After the Storm: People, places and things

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jarad A. Denton
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
War! What began with an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait quickly turned into a coalition conflict when the United States launched Operation Desert Storm, Jan. 15, 1991.

Twenty years later, some veterans of Desert Storm are still serving on active duty in the military.

"The speed we moved at was astounding," said. Lt. Col. Gregory Friedland, 28th Bomb Wing judge advocate. "It was a good coalition effort."

Colonel Friedland, as a first lieutenant in the U.S Army, flew UH-1 helicopters with the 3rd Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment during Desert Storm. He said the reality of a coalition engagement was so uncharted that sometimes wires would get crossed during missions.

"I remember flying a mission when my radar warning receiver started going off, indicating I was being targeted by an anti-aircraft battery," he said. "It put instant fear into my body. Luckily for me, it wasn't an Iraqi A-A battery, it was an Egyptian ZSU 23-4, self-propelled A-A system, that registered incorrectly on my radar."

While technological glitches were not an uncommon occurrence during Desert Storm, the service members who fought in the conflict were trained to rely on more conventional methods to complete the mission.

"We didn't have a global position system; we used maps to calculate our position, based on time, distance and heading. It was pretty heavy math for combat operations," he said. "I was thankful that a lot of my instructors in flight school were Vietnam veterans. By default, we learned a lot of Vietnam era tactics and procedures."

One of the most important lessons he learned from his time spent in Desert Storm dealt with the relationships he forged in the desert. That same lesson is applicable today, he said.

"Get to know the people you deploy with," he said. "You'll create lasting bonds with amazing people."

Colonel Friedland said he had the benefit knowing the team he deployed with.

"We were already a solid team by the time we arrived in the desert," he said. "We knew everyone's strengths and weaknesses."

Looking back, Colonel Friedland said the view of the world he had as a lieutenant in the Army was completely different than the one he has as an Air Force judge advocate.

"There was a bigger picture to everything," he said. "I was one small piece to this massive puzzle. But, every piece was, and still is, important - otherwise the picture doesn't come together correctly. Desert Storm is a part of my life I'll never forget. Which is why I like to keep it with my own - the people I served with."

Editor's Note: This story is part one of a three-part series commemorating the 20 year anniversary of Operation Desert Storm.