Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm

Life in Tent City

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Harvest Bear When we first arrived in theater, we had 12 days in a 4-star hotel. It wasn't all sunshine and roses... most of the facilities in the hotel were off-limits to us, and we were limited to just one of the restaurants - the buffet - for meals. Also, we were hot-sheeting between day and night shifts in order to maximize $$ savings. I shared my room with a 1Lt out of Dyess who was working day shift. It only really became a problem on my one night off a week. Since I was night shift, I couldn't really spend the time out shopping... so I was relegated to a makesift bed on the floor. Not quite two weeks into the deployment, we got moved onto the airbase and into something called a "Harvest Bear". This quaint little shack was originally designed as a combat morgue, and could hold about 40 bodies in cold storage. For us, it slept twelve in air conditioned comfort... and you can be certain that the morgue design made for some absolutely outstanding air conditioning.
Recreation Tent In keeping with the theater commanders morale program, MWR chipped in to procure plywood and 2x4s in order to construct a recreation tent. The front porch was frequently crowded with people who hated to run, already had a shower, and couldn't go to work or sleep. Inside was a candy counter, "Dear Any U.S. Servicemember" mail, a video cassette player, and the laundry drop. The sand bags around the outside were designed to block shrapnel in the event the base was bombed. Needless to say, we didn't put much faith in them, believeing that the most likely type of "bombing" would be mortar fire raining down from above.
In addition to the Harvest Bear, we had tented ablution units - both toilet facilities and showers/sinks. There were a total of three temper tents set up with ablution units inside. Two of them were full of toilet units - one each for male and female. The flush toilets were elevated so the hopper sat directly on top of the waste containment unit. The toilets were screened off from each other by canvas partitions, but were otherwise open to public view by anyone walking by inside the tent. It took me several days to get over being shy about this. The third tent was divided down the middle, and had male showers and sinks on one side with female on the other. This facility was actually pretty nice, as we never ran out of hot water. The solary water heaters were augmented with gas, so we could take a shower at 1AM and still have hot water. Showers
No matter what shift you worked, or what your designated "sleep time" was, you were still subject to the "Call of the Wild". One thing I will say for the Arab culture - they are extremely punctual. At least five times a day, I could update my hack on the first sounding of the trumpet, or horn, or whatever made the "call to prayer" sound. The loudspeakers in the top of this prayer tower blared the call to Muslim prayer at dawn, dusk, and three times in between. Since I was on the night shift, I generally tried to sleep between about 9AM and 3PM daily. Unfortunately, that made prayer time a particularly daunting adventure for me. After three weeks, I finally got used to it enough to sleep through the noon prayer... or maybe the outside air temperature dropping off 15 degrees had something to do with it. Prayer Tower on a Mosque
Eskan Village housing By late September, troops started moving off the airbase and out to Eskan Village. Eskan was a walled city filled with single-family housing units and with a small marketplace, soccer field, and various basketball and volleyball courts. Each house consisted of a master bedroom suite, two other bedrooms, one other full bath and one half bath, a living room, kitchen, and den. A typical layout would have the den divided in half, making five bedrooms around the central living room. Two individuals were then assigned to each bedroom, making each house a 10-man unit. We were fortunate, in that we had only 6 assigned to our unit... so the 3 highest ranking guys each got their own room, with the SRO taking the master suite. This is a picture of our hootch from the top of the tower on the building across the street.
Water Tanks The prevailing rumor was that the city had been built by the Saudi government for Bedouins, but had been abandoned because the Bedouins didn't like being walled up. The real truth was that it had been built by German construction companies to house Allied troops during the Carter administration in the event that an invasion of Iran became necessary during the hostage crisis. Of course, that never came to pass, but the facilities worked just fine for our needs. This photo is looking into our cul-de-sac towards water tanks used to clean the street. Our house is off-camera to the left.
Hootch Roof One beauty part of the house design was the roof. It was flat with a three-foot wall all around it. This made it possible to spend a lot of time on the roof sunbathing, playing catch, or whatever else you could come up with to kill time. There was also a small tower on each hootch we referred to as the "prayer tower", since it resembled the towers on the mosques throughout the country. It's real purpose was to hold the water heater as high as possible to allow the hot water to gravity feed into the house. We used to enjoy climbing the prayer tower during SCUD missile attacks in order to watch the light show when the Patriots took out the incoming missiles.

One of the hootches even went so far as to build a swimming pool on their roof by making a ring of sandbags and lining it wit canvas cut from a defunct tent. It was great to kick back with a cold papaya juice on a hot, sunny day.


E-Mail Last updated on 28 May 2006 by Chris Miller Go Top

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