Gulf War vets see similarities

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 22, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Two local veterans of the 1991 Gulf War took time this week to watch some of the non-stop television coverage of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Natchez resident Clarence Chatman, now an employed at the Natchez National Cemetery, was a U.S. Army sergeant assigned to satellite communication details in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Chatman said the current campaign seems to be developing in the same way as before.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;The game plan looks pretty much the same.

They seem to be using air strikes first to soften up the Iraqi defenses for our ground forces,&uot; said Chatman, adding that families with loved ones in the conflict must rely on their faith and the support of their friends and neighbors at home.

&uot;They have to use prayer and strong religious convictions.

People around them should always stay positive, and help keep their spirits up,&uot; Chatman said.

Gary Nations was deployed with his National Guard transportation unit from Vidalia and assigned to regular Army units for six months in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Nations sees the possibility of a tougher fight when the troops reach Baghdad.

&uot;Sadaam probably learned some things from the first war.

If he surrounds himself with his forces in the city, the urban warfare could be difficult,&uot; said Nations, who added that family contact is important for the moral of our troops.

&uot;When I was there, it took about two weeks for a letter to get through, and we got to use the telephone about once a week,&uot; said Nations, adding that email was not widely available to troops in 1991.

But the huge technological advances of the nineties now make it possible for service members and their families to use restricted email accounts, and the public can send messages to the troops via official websites.

The Army’s Family Liaison Office recommends that soldiers and their families use Army Knowledge Online&045;the Army’s official internet communications webpage.

Other service branches offer similar capabilities, but service members are not allowed to reveal certain information regarding their deployment.

The AFLO also warns internet users to be wary of unofficial websites that may be used for criminal or terrorist activity.