Back in 1990, the Berlin Wall had fallen, so Eastern Europe was free. The “Russian Bear” (then the U.S.S.R.), was no longer seen as a major threat, and, because of it, DoD’s budget was plummeting, as war was considered “obsolete.” Plans were escalating on how to best spend what was being called the “peace dividend.”

And back then, most National Guard and Reserve units hadn’t deployed anywhere since World War II, except for a small few that may have had individuals supporting Grenada/Panama. Yes, back in the day, one weekend a month WAS one weekend a month and two weeks a year at a real post for training.

In my case, I was in the U.S. Army Reserves. We were on an exercise at Fort Bragg, N.C., with the 82nd Airborne Division. During the exercise, I happened to see a local Fayetteville newspaper with the large headline, “Iraqi Tanks Invade Kuwait.” I thought, “Hey, that’s weird, that’s just like our scenario here …  wait a second.”  It was spooky.

The next day, an active duty lieutenant requested that we Reservists stop the exercise and go to the Fort Bragg post library to try and get the names/addresses of hardware stores, building supply stores, etc., in Saudi Arabia for his unit. He knew that they would need supplies in country that they could not take with them. And yes, I said library, remember this was before the Internet, Google, the online CIA Fact Book..

Our lieutenant had, no doubt, been given a warning order, and soon enough, we would be heading off to the Pope AFB Green Ramp to be part of the designated 82nd Airborne “speed bump” in the Saudi Arabian desert for Operation Desert Shield/Storm.

A month later, my Reserve unit was told we would be joining the buildup, as well.

So, what were YOU doing in the summer of 1990 leading up to Operation Desert Storm?

Ken Mac Garrigle is a retired U.S. Army Reserve Major who deployed overseas three times – Desert Storm, Bosnia and Iraqi Freedom. He has been a VA employee for over 20 years, beginning as an information security officer and then moving to his current role providing social media, Web and outreach to returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans.



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Published on Sep. 2, 2015

Estimated reading time is 1.9 min.

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  1. September 16, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    PCSing from 40th Transportation Co. out of Mannheim,Germany, in route to 15th FSB, 1Calvary Division, Fort Hood, TX. We got ready to go in October 1990. The whole Division deployed. In my old unit in Germany, they asked for volunteers to go. We were supporting 2nd Brigade(tankers=1-8, 1-5. I will never forget. If I can do it all over again, I will.

  2. David Hritz September 14, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    I was at king Khalid Air Force base in desert shield/storm.

  3. Dylan Mckenzie September 14, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    My father was U.S. 1988-1992 377th Security Police Ramstein Germany. He was there for the air show accident (Only told me about it once) all his times on base with his buddies. And then was sent to Saudi Arabia for Desert Shield. I’m enlisting next July in the USMC with his teachings from his times in the service.

  4. Kenneth Randolph September 13, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    I was assigned to 1st tank in South Korea.

  5. David J. De Lancey SSG, USA (Ret) September 13, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    I was at Fort Dix, NJ assigned to the 5th Training brigade in the 36th Transportation, Battalion as an instructor cadre in the Motor Transport Operators Course (MTOC). I was in the battalion HQ the following morning after the Iraqi invasion when one of the company 1st Sergeants came in and had asked me if I knew we were going to war. I thought he was full of it but he had explained a little more about the recent news of Iraq invading Kuwait. I really dismissed it until General James Wurman Ft Dix CG then had spoke with all cadre/ permanent party stating “Fort Dix will do its part to support Operation Desert Shield”. After that eventually we all went through the “P.O.M” at the Griffin Field House where we would get wills, dog tags and shots. We also were surprised to see the trainees in Basic Training and AIT trainees who if they were not regular army were pretty much “federalized” on the spot no longer going home but instead going to the Reception Station and CIF to be issued their desert gear. I was already on orders for another tour in the MFO Peacekeeping mission in the Sinai when I was to have my orders changed to go to Saudi Arabia. Turns out The MFO was still a higher priority so I ended up going to Ft Bragg for processing and then back to Egypt. It was amazing the mobilization at Ft Dix and McGuire AFB that took place. It was non stop cargo aircraft anything from C-5, C-141, Commercial air including Kaletta Air and UPS to name a few. many of us on the North Base Camp in Sinai got to see the first SCUD missile go into tel-Aviv from the camp. It was an interesting time in history.

  6. Keith Nichols September 13, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    I was stationed 1st ID…Ft. Riley Ks…Bco 1/34Ar…Deployed to Desert Shield/Desert Storm if you were there then you know the mission…..

  7. Dewayne Hooker September 13, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    I was with the 10th Mountain Division when Desert Shield / Storm broke. My signal unit, was sent to Ft. Bragg to join up with the 82nd Signal Bn.

  8. mario ruiz September 10, 2015 at 10:58 am

    i was in panama in support of just cause with special force 7th group when irak invaded kuwait

  9. Maxwell P. September 9, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    I was assigned to the 307th En, Bn (A). 82nd Div. During the initial phase, my company deployed while, I was In Sapper School. Once gradated from sapper school in august / September of 1990. We went back to FT Bragg NC, where we, Drop our training gears, and pickup our combat DRF 1 kit. Deployed and linked up with our company and our 325 infantry counter parts In Iraq. OBJ Red and Bagdad Bunker complex was a few of our mission.

  10. J.C. Robinson September 9, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Had just arrived in country (SHAPE) Belgium, 39th Sig Bn. not even there a month… Battalion Org. day, playing football and eating hot dogs..S-2 officer ran on to the field and ordered everyone back into the compond. (My company was winning)
    from there the units of our battalion were ordered back to their home bases. and we set up C3I for N-Ger. and Cem Nets we stayed that way for the next 5 months.

  11. LTC Allen Murphy September 8, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    I retired from USAR/AGR on 31 Aug, 1990. Spent the Fall trying to be called back up. No luck, there. Was proud to see my son’s USAR Unit deployed for Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

  12. Wade September 3, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    On a C-130, infantry plt from 2/505 P.I.R 82D ABN – Deuce 1/2 , water buffalo and a cherry stem flapping in the wind. Landing in country 20AUG.90
    Please take time to look up This is OUR memorial. Pass it along.

  13. Chris OGara September 3, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    I was assigned to IX Corps Fort Derrusy as a Captain in the U.S Army Reserves. I was working as a Civilian Special Agent with NCIS at Kaneohe Bay Hawaii. One of my roommates LT Michael Monroe (USMC) originally from Washington State was deployed and perished in the desert when his HMMWV rolled over on him at night. RIP Mike – Semper FI! I recall the Samoans & Hawaiians in IX corps lining up to volunteer. What great warriors!!. I was later called up to Bosnia (Operation Joint Guard) in 1997 and Kuwait/Iraq in 2002 (Operation Iraqi Freedom). Norman Swartzkopf got it right in 1990 by overwhelming the enemy with 543K service members. The 190K we had for regime removal and stabilization was wholly inadequate for the mission on hand in 2003. Hats off to Ken MacGarrigle and the other dedicated employees at the VA. they do a better job than the press gives them credit for. They just need to hire and retain more quality people to keep up with the demand of separating servicemenbers.

  14. Richard Murphy September 3, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Was in college but on summer break and enjoying a vacation/family reunion near Lake Tahoe. Was also in the reserves with an MP unit in Omaha. Didn’t know much about Iraq and never heard of Kuwait. After the first few dsys of news on the matter, I had a hunch though…

  15. John rairdon September 3, 2015 at 12:40 am

    I was over sea desert shield and desert Strom on gator freighter. Came in the Navy August 72 an retired July 92. It was all good, I had a few people ask me was it worth it. I said yes and I would do it all over again. I wish people stop an think, about it before they judge us hope they appreciate us what did.

  16. Harr Gunatilaka September 2, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    Just only finished secondary college

  17. JOHN PRESTON STOVALL September 2, 2015 at 9:48 pm
    Despite the decision not to call up the National Guard in full force, some units were activated, and individual National Guard members volunteered to be mobilized. Among the Army National Guard units mobilized during the Vietnam War were Artillerybattalions from Kentucky and New Hampshire, and an Engineercompany from Vermont. Company D (Long Range Patrol) 151st Infantry Regiment, Indiana Army National Guard, was the only National Guard Infantry unit to serve in Vietnam. [190] Overall, between 12,000 and 13,000 Army National Guard members were activated for the Vietnam War, either as individual volunteers or in units.

  18. Wayne Wolverton September 2, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Desert Shield/Desert Storm was, except for the limited number called up for Panama, the beginning of a long series of deployments for US Army Reserve Civil Affairs units. Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan – Civil Affairs personnel have been in great demand for the past 25 years. I also deployed the same places as Mr. MacGarrigle (in fact, he was in my unit in Desert Storm) before I retired in 2006.

  19. Grumpy Old Vet September 2, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Amazingly, the same barracks were still there at Fort Bragg when we had to go back to Iraq in 2003 … .”If they were good enough for your grandfather …”

  20. JOHN PRESTON STOVALL September 2, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Major, you better check your records. I know for a fact that an Arty BN was called up from the KYARNG to Vietnam.

    • Gary Hicks September 3, 2015 at 7:46 am

      I believe the key word is “most.”

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