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Voices : Fighting Hussein From the Skies: Jitters, Thrills, Fears and Relief

January 22, 1991

"It felt to me just like a ride before a big football game or something. I mean, you go to the bathroom 50-60 times, and you can't do anything when you go, and you sit there and you try to go. You've got the butterflies, you've got the churning in your stomach, you don't know really what you're going to do. But it's just like a football game, too. Once you get airborne and you get the jet under you and you start feeling good, then you just start working your game plan. . . . You settle down and you feel a lot better. . . . For some reason you lose your nervousness. When you look back at it, I don't know when I lost it. I just can't tell you because you're just up there doing your job. . . .

"The Iraqis don't fly a whole lot at night, and that was a great way to begin this. . . . It's going to continue until it's done, and we need to be smart about it because, one good thing, you can't get overconfident. It's almost like scoring an early touchdown or something. You get overconfident and they still beat you, 38 to 6 or something. . . .

"I think our President and all of our command just needs to be extremely congratulated. . . . They did a great job at tactical deception, it worked out perfectly. We didn't even know when we were going or how we were going to go, so I think they did a tremendous thing with that; and that type of work only can save lives, and I'm just proud as punch to be a part of this. . . .

"I saw the attack and it was awesome. There were a lot of bombs going off. It looked a lot like lights, flickering lights, like Christmas lights when the triple-As (antiaircraft artillery) are coming and then shortly after that it looks like some big bomb fireworks or something like that going off. It was an awesome display. It truly was."

--Lt. Col. Don Kline, Commander, 27th Tactical Fighter Squadron

"It was pretty exciting as we crossed the border and watched the groundfire coming up from Kuwait. We knew we were out of their engagement envelopes but nonetheless watching the air bursts below us was sobering. . . . (It looked) exactly like the movies, to be real honest. . . . (I)nitially we watched the groundfire come up, and the first response was, 'Gee, that's neat,' and the second response is, 'It's aimed at me!' And then it became very realistic. . . . It's exciting to have one under my belt. Same adrenaline that a young hunter has on his first hunt or a young athlete has after his first football game. It's now behind us, and we're ready to press on with the mission. . . . (I felt) mixed emotion. A little apprehension, a little fear, a lot of excitement. . . . (W)e have an element of discipline about us that we don't necessarily want to go out and wreak a lot of destruction, but yet we're trained for thousands of hours or many years of combat training to go out and do exactly what we did tonight."

--Capt. Gentner Drummond , 1st Tactical Fighter Squadron

"You sit there and you watch the stuff (antiaircraft artillery) come up, and at some point you become comfortable almost with what you're doing because you're in your cockpit. And then you realize that this isn't the time to become comfortable with what you're doing because you've got stuff being aimed at you and it kind of jogs you back into reality and you go, 'That is aimed for me! I need to be looking out a little bit better.' Kind of brings you back into reality real quick. . . .

"You're on such an adrenaline high. Prior to the mission there really wasn't much time for rest and you probably couldn't have rested even if you wanted to, you're just so high. Going through the mission, you're running on adrenaline, basically. Coming off that mission you're just flooded with an emotion of a sense of relief, a sense of, 'I've done it, the first time's over with.' "

--Capt. John Doucette , 1st Tactical Fighter Squadron

"At about 3:50, like I said, we started an engagement. I got the contact . . . there's a hostile chasing my No. 3 man and about the same time I'm turning back around towards the east. . . . When I lob this guy up I can tell he's not a friendly airplane. I come to find out its an F-1. He's at about 8,000 feet headed west toward Baghdad, toward my No. 3 and 4 men also. We (identify) him as hostile.

"About 12 miles, I take a Fox 1, a radar missile. Everything's looking good. I'm thinking about taking another Fox 1, but there's no kind of interference or anything like that so I just let one Fox 1 go and then about four miles in front of me I get a huge fireball--actually, I get the missile coming off which is a big flash coming off--get a huge fireball and the airplane blows up. When the airplane blows up, there's a big huge fireball, pieces get scattered everywhere.

"My No. 2 man and I, we turn back south to get away from that initially and we come back up trying to find--hopefully he has a wing man or something else, actually hopefully not--but we're looking for his wing man up there. . . . We can't really find anyone else. AWACS is calling the picture clean. Actually no Iraqi threats airborne at that time anymore. We continue to sweep . . . until all the Wild Weasels, all the EF-111s and F-111s and F-15s are out of the strike area. Once they're out of the strike area then we egress also."

--Capt. Steve Tate , 71st Tactical Fighter Squadron

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