Kuwaiti ambassador visits MCAS Yuma (1991)
Originally published in The Sun in April, 1991
The Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States made a brief stop at the Marine Corps Air Station Thursday to thank Yuma-based Marines for "standing with us and behind us."
As Marines from various units stood in formation on the MCAS parade ground, Ambassador Shaikh Saud Nasir Al-Sabah said, "There are no words we could express for our deep gratitude to you for liberating our country."
Al-Sabah was accompanied by U.S. Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who lauded the performance of U.S. servicemen and women against Iraq in the Persian Gulf War.
"We're proud of you," said McCain, a former Navy pilot who spent 5-1/2 years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.
"We're proud of the performance of our equipment, but we're most proud of the U.S. Marine Corps and the other armed forces."
Many of the Marines standing in formation represented units that served in the gulf.
About 1,700 Yuma-based Marines took part in the liberation of Kuwait, MCAS Commander Col. Bill Cheatham said in remarks introducing McCain and the ambassador.
Al-Sabah predicted that Operation Desert Storm would go down in history as the classic textbook military operation and he thanked the Marines for "standing with us and behind us and for liberating our country."
After the speeches, the Kuwaiti ambassador told reporters his war-ravaged country has restored electricity and other essential utilities to its citizens and hopes to begin the "reconstruction phase" in another month.
"Don't believe all the reports you see," he said. "Everything is going fine."
But he conceded that oil fires set in Kuwait by Iraqi occupiers are having a "devastating" effect on the environment.
As he was leaving, the ambassador was presented an Operation Desert Storm T-shirt designed by the wives of the National Guardsmen from Yuma who also were deployed to the gulf.
Al-Sabah, in turn, gave the wives Desert Storm wrist watches with tiny U.S. and Kuwait flags on the watch faces.
MCAS units deployed to the gulf were Marine Attack Squadrons 311 and 513, Marine Wing Support Squadron 371, the 2nd Light Anti-aircraft Missile Battalion, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13, and Marine Air Control Squadrons 2 and 7.
Most Yuma-based Marines have returned from the gulf, said Capt. Mary Baldwin, an MCAS spokeswoman. She said 311, consisting of the vertical-takeoff Harrier jets, is due back Sunday.
Attack Squadron 513, also consisting of Harriers, was split up in December, with one half of the squadron deployed to the gulf and the other sent to Japan. Elements of 513 in the gulf are now en route to Japan to join the other half of the squadron. The squadron is due back in Yuma in the fall.
Baldwin said 371 also has not returned from the gulf.
Also sent to the gulf were 187 Yuma guardsmen. They serve with the Yuma-based 855 Military Police Company, with the 221st Transportation Company and the 356th Signal Unit.
Yumans serving with various reserve units also went to the gulf.