tv Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield CSPAN March 12, 2016 9:00am-10:01am EST
inth shop president lincoln 1865. they are hosting an all-day symposium on the president's life and career and legacy. authors will discuss his views on emancipation and reconstruction. today, starting at 9:05 eastern time live on c-span3 american tv. up next, prison gulf war recountsstephen wiehe his operation in desert storm. a -- an perspective of observer, he described the soldiers day-to-day activities, the harsh conditions and the pressures of wartime. about one hour. norman schwarzkopf told
troops as they went into battle they must be the thunder and lightning of desert storm. among those deployed was sergeant stephen wiehe. as a forward observer, he was placed on the front lines for artillery and air support. his memoir," gday" details the critical mission and movements of the first battalion of the historic 502nd infantry regiment. it has been called one of the best of the gulf war. stephen earned many awards for his service including four army commendation medals and deliberation of flight service medal. texas, whereustin, he is active in veterans affairs. he is joined tonight by his his twoe, and
children. he is a deep love of country and family and is proud to serve with the screaming it goes. we are going to show a video at the beginning of the program, and then stephen will come up to the podium. there will be a reception after the program, and stephen will leave enough time at the end for questions. >> in the early morning hours of , saddam hussein not use
>> thank you. technical difficulties are part of it. it is part of what happens technical difficulties happen. you have to be able to turn on a dime and go in a different direction. how many veterans do i have in the room? everybody. [applause. ] thank you. i appreciate you coming tonight. this is not all about me. count it a blessing to be a spokesperson for other veterans, veterans like you that serve. this isn't about me and this isn't all about the book. this is about our history. that is why we are here at the
museum. what a great honor to be here at this museum, on this night, in this library, talking about history and the hundred first airborne division, who is near and dear to my heart. youof my friends will tell it takes only five minutes for me to start talking about my division, and who i am, and where i came from. that's what it is all about. this is the 25th anniversary, there are so many things that are going on this year. mainly, we have the national desert storm war memorial in washington, d c, that has been approved by congress. 370-zero.
when does that ever happen? it was signed into law on december 19, 2014. -- truly honored to have this piece of legislation that has been passed in washington. ago, wecouple of weeks are through negotiations with -- at the memorial, negotiated an area one position. that is with the other memorials and washington dc. help.you for your thank you for your work. [applause] that's what it's all about. it is the -- it is about us coming together and contributing and noble cause.
we had good leaders. it is such an honor to be here tonight. president bush was a fantastic leader. he put together a coalition of 34 countries for a noble cause to defeat the government that overtook kuwait. they were the line in the sand that was transported from here -- fort bragg to saudi arabia and then coined the phrase line in the sand. you defended the president's line in the sand. bless you. 101 airborne was out there.
theirnd airborne was first, defending. the hundred first took over 30 days later. we took over that position from where you were. we went out into the desert, we took a look at -- what it was like to live in the desert, that's something isn't it. living in the desert. makes me thirsty just thinking about it. my mouth gets tried just thinking about this. we learn to live in the desert.
to usen what it's like the bathroom in the desert. we learn how to use the bathroom in the desert. we learn what it's like to eat with 1000 flies, to look up at the desert sky and see a million stars with no light. to feel what it's like like it any moment saddam and five divisions -- nine divisions were poised along the border at that time. nine divisions could have crossed the border at any time, and we would have been in a
the iraqiad bump -- speed bump, that got in the way of saddam's tank. reallyy doesn't marriott well with armor. it doesn't. the most we could have done is shoot some anti-take- tank weaponry. one thing that we had that made me feel pretty good about that now-thatesert shield would have been balanced. by attack helicopters, air support. we had the air support. had chose to come into
the industrial complex of saudi arabia, we would have stood firm against that onslaught because of our care --air. before we went north, we were at camp eagle two. that's a place where we could get rested and reset. they are two forward and one back. eagle two is where we could write letters, and clean our uniforms. sometimes there would be a month or two without a bath. it wasn't like we could just take a shower anytime we wanted to. that was few and far between. we would write letters. a sergeanti had write letters to the president.
our support for the decisions being made on our by half in on the behalf of the world. because wer behalf had general schwarzkopf who was looking after our interests. we had the best general in the world. we had the general for the times . there is no mistake about it. we have the best that there was. we had a general they had our welfare at heart. we had a president that had our welfare at heart. we wrote letters. when we were north, that iraqi speed bump, i get a brown envelope in the mail. who delivered it, the captain here at he comes to my foxhole and says, who are you?
i didn't know how to respond to that. i took the brunt envelope him, and i looked at it and i -- and it set the white house. i sent sir, that's just one of my friends. he left mumbling to himself. i was a forward observer. i was there attached to it as a forward observer. i was in the infantry but not of the infantry. forwardartillery mos, observer. knowaptain really didn't with that all about white house stationery. i showed him the letter.
it remains a treasure to this day. that was one of the things on the powerpoint presentation. i have that letter pulled up, because it means so much to me. morning, wehis probably need to frame that letter. i think so. it is one of my treasures in life, and it needs to be prominently displayed. after we were that defense in to camprt, we came back eagle to and we started washing our clothing, and doing the things we had not been able to do for the last 30 days in the desert. and by the way, the book cover, that when -- that was when i was
forward. a radio control operator took that picture, and i was growling at him. book was published they said, whose picture is that? admit, you don't want a book cover with someone grinning from ear to ear in a war zone. got rested ande reset. but we knew something would be different this time. that we were going to have to go on the offense to get out of saudi arabia. up, andt going to be go walked the border and wait for something to happen. we were going to have to go on the offense to make something happen.
president bush put a january 15 deadline on that. 10, we started getting intelligence from the location,und the 73 that you will probably learn a lot about it next couple of weeks. we started learning that we were going to have to go up and defend an area that first had located their troops. we went up there in support of the first cavalry division, the 101st airborne division. we went up there thinking that we were going to be another iraqi speedball -- speed bump. we are going to go up and be .nother iraqi speed bump
intelligence said that already breached their obstacle course, they had command-and-control in the area, and they were amassing troops around the border. they were going to come down the , around 73 ease. frantically.ing a few miles from where the iraqis were coming across. we just started digging. as fast as we could. about this far underneath the ground was shale, rock. the feeling came across is we are digging our positions six inches in the ground to onslaught.n iraqi
five divisions that were poised by the complex. positions into a cori. we went into a quarry and began reading a more formidable position than the shale. we were closer to the border. we were closer to where it was going to happen. we thought we were going to die that night. we thought literally, this is going to happen. the intelligence, the special forces had given us information that was credible. -- they were going to come across the border no later than january 15. but something happened on the night of the 13th.
i think it had a lot to do with our prayer. how many veterans here prayed? there are a lot of veterans that pray in those situations. we prayed. it started raining. it was miserable. it was in the 40's. raining,d raining, and and raining. never quit raining. we were miserable. we did not have field jackets. we just had our uniforms. soaked to the bone. wary.
we got word that they got bogged down in their approach. i believe in prayer. --gging, we now have we are now at january 17. the 16th in the united states. local time was the 17th. 2:30 hours. they kicked off the air work. two four-man teams that when in -- went in 50 , task 70 miles apart forces normandy.
that was led by lieutenant colonel cody. they went in and destroyed two radar sites there were 70 miles apart simultaneously. they fire the first shots of the gulf war. allowed adid, it 20-mile corridor to open up radar where our coalition forces could fly into the corridor, and go to their jeff davis. objective. we lost one navy pilot that night. we could have lost thousands that night, had it not been for the 101st airborne division destroying the two radar sites,
the world would have been a different place regarding the golf four. --gulf war. coalition aircraft went in to their objective. thanks to the 101st airborne division. can clappp. i'm in love with the air force. had it not been the airports, things would have been different. on january 30 first, 2000 03 specter gunship, working in the top areas of operations, we lost to a surface air mitchell -- missile on the 30th of january.
all the crew members were lost. one missile. 14 crewmembers lost. these special operations, the air force, had it not been for the air force, a world would have been a different place. we are thankful for the air force. after we were sufficiently blindedd that iraq was weree saudi after another going in every day, we moved to the northwest. the hailody here of mary?
the left hook and the hail mary was when we went out to the left because of the air force bombardment. for g daoned ourselves y. whilet out to the west they were getting bombed, and we set up task force assembly area. of houston,ze texas, inside. size. i am not slamming crane, texas. it's kind of like in the desert to me. out to the west and set up a stationary, the staging
area that the airborne corps used as a launching pad into g day. ground operations day. 1991.ry 24, aboutvision is talking two different locations that we could hit. jackets strike, objective goal. objective goal was a known ammo supply point that had chemical weapons. we wouldhese points have had to wear protective suits. chemical protective suits don't work very well in the desert, they are hot.
there is only so much you can take off chemical protection in the desert. there was a fear that we were going to be engaged decisively by an opponent that was using chemical weapons. secretary of state baker i am convinced, i don't know this to be the truth, but when he was meeting privately in geneva, i that we wouldnced probably use nuclear weapons against them if they used chemical weapons against us. that's just the saying. i don't know that for sure. that's my gut feeling. we had leadership that stood up against the enemy, even in those negotiations, that would say we are not going to let you do it.
we are not going to let that happen. that whenry fortunate that we did gday, not have to go strike. another thing about this, if you can picture the eve of gday, i'm not trying to put myself on an equal with my hundred first -- 101st airborne brothers, but they went in on g day. they were canding by and locating the c 47th. we were co-locating next to our blackhawk helicopter in the desert. 66 of them. a longas you can see
task force assembly area. you cannot see anything other than helicopters. 30 blackhawk helicopters. loave pictures of the co cation i was not able to reconnect with my helicopter pilots until after the book was written. we had the first female pilot on g-day. in the 101st airborne division. i have reconnected with them via facebook. facebook helped me write the book and reconnect with soldiers i had never, hadn't seen over years.
just diving off looking for friends, i found a lot of friends and i'm thankful for that connection. i'm thankful we did it. so, when we went in on g-day, if you can picture all of these helicopters in the air at one time and turning to the north and racing into fort oppearating base cobra, it sends chills up your spine to be a part of that. to have been a part of the first lift into operating base cobra was exhilarating. i was thinking again, this is probably going to be the last time i will going to live, this is going to be my last day, but wow. what an exhilarating moment to set up this forward operating base cobra in iraq.
forward operating base of viper. the war started moving quickly. it started accelerating. we were taking the advantage. we weren't engaging the national guard. we were engaging the republican guard. we were cutting them off from coming back into baghdad. they were having a bad day. why were they having a bad day? because of leadership. because of general schwarzkopf. when he talked to his war planners, general schwarzkopf said, don't give me a meat grinder, meaning don't set me up for failure. don't set us up where we are going to get a lot of our people killed during this operation.
let's make them have a bad day, not us. general schwarzkopf, great general. president bush, fantastic president. he allowed his generals to do their job. he allowed them to do their job. he allowed them to succeed. he did not get in their way. he built that 34 coalition. 34 member coalition. that has never happened before. it has not happened since. very, very impressive leadership. i was impressed with the leaders that they would write me a letter, that i would have to this day. unbelievable. so what do i remember from desert storm? mainly leadership.
i remember the good times and i remember the times i felt like it was going to be my last time on earth. if i can, i'm going to talk to you about one more lift, viper which is where we cut off the enemy, cut off highway eight and actually squeezed them. fort operating base viper, we were put on a cluster bomb munition minefield. we were put in a wrong position. we were tiptoeing our way out of this area, trying to get to an objective. the objective was fort operating base fiber. -- viper. with 100 pounds on your back, it's like taking one step forward and two back.
you do not move very fast in loose sand if you are carrying a lot of weight. so we had probably five miles to get to our objective. it we weren't making it very quickly. it was really hot and heavy conditions and we thought we were going, probably, according to intel, we were in a cluster bomb minefield. not of our own, but of the iraqi. so we went tiptoeing through this area and we took a break, took off our rucksack and the hair on the back of my neck started standing up, call it observer intuition, call it whatever you want, but the hair was standing up on the back of my neck and i started surveying the battlefield and i started
surveying the horizon and i saw one of our own abrams tanks and it was following us, so i stood up so he could see my uniform. i did not want there to be a mistake with an abrams tank. i might be dumb, but i'm not stupid. here i am. i did this. with no weapon. he immediately turned his turret to the east, telling me he saw me. you see the smoke coming up from his engine and off he goes. we put on our rucksacks and we start walking, marching to our objective at forward operating base viper. when we get there, we finally take off our rucksacks, it was a relief.
we start digging, digging. about the size of a casket. about the size of a casket, that is what we are digging, digging a hole in the ground just enough to get under the terrain, and about then, the sound of a tank went off, just right over the hill from where we were, unbelievable, unbelievable. that same tank that was surveying's was actually taking care of us and our objective. it was kind of like having a big brother there to take care of us. we found out later, there were some iraqis that were in the area and he was taking care of us and equipment that was to the east toward basra. that is where resolve the end of the war.
we saw the end of the war at forward operating base viper. you have august 2 through february 28. i contend the war was not 100 hours. there was more to it. to say it is 100 hours eliminates the air force and without the air force we would have had a bad day as infantry. so, we feel it was a joint effort, without a doubt, a joint effort of all of our forces that made desert storm what it was, to make it what it was. i want to share a quote real quick. this is from president bush. it's on the side of this library. it made such an impression on me, my wife and i were walking the grounds last night and we
had the place pretty much to ourselves. really a wonderful moment for us. and on the pond side this quote , is on the side of the building. let future generations understand the burden in the blessing of freedom. let them say we stood where duty required of us to stand. president bush, january 1991. what an awesome president. what an awesome leadership that we had. i am thankful for the president to this day.
january 20, he enlisted again to support our nation and our troops by being honorary chairman of the national desert storm war memorial. what a great human being. he is still in service. he had not checked out. he is still in service. he is still working for us. we are thankful for him. we are thankful. [applause] he is still in service. i appreciate you allowing me to come and visit with you this evening. i wanted you to see this video. it was out of the president's voice. it would have been his voice that would have kicked us off and we have that right here in the library. we have that video here, so it is not like you missed anything.
you will be able to see that video while you are here at the library, and if you cannot see it today, please come back to the library and take a tour of this museum. it is a wonderful facility and we are so thankful, thankful to have it. the couple of people i would like to acknowledge tonight, war --warren finch, presidential library director. thank you. [applause] the chief executor of the george bush foundation, thank you. fred mcclure. [applause] wife.bob holsweiss
is the deputy director of the he presidential museum. [applause] the marketing director of the george bush presidential library and museum. [applause] tracy payne, public programs director. thank you. [applause] thank you very much. i am going to open it up for some questions. you can tell i get a little bit emotional regarding the subject. i am thankful. i am thankful for the leadership. i am thankful to be able to stand here tonight, and had it not been for the great leadership, we would not be here. does anyone have any questions? yes. go ahead and stand up. this is my brother-in-law, by the way. [laughter] not only brother-in-law, he has
helped me as well as my daughter, kristin in reading this book, "g-day: rendezvous with eagles." we wanted it to be historically correct. so, i had some help. i'm sorry. >> you are on the ground with the infantry troops. how much awareness did you have of what was going on from a big picture from the campaign, from a negotiation perspective, how everything was moving along? mr. wiehe: good question. i did not set that up. [laughter] i would expect my brother-in-law to throw a zinger at me. [laughter] i don't know if you remember this, but i had a little shortwave radio that i took with me. i cannot remember the make of the radio, but what a blessing that was, to be able to hear the news, the voice of america, the
bbc. i would tune in all the time. so i got a big richer perspective from attached. i even got to get the president make some announcements that were really important like, when you are two hours late doing it to cobra. i got to hear the president with that little shortwave radio. that was the important stuff. i made some notes in my diary regarding that. >> i am you miss army retired. thank you, steve. you are a great american. i know your brother very well. i know your brother was praying for you the time you were there. i know your parents were praying for you. mr. wiehe: prayers work, guys. >> amen. some folks in this room may not know or understand, was that you did not have to serve, you are a
volunteer just like i was a volunteer. the big question tonight, why? why do you do that? why did you do that for your country? mr. wiehe: that is not just one answer to that. it was my parents, it was how i was raised. it was the americanism i learned in school. we were patriotic. when we grew up, we were patriotic. we cared about our nation. we cared about the american people. we cared about america. so, we love america. we would have died for our nation. when it came time for getting the call to go to desert shield,
desert storm. i was in fort lewis at the time and the ninth infantry division was not on the call list to go. i was just getting out of the officers commission. -- the noncommissioned officers program. no way i was going to go. i am doing duty, and i get word from higher up that these five ncos need to make a meeting tomorrow, one of the five was in our unit. there were some of the five, don't get me wrong, that did not want to go to war. but all of us went. all of us served. all of us went gladly. we had to change a plan or two. we had to change some plans.
it was not just hanging out in garrison anymore, now we are planning on going to war but all of us went. all of us went. it is something that is inside of us. it is what we did. it's how we behaved. it was our culture. i'm sorry to get off on that. [applause] >> where did you grow up? mr. wiehe: my dad was a band director. i was born in texas. that was his first high school job. he went to north texas state university. he served with the 82nd airborne. [laughter] ok, steve. all right.
i know you were about to jump up and say that. anyway, dad was with the 82nd airborne division. band director and texas. band director in big spring, texas. my grandparents lived in crane, texas. dad got a job at north texas state university as a band director, so we moved from big spring, texas to denton. i am a texas guy. i am born and raised. i love it. anybody else? >> if you can, talk a little bit about the timeline, the number of days, kind of give us perspective on how long from beginning to end. mr. wiehe: being called by the
department of army to go join, i did not get over there until october. so august 2 through january 10 was in defense of saudi arabia. the president's line in the sand, forward operating base oasis, that was in defense of. so, january 10 through the 26th. or what was going to become 73. eastie. actually our brigade, the second brigade, was in control of the first cavalry division during that time.
so we were under command until we were released by them and we went northwest, and that would have been around the 26th of january until february 24, which was g-day that would. have been in preparation for. after g-day, rings happened pretty quick. -- february 24, things happened pretty quick. through the 28th, what some called the 100 hour war. the republican guard was annihilated. they ceased to become an effective fighting force. they were no longer the fourth-largest army in the world. anybody else? we have time. >> my name is dave wilkinson.
i am in the class of 1956. [applause] old-school compared to you youngsters. [laughter] i want to compare part of my situation with what you folks were in at the time. after going through the armor school, i was in germany and we were near frankfurt. we talked about when the balloon went up. you people were there when the people went. -- when the balloon went up. we never did know what it was really going to be like when the balloon went up. we thought we were ready. we had buck privates up to
second lieutenants. we thought we were ready. we never did get to prove we were ready. i would like to ask you about your preparation, and by that i mean your men all the way from the lowest rank and how they were prepared and how they felt, did they feel they were ready that day? mr. wiehe: what years? were you in? >> i was there in 1957 in 1958. mr. finch: cold war era? >> cold war. mr. wiehe: i was in also during the cold war era, and i was in germany during the early 1970's. i was a vietnam era vet, and a cold war vet in germany. so, i know exactly what you are talking about. i felt, without a doubt, i don't know about your soldiers, i know my soldiers with the 101st
airborne were prepared to go to war. they were prepared. they might not have wanted to go to war. i do not know about you in the 82nd, but as an nco, i felt really good about my soldiers with the 101st airborne division. 101st airborne division was a good division, and so was the 82nd. [laughter] when we jumped off into war, i got to see it in action rather than in garrison. you had to pay the price. you were in garrison and you are always preparing. you were always training. if it wasn't raining, you weren't training. right? so with us, when we jumped into war, i was so impressed and thankful i was with one of those divisions.
they really had their act together, and i had mixed emotions, truthfully about going back to garrison. here in two weeks, we are having a reunion of the decision-makers of desert storm with the 101st airborne division and that will be at fort campbell, kentucky, and by the way, we are having a dinner and will have keynote speakers and the members of the 101st airborne division. guess what they are calling the dinner we are going to? g-day. [laughter] i am really looking forward to it. i will spend the anniversary with my brothers and his sisters, by the way.
[laughter] [applause] thank you very much. i appreciate your attentiveness and your patriotism. thank you for coming out tonight and for having me. [applause] >> thank you. mr. finch: after the program, stephen will be in the rotunda signing his book. please stop off, buy a book or chat with him. we would love to continue the conversation. as a token of appreciation for you being here, i would like to give you some gifts from the library. mr. wiehe: thank you very much. [laughter] [applause] mr. finch: if you would like to join us in the rotunda, we will continue with the reception. thank you for being here.
[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> you're watching american history tv, all weekend and every weekend on c-span three. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. >> this year's student cam documentary competition was the largest yet, nearly 6000 middle and high school students took part. entriesved nearly 2900 from 439 schools across the country and even from schools as far away as taiwan, and united arab government's. -- eric -- mr it. it's time to were the money to our winners. students were asked to produce documentaries using our road to the white house seen, specifically to document what issue they most wanted the candidates to discuss during the 2016 presidential campaign. students told us the economy,
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