By Wes Harris
“Seems like another life ago. I guess it was.” –Ruston City Marshal Curtis Hawkins and former National Guardsman on the 30th anniversary of Desert Storm
Early in 1991, hundreds of north Louisiana men and women kissed their loved ones goodbye and headed to war to rebuke Iraq for its unprovoked invasion of the nation of Kuwait.
Now, 30 years later, the veterans of the 527th Engineer Battalion of the Louisiana National Guard intend to gather and remember.
A reunion marking the 30th anniversary of the unit’s deployment in Operation Desert Storm is scheduled for Saturday, November 13 at the National Guard Armory at 3102 McDonald Avenue in Ruston.
International condemnation and economic sanctions against Iraq failed to force its withdrawal from Kuwait. President George H. W. Bush deployed forces into Saudi Arabia, and urged other countries to send their own forces to the scene. An array of nations joined the coalition, forming the largest military alliance since World War II. Most of the coalition’s 540,000 troops were from the U.S., Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and Egypt.
During the run up to the war, the 527th prepared its equipment, conducted weapons training, and learned rules of engagement, Saudi culture, and desert operations. With the motto, “With Pride We Build,” the battalion’s capabilities included constructing aircraft runways, roads, and buildings while maintaining combat readiness.
An advance party from the 527th flew to Saudi Arabia in January 1991 to oversee the arrival of the battalion’s equipment with the bulk of the unit’s 780 soldiers arriving in February. The 527th returned to Louisiana with no casualties in May.
Onsite registration Saturday is scheduled for 1-2 p.m., followed by social hours from 2-5 p.m. The program and meal will follow from 5-6:30 p.m.
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