Defending Kuwait: A Naval Commander's View


Photo courtesy of Jenkins Family Collection.

 For my junior project, I interviewed my father Keith P Jenkins. He was about 34 years old when this event took place. He was a Naval Lieutenant aboard the USS Leftwich DD 984, a Navy Destroyer. This ship had 24 officers and 310 enlisted on board. He was more than willing to help me with my assignment. Although my dad has been through many naval events, I have chosen to write my report on the Operations in the Persian Gulf from 1990 until present. There is no single name for this event because the name has been changed over the years.

 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:

"Throughout these 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, Japan.

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.


Photo courtesy of Jenkins Family Collection.


Photo courtesy of Jenkins Family Collection.


Photo courtesy of Jenkins Family Collection.


 Websites to Visit:

Gulf War

Some Troops Don't Return to Iraq From R&R

Operation Desert Storm

 For further information, contact me.