The Iraqi military invaded Kuwait, in August
1990. The United Nations, led by the United States, imposed import/export
sanctions against Iraq in an effort to persuade Iraq to return
control of Kuwait to it's original goverment. This international
crisis was named Operation Desert Shield. It had stayed this
name from the time that the Iraqi invaded until the start of
the war. When negotiations failed, the United States, with the
support of the United Nations, gave Saddam Huessain a final ultimatum.
On January 17,1991, the Untied States began operations to rid
Kuwait of its invaders. Operation Desert Shield had become Operation
Desert Storm, and we were at war.
My fathers' position onboard was in charge of positioning his
ships and giving the commands to fire missiles at specified targets
inside Iraq, under the direction of his commanding officer. "I
performed my duties without hesitation or regrets because that
was my job. That is what I was trained to do. I now have a better
appreciation for life. I don't know how many lives my missiles
eliminated, but chances are good that some of the lives were
innocent- non-military personnel. Those people would be considered
the 'casualties of war'."
Members from the USS
Leftwich went ashore in Kuwait right after the war concluded
and saw the 'ruins' that were caused by the Iraqis when they
invaded and took over.They also saw the appreciation of the Kuwaiti
people towards the Americans for freeing them. "We realized
that 'Muslims' were not all alike. Just because we have hostilities
with some Muslims, we don't need to hate all Muslims."
While the Leftwich drifted
to Iraq, they did not know that they were drifting among mines.
An article in an Official News release states:
operations, Leftwich was constantly in mine infested waters.
On three occasions, Leftwich almost struck drifting mines. One
passed less than three feet from the hull after an emergency
maneuver. In all, Leftwich located and destroyed eleven mines
and assisted in the destruction of two others. After operations
in the Northern Gulf, Leftwich received a brief respite in a
southern gulf port where she became the first combatant to conduct
a wartime reload of tomahawk missiles in preparation for continued
offensive operations. For her actions in combat, Leftwich has
been nominated for the combat action ribbon and a unit citation.
Additionally, her crew has qualified for the national defense
service medal and the southwest Asia service medal. During the
entire deployment, Leftwich visited Subic Bay, Philippines, Phuket,
Thailand, Singapore and Bali, Indonesia."
After the war had ended,
the name was changed once more. Now it is known as Operation
Southern Watch. This name is still in effect today. After Desert
Storm, my father made two additional deployments to the Persian
Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch. One of these onboard
the USS Independence, an aircraft carrier homeported in Yokosuka,
The interview didn't
exactly feel like an interview. It felt like we were just talking
and having a good time looking back on his past. This event had
more information online, in textbooks, in encyclopedias and in
'yearbooks' of my dad's ships. I never knew what had to be done
or what went on overseas in wars until I read about the war of
1991 until the present.