CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- Operation Desert Storm liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s forces over 20 years ago. A handful of Minnesota National Guard soldiers currently serving with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division also served in the 1991 operation.
One of those soldiers is Chief Warrant officer David Mellon of Chaska, Minn.
Mellon currently serves as a Mobility Warrant Officer with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division based out of Bloomington, Minn.
His job consists of coordinating the movement of 1st BCT troops and equipment from home station in Bloomington, Minn. to Kuwait and throughout the countries and locations our troops are serving.
Conducting an air mobility mission with the 6th Battalion, 101st Airborne Division during Desert Shield/Strom, Mellon was a helicopter mechanic. While the Middle East geography remains the same, the experience he had in 1991 is far different from his current tour in Operation New Dawn.
“Huge differences—Desert Storm was a new battlefield; nothing was established- flight routes, logistics channels or the bases we were pulling out of- you hit the sandbox, you didn’t fall in on the PX, you didn’t have billeting, you had cots and you had tents,” said Mellon. “You dug foxholes, the infustructure was not in place and equipment often wasn’t moved as timely and efficiently as we can move it today.”
Although his last tour was two decades ago and under much different circumstances, Operation New Dawn holds special meaning given his first action was the liberation of Kuwait.
“Looking back, during Desert Shield/Storm we came here to liberate Kuwait,” said Mellon. “Now here I am in Kuwait trying to get everyone out of a theater; I look at the soldiers that have deployed more than once with the 1/34th BCT, same feelings, they went in early on in the war in Iraq and here they are—a major player in the effort leaving Iraq.”
Mellon knows that his job is essential in assisting with the draw down of U.S. troops and equipment from Iraq and he enjoys it.
“Transportation is a great job to have in the Army,” said Mellon. “The motto in the transportation corps is ‘nothing happens until something moves’—it’s a nice feeling getting soldiers and equipment to the right place at the right time; it’s a key part of what makes every mission successful.”
All the soldiers of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division are expected to return to Minnesota in spring of 2012.