War on Terrorism

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Once again overseas, Guardmember a veteran of three campaigns

By Army Sgt. Debra Richardson
201st Field Artillery

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – From afar, Army Staff Sgt. Timothy Liptrap blends into the Army scene; his small stature and respectful stance denoting nothing out of the ordinary. But unlike many Soldiers currently deployed, Liptrap is a veteran of three campaigns and currently serves in the country he helped to liberate 20 years ago.

Two decades ago, he was on his way to the Saudi Arabia as a cannon crewmember with A Battery, 4th Battalion, 41st Field Artillery of the 197th Infantry Brigade. His unit was en route after only a few weeks notification and training.

“We spent the first couple of weeks in tent city,” said Liptrap, then 18. “Most of us were feeling anxiety and excitement about the challenges ahead. Not to mention dysentery.”

For months, then Army Spc. Liptrap and members of his brigade spent countless hours creating and maintaining their base perimeter and training.

“We trained on field artillery tasks daily to maintain proficiency on the M109 self propelled Howitzer,” Liptrap said.

The Soldiers had to rough it by today’s standards. They didn’t have access to a Post Exchange or local market to buy essential cleaning items such as shampoo and soap. There was also a shortage of tobacco products.

“After about the first month, a mobile PX came by once a week with various goods,” recalled Liptrap. “Some goods were much needed hygiene supplies – the stuff deployed Soldiers today receive in care packages that aren’t easily accessible in the Middle East.”

The showers weren’t hot or plentiful, but two or three times a week was better than nothing, he said.

“We had to discard our own waste as well, by mixing it with diesel fuel and burning it,” said Liptrap. “The burn pits produced a nasty stench and you had to make sure you were upwind when stirring to keep from inhaling the fumes.”

When the air war started on Jan. 17, Liptrap began sleeping under ground in dug out sleeping areas. U.S. planes attacked Iraqi forces in Kuwait and Baghdad, and by Jan. 30, U.S. forces in the Gulf exceeded 500,000 troops.

“Once the ground war began, we rolled for days, trying to reach our objectives to fire at our assigned targets,” said Liptrap. “We had to be available and ready to lay down suppressive fire when called upon as well.”

Once leaving Saudi Arabia and moving into the northern part of Iraq, the big struggle was obtaining fuel, Liptrap said. Fuel points were scarce along their route, and the lines were long.

“I recall one unit making it to their destination with only one of six guns to lay suppressive fire because they didn’t stop for fuel,” said Liptrap.

After nearly a year overseas and two campaign names later, Liptrap and his fellow comrades returned to U.S. soil March 29, 1991.

“I remember it well,” Liptrap said. “There were severe thunder storms as we approached Fort Benning and we had to circle the airfield for 30 minutes before landing. The air crew kept playing music by Motley Crue, ‘Home Sweet Home.’”

They stepped off the plane to a hero’s welcome, with music, photographers, handshakes, and hugs.

Liptrap has returned to the now liberated country of Kuwait as a staff sergeant assigned to 1/201st Field Artillery, West Virginia Army Guard. Although the 201st is supporting a non-artillery mission, Liptrap has served as an artilleryman for 23 years.

Liptrap also served in Iraqi Freedom and now Operation New Dawn.

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