After the Storm: The young captain

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jarad A. Denton
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
"I can't believe it's been 20 years - that's incredible," said Mark Schlichte, 28th Bomb Wing inspector general. "It was an exciting time, especially as a young captain."

Mr. Schlichte served as a B-52 Stratofortress pilot when Operation Desert Storm kicked off, Jan. 15, 1991.

"We had been preparing to stand up for the conflict since August," he said. "A lot of emphasis was placed on our conventional war fighting operations."

During Desert Storm, B-52 crews trained and flew together, which caused them to become a fairly tight-knit group, said Mr. Schlichte.

"That camaraderie really helped us through our time in the desert."

Mr. Schlichte said Desert Storm taught the U.S. Air Force many lessons that have been incorporated into today's operations.

"The integration of bombers into weapons schools became a huge player in pushing us forward to where we are today," he said. "The leadership running Desert Storm drew their experience from the Vietnam era, and knew exactly what not to do during a war."

When preparing to deploy, Mr. Schlichte said he was given a harsh wake-up call during a briefing that caused him to seek out advice from older generations of war fighters.

"They told us, 'Look to your right, look to your left - we expect one out of every three of you to get shot down,'" he said. "That really caused me to lean on the World War II and Vietnam veterans I knew for advice and support."

Mr. Schlichte hopes today's Airmen will take the lessons learned from Desert Storm and carry it forward to the conflict they are in, just as he used the lessons learned from generations past before he flew into combat.

"Rely on your training," he said. "When the shooting starts your training kicks in. We are the best trained combat force in the world - always fall back on that training you received. That's what counts, and that's what will keep you alive."

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