War in Iraq and Afghanistan

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Wartime generals are part of the big picture.  They have a god's-eye view that is quite different from soldiers on the front lines.  Writers trying to make sense

of long-ago experiences can read books, but they can also listen to speakers who once played key roles, such as BGEN Bob Benson who fought in Desert Storm.  He spoke to the South Dakota Veterans Forum on September 9.

 



Retired USAF COL Debra Shattuck’s new book is Bloomer Girls: Women Baseball Pioneers. An SDPB documentary film (Dakota Life series) offers the best overview, with Shattuck herself providing the narration.  With a Ph.D in American Studies from the University of Iowa, she is currently provost and professor at John Witherspoon College.  She was working in the Pentagon during the Terrorist Attack on September 11, 2001. more



On 9-11-10, COL Debra Shattuck (USAF ret) and Brig. General Scott A. Vander Hamm were both with us to commemorate the Tenth Anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attack on America.  

"I was in the Pentagon when the plane hit," she said.  "It would be interesting to also hear from some active duty folks who could talk about what they did in the aftermath of 9/11."

(Now MAJGEN) Brigadier General Scott A. Vander Hamm, former Wing CC at Ellsworth, talked about the post-9/11 bomber mission he flew.  "It was an historic mission--first one of the war I believe," Col. Shattuck said.  "It left the U.S. and returned without landing."  He is the Commander, 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. He is responsible for the combat readiness of the Air Force's only B-2 wing.

Rapid City radio and television host Shad Olson moderated the event, with CPT Leigh Batts, USAF chaplain, offering the opening prayer.  A former standout basketball player at the US Air Force Academy, Batts addressed the importance of a strong Judeo-Christian military to galvanize national defense in the dangerous years to come.


On December 11, 2010, MAJ Bob Liebman (USAF ret) talked about his experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq as a Weapons Systems Officer aboard a B-1B Lancer bomber.  Liebman is currently part of the Ellsworth Heritage Foundation.
Regarding Afghanistan, "our area in the SE: One little village that comes to mind was 'Kushamond', possibly home to 75% of the world's dust. It was well over ankle-deep. Possibly the most desolate place I've ever seen. And its name means "death place"...just for the ambience, I suppose."
Photo below shows a B-1B Lancer from EAFB's 28th Bomb Wing flying over Egyptian pyramids.




















On November 13, 2010, MSgt Travis Bolt, USAF EAFB, talked about his recent deployment to the Middle East and Osun AFB in Korea--and what those on active duty and their families can expect when called up. Picture left shows Bolt making a point recently in Qatar.  While overseas, he shared with us an e-diary of his day-to-day experiences about life in the modern USAF under deployment.

On July 10, 2010,  COL Arthur "Bucky" O'Connor of Rapid City and LTC David Gray of Hill City, both retired Army National Guard, talked about their experiences in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm (1990-1991), during the first Persian Gulf War.  America's wars in the Middle East are sometimes characterized as a "do or die" for the West. 
O'Connor says that “Patriotism flourished in my unit. When President George H. W. Bush announced that America would lead the coalition to remove the Iraq forces from Kuwait and preclude the invasion of Saudi Arabia, we knew we had an important mission.”  He
was the Executive Officer for the 109th Engineer Group, a command-and-control unit which was assigned U.S. 7th Corps, where, he writes, his "mission was to maintain 500 miles of sand roads from Saudi Arabia into Iraq. We also built an airfield for an unmanned aircraft. Oddly enough, 25 Iraqi soldiers tried to surrender to this aircraft as it flew over them one day in February" in 1991. As we know, Ellsworth AFB has recently added drone warplanes as part of its mission.
Gray, the Personnel Officer for the unit, kept a diary of his experiences during the war.