Gulf War Vet Recalls Earlier Conflict - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/04/03

Gulf War Vet Recalls Earlier Conflict

One group of veterans has a special appreciation for what our troops are facing in Iraq.

Those who served in the first Gulf War can definitely relate.

Gulfport resident Sammy Alspaugh saw combat on the front lines during his tour of duty during the first Gulf War.

He has many stories and vivid memories. He says it's tough to watch the war coverage on TV after you've survived the real thing.

"That's me and my friends embedded where we built a bunker. We were out on the front lines and that's what we built," said Alspaugh, pointing to a picture of a sand bagged bunker.

He remembers his days in the desert. The mission then was to liberate Kuwait.

"I would say the toughest part was getting shot at and shooting back, because I was scared you know," he said.

Watching today's war coverage stirs up those military memories from a dozen years ago.

"It's real hard to watch it. Because it's a whole different story when you're on the front lines and people are shooting at you. And you have to shoot back at them. No one can be prepared for that in their life, not matter what they say," he explained.

Alspaugh says the urban warfare that may await the troops in Baghdad is his biggest concern. Fighting in close quarters is a difficult assignment.

"It's going to be a pretty tough battle I think, once we get inside Baghdad. Because door to door urban warfare is very, very difficult. We did it in the city of Kafgee and you don't know what to expect, family or foe behind the door when you open the door or kick it in."

Stories of ambush surrenders by the Iraqis don't surprise the former Marine. They saw similar tactics back in 1991.

"And they did that to us. It was really a pretty devastating experience to see people get shot at close range and to shoot people. And know they were shooting at you. You could hear the bullets whizzing by your head and it was tremendous fear. And then to watch some of your friends die. It was just traumatic," he said.

Alspaugh says while he'll always remember the brutality of war, there are some pleasant pictures he'll also recall. After he and his fellow Marines helped liberate Kuwait, they were greeted by a little girl along the road. She was clutching an American flag and giving them the peace sign.

By Steve Phillips

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