Within weeks of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, more than 2,000 Ventura County residents were on their way to the Persian Gulf.
About 1,800 Seabees--three-fourths of the total based at Port Hueneme--were deployed to Saudi Arabia, where they are building airstrips, installing fuel tanks and carving out berths for ships.
Several hundred more county residents had to leave their jobs and families when their reserve units were called to active duty because of the Persian Gulf crisis.
Among them were doctors and nurses in the Naval Reserve; medical evacuation specialists and transport workers in the Air National Guard; and a 150-member Marine Corps Reserve unit equipped with some of the heaviest hand-carried weapons in the military.
Many were volunteers; others were stunned to suddenly be facing the possibility of combat.
“I’m scared. Who wouldn’t be?” said a 20-year-old Seabee as he walked to a chartered plane that would take him to Saudi Arabia.
“I guess I never anticipated this when I first signed up.”
Six hundred Seabees and nearly 100 Air National Guard reservists who had been deployed for Operation Desert Shield came home in the closing days of the old year.
No one is predicting when the rest might return.