COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Thirty years ago, Lieutenant General Randy House deployed to Saudi Arabia for what would be the beginning of the Gulf War.
"I had just taken command of an armor brigade, technically the cavalry brigade in Fort Hood, Texas in early July," said House. "And then when Saddam Hussein went into Kuwait, in early August, my unit was alerted to deploy to Saudi Arabia. And so I was a brigade commander. My task force, my brigade, had right at 6,000 soldiers, 117 M1s, 76 Bradley Fighting Vehicles 24 Howitzers, and associated trucks and trailers and support vehicles.”
In the first years of the 1990s, coalition forces made up a combined effort of the United States and 35 other nations, assembled against Iraq, in response to Saddam Husein's invasion and annexation of Kuwait. This came to be known as the Gulf War.
“Saddam Hussein's military had been fighting the Iranians for nine years," said House. "They were a very experienced combat force. They had the top-of-the-line Soviet Union combat gear, so we went against a highly-trained army that was very large, much larger than the one we put against them, with very good equipment.”
The war consisted of two phases. The first, codenamed Operation Desert Shield, was the operation leading to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia.
Then, President George H.W. Bush announced a Combat Phase in January 1991.
"Tonight, 28 nations, countries from five continents Europe and Asia, Africa and the Arab League have forces in the Gulf area standing shoulder to shoulder against Saddam Hussein," said President Bush.
January 17, 1991, was the start of the 43 day-conflict known as Operation Desert Storm.
“We initially went in there to just protect the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, from the republican guards coming out of Kuwait and crushing on Saudi Arabia," said House. "And then it became apparent because the original mission that President Bush gave the military was to eject Saddam Hussein, from Kuwait, and his Republican guards and other forces there.”
Gen. House commanded troops for over 33 years, both in peacetime and wartime, leading every level of command from an infantry platoon in the 82nd Airborne Division to Deputy Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command. He was a helicopter platoon leader in Vietnam and an Infantry Company Commander in Vietnam and in Germany. He commanded a Mechanized Infantry Battalion at Fort Polk, LA, and finally a Tank Brigade during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq.
"I think that the most enduring legacy of the war was it was fought for a very just cause," said House. "The military got in, performed the mission, performed it very professionally and much quicker than anybody anticipated against such a provident military. And then we got out.”
House says the swift victory over enemy forces was in large part thanks to the leadership of America's Commander-in-Chief, President George H.W. Bush.
“He gave wonderful guidance to the military through his chain of command, especially General [Colin] Powell and General [Norman] Schwarzkopf, and then he left the military to do what we do best," House said. "And that's fight and win our nation's wars."
Since retiring to civilian life, House is an integral part of the growth and success of the Brazos Valley Veteran’s Memorial at College Station’s Veteran Park. So, much that when you stop and visit the Gulf War monument, you may notice a striking resemblance.
"This was the new camouflage pattern, we'd had up until this time was green, brown, and black, focused on Europe, so they came up with this camouflage very quickly," said House. "And the desert really had all these colors. And so this was pretty legit."
The Veterans Memorial stands as a testament to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces so that their sacrifices made thousand of miles away during the Gulf war, now more than three decades ago, won't be forgotten.