By Asia Jones
James Waller III joined the Air Force in 1986, as soon as he got out of High School, under a delayed enlistment program. The United States had just got done with Grenada when he joined. He was in five wars. In 90, he went to Panama, and after that was Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom.
Desert Storm was initially over territory and the removal of Saddam Hussein. James wasn’t in protest. He realized that what he signed up for and what he had trained for was why he was going there. However later him and his team found, and it has been under his personal experience, that the Gulf war was not necessarily something the United States should have or needed to be involved in and the people of the United Emirates pretty much had it all under control. For him, he went under false pretenses. Meaning that they were all going to get rid of Saddam and these “Weapons of Mass Destruction” that everyone and intel was telling him about. These weapons were all what every news, newspapers, articles, and everyone he knew were talking about it. They found out that the intel was a bit skewed because that was what the initials goal was: To Find all of The Weapons of Mass Destruction and get rid of them.
James role during the war didn’t have anything to do with frontline activity. His entire mission was Air Base Ground Defense, which means, for the air forces mission, is he had to guard and watch over all of the incoming planes and outgoing planes. Securing them in their concrete bunkers, overwatch hangers, and entry control points. His group or Unit, which consisted of about 40 people, had to go through specific training for this mission. “There are a series of training you have to go through.” They traveled and trained in the intense heat of Tampa, Florida so they could get used to working, running, marching your drills, weapons training, dealing with high temperatures, packing your gear, knowing what medicines you need, and “staging” before the departure. “With all my gear on I weighed 400 lbs. so I had to know how to handle all the weight and not pass out.”
When they arrived in Kuwait, He saw Saddam’s forces what they had to offer and the United States met them with superior power and they gave up. Literally. They had tanks, bigger guns, more people involved, and people in the air. Saddam’s forces weren’t really there “fighting- fighting” but they were there, for the most part, in defense of their country, Iraq. But for the US, it was, as James described it, in perspective a cakewalk. They did not find any of the ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction” Vietnam was a harder fight than the gulf war in a lot of instances to him. He said, “The issues from the gulf and that regain of the world had been going on for years. They had been fighting, in one perspective or another, since the time of the bible and for us to be involved just makes us apart of that prolonged history.” In his opinion, it was just all not necessary and for the people that died there, it was kind of a waste. “What did we gain from it? We didn’t gain any more territory, didn’t gain any more prosperity for Americans, and we didn’t free anybody really. So, my humble opinion is, it was a waste.”
One of the worst things he saw when he was there was a little town that was burned up and completely vacant of people. What saddened him was that he knew that people were there and that some people did not make it out alive. “Children, Men, Women, and families all were there and to know that some of them did not make it out alive was very sad and heart breaking for me.”
One of his best memories was when he was with his air force buddies and they would have an event they would call, “Adapt an Army Troop” day. This day, they would bring in an army troop to experience the air force life. For the air force, they had better treatment then the other groups like army. They had heated tents, more food variations, better beds, fun games, and more. So, when the army troops would come, they would absolutely love it.
He experienced a lot in his time in the Air force. “I will say I do not have any regrets from my military service. It has afforded me a lot of opportunities that I have been able to bestow upon my child, the lucky little Bast.. Individuals.” For him, being part of a war, or wars in plural, meant that some of the sacrifices that he had to make were not necessarily something that he sometimes completely agreed on but he got through and he did what he had to do to get back, “and to get back to the world and to not have to deal with the stupidity.” He saw a lot and dealt with things that people should not see. He experienced something would cause anyone to have trauma and pain from. But he would not be the humble person he is today. “I think ultimately my military experience has shaped me into the person that I am and I hope people can understand that.”
Professor Christopher Manning had this to say about Asia Jones’ writing. Asia had a really good subject. She also showed insight into the subject through detail choice. This essay requires creativity in working with the narrative format and reflection. The author has to make decisions about what to choose. The author has to make something out of nothing. Professor Manning wished for a bit more reflection and analysis about the wisdom her father had gained. He thought it would have been ok to have been a little more disagreeable with what readers including the teacher were looking for in a paper.