America's strength has always been her people. Never has this strength been more evident than in time of war. From the Revolution on, the history of America at war has always been the history of ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things. But in the past, it has taken years, sometimes even decades, for those heroic men and women to be heard, for their individual stories to be told. In the current era, with electronic media making the news instantaneously available around the world, one would think that would no longer be the case.
In America's latest war, the electronic media brought us only the men and women at the top - leaders like General Schwarzkopf, General Kelly, and Pete Williams, the official voice of the Pentagon. But the real stories, the stories of courage under fire, were half a world away - in Khafji and Dhahran, Basra and the barren wastes of the Iraqi desert. The stories were there because America's men and women were there, with M-16s and artillery, in tanks and in attack aircraft, in the tents and in the trenches.
Every service was represented - Army, Navy, Air Force, and U.S. Coast Guard. The career soldiers were there and so were the citizen soldiers of the reserves. These are their stories, told in their own way. These are the Desert Voices.
©1990 William H. Labarge (P)2012 David N. Wilson
The publisher's summary doesn't do this book justice despite the fact that they germinated the seed of the idea. LaBarge was already a published author when he received the call to interview and collate this collection of individual personal testimonies of American personnel who fought or were directly affected by Desert Storm and Desert Shield. Although this Nam Vet was still active duty at the time, he was ruled ineligible to go near the zone, thus it was arranged that he conduct his interviews primarily at the Tent City at base in Germany where returnees had layover between flights. Just before he left for Germany, he was fortunate to be able to take advantage of a welcoming celebration at Camp Pendleton and, with the assistance of his wife, begin his task. Legalities were covered by the publisher and the military, and the names and home town are given.
This volume is the result of that endeavor. I salute him for his task performance, and for being able to select only 50+ of those interviews. There are no apparent leading questions or format, as the statements reflect no such uniformity. In their own words, here are the statements of persons from the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force (both active duty and reserves), USO, civilian contractors, and even a dad. Their work included: computer techs, airborne, supply, evac tech, nurse, medic, infantry, tanks, refuel, nutritionist, pilot, recon, demolition, mobilization, and civil engineer. They were single, married, divorced, committed, parents, sons and daughters. They were from cities, towns, and rural areas all over this country. Each faced the separation from the familiar, uncertainties each day, fear of Scud missiles and land mines and opposition forces, as well as the effect of their absence on their lives back home. Some were even tasked stateside to cover for active duty personnel sent to the Middle East. All were able to find new friends among their comrades, coalition forces, and supportive strangers such as elementary school classrooms back in the states.
The idea was sound and made for a very interesting read.
Narrator Jack gives a remarkable performance here. As the interviews are in their own words, he puts you right there listening to each interview.
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