The Heroes of Desert Storm (1991)

 

 

 

 

Director:     Don Ohlmeyer. 

Starring:     Richard Assad, Lance August, Eric Avery Weiss, Daniel Baldwin (Sgt. Ben Pennington), Steven Barr, Angela Bassett (Lt. Phoebe Jeter), Ed Beechner, Marshall Bell, Judy Jean Berns, Frank Birney, Michael Alan Brooks, Wren T. Brown, William Bumiller, Michael Champion (Warr. Off. Hunter), Tom Dahlgren, Blaise Delacroix, MarŪa DŪaz, Said Faraj, Ken Foree (Gunnery Sgt. Leroy Ford), Larry Garmo, Betsy Lynn George, Matthew Glave, John D. Gowans, Jamie Haas, Cheryl Francis Harrington, Gary Hershberger (Capt. Steve Tate),  Donald Hotten, Kevyn Major Howard, Laura Leigh Hughes (Sp4 Beverly Clark), Kris Kamm (Pvt. Stephen Shaefer), Allan Katz, Robert Glen Keith, Kevin Kilner (Capt. Shupp), Chris Kinkade, Bobbi Jo Lathan,  Ben Lemon, Louie Leonardo, David Lockett, Kevin McBride, Peter McKernan, Lindsey Michelle, Ayemen Bahy Mohamed, Glenn Morshower, Jocelyn O'Brien, Chris Ohlmeyer, Jack Orend, Jim Patterson, Anthony Peck, Gunnar Peterson, Thos Peterson, Joe Ruffo (Guard), Al Ruscio, Tim Russ, John Shepherd, Raymond Singer, Michael P.W. Stone, Nancy Wallach, Paul Anthony Weber, Whitney Weston, Jay Wheeler, King White, Steven Williams (Sp4 Jonathan Alston).    

Made for TV.

story of Operation Desert Storm from viewpoint of some participants

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.. 

Camp Pendleton, Oceanside California. August 2, 1990. Marine CWO Guy Hunter and family are moving into their new home.

Kuwait City, Kuwait. The civilians are trying to stay away from an Iraqi tank while Iraqi soldiers push the civilians around.

Wilmington, Delaware. Private Stephen Shaefer completes his usual run around the reservoir. He says he wants to be in really good shape so when he gets there in October he will be able to enjoy it.

Dora Spur Motorway, Kuwait. A driver drives his van filled with supplies. He is stopped at an Iraqi checkpoint. He is forcefully pulled out of his van, pushed up against it and then shot with a pistol.

Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas. Army First Lieutenant Phoebe Jeter. She wants to get back to South Carolina to see her grandmother who is very frail now. Her friend tells her that leave ought to be easy to get since thereís nothing going on. Just then the news comes over the television that the Iraqis are making progress in their invasion of Kuwait.

Fort Hood, Killeen, Texas. Army Specialist Jonathan Alston is on tank exercises.

Central Commercial District, Kuwait City. There is fighting going on in the central district.

The White House, Washington, D.C. President George H. W. Bush says that the United States strongly condemns the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

Langley, Virginia. Air Force Captain Steve Tate and his family. They listen to the news about the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. His wife is worried about his having to fight, but he tells her to relax since Bush is not even talking about intervention.

Fighting continues in the Central Commercial District, Kuwait City.

Armagh, Pennsylvania. Army Reserve Specialist Beverly Clark's boyfriend suggests that they get married, but Beverly says sheís just not ready yet. She says she loves him and then adds about marriage: someday.

Shaikh Saud Nasir Al-Sabah, Kuwaiti Ambassador, says that Iraq is trying to wipe Kuwait off the face of the map, to have it cease as a nation.

Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister, says that none of us can do it separately. We need a collective and effective will.

USS Saratoga air craft carrier, Mayport, Jacksonville, Florida. The families of the sailors and marines say goodbye to them just before the men board the Saratoga. PO3 Daniel Maldonado of the navy says goodbye to his wife and small son. The boy asks him if heís coming back and Daniel says of course, but he canít say when.

Sadam Hussein, Baghdad, Iraq, has a photo-op with a small British boy who is going to be freed along with his family, but the boy is so scared and stiff that he is like a piece of wood . This doesnít look good as a photo-op.

House Foreign Affairs Committee, Washington, D.C. Witnesses testify to the brutality of the Iraqi soldiers, including taking the incubators for babies and leaving the babies on the cold floor to die.

Bush says that Iraq will not be allowed to annex Kuwait. "And thatís not a threat; itís not a boast; itís just the way itís going to be."

Dover Air Force Base, Dover, Delaware. Air Force Sergeant Ben Pennington. He telephones to say he is leaving for the Gulf.

St. Markís Church, Langley, Virginia. Tech Sergeant Gary Buckholz is getting married quickly because he has to get back to base in 90 minutes.

Steve Shaefer takes his oath. First Lieutenant Phoebe Jeter sits in her living room in her army uniform talking to a framed photo of her grandmother explaining why she couldnít get to see her.

The news is that Operation Desert Shield is now the largest sustained movement of US forces in history. From the States itís an 8,000 mile trip. Beverly tells her boyfriend that it wonít be long before they come for them. "And I thought all it was was a good part-time job." And she is out in June, she adds.

USS Saratoga is now in the Red Sea. Lt. Devon Jones watches the news. Aircraft are seen taking off from the aircraft carrier. Desert Shield has become Desert Storm.

Arar Airfield, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Sgt. Ben Pennington will be among the first into Iraq. He gives his friend two letters to send for him, one of which is a letter to his brother. Pennington boards a helicopter.

Lt. Devon Jones gets into the cockpit of his plane and takes off from the Saratoga. Pennington says their job is to lead the rest of the pack of men and attract enemy radar. If anyone ejects, itís his responsibility to go down and get them. The helicopters open fire on Iraqi targets. As tanks are easily exploded, Pennington says he pities the guys not there. The pilot says thatís why they call it war. Naval ships open fire on Iraqi targets.

HM3 Julian Crumes is a corpsman in the army. Sgt. Leroy Ford says he was in Vietnam so he knows what to expect.

Baghdad, Iraq is being heavily bombed. Pilot Steve Tate from Langley, Virginia is one of the men doing the bombing. He is chased by an Iraqi jet, but is able to take the enemy plane out.

Beverly Clark of the Army Reserve cries about having to go. She said she was in denial, but now her fears have become true. She tells her mother that she doesnít think sheís coming back.

King Abdul Aziz Airbase, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Captain Steve Tate returns to base and is accredited with the first kill of the air war. The flight crew welcomes him warmly. Tate feels strange and one of the crew asks him if he feels alright? The Captain says he thinks its all the adrenalin in his system. He thinks about that guy in the aircraft just vanishing in a huge fire ball along with his plane.

Maldonado Residence, Jacksonville, Florida. Yolanda. Maldonado plays with her new baby girl. Her son asks her if daddy is dead and she answers of course not. Some of the children in his school have been told that their daddies have been killed. Yolanda joins a support group. Later her husband say that heís just a printer, but he keeps reminding himself that everyone plays a role in the entire effort. And everyone pays a price "and so does my family."

Lt. Larry Slade, Backseater, and Lt. Devon Jones have to eject as their F-14 plane catches fire. They land in the Al Asad Desert, Central Iraq. Jones lands all alone with his partner nowhere is sight. Now Pennington gets set for the rescue. Jones keeps walking but the desert sun is wearing him out quickly.

Dressed in her uniform Beverly Clark talks with her boyfriend about leaving.

Jones determines to dig a big hole in the ground, but as he digs with his knife, he see an Iraqi truck headed in his direction. The helicopter is getting close and can see the truck. One of the helicopters destroys the vehicle. Penningtonís copter lands and Pennington rushes out to retrieve Jones. He has to carry the man because he is so exhausted.

In the helicopter Jones is laid on a stretcher. He immediately thanks Pennington, who says he was just doing his job. Jones asks about his backsetter Slade. Pennington says he will have to wait until he gets back to base to find out.

Pennington says he will probably never see Jones again but he was the most important person in his life for five hours. And he was ready to die to save Jones. He just wishes they could have saved the other guy. Slade has been captured and now is in the back of the truck under guard.

Three marines and a civilian woman arrive at the home of CWO Guy Hunter to say that Hunterís plane was shot down. He appears to have been able to eject successfully, but most probably he has been taken prisoner. The daughter cries and her mother holds her. Mary tells her daughter that her dad is still alive. She then tells the group that they can go now. Later Mary says that she was in shock, but she knew her husband was smart and tough and he would make it. "Missing is very different from dead."

Kuwaiti border, Saudi Arabia. A group of Iraqis want to surrender. The American Colonel says: "The ground war hasnít even started and theyíre surrendering already." The Americans rush out with weapons at the ready and surround the group who are now laying on the floor. One Iraqi is so scared that he prostrates himself at the feet of the Colonel saying please, please, begging for his life. The Colonel tells him to stop that Ė he will be treated decently.

Guy Hunter is interviewed while being filmed. The interrogator keeps screaming the question: "What is your opinion of this aggression against Iraq!?" Hunter doesnít answer so the interrogator kicks him in the chest knocking him and his chair backwards. They get him to say: "I think this war is crazy and never should have happened." He is given permission to say a message and he tells his family that he misses them so much. His wife and daughter cry when they see him on the television and mom tries to reassure her daughter that daddy will be alright.

U.S. Army Barracks. Heilbronn, Germany. Steve Shaefer tells a buddy that they need volunteers for the Gulf. He is thinking of volunteering.  His buddy asks him if heís crazy?

Al Qaraah, Saudi Arabia. HM3 Julian Crumes lays on the sand and waits with a lot of other guys for something to happen. They complain of being bored. The men have to move out, but Crumes is told to go to another unit which has suffered casualties.

Umm Hujul, Saudi Arabia. Crumesís vehicle pulls up behind a wall where an active firefight is going on. He jumps out and immediately goes to a wounded man. Since that man is being successfully treated, Crumes crawls on his belly to check on the other men he sees on the ground. The first ones he checks are dead, but he does find one alive, but unconscious.

Observation Post No. 6, Saudi-Kuwaiti Border. Crumes is shaken up at the sight of all the dead and wounded men. He says to his friend the gunny sergeant: "Once youíve experienced war, you never want to be there again." He asks his friend if Vietnam was like this. He says no. For one thing there are no conscripts here. And theyíve been told that they are better trained and better educated than those who fought in Vietnam.

Tel Aviv, Israel. Scud missiles land killing and wounding Israelis.

Shahran, Saudi Arabia. In the field men wait in a long line to telephone home. Tech Sergeant Buckholz is one of those waiting in line. His wife back in Virginia comments that the second worst thing is just waiting for him to call. She says she doesnít want to leave the house in case she misses his call. The worst thing, she says, is not knowing, not hearing.

Buckholz canít make his call because the men have to go back into action. First Lt. Phoebe Jeter is at work at the Patriot Missile Command Post. A target is spotted and she gets the various personnel ready to fire. The Patriot missile is fired and successfully hits the enemy missile.  Everyone in the command post gives out whoops of glee.

U.S. Army Processing Center. Dhahran, Saudi, Arabia. Beverly Clark and her female friend arrive at the center. Her friend says she canít wait to tell until she can tell her children that she bunked down with a hundred different guys.

Pilot Guy Hunter is taken back to his cell. He keeps track of the days he has been there. Itís been 23 days in captivity.

Coalition Housing Complex, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. First Lt. Phoebe Jeter returns to her room to find her roommate crying. The roommate tells her that her grandmother has passed away. She cries.

The Iraqis deliberately set off an ecological disaster by spilling twelve times the amount of oil into the water compared to the ExxonValdez disaster in Alaska. Also they have set the oil wells afire.

Kuwaiti Border, Saudi Arabia. Steve Shaefer sits in green camouflage in the desert. His sergeant comes over to him and tells him to come with him. Steve is going to get the desert camouflage uniform. The sergeant says Steve can call him Big Gerorge, everyone else does. Then a little later, sarge tells Steve he can call him just Big. Steve gets a huge grin on his face. Heís going to do alright.

The sergeant canít believe that Steve has had not training beyond just the basic training that everyone goes through. He knows nothing about desert warfare. So sarge tells him he better stick to him and theyíll both earn medals.

Captain Mike Shupp of the Marines tells his men that they are about to risk their lives. He tells the men to do more than their duty, to take care of one another, to not engage other marines and show humanity and compassion to the enemy. The guys are more than ready.

American tanks roll through the desert while helicopters fly overhead. Lt. Col Walter Wojdakowski says that the whole thing went off pretty smoothly. Technology gave them the advantage. But they still needed the ordinary ground pounder with a pack on his back and a rifle in his hands.

Al Burgan Oil Fields, Kuwait. The marines are in a firefight with the enemy. The unit calls a cease fire. The Iraqis with white flags raised come out to surrender. The willing surrender of Iraqis becomes a flood of prisoners for the armed services.

Pilot Guy Hunter in a Baghdad cell does his push-ups. An air siren goes off and bombs start dropping close to the POW facility. Hunter shouts to the guards to get him out of here, but the guards are not around. Hunter hears another prisoner shouting. He finds out itís his commanding officer. A guard comes in and quickly blindfolds Hunter.

US Army Processing Center, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Beverly and her friend are still stuck at the center. She is wondering how much longer are they going to keep them here? A siren goes off and they have to don their gas masks. A missile lands at the center killing a number of soldiers. Outside the center Beverlyís friend Sgt. Mary Rhoads screams: "Beverly!" Later she speaks of the death of her friend and the hole that it left behind.

"Objective Utah" Western Kuwait. Big George and Steve Shaefer volunteer to go clean out the Iraqi survivors so they donít set off any of the ammunition dumps and blow everyone up. The two run in a zig-zag pattern until they reach the barbed wire. They drop and wait to catch their breathe then they run one at a time to near a trench. When they are both together they drop in firing. Big George throws a grenade into a bobby-trapped small ammunition dump. There is a small explosion and a fire ball.

Big George and Steve come under fire from a machine gun position. Steve throws a grenade and it hits right on the mark destroying the enemy and the position. They reach another trench. This time there are Iraqis in the trench. Big George throws a hand grenade and the enemy is gone.

Guy Hunter is put in a big cell with all the other POWs. He sees his commander and Slade.

US Army Reserve Center. Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Connie Clark and her daughter have been called down to the center. A Lt. Col comes and gets her to take her to her husband, who is already crying. When she sees this she knows what's happened. Husband and wife embrace and cry together.

February 28, 1991. Kuwait City. There is news that Saddam Hussain is pulling back. The Kuwaitis come out to celebrate the news.

The main road into Kuwait from Iraq is littered with dead bodies and burned out vehicles. American soldiers have the tough duty of picking up the bodies and placing them in body bags. A service chaplain says a few words over the bodies. For the Muslims he says Allah is great.

Bethel-Cemetery, New Florence, Pennsylvania. A military funeral is held for Beverly Clark.

Guy Hunter and the others in the cell are spritzed with some perfume.

Big George and Steve earns silver medals.

The nation prepares to welcome home their soldiers. The soldiers, sailors and marines on the Saratoga, like Maldonado, return to hugs and kisses on the dock. Guy Hunter returns to his family. Phoebe Jeter goes to the grave of her grandmother and explains it was just something she had to do.

President Bushís voice is heard saying: " . . . aggression is defeated. The war is over. Weíre coming home now, proud, confident, heads high. We are Americans."

 

Good movie that inter-spliced actual war and home front footage into the film about a number of men and women serving in the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force.  There were so many characters that I feared I would not be able to identify them when they would pop up.  But throughout the film they provide labels of the people and places and sometimes the date.  I was wondering what would happen to each of the main characters.  Some fared much worse than others, of course.  The film not only show the reactions of the military personnel but also of their families.  It's all very well done.  The acting was good too.  And you learn a bit of history!

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

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