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 Letter to Congressman Shimkus [11/29/01]

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To: Congressman Shimpkus
RE: Military tour to Saudi Arabia (Gulf War)

Dear Sir:

In response to your letter requesting info on my military experience; when ({the}) Desert Storm started I had just completed 13 yrs in the Air Force and Army reserves and had received my honorable discharge.

The Army Oil Analysis Program was a big part of maintenance for both ground equipment and Air Craft. The only problem was the Army did not have a{n} MOS for Oil Analysis and had always been contracted out. Until my discharge (at that time) I was the only one qualified to do Oil Analysis as I was a Lab Chief and Project manager and Physical Science Technician III as a contractor. (14 1/2 yrs experience). Although the Army had 2 mobil [sic] Labs they did not have the personell [sic] to run them. I contacted FORCECOM and then I reenlisted to run & train 10 selected soldiers to man one of the Labs for deployment. I was attached to the 102nd QuarterMaster Unit/101st Abn Div. out of Ft. Campbell, Ky. I had some good times and some bad times. And although I am ill now and it's hard for me to accept I am not the same, I would do it again.

Our hardships were many. The older military {and} those of us with experience in the field and those with war time experience adapted as well as ^we could. Those with little or no experience were lost. They were under the impression that they would work 0800 hrs to 1700 hrs then go into town shopping.

We dealt with millions of flies and our mess tables were so covered with them the tables looked black. Showers were allowed only at the end of the day and for 10 min. in length. On several occasions the water delivered for our showers were in the same trucks that had hauled petrolem [sic] products earlier. The toilets Were impossible to Keep clean due to the large number of units using them. Disposal of the waste was by burning in most cases due to the fact the people contracted to empty them did not show up very often.

We had moral problems regarding "Conscientious objectors. They did not have to pull guard duty, recon missions etc. consequently they had a lot of free time while everyone else was taking up the slack. Weather conditions: by 0430 it was usually around 105ºF. Rainy season usually flooding and constantly Wet. Winter extreamly [sic] cold at night. We had scorpions, snakes, bugs and flea's to deal with as well as more flies. A lot of the bugs, flea's and Flies were feeding on dead bodies and carcusses [sic] of {heards} herds of goats & camels found dead in the desert for no apparent reason.

Little or no food. Only MRE's (meals ready to eat) for weeks or months at a time. Some of us came up with quite a few unusual receipe's [sic]

The whole Battalion coming down with dysentery. constant alarms sounding. Having Mass (church) stopped so we could go into full mop gear.

As I said there were also good memories Meeting new people. One of my duties was to work with and teach selected Arabs about Oil Analysis. At first they refused to have anything to do with me because I was a woman. Earning their respect was one of my greatest accomplishments. They began calling me "Madam" and when I left country they gave me Perfume called Madam. They also allowed me to eat in the same dinning room. Women are usually made to eat in a separate room. Mornings during breakfast 3 male Arab teenagers would show up at my table and ask me to check over their english homework. Then in the evening they would report their grades.

I was required to travel between sites to meet with various leaders to report, repair equipment and to pick up reports. Most of the travel was in the desert as well as across the borders. On one occasion a Maj. had asked me and my driver if we could deliver a 4 w drive to a location we were going to. Without a thought I said sure. I got in one Vehicle and my driver the other. We had to go through a Check point at the border. While waiting in line it dawned on me It was illegal for me to be driving. New female Military personell [sic] were allowed to drive only Military Vehicles and must be in Military uniform. I did not have a Military 4 W drive but a civilian 4 W drive, surrounded by Saudi Military. My driver was waved thru the Check point. It was my turn. At the same time 2 cars filled with civilians were also in the line next to me. All the Arab Soldiers except one went to search the car. The one left, took one look at me, looked to see what his comrades Were doing and very quietly motioned me on. From the time I realized what I had done And being waved on I had pictured myself in a Saudi prison. In the Saudi prison system your family is responsible to bring you food, water, clothing, blankets etc. If you have no outside support you die.

I hope this is what you wanted, and I hope it will help.

My prayers are with my fellow brothers and sisters who are risking their lives today for all of us and I pray if they too become ill, injured etc they will be able to receive the help they need and not be forgotten once their job is over

Sincirly [sic]

Sgt Patricia M. Seawalt (Ret)

[address omitted]

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 Letter to Congressman Shimkus [11/29/01]

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  October 26, 2011
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