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Generation X Gulf War: Warless Angst of Gen X

I have seen in your eyes a fire of determination to get this job done quickly so that we may all return to the shores of our great nation. My confidence in you is total. Our cause is just! Now you must be the thunder and lightning of Desert Storm.

 —General Norman Schwarzkopf

Photo left, courtesy of TimandHeike (with Creative Commons License), is one of nearly 3,000 images featured in the Generation X pool on Flickr. The caption reads: “Desert Storm 1991: Returning to my wife from Desert Storm.”


The following is an excerpt from a post by Grog’s Gamut, Flick of the Week: Everbody’s Gotta Die Sometime, Red. It’s a review of the movie Platoon. I found it via Blogatariat, but Grog’s Gamut is actually its own blog, written by a Gen Xer who works in the film area of the Office for the Arts of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australia.

This is so well-written, and captivates the warless angst of so many Gen X men I know:

Our generation…to a very large extent grew up without war. The Gen X war films are Buffalo Soldiers – a film about bored soldiers with no war to fight, or Jarhead – about Desert Storm that was over so quickly the snipers didn’t even get to shoot. This is not say no soldiers died in Desert Storm…

By September 2001 my generation was at least in the mid-twenties; many over thirty, and joining to go fight was neither realistic, nor a concern from most. Of course my generation had no say over any of the timing of all of this…We knew in our rebellious teenage years that we were pretty well rebelling against not having much to rebel about…In the end you knew it was nothing of any real consequence – and given the general apathetic nature of the generation, a war just seemed to smack of effort that was well beyond us.

Perhaps I just think too much about this film. But whenever I watch it and see the opening title card with the passage from Ecclesiastes of “Rejoice O young man in thy youth…”, I think of my youth in 1989 when quoting dialogue from a war film was fun and I knew I’d never have to worry about going into battle.


Generation X Gulf War Casulaties

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. forces suffered 148 battle-related deaths (35 to friendly fire), during the Gulf War (August 1990 to February 1991). In addition, 145 Americans died in non-combat accidents.

You may recall that in February 1991, 28 U.S. Army Reservists from Pennsylvania all died in an Iraqi SCUD missile attack. All but three were, by broadest definition, Gen Xers (born 1961 or later). Their names and ages:

14th Quartermaster Detachment
Specialist Steven E. Atherton, age 26, Nurmine, Pennsylvania
Specialist John A. Bolier, Jr., age 27, Monon Gahela, Pennsylvania
Sergeant Joseph P. Bongiorni III, age 20, Hickory, Pennsylvania
Sergeant John T. Boxler, age 44, Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Specialist Beverly S. Clark, age 23, Armagh, Pennsylvania
Sergeant Alan B. Craver, age 32, Penn Hills, Pennsylvania
Specialist Frank S. Keough, age 22, North Huntington, Pennsylvania
Specialist Anthony E. Madison, age 27, Monessen, Pennsylvania
Specialist Christine L. Mayes, age 22, Rochester Mills, Pennsylvania
Specialist Steven J. Siko, age 24, Latrobe, Pennsylvania
Specialist Thomas G. Stone, age 20, Falconer, New York
Sergeant Frank J. Walls, age 20, Hawthorne, Pennsylvania
Specialist Richard V. Wolverton, 22, Latrobe, Pennsylvania

Other Units
Corporal Stanley Bartusiak, age 34, 23rd Repl. Det., USAR
Corporal Rolando A. Delagneau, 30, 477th Trans Co.,USAR
Specialist Steven P. Farnen, age 22, Individual Ready Reserve
Specialist Glen D. Jones, age 21, Grand Rapids, Minn., USAR
Specialist Duane W. Hollen, Jr., age 24, 477th Trans Co.,USAR
Specialist Steven G. Mason, 23, Co E, 364th Trans Bn
Specialist Michael W. Mills, age 23, Jefferson, Iowa, USAR
Specialist Adrienne L. Mitchell, age 20, Moreno Valley, Calif., USAR
Specialist Ronald D. Rennison, age 21, Dubuque, Iowa, USAR
Private First Class Timothy A. Shaw, age 21, Suitland, Md., USAR
Corporal Brian K. Simpson, age 22, HHC, 475th QM Group, USAR
Specialist James D. Tatum, age 22, 23rd Repl Det, USAR
Private First Class Robert C. Wade, age 31, 23rd Repl Det, USAR
Corporal Jonathan M. Williams, age 23, 23rd Repl Det, USAR
Specialist James E. Worthy, age 22, 36th Trans. Bn, USAR

Many more Gen Xers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.



Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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