Too few books have been written about the first Gulf War—Desert Shield and Desert Storm-- overshadowed, no doubt, by the current war in the Gulf region—Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. But to make sense of the latter, it is important to understand the former.
Author Stephen D. Wiehe does a great job of telling the story of that first war as he witnessed it while a forward observer with the 502nd“Strike” Brigade Infantry Regiment, a vital part of the 101st Airborne Division’s lead brigade task force in the liberation of Kuwait. These are the troops who stood in the gap of President George H.W. Bush’s “Line in the Sand.”
Wiehe’s motivation for writing the book was to create an accurate document of his unit’s history that could be used as reference material for future generations. He did that quite successfully with his research that included excerpts of documents and plenty of maps placed throughout the book to orient the reader unfamiliar with locations in that part of the world.
But while the book focuses on the 502nd, it is also able to tell the story of the greater war which was probably the experience of most American troops deployed there. The reader is taken on the journey from training at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to the sandstorms and freezing temperatures of the Kuwaiti desert with gas masks always at the ready. Grueling walks carrying a hundred pound rucksack across rolling mounds of sands, avoiding enemy and hidden minefields, put the reader in the middle of what that short war was like. Hard to believe it has been 20 years.
I learned, or should I say, relearned a lot of history of that first conflict and that’s what I enjoy reading in such a book. It is easy to forget, and perhaps too easy to falsely remember, why we went to Kuwait.
G-Day: Rendezvous With Eagles is a good read. Wiehe lays out a great story with facts he has meticulously researched.
Reviewed by: Gail Chatfield (December 2011)
When I started my research, the twenty plus years that had passed began to shrink. By the end of the project, the events that changed my life two decades ago seemed like yesterday. The reconnection with old friends was well worth the time it took to put the book together.
In working on our unit history, I found very little about our important missions and objectives during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. I was amazed that the units themselves had very little information regarding our objectives and the reasons for them. In a day when the internet and cell phones are everywhere, including the front lines of combat, there is a rich and living commentary written by the troops as they live it. But, just a few decades ago during Desert Storm, there were no blogs, satellite radio or internet. When it comes to Desert Storm there is a void in the written history. Our children would be hard pressed to put all of the pieces together. My goal when I started writing G-Day was to create a factual, historical document that all of us could be proud of and that could be used as a reference for future generations.When visiting with Dr. John O'Brien, Chief Historian at the Don F. Pratt Museum at Fort Campbell, I told him I didn't want this to turn into a book of "fish stories" or a compilation of war tales that are told so many times over the years that they gradually become the truth.
There are some great books written by accomplished authors who give us a great view of the "big picture" in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In writing this book, my hope is that it will help you see, and appreciate, the day to day activities of the soldiers who were there and how they fit into the "bigger picture."