is estimated that 8-10, 000 Iraqi soldiers were killed, while ‘only’ 300 coalition soldiers were killed.
This war was brief—42 days. And the loss of American life was ‘minor.’ Is this the reason why the Persian Gulf War is overlooked in Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day recognition/celebrations? If not for my husband, I wouldn’t even (know to) ask.
Post-traumatic stress is a big thing with our service men and women. I know my husband suffers. He’s one of those guys who won’t get loose with his Army emotions. But one night recently, he broke down, and wept into my lap. I didn’t know what to do—his shoulders were shaking, and he just…sobbed. I’ve heard his stories about dead bodies—the smell of human death lining the sides of those desert roads. I’ve heard the stories about gunfire, and wondering if he’d ever get home alive.
My husband is a Persian Gulf Army veteran. He served his country, and he has lost friends. He has been afraid. He has been lonely. He lives humbly—the guy doesn’t take part in any kind of veteran program/discount/anyfuckingthing because he’s relatively healthy, doesn’t want to take advantage, and doesn’t feel the need to draw attention to himself—he chose to serve, and he would go it again if he could. That doesn’t mean he and everyone else who had served during the Persian Gulf War shouldn’t be recognized. It makes my stomach ache, watching these television programs honoring our military on Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day, and the Persian Gulf is never mentioned among the wars.
But who am I to bitch? I’m just the wife of an Army Veteran who is proud as fuck that he served his country. And I am proud of him. Not just because he enlisted. But because he is a great man. My best friend…