Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sgt. 1st Class John Oliverio looks back at Desert Storm

West Virginia Guard member looks back at Desert Storm

By Army Sgt. Debra Richardson
201st Field Artillery

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Sgt. 1st Class John Oliverio, a senior human resource non-commissioned officer, assigned to 1/201st Field Artillery, West Virginia Army Guard, wears his Desert Storm combat patch proudly. Oliverio was assigned to the 201st but attached to the 18th Airborne Corps and fondly remembers the welcome home celebration his unit received upon their return. Oliverio resides in Fairmont, W.Va., with his wife Barbara and together they share six children and six grandchildren

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait (4/6/11) - Army Sgt. 1st Class John Oliverio is one of 20 soldiers currently deployed with West Virginia Army National Guard’s 201st Field Artillery, who served with the same unit during Operation Desert Shield and Storm about 20 years ago.

The 201st was one of only five National Guard units that deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield.

“We received our activation notice Dec. 4, 1990 and by Dec. 9, we were completely packed and enroute to Fort Campbell, Ky.,” said Oliverio, who was a supply sergeant at the time.

“We traded in our old Vietnam-era jeeps for new Humvees. We loaded up our assigned M109 howitzers on ships to send overseas.”

Following the new assignment, the unit’s green camouflage equipment had to be painted, desert tan.

“Because we were National Guard, we weren’t issued desert uniforms,” Oliverio said. “We wore our green BDUs up until we were preparing to return home.”

“This was a true integration of National Guard, Reserve and active Army,” he said. “This experience really portrayed the citizen-soldier as truly competent and capable soldiers.”

A 15-hour flight through Europe brought the 201st to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia on Feb. 2. After a few weeks, the battalion traveled 510 miles north to Rafha, Saudi Arabia to stage as part of the ground force.

“We were part of General Schwarzkopf’s famous ‘student body left’ or ‘Hail Mary’ move,” Oliverio said. “We were the western most located U.S. unit in Rafha. There were only two other units to our left: the French 6th Light Division and French Foreign Legion. To our right was the 82nd Airborne Division.”...

REALLY interesting read here.

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