There are occasionally times when you get through with a project you've worked on, sit back, and say, "Man, that turned out really well." There is a Guard unit deployed with us here supporting the ongoing operations in Iraq. One of the members of this unit is a guy named Dale Storr. I was first made aware of Dale at Air Force Survival School training in 1995. The instructors showed us a video of a local boy who's A-10 had been shot down over Kuwait during the First Gulf War. In the video, the various instructors were asking him about his experiences and how his survival and resistance training had helped. I remember having a sense of the tremendous amount of respect the instructors had for him, that Dale had "done it right."
I returned from survival training to Charleston for my C-17 assignment there and subsequently met Dale's younger brother Doug. I grew to be friends with Doug and even met Dale on one occasion in the late '90s when he came out to visit his brother. I was surprised about a month ago to see Dale come walking into our operations room. I struck up a conversation and caught up on a few folks.
During one conversation, Dale asked about the possibility of hopping down to Iraq on one of our missions. We have flown many of these folks on these flights to give them an awareness of our mission, as they have taken some of our folks up on their aircraft as well, so this was nothing out of the ordinary. As we talked though, Dale mentioned that he had not been back to Baghdad since his 1991 release from his 33 days as a POW. This was going to be something special. Couple of calls, and quick signature from the boss and Dale was on.
To make a long story short, we were able to fly him into Baghdad on a perfectly clear day. He had a great aerial view of the cell block where he was kept at Abu Ghraib prison and got some great photos. He got off the aircraft at Baghdad and walked around a bit, taking it all in. He said the place had changed a bit since he was there last and that the whole experience was surreal.
I'm glad we could put something like that together for a true American hero.