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Doug of Arabia Part I



One Saturday afternoon back in November 1990 I received a phone call from my First Sgt. Now, First Sgt's rarely call someone at home, much less on a Saturday. At first I was a bit nervous (like seeing a police car following you), but it turned out he was requesting my presence in Saudi Arabia for Desert Shield. I was just told I was going to Saudi Arabia, everything else was hush-hush. I was to leave the following Sunday, along with another captain. I was given his contact number and a list of appointments I needed to go to. I met the captain and went through gas mask training (tear gas is a very strange sensation, and the gas mask does help) :head_hurts:

I showed up the following Sunday, but the plane was overbooked. So I was told next Sunday. This time I had a seat, unfortunately they never told me some thinks I really needed to know. We left in a KC-135 (military tanker version of a Boeing 707) and headed north for a great circle route. Our "seats" were little more than a fabric mesh, with cargo down the center aisle. While sitting it was cold, but once you stood up it was hot. At one point, after several hours), we could see the Aurora Borealis out the window, it looked like a frying pan on a gas stove with fire around the pan. I was the only one on the plane that had never taken this trip before. It turned out everyone had been rotating in and out of Saudi Arabia every few months. I found out we were flying non-stop to Greece. As we approached England we were to get an aerial refueling. That was a little tricky and bumpy and abit dangerous since the planes come within a few feet of each other, but all went well.

Since we were in a tanker ourself, we could go back to the refueling pod at the back of the plane for a panoramic view. I went back once when I could see either the coast of Italy, or Yugoslavia.

We landed just outside of Athens early the next morning. Since no one told me the procedures I did not know that wearing BDU's off base was not allowed, due to previous terrorist attacks (Communist terrorist, not Islamic). Anyway I was able to get to the hotel without any terrorist attacks. We were to stay at a military hotel. We were to have a 2 day lay over in Athens, but once again since I was not told the procedure I had no civilian clothes to go out on the town. I went down to the lobby instead and watched Monday Night Football. There was a beach outside the hotel, so I was able to go on the beach the next day. It was more like a lakeside beach with no surf at all. We could see an island off in the distance though.

Early the following morning we headed back to the plane and headed to Saudi Arabia. I don't remember how long the flight took, but we landed at Riyadh Int'l Airport. Then we left for our housing facility about 20miles outside Riyadh, called Eskan Village. I was surprised how nice it was. It was built by the Saudi government several years before for the Bedouin tribes, they never used it because they would rather stay in tents in the desert. They were mostly very fancy town homes with four bedrooms. The main thing I recall is a bath tub off one of the bedrooms that was the biggest tub I had ever seen. You could lay out completely straight in the tub and still have room left over. :big_grin:


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