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The Gulf War via JBLM

How the post contributed to the effort

A deploying soldier says his goodbyes to his wife before deploying to the Gulf. Photo credit: Ken Swarner

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On Aug. 7, 1990, violent events altered the lives of many soldiers, family members and civilians in and around then Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base.  President George Bush ordered troops to deploy to Saudi Arabia in response to Iraq's attack and occupation of Kuwait.   What began in 1990 was put to rest completely and heroically in 1991, thanks, in part, to the men and women from the Evergreen Post. 

Beginning with the 593rd Area Support Group, which left in August 1990, Fort Lewis units were put on alert and started deploying quickly in their wake.  In addition, C-141's rapidly deployed from McChord with those soldiers and equipment creating an air bridge to the Middle East that wouldn't stop until months later.  

The first combat unit to deploy was the 1-9 Cavalry, which was followed by 12 support units also leaving early that fall.

A couple general officers from the base also received high-profile jobs during the war.  Then I Corps Commander, Lt. Gen. Calvin Waller was named deputy commander of the operation, serving directly under Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, a former I Corps commander at Fort Lewis.  Major. Gen. Paul Schwartz, then deputy commander of I Corps, acted as the liaison for the Coaltion Forces during the war.  

Waller left in November 1990 and returned to Fort Lewis March 12, 1991.  He landed at Gray Field and told the assembled crowd, "I knew it was raining today, and it is the best sight I have ever seen."  He continued, "Saddam Hussein got his butt kicked."

The war was brief.  The ground war to remove the Iraqi Army from Kuwait took U.S. and coalition forces 100 hours to complete.

There are many individual stories regarding Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, however the part that is equally historical at Fort Lewis goes beyond the actual fighting.  Memorable was the community support which brought citizens out of their homes to rally in support of the troops and their families - not seen since World War II.  Civilian groups and organizations held prayer vigils, street rallies, baked tons of cookies and posted banners and signs supporting the men and women in uniform from Fort Lewis.

The Clover Park School District responded to the gulf crisis immediately with a series of informational workshops in September 1990 for teachers and administrators on how to help local children with deployed parents in the military cope with the fears and uncertainties.

Boxer Thomas Hearns was one of many celebrities who visited Fort Lewis at the time.  Local schools sent tons of student pictures marked: "any soldier" to the war zone, groups prepared care packages, and at Lakes High School, a 90-foot American Flag was unveiled during a home game.

It took many months, however, all of the Fort Lewis soldiers who deployed before, during and after the ground war were officially home by Nov. 21, 1991.  The last to return were from the 593rd Area Support Group.

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