PORT OF SHUAIBA, Kuwait (NNS) -- U.S. and Kuwait veterans of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield visited amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) for a tour and lunch in Kuwait, Feb. 23.
The tour allowed the veterans the opportunity to see the spaces and facilities of the ship.
The tour covered the flight deck to the pilot house as the ship prepared to host a reception celebrating the 25th anniversary of Kuwait's liberation.
"I was a reservist in the U.S. Air Force and deployed to the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) for six months before going to Kuwait in 1990 as part of Desert Storm," said retired Senior Master Sgt. Michael Mock. "Being here in this country brings back so many memories, both good and bad, but it shows that we have been able to persevere in this area and maintain ties to Kuwait."
Before the tour, each veteran was presented a copy of 'The Liberation of Kuwait: Honoring the Veterans of Desert Storm,' a book published by Story Rock Electronic Publishing commemorating the veterans of the conflict.
"We make these books to thank and honor our veterans," said John Lund, CEO of Story Rock Electronic Publishing. "This particular commemoration is particularly rewarding because the result was so profound. It was one of the only times we saw the entire world unite and come together on behalf of the state of Kuwait. These amazing men and women left their homes and traveled half a world away and united on a worldwide scale to defend Kuwait because it was the right thing to do. It's important that we remember that and honor it."
Throughout the tour, the veterans told stories of Operation Desert Storm to members of the crew, many of whom were newborns when the conflict began.
"This tour was a great opportunity to talk to those who served a generation before I came into the Navy," said Ensign Bryan Karg, one of the officers chosen to be a tour guide for the visit. "I was very young when the Gulf War occurred, so to hear veterans talk in person about their experiences during Operation Desert Storm is a tremendous honor. It's one of those moments that make you proud to be in the United States Navy."
For one particular U.S. Marine veteran with experience in the amphibious Navy, touring Arlington was like coming home.
"I've been attached to quite a few U.S. Navy amphibious ships in my time, including USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), so visiting Arlington with my fellow Gulf War veterans has been like a homecoming for me," said Marine Col. Roderick Arrington, director of advisors for the Office of Military Cooperation, Kuwait (OMCK). "I was part of the operation from pretty much the beginning to the end, and having the chance to talk to these other veterans I served with while touring this great ship has been an absolute joy and honor."
After the tour, the veterans enjoyed lunch in the wardroom with the ship's Sailors of the Year and Sailors of the Quarter.
"I was absolutely honored to be able to enjoy lunch with these men who were living up to the ideals of the United States Armed Forces when I was just a child," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuels) 3rd Class Patrick Doe. "These veterans are heroes, and I'd like to think that we are carrying on their legacy keeping those ideals alive with everything we do here on Arlington."
Arlington is part of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
For more news from USS Arlington (LPD 24), visit www.navy.mil/local/lpd24/.