The letter Q is usually one of the harder letters in the A to Z Challenge. Fortunately, I’ve got an easy topic with our living quarters were like when we arrived in Saudi Arabia for Desert Shield. Our first location (one of eight) was in Riyadh, near an exposition center that was near the shore of the Persian Gulf. I was trying to find a site showing the exposition center, but in the time since the war, a new one was designed.
The exposition center was a large white building that we called the “White Castle” because the senior officers stayed in there (being as it was air conditioned). We stayed in tents on the flat shore of the Gulf. If you pictured the 2-soldier pup tents you’ve seen in war films, that’s not what we stayed in. Our tents were General Purpose (GP) Medium tents, which holds up to twelve people.
The basic tent is made of canvas — olive green, of course — with netting to keep out the buglets. An additional, optional piece is the winter lining, which you can see rolled up in the above picture (it’s the white section). For Saudi Arabia, we did put the winter lining in to help insulate from the heat. It was always kept rolled down.
The tent is stored rolled up, but it makes for a very heavy package. Six soldiers or more haul it out of a truck. Then we unroll it, stretching it out flat on the ground. We pull out all the tent lines and drop the tent stakes by them. Then we start sorting out the poles, because there were corner poles, side poles, and middle poles.
A soldier goes under the tent and threads the pole through the center hole. Once that’s done, all us take up a pole. Soldier in the center lists his pole, and we all adjust our poles as the tent goes up. Soldiers go around with a mallet, pull the lines taut, and hammer the stakes in.
Initially, when we arrived in Riyadh, the women (all two of us) stayed in our platoon’s tent with the guys. We used a poncho liner to create “walls” for privacy (and that includes the guys, not just the women). Our beds were olive green folding cots made of canvas. They had aluminum legs. It was surprising cold in such a hot place, so we had to use our foam mat on the cots. It kept the cold from coming up from beneath the cot, since that canvas had utterly no insulation whatsoever.
Our bedding was a non-issue pillow, two olive green wool blankets and an olive green sleeping bag. We also had a black footlocker (color!) next to the bed to hold basic necessities and lived out of our olive green duffel bags, which were stored under the cots.
Eventually, the battalion commander decided it wasn’t a good idea that the women stay with the guys, so we had to move to another tent. There were so few women in our company that we were a mix of all the platoons. We were actually disappointed to move out of the tent we were in. The other women turned out to be very petty!
Next up will be “The military wake up call: Revillie” so tune in, same military channel, same military time tomorrow.