101st Coming Home

I’m an educated man and, having read this article, can speak intelligently about the travel habits of Misael Santiago*:

The last 101st Airborne Division convoy rolled across the Iraqi border just before 5 a.m. Kuwaiti time this morning, leaving behind a mission that spanned almost a year.

Spc. Misael Santiago of Lawton, Okla., pulling rear convoy security with a .50-caliber machine gun, had the historical honor of being the final 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) “Screaming Eagle†to leave Iraq by vehicle. He was part of a seven-vehicle convoy, with elements of Company D, 3-502nd Infantry Regiment, and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Division Support Command.

“I just feel good to be almost home,†Santiago said, echoing sentiments of every other troop who undertook the three-day movement from Mosul in northern Iraq to Kuwait.

A small contingent of ten 101st soldiers, assigned to Mosul Airfield, are all that remain of the 101st in Iraq. They are projected to fly directly out of the country later this month.

When my unit deployed for what would become Operation Desert Storm, we had the good fortune of doing so on the tail end of the buildup in mid December 1990 and we were able to go back to Germany in mid April 1991. Even such a short stay–most of it waiting for the war to kick off and then waiting again to redeploy–seemed quite long under those conditions. While they’ve managed to improve the creature comforts somewhat since then, the physical danger and accompanying stress are geometrically higher now. It’s hard to fathom just how ready these guys are to get home.

*Sorry, I just couldn’t resist the A Few Good Men reference.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.