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KUWAIT - March 2003

A Letter from an

Anonymous Female, U.S. Military 

March 24, 2003:  

Just got a rare opportunity to email and let you know I'm OK.  Finally got a little sleep last night.  Only had 2 scud alerts.  Have been sleeping in MOPP gear for 3 days now and boy am I funky smelling.  I did manage to get in a few canteen cup sponge baths in between scud alerts.  But my hair is nasty.  From what I caught on the Brit radio news station, they aren't reporting all the scud alerts that happen here.  (We call them scud alerts but the alarm apparently goes off when ever any heavy duty munitions are fired).  By my count we have jumped into the bunker in MOPP-4 about 15 or 17 times.  Mostly at night.  I won't need those Serta counting sheep when I can get out of this MOPP stuff, that's for sure.  I won't get into how the war is going.  You all probably get more info on CNN than I do.  But just wanted to write you and tell you I'm OK.  Gotta get.  Please let Ma & Pa know I'm OK.  They worry about us all so much.

March 28:  

I just wanted to thank everybody for the supportive e-mails.  I felt the love and concern.  You don't know how uplifting it is to get e-mails and mail from home when your only enjoyment day after day is when you get to stand in a hot chow line. LOL.  I don't get much time to be on line so I wanted to get to everyone with this one note. 

It's been relatively quiet here for the last two days.  Only had to dive into the bunker in my chemical gear once yesterday.  I've named my gas mask.  Old "Sneezie" and I are good friends now.  (I named her "Sneezie" cause I only seem to sneeze or get an itchy nose when I'm in that thing.  Sac le blu!

Than brings us up to about 28 scud alerts so far.  THANK GOD FOR THOSE PATRIOTS!  Can't get too much operational stuff buy everyone in our unit is still OK.  I've been given the sign to wrap it up and move out.  NOW!  Later.


KUWAIT - May 2001

Captain Edward Caricato USMC

[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 Kuwait, they had been to Bahrain.]

It is with great pleasure that I am writing this from my "home sweet hell on water". I never thought that I would ever count the days until I could get back aboard the USS Boxer but after spending some time in the Kuwaiti desert I could not wait to get back on the ship. We went ashore earlier in the month to conduct a routine training exercise with the Kuwaitis. It is basically designed to reassure them that we can bail them out again if Sadam ever starts acting up.

Unlike the last couple training evolutions my unit actually did what we are designed to do this time, shoot artillery. That aspect of it was actually pretty refreshing. My Marines and I have not been able to play with the big guns for a number of months and to all of our delight there was virtually no proficiency lost during that time. We pretty much picked up right where we left off with our last artillery shoot in January. The Marines and equipment all held up and did a great job. However, this is not to say that Allah and the desert did not make every effort to hinder our efforts.

As soon as we hit the beach in Kuwait it was obvious that the weather was going to be a big factor in our lives for the next week or so. The temperature was over 90 by 8:30 am and would spike to 120 by mid afternoon. While shooting artillery we have to record the temperature of our ammunition propellants to ensure accuracy. This ammunition is kept in the shade at all times and would routinely reach temperatures over 120 during the day. But as the cliché goes, "it was a very dry heat". I am here to tell you that 120 is 120 whether it is humid or not.

On the second day we were in the field, we woke up to relatively reasonable temperatures. There was a refreshing breeze that lulled us all into a false sense of comfort. I say false because within a couple hours the temperature got back up into the one hundreds and a sand storm kicked up that lasted for about 4 days straight. For that entire time the wind was blowing at about 40 knots and because the Kuwaiti desert is absolutely featureless there was nothing to stop the sand from blasting us.

It is actually difficult to describe how baron the desert there is. You Star Wars fans would definitely be able to compare it to where Luke Skywalker grew up. And yes there are sand people in Kuwait as well. They are called Bedouins (more to follow on them). The only real terrain features in Kuwait are some scattered sand dunes, wadis (big, steep ditches) and man made berms that act as barriers. None of these were accurately depicted on the maps we were issued, but that was o.k. because I found all of them while leading convoys from one position to the next.

I mentioned the Bedouins earlier. They are a truly strange group. These people set up small camps in the middle of the desert and then wander around for days with flocks of sheep or herds of camels. The craziest part of it is that they do not carry any water or food with them. The Bedouins also do not really care where they set up their camps. There were a couple of occasions that as soon as the sun would come up we would find that a camp popped up right in front of our gun line which in some cases would prevent us from being able to shoot. My CO would then send me and some Marines out to try and convince them that they need to move which was not a very easy task. I could not understand them and they did not understand me. I tried every "ugly American" method of communicating abroad to include speaking real slow, broad hand gestures and even some basic Spanish. Nothing really worked. I finally got across to them that we had really big guns and that if they did not move we would not be able to shoot without hurting them or their herds. This is when I learned the classic Arabic phrase, "Insh Allah" which means God's will. The Muslims believe that everything that happens is a direct result of the desires of Allah so if we could not shoot because of their presence then that is what Allah willed. When they refused to move I took the opportunity to show them another version of Allah's will when I had my gun line fire a volley of 155mm howitzer shells. They were close enough to the guns that the concussion really caught them by surprise and caused some ringing in their ears.

Despite this encounter there appeared to be no hard feelings because the Bedouins continued to hang out near our position. Occasionally they would venture up to one of the vehicles and try to bum some MREs or cokes. They were seemed very curious but still stayed away from the howitzers after my little message.

My only other encounter with the Bedouins was when I was out zooming around the desert in my HMMWV and passed a little too close to one of their camps. I heard one of the Marines in my vehicle yelling something and my driver did as well and started to slow down. I soon realized what he was yelling about. Some of the shepard dogs decided we were too close to the herd so they started chasing the vehicle. When we slowed down enough the dogs all but ripped my tires off. I have never seen anything like that before. My driver finally got going again but I was waiting for those things to come in the windows after us. These guys had a little more energy than the dogs in Thailand.

That about covers the highlights of my stay in Kuwait. I can not say that I would recommend this place to anyone for a vacation. If you would like to experience something similar stick your head in an oven that is about 350 degrees, place an open trash can in there with you, and have a friend pour sand down your shirt and in your face.

[Continued:  Click on Countries - United Arab Emirates]