The Linkup: The Advance Party Joins the Main Body
Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia—Almost four weeks before the main body left Green Bay on January 6, the advance party, led by LTC Ken Bukowski, headed out to Ft. Bragg for what developed into its own unique experience. After a brief stay at Bragg, the party then flew out of Dover AFB and arrived in Saudi on Wednesday, December 19 for a layover at the infamous Warehouse 20 before being parcelled out to the VII Corps Rear and the engineers.
Seventh Corps was the headquarters for several large units such as three different types of armored divisions, one military police brigade, one artillery brigade, one signal brigade and one civil affairs brigade, including several civil affairs companies such as the 432nd. In peace time the subordinate units of VII Corps, containing tens of thousands of personnel, were scattered throughout southem Germany; but now, their highly unpublicized mission was to wrap everything together into one massive arrow aimed at southem Iraq in order to cut off the elite Republican Guard, and hold a hunk of Iraq as a guarantee that Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein would live up to any promises he might make regarding future peace, the payment of war damages to Kuwait and the return of all POWs and hostages. Within that big picture, the job of the 432nd was to assist fighting units by removing civilians from combat areas and providing for their care by coordinating assistance with local govemmental and intemational organizations.
For most of the people on the advance party the job in Saudi was a mixed blessing. For some there were memories of waste (human) burning details, a shortage of showers, two weeks of rain and mud, a supply disbursement system recalling the “good old boy” method, and a lack of specific tasks. There was also a feeling that the 432nd could have played a more active role in the planning process. However when a bunker collapsed killing two engineers, CPT Michael Wojta was called on to provide direction in improving the construction of bunkers. Military use of his civilian experience in the building industry foreshadowed the extent to which the 432nd would offer vital civilian experience to problems encountered in both Kuwait and Iraq later on.
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