This is a chronicle of my misadventures while serving in Europe from 1986 – 1989
Think of it as M*A*S*H, but with construction workers instead of Doctors.
Operation El Dorado Canyon
About a quarter of a century ago my lovely wife and I arrived at London Heathrow airport. I remember the exact day, it was April 16th 1986. Sometime during the fourteen hour flight and four hour layover, American fighter bombers left their bases in England and bombed Libya. I was not consulted. At the time I didn’t follow politics or the news much, in other words I didn’t have a clue. I was a newly married USAF service member on my way to my first overseas duty station. My wife and I were excited about going to England and were looking forward to a nice peaceful tour of seeing and building things. I didn’t hear about any military actions until the cab ride from London to the RAF base where my wife and I would be spending the next three years.
During the ride it took a while to get any details about what happened. Our cab driver was from Wales. And being new to the UK I had a difficult time understanding anything the cab driver was saying. It was even more difficult because of the context of the conversation. “Soo ya bummed Libya du ya?” Hua?
The next several months were interesting to say the least. I assumed that since I was trained as a metal worker for buildings and such I would be tasked to, well build things. I spent the next several months doing all kinds of unlikely duties. Most involved protesters. Cutting hand cuffed women off of the fences that surrounded the base was popular. I guess since I was a metal worker, cutting handcuffs and chains were in my job description. I also got to design a nifty little extendable mirror on a pole for the security police to use to look under vehicles for bombs.
Eventually things got better. The protesters stopped chaining themselves to our fences; they probably figured out that we didn’t have any airplanes. I didn’t notice the transition to normalcy. It is like recovering from a long cold. Where the line between when you truly feel better and just getting is accustomed to the symptoms?
Anyway, after all these years it seems that we are back at it again. Sometimes I really wish I understood the reasons behind such actions. Other times I find myself grateful for my ignorance.
25 years ago…
President Regan called for the bombing of Libya in response to the bombing of a disco in Berlin. There was a world wide fit over the incident (bombing Libya) and the Britt’s were especially pissed because the F111s were mostly flown from their RAF bases. Most of Europe was miffed at the whole idea and wouldn’t allow the planes to fly over their countries, so Regan had them fly a thousand miles or so around the block. The UN eventually condemned the whole thing and regularly reminds the world what a sack of imperialist bastards we are. (United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 41/38 which “condemns the military attack perpetrated against the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on 15 April 1986, which constitutes a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law.)
Oh, and we missed killing Gaddafi.
Now it is twenty five years later, give or take a month, and we are in the same game. This time no Discos were bombed. The people of Libya are showing that they are not exactly fond of Gaddafi and want something else, so they protested. Gaddafi clamped down and mayhem ensued. We come to the rescue of the people of Libya and are engaging the Libyan military on the ground and preventing their military from flying around and shooting people. The UN seems ok with this, and other countries are joining in.
Yes, military intervention is a mysterious game.
An enigma trapped inside a paradox wrapped with intrigue and stuffed inside good intentions.