Operation Desert Storm: 20 Years Later

Montage of six photos depicting scenes from the first Gulf WarOn the evening of January 16, 1991, I was with my parents and brother at the Pierre Bossier mall in Bossier City, Louisiana collecting autographs. Several members of the Houston Astros were there as part of a regional winter PR tour. Like Ralphie waiting in line for Santa Claus in A Christmas Story, this was a big deal to me. At 12 years old, baseball is what I was all about, and I’d spent days waiting for the event.

There was an undercurrent of stress that night, however. It was like people were bracing for impact. I remember that—even as a kid.

The January 15th deadline for Saddam Hussein to begin removing his forces from Kuwait had passed hours earlier. And it wasn’t just that the U.S. had over half a million troops massed in the Arabian desert, poised for war. It was that America hadn’t used its military in a way remotely close to this since Vietnam. There was this fear—a complex really—that any large-scale war we attempted would end up the same way. I got that from watching the news during the buildup. Or maybe it was just my perception from living with a mother whose cousin had been killed at Long Khanh in South Vietnam.

After I got my autographs, we went to the food court for dinner. My parents picked out a table and we set our stuff down to go order. I held onto my autographed cards. As we approached the counter of a burger place, I could hear a radio in the background. An older gentleman working the counter was a few feet away, listening to it. When he saw us, he came back. He didn’t look good. He looked somber and sad. Without a thought to our order, he said quietly, “It’s started. They just started bombing.”

Of course, for me, this was exciting. There was a hint of adrenaline. This was war. And it was suddenly more interesting than baseball. It was to be my gateway drug. My mother saw it very differently. She turned away and slowly walked back to the table. She sat down and started to cry. I hadn’t seen her cry in public like that before.

We hurried home. During the ride, we listened to initial reports come in. My parents didn’t say anything. Back at home, every TV channel was providing coverage—for the most part, commercial-free. Anchors were providing frenetic updates, while the country got its first glimpse of Baghdad’s green lightshow. The country had tuned in to what would become America’s first reality show.

To me, this first taste was what I thought war was all about. The tension. The bombing. The rush of seeing these things happen live. SCUD missiles. Norman Schwarzkopf. It was primetime war. Unlike my mother—or the troops in Saudi Arabia—I had no concept of what was really occurring.

In hindsight, 20 years later, I see this differently. Having witnessed that same Baghdad sky lit up with tracer fire in person, I get it. I get that what happened in 1991 was horrible for all sides involved, but necessary on our part. And I get that those American troops in their chocolate chip DCUs—many of whom with I later served—paved the way for today’s troops in countless ways.

Among the anniversaries of war, the transition from Operation Desert Shield to Operation Desert Storm is a small one. It doesn’t even mark the actual beginning of the war—which started with the invasion of Kuwait. But what I know about war now is that this date is important. It’s important to the troops who served there, as well as to their families. It was a big deal and it should be remembered. It was a turbulent time. And I just wanted to bring it up—since it happened 20 years ago tonight.

Where were you that night?

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56 Comments to “Operation Desert Storm: 20 Years Later”

  1. Veronica says:

    I dont remember where I was that night. What I do remember years after that were the stories my dad told me of his nights over there. Wondering if he would ever come home to me. I was only a year old. We returned home from Germany and he deployed to S.A.
    He tells me stories all the time of Desert Storm. And how scared that he would never make it home to see me and my mom.

  2. James Hutson says:

    The night before, our instructor walked into the barracks room of the Apprenticeship Training Command at Great Lakes and informed us that we were going to war. He asked if any of us wanted to change our non-combat duty stations we were to report to in two days to a combat duty station and to the man, we all raised our hands.

    I was informed the day we declared war that I couldn’t go because my brothers were already ahead of me; one in the Air Force, one on 24 hour deployment notice in the Army. The ship that we were all to be assigned to, the USS Tripoli, was struck by two mines and one of them killed five of my shipmates from ATC Great Lakes.

    • E. Estlin says:

      Five shipmates killed on the USS Tripoli? I read where four sailors were injured when the Tripoli stuck a mine, but didn’t find any information about any deaths.

      • G says:

        It was one mine, another was found a few feet under the keel by divers. Four marines were listed as injured, I only recall 2 being hurt though. No casualties due to the mine. It hit the paint locker a pump room and two fuel tanks but because the tanks were full , there wasn’t enough air to cause an explosion(Bosn Glenn was to thank for that), the ship was bleeding paint and fuel out of a 16×22 foot hole??? Something like that…the size of the hole is easy to find online im sure.
        And to answer the question, when we started bombing, I was on the flight deck watching them fly over and watching the sky and horizon light up feeling the bombs and rockets blasts pulse through my body as I wished I had a M16 and sand on my boots , but I didnt, I had jet fuel on my boots and a cig in my hand sitting on flammable rag cans watching the show.

    • Phillip Harris says:

      I remember when the Tripoli got hit, there were no deaths just a few sailors got hurt. I was on the USS Impervious only a few hundred yards behind the Tripoli when she was struck. I remember the chief engineer calling down to our berthing and yelling “all hands on deck” we manned the main deck and searched for fellow sailors but never found anything but debris from the mine hit.

  3. Terry says:

    I was there and try not to remember! God Bless all before and now who have served and serve so proudly! I SALUTE you all my brothers and sisters!

  4. Betty says:

    I remember where i was. I was standing at front gate of the 301st Prisoner Camp. You see I served myself I was a MP. It is what we were trained to do, and raised our hand in oath. At times we all had a little fear in us. Woke up to black oil all over our trucks, camels and sheep running thru our tents. Took showers out of bottles of water, used a small shovel to dig a hole to use the restroom. all this until we built box type showers and port a potty’s. I will never forget..

    • Len says:

      I was also at Hotel 301st. I was with the 1138th MP Co and the night that the air war started we were on duty watching helicopters fly overhead towards the north. We had another 30 days before the first prisoners came in. we were FILO because we had spent the year before in Panama doing the same thing.

  5. Carroll McAllister says:

    I was at King Fahd “International Airport” out in the desert west of Dahrahn, Saudi Arabia, where the 23rd Fighter Wing from England AFB, LA was deployed along with the 354th FW from Myrtle Beach, both units A-10 units.

    We had been told the night before the aerial campaign started, that when the F-16s from the Syracuse Air National Guard stopped at our base to refuel, that it was going to start. They started landing before I went off shift at 01:00 Hrs. Within a couple of hours, they were ready to go. By that time I was back in my tent in Tent City.

    The lights were cut all over tent city. I’ll never forget the sight of a squadron of F-16s taking off, one right after the other, about 30 seconds apart, in full afterburner, and knowing this wasn’t a training mission. It was for real. People on both sides were going to die that night. It was one of the most sobering moments of my life. I was scared, frightened, and yet proud all at once. Scared and frightened, because it was the first time in my life I’d heard aircraft launched “in anger”, yet proud because we were actually taking a stand, and backing up our words with action.

    No sane person likes war, but sometimes there are no alternatives.

    • MSgt Bishop (retired) says:

      Actually they took off 2 at a time – side by side. I was about 200 ft from the runway at the radar site that night. 32CCS

    • Curtis says:

      I was also there at King Fahd and I also have that vivid memory of being in the bunker outside my tent with the lights out and watching the F-16s taking off. I was proud and a little scared at what was going to happen.

      I was deployed from Travis AFB on Dec 6 and worked Maintenance for the airlift coming through. We were a composite group made up of folks from Travis, Norton, and Little Rock.

  6. Tammy says:

    I was there ……Every day I bless and pray for all before and now who have served and serve so proudly! I will never forget any of my brothers and sisters !

  7. Jeremiah says:

    I was 11, living in Bay St. Louis, MS. I remember sitting with my Pawpaw, a WWII & Nam Vet, watching it on CNN. His voice still echos as I remember him saying, “Those damn Iraqis are in for it now!” I can also remember seeing that famous video of the night vision filming of the missles and offensive firings, ya know, the green and black video? Who ever knew that twenty years later that the USA would’ve liberated a country that it attacked with intentions of helping another? USA, the best country!

  8. Darleen Williams says:

    I remeber it oh so well, I was hoping that nothing would come out of this infromation because I was in the Army. Then, I remember getting that call that my unit was deploying and all I could think about was my daughter who was three years old at that time. However, I joined the service and I knew I had to go. Little did I know that two months later my husband would be joining me because his unit deployed too. It was a stressful time for me, having to leave my daughter and not knowing when I would see her again or if I would see her again, but the hardest part was dealing with the aftermath of illnesses that has occurred since that time. I would like the public to know that a lot of people are effected by what occurred after returning home, i.e all time of illnesses! Just keep us in prayer and God Bless You All!

  9. SSG Victor Centeno RET USArmy says:

    That night I had sargent off the guard duty somewhere in daharan Saudi Arabia when the alarms start sounding in alert….We all understood that the campaing just began….All f15 from the near airport start taking off.It was a night to remember,all soldiers did not know what was going to happend.Our firstsargent call for a countability formation to make sure that every one was there and to brief us on the mission.

  10. michael mooney says:

    that night we were flying an airplane wich doesnot exist,when we collided with another ship not supposed to exist,a ufo. we both went down the pilot and all the occupents of the ufo were killed, my arm was almost cut off.when the recovery team showed up they said the only way to save me was to give me a bodily fluid transfusion with a alien. since then things have been strange.

  11. Mike Kopack says:

    Glad to see then-Staff Sgt. Karen Fulce of 401st Aircraft Generation Squadron in the lower center photo on your page. I was deployed with Karen to Doha, Qatar from our home at Torrejon AB, Spain, with the 401st TFW (Provisional).

    “A line has been drawn in the sand. Withdraw from Kuwait unconditionally and immediately, or face the terrible consequences.” President George H. W. Bush

    ‎”We are not intimidated by the size of the armies, or the type of hardware the US has brought.” Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein before Desert Storm

    Saddam had promised the world the “Mother of all Battles” – he was about to get it.

  12. Bill Fullerton, SFC (US Army Retired) says:

    I remember that day like everyone else. I was on recruiting duty and sitting in my office listening to the news bulletins thinking that this was the second war during my career, the other being Vietnam.

  13. I was out there in the Saudi Desert as a marine. Our unit was attached to a British brigade during the time our deploying ship was docked in Bahrain for repairs because of a boiler explosion that claimed 10 lives. I rememeber praying each night for those bombs to hit their targets and wondered each day when we would attack and what it would be like. It was a lot to meditate on for a very long time.

  14. Steve Durrah says:

    The radio on the bus was turned up, we all got quiet, adrenaline started pumping, my unit had been mobilized and we were on our way back from a day at the firing range. We were on our way to the desert and all of a sudden it hit us all…this is for real!
    Our unit did an outstanding job with no losses. I was on orders for 15 months for Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm. There are a lot of things I do not remember about that time of my life, but I do remember that night, that moment and the rush of adrenaline.
    Now, 20 years later, my doctors have advised me not to return to work, I take Morphine twice a day to control the pain, after years of suffering. Hopefully after I tracked down my medical files from St Louis, all my doctors, clinics and hospitals….the VA will make a positive decision on my disability claim. At age 55, I feel like I am 95.

  15. Kevin Mott, SFC (US Army Retired) says:

    I think I was on guard duty (LP/OP) in the middle of some desert location that our wonderful Command structure had decided was the best location for our unit (548th S&S Bn, Ft. Drum) to launch out of when the word came down, eating an MRE and fighting off the “Z” monster. I really remember seeing Sergeant First Class Cox (my Platoon Sergeant and my Hero) walking the “line” to check on us and getting up on the shower units to light the immersion heaters so that incoming and outgoing Soldiers could take hot (intense, burning, painful and the best feeling ever) showers, then moving out smartly to wake up the Platoon Leader for a nightly meeting with our CO. While eating a pack of nabs and drinking a Saudi Pepsi. You see, SFC Cox was an old Soldier from Vietnam and I hope that over my 22 years of service I was able to be even half the NCO he was during our deployment to the kitty litter box. Finally I say, Thank you for your service…then, now and in our nations future.

  16. Hooter says:

    In a bunker watching CNN.

  17. jerry sutton says:

    I remember watching the news and seeing what we thought would be a long drawn out war. My unit had been notified in dec we were to report to pt hueneme for training and getting overseas shots and wills made.

  18. Wendi says:

    I was on a TDY to Ft Lewis. We all knew it was coming. We just didn’t know when. We were having dinner at the NCO Club, watching the news, when the first bombs hit. The entire club went silent. All eyes were fixed on every television in the NCO Club. No one spoke a word as we all watched what was happening half a world away. Slowly, soldiers stood up and started walking out. I suspect they were going back to their barracks, to their homes, to their units and to their families to check on deployment status. I suspect they wanted to give their loved ones a hug in case they were called up to do their duty.

    I didn’t go. I was an Army ROTC instructor at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque at the time. Several of my Cadets, who were in Reserve and National Guard units, deployed. They all came home safely, Thank G-d. I was darn proud of each and every one of them.

    Wendi Goodman
    SSG, US Army, Retired

  19. steve thurlow says:

    it was night and i was on guard duty at the king fahd airport….and over the radio we got word that op desert shield was now op desert storm….i was literally watching the first sorties leave Fahd, the whole rest of the night i couldnt sleep, but who could after that point. was there with 3/187 inf 101st abn…did our air assault into iraq, messed sum stuff up…and made it back ok. HOOAH!

  20. Julia Rachel says:

    Hi Brandon:

    I was riding a horse up a fairly steep Canyon on a 30,000 acre ranch heading up towards the top of Carmel Valley, looking over Salinas Valley. I heard a loud noiseI did not recognize and my horse startled, I thought he would bolt, but instead, he stood his ground, snorted and looked up….. Coming straight at me around a narrow bend, flying inches above the oaks laced with dripping Lichen, were a team of Black Helicopters. They were BOOKING IT and doing low manuevers through this canyon at our place. We didn’t mind….FAA rules or not…what surprised me was the speed, the insane moves down the canyon and the ominous feeling that they were practicing for combat. This is sort of a sad day for many of us Brandon …….for those wih GWI and the related CFIDS…a war of a different kind started that night as well…..VLG on Valcyte Blog.

  21. Greg Sundholm says:

    I remember exactly where I was that nite, I was in a hanger in upstate New York, Griffiss AFB to be exact, we had finished loading the first of several loads of bombs on our B52s. Then roughly one month later I received orders for the sandbox and stayed there, in various locations till july. The longest time was at Masirah Island, Oman attached to 1707 Air Refueling Wing (provisional), met some good friends and had some good times on Moon Island. Not a day goes by that I don’t carry my challenge coin from there and think about those guys and gals.

    • Shawn Rendleman says:

      Greg, nice to see a fellow Masirah Airman. I was the guy on the rescue chopper. The one who later got stabbed in the leg and walked around on crutches. I actually miss that island.

      • Betty Spencer Owen says:

        Yes,
        And Shawn I was the Medic that attended to your stab wound in your right upper thigh, I even have a picture of it, up on FB !!
        Moon Island memories !

  22. Barry Morgan says:

    Had a admirals aide midwatch at subgroup that nite and suddenly notices the CNN “live” coverage of missiles rising from the sea, had to wake the old man and let him know his boats were on worldwide tv apparently doing things… Man was he a happy camper! The rest of the time from then on was such a blur I didn’t even get time to write in my journal to remind me of what was going on. All in all whole adventure was quite the experience, and still is replayed over in my mind every day.

  23. Chancedog says:

    I was on Schofield Barracks with the 25th Infantry Division, US Army. Getting a briefing, being put on alert, not knowing if we were going to be sent to the war zone. Pretty scary for a 20 year old who has trained for the past year for this situation. Proud to be an American and proud to have been on active duty during that time. We did not go, but god bless the folks that did. RIP all soldiers that lost their life in that conflict and the two others since.

  24. Brian Carpenter says:

    I was on the front watching bombs hit as we deployed further into enemy areas…was not pretty and people still don`t get that it wasn`t as simple as all that…just go to the VA and see how many of us are suffering later!

  25. Ken says:

    Wow! 20 years. I was in Al Jubayl, Saudi Arabia, waiting to move north into Kuwait City / Iraq with Army Civil Affairs (CA) troopies. Watching the skies for SCUDS.

    Fast Forward 12+ years, and, out of liberated Kuwait this time – Oops, I did it again! (B. Spears)… Into Iraq with CA and eventually on to Baghdad.

  26. Kevin says:

    I was in a fighting hole in Northern Saudi Arabia (somewhere in the Desert), we were guarding a small landing strip that had Cobra’s on it. We were all happy that the war had finally started but we were also very apprehensive about what armed conflict would mean, The next night we got our answer: our position was hit with enemy 175mm artillery shells…I’ll never forget that. We did not return fire but the Marine Cobra’s went into action and destroyed the enemy’s position, we could hear the helicopters’ machine guns blazing away only a couple of miles north of us. We knew we were in the sh*t at that point and we were ready and willing to take on anything the enemy threw at us. Alpha Btry 1st Bn 12th Marines, Gun 2, “Dead Bang”!!!

  27. Chuck Modzinski says:

    I will serving in VAQ-133 on Whidbey Island in Washington state. Our squadron was assigned to the USS Forrestal, and we were not sure if we were going to get into the fight or not. We ended relieving the carriers that did the actual fighting and got to serve in Operation Provide Comfort instead. It was nice, while in the war zone, all mail was free and we had no taxes withheld from our checks.

  28. eugene says:

    I was sitting in B-11 A M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle in Bravo Company 7-6 Infantry 1st Armored Division out of Bamberg Germany somewhere on the southern Iraqi border but inside Saudi Arabia. I sat in the squad leaders seat with my M203 between my legs and Kevlar, LBE, Protective Mask strapped down along with 12 extra 203 rounds, 12 30 5.56mm magazines, 4 frag grenades, 1 AT4 rocket launcher to my left and 6 other real American Hero’s. We sat there at Red Con 1 for hours waiting to start fighting. But the ground war did not start for weeks so we went back to sleep. We then fought on to glory and honor in February and liberated the country of Kuwait, got the pics got the medals and most of all got the memories of my buds, God Bless them all where ever they are tonight…..

  29. Fr. Jim McGowan says:

    I was just reporting for guard duty at our camp at Iraqi Petroleum Saudi Arabia Pipeline Station 3 in Tactical Assembly Area Talon in Saudi Arabia. I was with the 11th Combat Aviation Unit.The rest of the unit was called out on stand too. The air sirens began to sound. I went from a fighting position on the berm to standing with gas mask on in a dark bunker. After the all clear we returned to fighting positions and remained there watching and waiting until 0430. A month later we crossed the border into Iraq. I am grateful to God and my Brother and Sister Desert Warriors for our success in the gulf and, for a safe return home!

  30. Sandra Novak says:

    I was 25 and completely clueless what was going on. With my little 2 and 4 year olds in the back seat we were driving down I5 in Sacramento Ca. My then husband suddenly began to sing the National anthem in such a haunting moving way. A couple hours later, at home with the TV on we realized at THAT moment he was singing. As a mom, and now grown up I had to suddenly pay attention to the world around me, know what is going on, be concerned for the world my sons would inherit.

    It is with surprise I report that neither of those little 2 and 4 year olds are now in the Middle East, but they have 2 cousins in Afghanistan, 3 in Iraq, and 1 in Qatar.

    How blessed am I to get to raise two sons in this great Land and to love and support so many precious men and women in the Armed Forces.

  31. BILL says:

    I was with a advanced party unloading the ships at the port when we were
    ordered into MOPP4 and then sent to our original unit. I was on one of the
    convoys headed for Bsgdad and then later for Kuwait.

  32. Jason says:

    I was a apart of Beachmaster Unit Two and detached to the Uss Trenton. It was 0200 and then the captian came on the 1mc and informed us that President Bush has just declared war and we were to go to general quarters. The next day you could hear planes flying over head and then we would line ships up in a row and play chicken with the Iraqi soldiers in the beach. We were one of the first ships to enter the oil slicks. Man, the crap was everywhere.

  33. Major Doug Rokke, Ph.D says:

    i was going back and forth between the 3rd medcom hq and centcom hq in rihayd along with the rest of our team tryung to ensure all medical assets were prepared for anticipated wmd nbc attacks because we knew iraq possessed wmd given to them by the us army etc. and that they would use what we had not destroyed. simply the problems i made very clear during my invited talk in the us senate in 2000 exist today.

    Address at Fall Congressional / Coalition Leadership Breakfast
    325 Russell Senate Office Building
    U.S. Senate
    Washington D.C.
    November 10, 2000
    Dr. Doug Rokke

    Distinguished Members of Congress, Coalition Leaders, Fellow Warriors, and Guests– It is a distinct honor to address you today. During the Gulf War I was the U.S. Army health physicist assigned to 12th Preventive Medicine AM theater command staff and the 3rd U.S. Army Medical Command headquarters. I was recalled to active duty 20 years after serving in Vietnam, from my research job with the University of Illinois Physics Department and sent to the Gulf to ensure that all military and civilian personnel were prepared for the anticipated nuclear, biological, chemical, and environmental exposures. I also was assigned to two equally vital special operations teams: Bauer‘s Raiders and the Depleted Uranium Assessment team.

    The preparations for war take many forms. Infantry soldiers learn and practice their combat skills, truck drivers practice maneuvering their rigs to make sure they can deliver supplies, and medical personnel prepare to treat the expected combat casualties. Ideally, preparations are driven by intelligence reports. However as the recent bombing of the U.S.S. Cole shows commanders may ignore intelligence information and not protect either their personnel or equipment. Prior to the start of Operation Desert Storm military intelligence reports and threats issued by President Saddam Hussein suggested that nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare and environmental hazards (NBC-E) would be employed to win battles.

    As we prepared for the battle in the Deserts of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq, medical and combat unit commanders realized that medical personnel must be able to provide emergency medical care to conserve the fighting strength in an NBC-E environment. This required an assessment of medical capabilities. Four deficiencies were identified.

    First, an assessment of existing emergency medical response capabilities in the staging areas located within Saudi Arabia revealed the need to respond to medical emergencies resulting from combat to disease and non-battle injuries (DNBI). Second, an assessment of medical personnel arriving in Southwest Asia verified that most of them did not have the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to provide medical care for the expected nuclear, biological, chemical, and environmental (NBC-E) casualties much less the conventional weapons casualties. Third, the we verified that that most operations personnel needed a NBC-E defense refresher course that was specifically designed for verified threats. Fourth, we needed to design and construct decontamination facilities, prepare standard decontamination procedures, and train personnel to provide immediate personnel and equipment decontamination.

    Consequently, Bauer’s Raiders, the 3d U.S. Army Medical Command theater NBC-E special operations planning and teaching team was formed. Each team member had prior combat experience and was a qualified medical and NBC-E instructor. This team also designed and supervised the construction of the NBC decontamination facilities and provided operations assistance throughout the echelons above corps, corps, and coalition forces.

    Since 1991 numerous Department of Defense reports have stated that medical and tactical commanders were unaware of the probable NBC-E exposures and never told about the medical and environmental consequences of these exposures. THAT IS A LIE! They were told! They were warned! Immediate and long-term medical care was recommended. The threats, health and environmental consequences, and medical care recommendations were provided in written messages and during courses such as the 3rd U.S. Army Medical Command & ARCENT Medical Management of Chemical and Biological Casualties, the NBC-E defense refresher course, the Combat lifesaver course, and the Decontamination procedures course which we taught to over 1200 military personnel in the theater between December 1990 and February 1991. I gave the classified threat briefing specifically identifying the anticipated NBC-E exposures, taught the NBC-E defense refresher course, the combat lifesaver course, and decontamination procedures course. Thus I can confirm that commanders knew what to expect and how to be prepared!!!

    Another important fact is that although Department of Defense officials have stated over and over that the vital chemical and biological logs were misplaced or lost, U.S. Government Accounting Office representatives and the Pulitzer prize winning author Seymour Hersch have verified that these logs were ordered destroyed in Florida during December 1996 while Congressional committees were conducting hearings on potential exposures.

    As the DU assessment team health physicist and medic I was responsible for planning and implementing DU (uranium 238) contaminated equipment and terrain clean up and for providing medical care recommendations for exposed personnel. As we surveyed the battlefield it became obvious that we had serious equipment, terrain, and medical problems requiring immediate action. Although, effects of uranium exposure have been identified the effects from combat exposure during ODS were unknown. We had over 100 friendly fire U.S. casualties and several hundred others with verified exposures because of their U.S. Department of Defense assigned duties. We also observed what is known as “Tours Are Us”. This event was numerous individuals visiting and climbing all over contaminated and destroyed equipment and terrain without wearing any protection. I immediately contacted unit and the theater medical command staff to recommend medical care for all exposed individuals. Consequently, the theater occupational health physician wrote and then distributed immediate medical screening and care guidelines on June 13, 1991. As verified by GAO officials, it was ignored then and still is today. Upon our return to the United States our team continued to recommend immediate medical care for DU exposures. I described DU hazards and exposures and once more recommended immediate medical care during an Occupational Medicine conference held during February 1992 at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The Government Accounting Office based on reports issued recommendations for medical care, environmental remediation, and training during January 1993. On June 8, 1993, the Deputy Secretary of Defense ordered then Secretary of the Army Togo West to quote “complete medical testing of personnel exposed to DU contamination during the Persian Gulf War”. During August 1993, then Brigadier General Eric Shinseki signed the order on behalf of the Army. This order, in most cases, is still disobeyed without any accountability. A Headquarters, Department of the Army memorandum dated October 14, 1993 specified DU exposures that required medical screening and care. Although these directives and Army regulations require medical screening care for those exposed to uranium contamination, representatives of the Department of Defense and Veterans affairs continue to deny or delay medical screening and care. Today, affected individuals include military personnel from all nations that were involved, civilian non-combatants; and even residents of Vieques, Puerto Rico; Okinawa; Tennessee, Kentucky, Kosovo, Serbia, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. The wartime and now peacetime decision that you could just shoot solid rods of uranium 238 (DU) anywhere without providing medical care for all exposed persons and without cleaning it up is a crime against God and the citizens of the world. Recently, the U.S. Navy willfully used DU munitions during peacetime exercises on the Puerto Rican Island of Vieques in violation of laws and regulations. Still there is no accountability for these actions that spread radioactive waste that causes indiscriminate harm to all that are exposed for 4.5 billion years unless contamination is cleaned up. I ASK: WOULD ANY OF YOU WANT HUNDREDS IF NOT THOUSANDS OF RODS OF SOLID URANIUM WEIGHING UP TO 10 POUNDS EACH LYING IN YOUR BACKYARD? Of course not, so why should it be anywhere?

    Depleted uranium was only one of the verified exposures which also included chemical warfare agents, biological warfare agents, pesticides, industrial chemicals, endemic diseases, sand (El Eskan disease), food borne illnesses, water borne illness, organic and inorganic byproduct compounds from oil well fires, airborne particulates, asbestos, cleaning compounds, low level radioactive materials, and then the deliberate immunizations and drugs designed to protect individuals from verified threats.

    Many exposures were caused by our deliberate actions. We knew where Iraqi chemical and biological chemicals were stored so as General Schwarzkopf wrote in his autobiography “It Doesn‘t Take a Hero“, we decided to blow them up with artillery rounds and aerial bombardment. Consequently chemical, biological, and radiological warfare materials were released. We had specifically discussed this anticipated consequence and that medical care would be required for any exposures. Consequently, with these releases, thousands of chemical agent alarms were going off all the time all over the battlefield documenting exposures. A couple of weeks ago, DOD officials announced that they were modifying the exposure list again. It seems peculiar that 10 years after the fact and ten years after alarms went off that the exposure list is modified once more based on DOD analysis. Why can’t the assumption be made if an individual was near an alarm that went off that they were exposed? Yet, today, DOD officials still claim the alarms were all false alarms. If the alarms are ineffective who is responsible and why are they still in use? Because the logbooks were lost according to DOD officials, so there is no record of who was exposed based on alarm activation reports. Thus official denials continue to conflict with reality. And yet we wonder why confidence in DOD leadership has eroded! During the battle as enemy industrial and agricultural facilities, schools, businesses, and hospitals were destroyed individuals were exposed to released hazardous materials. Then as we prepared for battle, conducted battle, and cleaned up after the battle we exposed our soldiers to more hazardous materials. For example, after the completion of the ground war, a senior logistics officer and I were sent into Iraq by LTG Franks to clean up the 7th Corps’ hazardous waste dump. It was total mess with observable releases and spills resulting in additional adverse health and environmental effects.
    We also decided based on the verified threats to immunize our troops against a whole host of diseases and biological warfare toxins such as anthrax and botulism. If immunizations been maintained rather than giving individuals 4 or 5 or even more simultaneous immunizations we could have reduced adverse effects on the immune system. But we did not; we gave individuals numerous shots at the same time and then did not keep track of what was given or what adverse reactions occurred. We messed up immune systems before deployment. Basically, after we declared war we had to immunize everyone. As I administered hundreds of anthrax and botulinum shots in Saudi Arabia, I could only wonder why we were ordered not to record any information. Once more, our actions to protect individuals against a verified threat ignored common sense. Today we know that the anthrax manufacturing process was never inspected and approved by the FDA before 1993 and today the FDA still has not approved the facility. We also know that there are adverse short term and probably long-term effects. The anthrax vaccine that we administered was licensed for prevention of cutaneous and not respiratory anthrax. Then just within the last month, Department of Defense officials finally admitted after continued denials that an illegal adjuvant, squalene was used instead of alum in some vaccine batches. Consequently, we probably reduced the ability of the immune system to fight off the multitude of exposures that occurred.
    Pesticides proved to be yet one more problem. Although, pesticides were ordered from official Department of Defense sources, they did not arrive in sufficient quantities so we were required to buy them on the open market to control a verified threat. Consequently, who knows what we actually used and what adverse effects could be related to their use?
    The confirmed nerve agent threat resulted in the use of PB, which is actually a reversible bond nerve agent, in an attempt to reduce the effects of chemical warfare nerve agents such as Sarin, VX, Soman, Novachuks, and Multiple 7. PB can be compared to spraying gumdrops with Raid or Black Flag and then eating them. We expected adverse reactions from consumption of PB because it is a carbamate pesticide compound. Therefore, we made sure that NBC operations and medical personnel knew of potential adverse effects. Again, we knew there would be health effects and yet commanders decided to ignore our warnings and force individuals to eat PB tablets. As part of our discussions we also identified and warned about the anticipated interactions between pesticides, nerve agents, and drugs such as PB (pyridiostigmine bromide / mestinon). Official Department of Army medical records confirm that over 50 % of the individuals who took the PB got sick with nerve agent effects. OH WELL, ANOTHER ANTICIPATED ADVERSE HEALTH EFFECT TO IGNORE.
    Food and water problems were all over. We could not ensure that Saudi government supplied food preparation and serving personnel met even basic U.S. public health requirements. We saw too many food borne health problems which once more caused adverse health problems. Severe diarrhea was observed in troops eating at the mess hall located in the tent camp just off of King Abdul Azziz Airfield in Riyadh during December of 1990. I was one of the casualties. We traced the problems to contaminated food. Similar problems occurred all over the theater of operations through at least May 1991. At one time during April we had so many at KKMC that were sick and because we did not have the medical supplies required to treat them, we just let them ride it out without medical care. THAT WAS WRONG!!!!!!! We do not even know if some type of biological agent was introduced via sabotage into our food supply or if troops crossed contaminated areas. WE DO KNOW THAT FOOD WAS PURCHASED AND SERVED THAT HAD BEEN GROWN IN NIGHT SOIL WHICH IS UNTREATED SEWAGE. We established strict rinsing and cleaning requirements during food preparation. However, without complete control of food preparation personnel, we do not know if these guidelines were followed. Water borne problems occurred during bathing, drinking, food preparation, and decontamination. Rashes were observed in troops taking baths at Eskan Village and so we had to order no baths or use of chlorine to sanitize the bath water. This created a problem for female hygiene efforts. Even with use of chlorine to sanitize the water before use, rashes abound! The Star Lighter showers which used water from a box which was open to the air also caused problems, especially when water mixed with oil well combustion byproducts or other contaminants was used for bathing and washing clothes. We reported skin irritation upon taking a shower at King Kahlid Military City (KKMC) and other areas. Uniforms and clothes must be kept clean, yet my own DU team had to use the Star Lighters to clean our clothes while we took showers. So more contamination was spread on the ground. We did not have alternative choices to wash our contaminated clothes. The Service and Supply (S & S) Bath unit would not let us near their equipment and rightfully so for safety. I wonder how we will keep uniforms and equipment clean in the future?
    The burning of the oil wells as Iraqi forces retreated was an excellent tactical operation. Health and environmental problems started immediately. Members of our unit were dispatched to conduct an initial assessment of potential risks. It was obvious that incomplete combustion of inorganic and organic compounds was occurring and that these were being released into the air and onto terrain causing immediate respiratory and skin problems. The released mixture was so thick that we used sticks to scrap the junk out of our nose, ears, and mouth. We reported immediate splitting headaches, breathing problems and burning skin. Official on-site medical command reports said that exposures were causing immediate adverse health problems. Consequently, we, by unanimous agreement, prepared, issued, and distributed the medical command directive that no one should be exposed to any oil well fire byproducts without respiratory and skin protection. We tried, yet, history proves that this directive was disregarded and now we suspect that the observed illnesses are caused in part by oil well fire byproduct exposures. Today, the full list of byproducts has been published and any first year environmental chemistry or other student studying hazardous materials would agree that you should NEVER expose anyone to even one of these pollutants much less the entire combination. Once again, hazards were recognized, warnings were issued, and recommendations ignored.
    As we provided emergency medical care we wrote reports identifying respiratory problems, rashes, diarrhea, neurological, bone muscle injury, immediate problems from PB use, and immediate problems from oil well byproduct exposures. These medical problems were annotated into individual medical records as they occurred. Although, medical records did exist before individuals and units were redeployed the records disappeared. OH WELL.. IF THERE IS NOT ANY DIAGNOSED EVIDENCE OF ADVERSE HEALTH EFFECTS….. THERE IS NOT ANY PROBLEM. Medical personnel who performed the redeployment physicals deliberately ignored reported problems and denied that any exposures occurred. I tried to get my verified exposures listed but they said none occurred and refused to list the exposures or treat my respiratory and rash problems. Once we returned to the U.S. the observed health concerns forced the U.S. Department of Defense to initiate the Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program (CSEPP). I went through the program during which serious medical problems were found that my VA physicians now know were caused by wartime exposures. YET, DESPITE MY BEST EFFORTS THE CSEPP PROGRAM PHYSICIANS REFUSED TO PROVIDE THE MEDICAL TESTS REQUIRED TO VERIFY KNOWN EXPOSURES. HOWEVER, EVEN THE DIAGNOSED PROBLEMS THAT THEY DID VERIFY WERE NEVER PLACED IN MY OFFICIAL MILITARY MEDICAL FILE. My medical reports. along with hundreds of others, were separated, locked up in a special room at Noble Army Hospital, Fort McClellan, Alabama, until I was told they were there and I was finally able with intervention to obtain these secret files during the fall of 1997. They were sent to me in the mail. I then had my Army Reserve Command Chief Nurse review the medical evidence and insert them into my official military medical file. Yet, it is worse. As we completed the Depleted Uranium Burn Test at the Department of Energy Nevada Test Site in November 1994, DOE medics performed a radio-bioassay on me that found 5000 times the permissible level of uranium in my body. THEN THEY NEVER TOLD ME FOR 2.5 YEARS. AGAIN A DELIBERATE ACTION TO DENY MEDICAL CARE BY PREVENTING CORRELATION OF EXPOSURES TO ADVERSE HEALTH EFFECTS!!!
    I am painting a picture that shows we knew about the threats, warned commanders about the threats, recommended medical care that was and is still ignored, and that our leadership has abandoned the troops for political purposes. Yet, it gets worse. While preparing to conduct our command level briefings and courses two senior Army medical officers came from Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland to make sure we limited our information to commanders and medical personnel. IN OTHER WORDS: “DO NOT TELL THEM—–THEY WILL NOT KNOW— AND WE WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE“. These two senior officers went to my unit commander and told him to force me to stop making sure the commanders and troops knew about the hazards and were ready to respond to the anticipated exposures and consequence health and environmental problems. AFTER THAT FAILED THEY WENT TO THE 3RD U.S. ARMY MEDICAL COMMAND STAFF TO FORCE US TO STOP AND THAT FAILED! There were and still are dedicated professionals who care! Yet despite our best efforts- the exposures occurred and today individuals are sick and medical care was and still is denied!! Exposures will continue because despite our efforts environmental remediation has been delayed or not completed.
    To paraphrase 1950’s television program title; “ I WAS THERE!” We knew, We warned. We were ignored. Today we are still ignored. TODAY, TOO MANY INDIVIDUALS AROUND THE WORLD ARE SUFFERING AND DYING BECAUSE OF OUR DELIBERATE ACTIONS. IN SIMPLE WORDS: THE BATTLEFIELD WAS A TOXIC SOUP TO WHICH ALL CIVILIANS AND MILITARY WERE EXPOSED.
    Reported, observed, and verified medical problems include: Respiratory problems, rashes, cancer, dental problems, eye problems, muscle weakness, neurological problems, birth defects, sexual dysfunction, kidney problems, memory problems, pain, cardiac problems, blood problems, thyroid problems, liver problems, and immune system failures.
    Although, OFFICIAL denials continue when you see the same health problems over and over again in individuals from around the world then we must acknowledge a cause and effect relationship and accept responsibility to provide medical care.
    Today, many of us; including scientists, physicians, pastors, and others; who decided to speak up about what occurred, why it occurred, what should have been done years ago, and what should be done now have lost jobs, experienced retaliation, and been threatened by Department of Defense, Department of the Army, and Department of Veterans Affairs officials. The direct and indirect threats, warnings, and attacks also have been directed to our family members to bring pressure on us to stop demanding accountability. This is all about liability! Therefore the truth must be suppressed! If what happened is acknowledged, then specific individuals within our government and other governments will be required to accept responsibility for the consequences of deliberate actions. The health and environmental problems are not limited to Iraq or surrounding areas. Similar adverse health and environmental effects have been identified within and around U.S. military installations or Department of Energy facilities in Alabama, Washington, California, Alaska, Tennessee, Korea, Panama, Germany, Philippines, Maryland, Nevada, Florida, California, and especially surrounding the U.S. Navy range on the Vieques, Puerto Rico. I recently had the father of a warrior stationed in California come up to me while I was eating supper in a restaurant outside Chicago to ask for help in obtaining medical care for his family who was sick from exposures. Another dangerous location is Calhoun County (Fort McClellan) Alabama. Extensive PCB contamination mixed with contamination from DOD activities and the potential release of nerve and mustard agents during weapons incineration without any effective emergency response threatens the residents and the environment. DOD and Army representatives have told the residents of Calhoun County to just close their doors and windows and hold their breath in the event of releases. OH MY GOD!!!!! Recently, Denver Colorado residents were faced with the discovery of a bomb containing the nerve agent Sarin in a garbage dump. Somehow, Army officials had lost it!!! Then in a new press report dated November 1, 200 the Army admitted that their may be more lost Sarin bombs lying around the Rocky Mountain facility. NO WONDER VERY FEW INDIVIDUALS TRUST DOD LEADERS.
    No matter where I go, I encounter individuals or families members seeking help. I receive telephones call day and night. Individuals approach members of my family asking for help. Physicians and scientists attending an international conference this past weekend at Manchester, England described, discussed, and carefully verified the serious adverse health problems from chemical, biological, and radiological materials releases. The cancer rates, birth defects, neurological problems, respiratory problems, rashes, kidney problems, and many other medical problems seem to be increasing throughout Iraq, Kuwait, Serbia, Korea, England, France, Australia, Canada, Japan, the U.S. and the Vieques, Puerto Rico. Basically the OFFICIAL denial of exposures and consequent adverse health and environmental effects has been ongoing for years. The dilemma is that we made decisions based on verified threats and the tactical situation which were correct at that time but then since 1991 DOD and VA officials have ignored the consequences of these decisions and refuse to accept responsibility for current adverse health and environmental effects. The evidence exists and is increasing so we must acknowledge the adverse health and environmental effects of our actions. So what are our national obligations?
    Two hundred and 24 years ago, the Minutemen of Massachusetts responded to a call to arms and our Nation was born. Now, ten years after the Gulf War and the abandonment of our nation’s military personnel and their families; recruiting and retention to fill our military forces with dedicated men and women is failing because Warriors have been denied earned medical care and too many are living on food stamps!!! Our nation is at risk!
    I and others have sent numerous messages to the Honorable Dr. Bernard Rostker, Deputy Secretary of Defense, who was not there, whose staff was not there, and whose staff still ignores the warnings and recommendations those of us who were there for political and economic reasons. It is painfully obvious that DOD and VA officials have no intention of accepting responsibility for what has happened! The reason is very simple! If they acknowledge what happened to our nation’s heroes and accept responsibility for medical care and environmental remediation then these same officials must acknowledge the consequences of our actions on non-combatants and enemy forces around the world. We suggested that Dr. Rostker, Secretary of Defense Cohen, or the President Clinton state that:
    “During the Gulf War essential decisions to protect our warriors and win the war were made based on the tactical situation and verified threats. Today, we know that those decisions and our deliberate actions have resulted in serious adverse health and environmental consequences. We can no longer ignore the consequences of our deliberate actions. We apologize to our warriors, our warrior’s families, and the citizens of the world. We resolve to provide medical care or medical care recommendations and complete environmental remediation.”
    ALTHOUGH, WE HAVE OFFERED THIS SOLUTION MANY TIMES IT IS IGNORED!
    We owe the combat veterans of our nation the medical care they earned! We must provide all WARRIORS with education and training to ensure combat readiness and prevent a repeat of what has occurred. We must provide military personnel with all of the operational equipment they need to complete their assigned missions. We must hold those officials who have willfully harmed our nation’s heroes accountable for their deliberate actions. We must force a stop to the retaliation against those warriors who try to tell the truth and who epitomize our nation’s ideals expressed so eloquently by General Douglas MacArthur‘s three immortal words:
    DUTY HONOR, COUNTRY
    We have the ultimate obligation as leaders of the world to provide medical care or medical care recommendations to all that are sick. Finally we have an obligation to complete environmental remediation of contamination caused by our deliberate actions throughout the United States and the rest or the world!
    I want to recite a poem that I wrote in memory of SFC John Sitton, a Vietnam and Gulf War Veteran, who answered his nations call during two wars. He was my friend! He is a true American hero because he set up and ran the 3rd U.S. Army’s medical evacuation radio communications system during the Gulf War. It is ironic that the warrior who saved so many lives died abandoned on the battlefield of political denials.

    “FORGOTTEN WARRIORS”

    ONE MOMENT AN INDIVIDUAL WAS WALKING THROUGH A MEADOW OF
    FLOWERS.

    IN THE NEXT MOMENT SONS, DAUGHTERS, HUSBANDS, AND WIVES
    BECAME SOLDIERS.

    THEY DEFENDED OUR NATION AND PAID WITH THEIR LIFE OR HEALTH.

    THE CITIZEN SOLDIER —– THE MINUTEMAN.

    OUR NATION IS BUILT ON THEIR WILLINGNESS TO RESPOND TO OUR
    NATIONS CALL.

    SOME FOUGHT IN THE JUNGLES OF VIETNAM, YET MANY RESPONDED TO FIGHT IN A DISTANT DESERT WAR.

    THEY FOUGHT WITH SKILL AND DETERMINATION AND FREED A LAND.

    THEN OUR NATION’S WARRIORS RETURNED HOME TO PARADES AND PARTIES AND JOY SPREAD FROM SHORE TO SHORE.

    BUT WHEN THE GLOW SUBSIDED THE WARRIORS REMAINED ALONE AND FORGOTTEN.

    WE ASKED THEM TO FIGHT AND THEN FORGOT TO PROVIDE THEM MEDICAL CARE.

    WE RESEARCH AND STUDY AND SEARCH FOR A CAUSE DELAYING RESPONSE THROUGH IGNORANCE AND FEAR.

    YET THE FORGOTTEN WARRIORS SUFFER IN SILENCE WITH HONOR AND HOPE.

    FOR ALL THE FORGOTTEN WARRIORS WANT IS MEDICAL CARE.

    LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR GOD, OUR WARRIORS, AND THE CITIZENS OF THE WORLD! I will never quit until all individuals are cared for and environmental remediation is completed. I was ordered to complete that mission as a soldier and I will succeed even in the face of adversity! Today, I ask you to help. UNLIKE ANOTHER WARRIOR, I AM ONE SOLDIER WHO WILL NOT JUST FADE A WA

    • Art Duran says:

      I was there, I’m 46 it’s tough to get up in the morning my legs don’t want to work and I’ve been dealing with this since I got back. I never told anyone but my wife knows. I was sad for a long time but I’ve learned to live with it. I’ve always thought maybe I’m just lazy and slow but I know now it’s not that something happen to me that I cannot explain. Now that I’m older it’s getting harder and harder to get going, but I’m still young. I have strange skin irritations that the doctors say is just scar tissue but I never had this until after DS. I was with the FIST, HHT 1/7 Cavalry, 1st Cav Div., Attached to Alpha Company Scouts, like you said chemical alarms were going off all day, we got tired of masking and unmasking, We took over the republic guard defense positions and we did the TOUR clearing out bunker after bunker for about a day and a half and then suddenly we were confined to our vehicles except for the engineers who were conducting demolish of enemy arms and ammo. We were told that there were to many landmines and someone in another nearby battalion had step on one. Do you know if my unit was in the DU exposure area? How do I know if I was exposed? I’ve had 2 kids after I came back will it pass on to them?

  34. Thomas says:

    I was there, in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, reading a letter from my wife and seeing a picture of my newborn daughter for the first time. I was with the 11th Marines at the time, a young PFC. When the bombing started, we could hear in the distance the bombs go off, at night the sky would lit up like the fourth of July and the ground would tremble with the carpet bombing. I still feel that trembling at night, even now more than 20 years later, having gone back to Iraq and having served two more combat tours there. Yet is not the same, nothing was like my first time, those memories still haunt me to this day.

  35. Doug RM 3 (SW) says:

    On the USS Elmer Montogmery boarding ships in the Red Sea. Specifically on the bow of the ship by the 5″ 54 gun mount.

    Yep 20 years sure does fly. Remember the fallen.
    “Those who gave up all of their tommorrows so we could have our todays”

  36. Bill Taylor (GUNNY,USMC ret) says:

    I remember the night the bombing started. My MARINE reserve unit was suppose to be activated. We had made out our wills. As a teacher, i was told i did not have to go with my unit if activated, but i replied that where ever the unit went, I would go too. A Kuwait came to our reserve unit and gave us a Kuwait flag to take and raise when we got to Kuwait. Guys were getting married, dropping out of college. As a staff sergeant, i told kids, “Don’t get married unless you are really in love, don’t drop out of school, WE HAVE NOT GOT OUR ORDERS YET!’ THE WAR ENDED QUICKLY AND WE WERE NOT ACTIVATED ! (Psychologists were brought in to talk to MARINES who were so unhappy we did not go to war. )

  37. Rodney Street says:

    I was about 12 miles from the Iraq border waiting for the ground war to start, in a fox hole scared to death watching all the bombing going on. Wondering if I was ever going to get back to Kitzingen Germany to my 2 year old son. I was with 6/41 FA giving direct support to 2-2 ACR which we eventually fought several divisions of the republican guard and was involved in the battle of 73 easting. Those 5 months without a shower was terrible and the thoughts of all the destruction and death haunt me to this day. God bless all the troops still deployed in the middle east and please come home safe.

  38. Brandee says:

    I was at a belated b-day party for my 19th birthday. I spent the entire night glued to the tv. I had 2 older brothers serving at the time. Neither were deployed, but my now husband, then unknown to me, was sitting in Kobar towers with his NG unit. I thank God everyday for all those who served, before them and now. They are all heros in my eyes.

  39. Johnson, RJ says:

    Looking for Marines that served Bahrain Desert shield/storm to find out what medals were given. I had to discharge early due to immediate family member’s death. Disagreement w/ VA clinic on medals/ribbons – info is important!

  40. Bedford, EW says:

    I was at the Dew Drop Inn in Al Jubail, AKA The Scud Bowl. 3BDE 3ID 1/7Inf

  41. Jammer says:

    I was there in the last rifle battalion to arrive in saudi Echo company 2nd battalion 4th Marines. We were working our way to the berm for the ground assault. I can still hear the palnes and feel the ground shaking as we said go get them boys. We were the 1st ones through the berm and the tip of the spear for the 2nd Marine division ended up in the united imarates agricultural area 10 miles west of kuwait city. 150 bunkers in the ground candles burning and hot chow still on their tables but the majority had bugged out headed north so we put air strikes up their rear ends and blew crap out of them. Then sat in that fly infested dead animals hanging from the trees shit hole for 71 days waiting on a ride home. Last Marine rifle battalion to leave Kuwait. I cant complain about our showers during our advance through saudi though because we didnt have any. All of my dudes are sick either physically or emotionally but the all mighty V.A. says there is nothing wrong with us. TaTa