Aqaba, Jordan - July 2001
Captain Edward Caricato
[Editor's Note: Capt. Caricato wrote the following letter during a six month deployment aboard the USS Boxer (similar to a miniature aircraft carrier). He was the Executive Officer for a Marine field artillery battery. Prior to Jordan, they had been to Saudi Arabia.]
Following the training in Saudi, everyone came back aboard and the ship seemed to become
exponentially smaller. Once departing our temporary home off the coast of Saudi Arabia we steamed north through the Red Sea towards Jordan, which was our next scheduled stop. Here it was, our last scheduled training exercise and even more important my last field operation in the Marine Corps. We were especially ready because at this point my battery had been at sea for over a month straight. (Yes Luke, it is not 75 days but the Marines were ready to get off the boat.) I was particularly excited because for this exercise we would be training with a Jordanian artillery battery. Also, as I stated earlier, this was my last field exercise in the Marine Corps. We had some great events planned and I really wanted to go out with a bang. Not to mention the fact that the weather in Jordan was extremely pleasant (mid to high 80s and about 40-50% humidity). Well, if you have seen any news in the past week or so you already know that someone had other plans.
We arrived in Aqaba, Jordan and began offloading our vehicles and howitzers. We were not scheduled to make the 200+ mile convoy to the training area for about 3 more days. I got a chance to walk around the port facilities one day and was surprised at how nice the area seemed to be. We could see the beach from the ship and the water, even within the harbor was crystal clear. I was really hoping for a day of liberty after the exercise was over because friends have told me that the diving and snorkeling is great.
Right in the middle of the offload, we received word to pack everything back up, turn the convoys around that already left, get everyone back on the ship because we were leaving in a day and a half. Apparently, someone a lot higher ranking than anyone on our ship received some information that elevated the threat condition to D, which is pretty high. In fact, as I'm sure it was reported on CNN, CNBC and everywhere else, the entire Persian Gulf/Red Sea theater had been placed in this condition. At this point I am sure that everyone at home with a TV, computer or radio had more information about what was going on than we did out here. That is usually how it works. Needless to say rumors were flying but we packed up all our toys, got a head count making sure we were not leaving anyone behind and got back out to sea.
[Continued: Click on Countries - Thailand]
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