When Operation Desert Storm kicked off in winter 1991, William “Doug” Faith, an attorney adviser with the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, was in his final year of law school.
“I was a reservist in North Little Rock, Arkansas, going to law school when my Reserve unit got activated,” he said. “I got the call that they always tell you might happen, but you never thought would happen, they said, ‘we’re leaving.’”
Prior to law school, Faith, who was a commissioned engineer officer after completing ROTC in college, chose to join an Army Reserve civil affairs unit rather than taking an education delay.
“I chose that unit because they did training in Europe,” Faith said. “I’d never been to Europe and I wanted to go. They were getting paid to take German classes and you got drill points for it, so that’s why I joined that unit, to go to Germany — I never made it to Germany.”
Shortly after receiving the call about his unit being activated, Faith said goodbye to his young wife and new puppy, and left for predeployment training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He said he was eating in the officers’ club when the air war started an. 17, 1991.
“That’s when we knew it was serious — when the air war kicked off and they were giving us classes on customs and issuing us new equipment,” he said. “We got the new chocolate-chip desert fatigues and that was a big deal. Then when we got over there, we got Humvees, which were brand-new, especially for the Reserves; we had to learn how to drive them.”
Faith’s unit landed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and moved north to Al Jubail for in-country training. When the ground war began, their mission was humanitarian relief. He said they were charged with getting the lights and water turned back on, distributing food and water, and setting up medical clinics. Once the ground war was over, they moved to Kuwait City, Kuwait, to what would eventually become Camp Freedom.
“We were working to get Kuwait City back up and running when a small group of us were sent to southern Iraq to support a [mobile Army surgical hospital] unit out of Johnson City, Tennessee,” Faith said. “They were treating Iraqis who were in the refugee camps. We were the liaisons for the refugees because we had interpreter support. We also helped reunite families who had been separated for various reasons.”
With the ground war over and the humanitarian mission complete, Faith’s unit was preparing to go home toward the end of April 1991. In fact, he was on the second day of a three-day rest-and-recreation trip aboard a luxury cruise ship parked off the coast of Bahrain when he got the call to return to his unit.
“Instead of flying home, we got a call saying we were getting sent to northern Iraq to support Operation Provide Comfort,” Faith said. “We flew to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, took a chartered bus across the top of Syria and were dropped off in a United Nations’ refugee camp in the middle of a wheat field.”
They spent about 2 1/2 months providing civil affairs support and working with tribal elders before returning home to Arkansas in early July. Faith said he spent nearly seven months deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm and the best part about it was his unit.
He said, “That unit really pulled together and pulled it off. We were a bunch of people with really different backgrounds — who weren’t really that committed to the Army, necessarily — we were part-timers, but we got really good at our job.”
When Faith returned home he resumed the career path that he had pressed pause on seven months earlier. He finished law school, he was accepted into the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and he and his wife welcomed a baby girl.
Faith spent nine years on active duty before deciding to get out and settle down so his kids could have some stability. His son is in Ranger School now so, much like his Desert Storm days, Faith is back to communicating through letters, which he said he does not mind at all.
He has lots of great memories from throughout his military career and he will tell them all with a smile, punctuated perfectly with his thick, Arkansas drawl.