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25 years later, local veterans recall time in the first Gulf War

By DUSTIN GEORGE | The Free Press, Kinston, N.C. | Published: February 27, 2016

KINSTON, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — Sunday marks 25 years since President George H.W. Bush declared a cease-fire in the first Gulf War. The order came just four days after a coalition of United Nations forces began a ground offensive to push Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.

"We were kind of surprised how quickly (Hussein's troops) surrendered," said Rod Evans, owner of Evans and Associates in Kinston and a retired lieutenant colonel who served during the war.

Then a major with the Morrisville Army National Guard, Evans said he was deployed to support the Third Armored Division, an Army tank unit from Germany, as they assaulted Kuwait.

"We knew because of the air offensive – we had been bombing them for several weeks – that a number of Iraqis were surrendering, but we did not know that they would surrender right after the ground offensive began," he said.

Evans said after the bombing stopped that many Iraqi troops began looking for coalition units to surrender to.

By the time the U.S.-led forces reached Kuwait, Hussein's forces had all but collapsed.

While Evans was stationed in the desert supporting the units assaulting Kuwait, James Parham, a Command Sargent Major with the 690th Maintenance Battalion in Kinston, was in Dhiran, Saudi Arabia, waiting to travel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Parham said his unit was responsible for all of the required maintenance in Dihran and Riyadh – preparing buildings for troops to live in and providing water lines for troops living in tents.

While they were not directly involved in the assault on Kuwait, the 690th did provide some drivers for the attack, he said.

"It was very hot," he said. "We worked 18-hour days almost every day. We didn't have a lot of time and we had a lot of support to do."

While many consider Feb. 28, 1991 to be the end of the Gulf War, Evans said there was no real feeling of victory after the ceasefire was declared.

"Once the combat stops, everybody is happy," he said. "But there was still a lot to do. Hundreds of thousands of troops had to redeploy. We'd been in the desert for six or seven months. It's a job, it's what you do. Just because combat stops, you still have to go to work. The mission just changes."

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