“There were people lying everywhere”: the Iraqi Scud missile attack that killed 13 Pa soldiers 30 years ago
Thousands of troops were deployed in 1990 and 1991 in Operation Desert Shield of the Persian Gulf War and then Operation Desert Storm.
The mission was to expel Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator who had invaded Kuwait.
Operation Desert Shield began in August 1990 when the United States participated in the defense of Saudi Arabia in the event of an attack on Iraq.
Hussein had received an ultimatum: leave Kuwait before January 15, 1991, or be attacked.
On January 17, Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm.
Bombs shelled Iraqi military targets.
In Pennsylvania we saw our soldiers go to war.
Then, on February 25, 1991, at 8:30 p.m., an Iraqi Scud missile attack on a barracks in Saudi Arabia killed 13 Pennsylvania soldiers – members of the US Army’s 14th Quartermaster Detachment – a purification unit of ‘water – parked in Greensburg. This unit had only been in Saudi Arabia for six days. A total of 28 reservists were killed in this attack.
Stacey (Akra) King from Swatara Township served in the 14th Quartermaster Unit and survived the attack. She was injured and received a Purple Heart.
Operation Desert Storm ended on February 28 when President George HW Bush called for a ceasefire after Iraqi forces surrendered or fled Kuwait.
On the day the ceasefire was announced, the families of soldiers from the 131st Transportation Company, a National Guard unit based in Williamstown, were relieved. A soldier from this unit was injured in the Scud missile attack, but at the time his family said he was “fine”.
The Morning News of Erie reported that he told the family of another Pennsylvania soldier from the 14th Quartermaster Detachment that the missile attack was “just horrible.”
He told his father that they had just received a Scud missile alert and he and the others got up and went to get their masks. “Then the building just collapsed. There were people lying everywhere. He said all that was left was the frame.
Saddam Hussein was captured by American soldiers in December 2003 and executed on December 30, 2006, for war crimes and crimes against humanity.