139th News

Fire Department returns from Kuwait

  • Published
  • By By Lt. Col. Randy Parlett
  • 139AW
Sand, wind, heat "No problem"

A waterless, shadeless, seemingly endless stretch of burning desert is how many describe Kuwait. And that's in the springtime. But for five members of the 139th Airlift Wing Fire Department, a recent tour of duty in Kuwait had its benefits.

"Most of the time it was 115 degrees and a couple of days hit 130 degrees," said Master Sgt. David Jean, Assistant Chief of technical services. "And that was during April to August. But we got a lot of training completed." Four other members of the Rosecrans fire department served in Southwest Asia from May to early September.

"We had no major incidents while we were there," said Jean. "The ordinary panel lights on C-130s and an engine shut down here and there but that was about it. We had some fire alarms activated by the blowing sand but they were false."

The five Missouri firemen joined nearly 30 others from Maryland, Alabama, Idaho, and Arkansas for the rotation. All were Air Guard members. "We had some three-level Airmen right out of tech school in Texas that were upgraded. The rotation was good for a kid right out of school. Kuwait is perfect for training. We completed at least 62 certification courses and some of our folks worked on college courses."

The tour was the fourth deployment to the Mideast for Jean and probably the least exciting. "Two were wartime operations and once in Baghdad we came under fire," added Jean.

The rotation did provide a unique training opportunity for the younger firefighters. We were still using a P-19, a 1984 built fire truck. The 25-year old truck had maintenance issues and needed parts-many of which are tough to find. "The rest of the vehicles were pretty much like ours at Rosecrans," said Jean. Probably the only adventure was when a sandstorm blew up and I had trouble finding the taxiway to the fire station."