Hitting the Road
On April 1, the Turkish Parliament again rejected the US request to open its ports to the 4ID and Task Force Iron Horse. This now meant that there would be no northern front. Task Force Iron Horse would be rerouted through Kuwait with the same objectives: Mosul and Northern Iraq. It was a “much longer drive” as it was put by one of the members of the 98th after being briefed.
On April 10 we had definitive word that we would be sent to Kuwait and then be traveling North. Our weekends and time at home came to an end. Our flights were readied at McChord Air Force Base. We made our way to Fort Lewis, with family in tow, our gear dropped off at a collection point, and buses ready to take us away.
However, the vans to collect our gear “could not be moved” because the keys were lost. My family and friends visiting helped reload my gear, rucksacks, and duffels out of the vehicles that were keyless and drove the XA mile to the trucks that would take them to the aircraft. I held my boys, my wife, hugged my dad and my uncle, and then got on the big blue bus to McChord.
The bus driver honked as we passed the detachment as a last good by. He had been deployed twice to Vietnam. We drove under a freeway overpass. “We support the troops” signs and US flags were waved. We pulled into McChord AFB and were escorted into a hanger, and sat on benches with way too much gear.
The time there passed very slowly. It was a relief though to be finally underway and to really have said goodbye. No more life preserver weekends or roller coaster emotions -we were now committed. Everyone felt relief to hear the final farewell from General Dunn and then walk out on the tarmac to the plane.
Prior to boarding the plane I had prescribed sleep aids for those who wanted them for the flight. Most of our team did. The team climbed up the steps and made their way on board sitting in the first seats available. The flight attendants wore Uncle Sam hats and indicated that they could not care less if we buckled up or left the seat back up. Most of us made ourselves as comfortable as possible, took a pill and fell asleep.