In 1990 I was transferred from Tucson, AZ to Ramstein Air Base, GE. I had just arrived in Germany and my boss essentially told me there’s no need to unpack your bags because in about 1 week you’ll be on a plane heading south. At the time he couldn’t even tell me where south was. My job was to lead a team of ten guys and set up a large communications system in some unknown location.
I didn’t even have a chance to meet and get to know my unit, in fact I didn’t even learn their names until after we were loaded on the transport plane. To make matters even more difficult, I had no knowledge of this communications system. So off we went.
I remember one of my team pulling me out of my cot in the middle of the night. He had tears running down his face and told me the war had started.
We landed at an airstrip in the middle of the Saudi Arabian desert with nothing as far as the eye could see. We were expecting hotels, rental cars, and restaurants. That didn’t happen. We were one of the initial communications crews of what would become the Air Force’s first real major deployment. We quickly learned how to construct tents, set up A/C units, build toilets, and wash our uniforms in buckets of water.
Within a couple of weeks, we were living 24/7 in our chemical gear frequently taking cover from Iraqi missile launches. This is the point where I really saw changes begin occurring in my team. Shortly thereafter, I remember one of my team pulling me out of my cot in the middle of the night. He had tears running down his face and told me the war had started. I went outside of our poorly built tent, looked up in the sky, and saw three B-52s in formation on a bombing run. It was Jan 17, 1991 and Desert Storm had commenced.
Defending the Minds of My Team
With the combination of all the missile attacks and the start of the war, emotions were pretty much out of control. I never anticipated that I would see such chaos and so much fear in my team’s eyes. This became my greatest leadership challenge. I had to help my team, including myself, make it through this physically and emotionally demanding time. It was difficult to say the least.
There was a lot of emotional suffering over the next 6 months. We never knew what was going to happen during the war. I witnessed their sacrifices and emotional suffering on many occasions, from missing their families, to chemical attacks and the anticipated ground war. I was honored they relied on me to help get them through it. We survived, but we all changed. I knew when we got back to Germany my team members and I weren’t going to be the same as when we left. There were going to issues that would take time to overcome, and heal. And we did. This experience changed my life, and was the beginning of a long Air Force career where my main focus became taking care of people. This was where “My Why” began, and this is why I wanted to be part of the Warriors Heart team today.
I knew when we got back to Germany my team members and I weren’t going to be the same as when we left.
Our Military, Law Enforcement, Firefighters, First Responders, and Civilian Warriors make great sacrifices for our country every day.
They experience traumatic events which the regular public simply can’t understand. I observed many sacrifices during my 30-year Air Force career. That’s why I feel passionately that our Warriors should be receiving the support they deserve so they can continue serving our country in whatever capacity they choose. I am humbled and honored to be with Warriors Heart where I can continue serving my fellow Warriors. That is “My Why.”