Three hours after he got off the plane in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, Scott Richardson, a biomedical specialist deployed in Operation Desert Storm, was greeted by incoming Iraqi missiles.
"We had quite an eventful night," he said of Jan. 20, four days after fighting in the Persian Gulf broke out.While Richardson was dodging Scud missiles on the war front, his wife, Rebecca, couldn't get out of the way of an internal missile of sorts on the home front. Her appendix ruptured.
That wasn't initially a good enough reason for the Army to allow emergency leave for Richardson, a Utah National Guard reservist. But a follow-up abdominal operation on Rebecca was. He's home now helping her recover.
Richardson, 29, who works in the biomedical department at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, spoke Wednesday to the wives of hospital employees whose husbands are also serving in Desert Storm. Currently, 29 hospital staff members - 28 men and one woman - have been called to active military duty.
Richardson is scheduled to return to the 980th Medsom, a medical supply and maintenance unit, next Tuesday, but he hopes to get his leave extended. In the meantime, he plans to spend as much time as possible with his wife and three children.
"The biggest problem is being away from family," Richardson said of his two-week stay in the Persian Gulf. He said it's difficult being away from home knowing what his family is having to go through.
When he does leave again, it will be for the third time. He left home in November with the 144th Evac Hospital. He was then transferred to the 980th at Fort Carson, Colo. While there, he was allowed to go home for Christmas. He then left again for Saudi Arabia.
"It's getting easier," he said of his comings and goings.
So far, Richardson said, life in a war zone hasn't been that tough either. The living conditions have been decent and there hasn't been much to do, he said.
"We feel like the biggest threat to us is terrorism," he said.
Even with that threat hanging over their heads, Richardson said morale among the troops has been good. "I think most of the troops feel like they're there for a good reason," he said.
And what does Richardson think?
"I'm in the military. You do what you're told. You don't disagree with your commander-in-chief. But I'm not thrilled about war," he said.