View Full Version : Desert Storm veterans get an early Christmas gift

12-16-03, 08:11 AM
Desert Storm veterans get an early Christmas gift
December 16,2003

An early Christmas gift, the closing of a chapter, that's how Onslow County veterans of the first Gulf War described the weekend capture of Saddam Hussein.

They spoke of the event creating a stronger union among Iraqis who were still scared of a return of the despot's regime. But they also cautioned against more fighting to come as the last remaining terrorists, many in Iraq from other countries, have little left to fight for but fear.

"Talk about a Christmas present coming early," retired Marine colonel Wayne Morris said. "This is truly a turning point. Whatever it turns into remains to be seen. It will be real interesting."

Morris is now Onslow County's personnel director, but he's still a serviceman at heart. He'd been linked with other vets the last few days on the Internet discussing the significance of the event.

The capture of Saddam was a major catharsis for many Marine Corps vets of the first Gulf War who wanted to go after the dictator themselves in 1991. But the United Nations mission at the time was to push Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, not push on to Baghdad.

"For the people who've been down this road before, I'm sure they'll feel a lot better. This really closed the loop for a lot of people," Morris said. "Let's face it, he's another Hitler."

An infantry battalion commander in the first Gulf War, retired Marine colonel Bruce Gombar agreed many held those feelings then, even though the world's political climate would not allow U.S. advancement.

"I think a lot of us, in retrospect, were thinking we should have kept going in the first Gulf War right into Baghdad," Gombar said. "But at the time, I think we knew they'd ensure the wrath of the world then.

"I think there was a general feeling that as long as he was out there, the mission was not fully completed.

Morris, who planned military strategy from Quantico, Va., during the first Gulf War, said he wishes he could still somehow help the fight.

"God, imagine being there," he said. "(In Vietnam) we thought it was a big deal capturing (a North Vietnamese Army) captain."

Both men said Saddam's capture could generate a belief among Iraqis they really could be free while at the same time setting off a backlash of terror.

"This will solidify a lot of people there who were scared to death (Saddam would return)," Morris said. "It's going to galvanize these people."

But terrorists who have little to lose could step up efforts.

"I think in the short run, you're going to see these supports act up," Gombar said. "The danger is we let our guard down."

Gombar said his thoughts are with military leaders there to keep troops focused. They will not want to let the troops think the fighting is over because Saddam in captured.

"Eventually, what'll happen is we'll win out against that opposition in the long run," he said.

And like Morris, Gombar feels the pull to get back into the fight during times of war and terror.

"Not so much because of the capture of Hussein, but I'll tell you ever since the 9/11 attacks, I think I speak for a lot who were fairly recently retired, who've said I wish I was back in," Gombar said.

"You don't spend 30-plus years in the Marine Corps or any branch of service and not love it."