All posts by Bill Genereux

Operation Desert Storm – The First Day

drawing of sailor praying while missiles launch during Operation Desert Storm

This week marks the 30th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm and I was there. The deadline for withdrawal from Kuwait had passed and in the early hours of January 16, 1991, a global coalition led by the USA went to war with Iraq.

At that point, I was in my 6th year of service in the US Navy, and it was actually my second trip to the Middle East; my first was in 1987 during the Iran/Iraq war. In 1987, Iran was of greater concern. The Iranian hostage crisis of the late 70s was still fresh in our minds, and the US was supporting Iraq in opposition to Iran.

Funny how it works out when the enemy of your enemy becomes your “friend.“ In 1987, our “friend” Iraq attacked the USS Stark on patrol in the Persian Gulf thinking it was an oil tanker. That’s how that war went, both belligerents were bombing oil tankers and the US Navy was there on escort duty.
Maybe the attack of the Stark was accidental, or maybe it wasn’t, but in 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait, the most oil-rich country in the world, the US took offense. It was pretty clear that Saddam Hussein was no friend.

So there I was, in January 1991, a Kansas kid who grew up with no knowledge of the sea, back for the second time in the treacherous waters of the Persian Gulf region. They warned us the evening before to get plenty of rest. They woke us up around 2 am, I think, and fed us an early breakfast. Navy chow aboard a battleship at the dawn of war is as good as anyone about to go into battle can expect. Plenty of hot coffee, bacon and eggs for everyone.

Later, we went to general quarters (battle stations) and we waited for the war to begin. In forward main battery plot, we were tuned in to CNN and Peter Arnett, broadcasting live from Baghdad. No picture, just the audio. My thoughts turned to my fellow fire control men above us, diligently preparing to let their tomahawk missiles fly. What would the Iraqi response be?

I had no mental picture of our ship’s position then, although we had one of the world’s first gps devices right there in the room with us. Lat & long numbers didn’t mean much to me without a map, and we had none at the moment. All I knew was those Tomohawks could fly from Kansas City to Denver and score a field goal through the uprights of Broncos stadium. We were hundreds of miles from Baghdad and probably pretty safe for the time being.

After the Tomahawks were launched, we sat there together in silence. Someone suggested since we were attacking at night, many of the places we were hitting might not even be occupied except for possibly the night time help. My thoughts turned to the lowly night janitor who would lose his life soon. His poor family counting on him for their support. He’s not even a military man, yet this day he will pay for his reckless leader’s sins with his life.

At that point I was pretty much a heathen, living like I’d never heard of God, but for some reason I pulled a rosary from my pocket and began to pray for everyone who would lose their lives that day. No one around me had anything to say as we sat and waited, with Peter Arnett droning on in the background about a last-minute reprieve while missiles and aircraft were hurtling right towards him.

Iraq would be pissed and they might reach out and touch us at some point. I thought about my shipmates and family back home.

It was a long wait. Over an hour, wasn’t it, before the bombs and missiles rained down on Baghdad. The fighting began. Reports of the first American casualty, a Navy fighter pilot was down and would never return home. The shit had gotten real. After six years of practicing and pretending, I was finally in it for real. But our day as battleship gunnery guys would not come until a while later.

We fired several missiles and the Mighty Mo was back in combat action for the first time since Korea. We would have to read about the Iraqi response to our attack in the Stars and Stripes because we didn’t experience anything first-hand that day.

Guess the Decade

I’m still ruminating about the question “Why do you like this old-ass music?” that was asked of me by an anonymous, faceless person on Zoom this week in our Mastering Academics Conversations class. Obviously, they still have a lot to learn about academic conversations and I still have a lot to learn about conducting online classes that permit anonymity.
We were playing a Kahoot game together online “Guess the Decade of this Song.” I prepared a list of 80+ songs to share with students, but with only an hour to play, I whittled it down to 40 hit songs of the 1940s thru the 1990s. Play a song excerpt, guess the decade and Kahoot keeps score. A fun concept but perhaps a bit long taking up the better part of an hour.
I woke up thinking about the question this morning. I have thought of so many better answers for that guy than what I came up with at the time. That’s how it usually goes.
The fact that it is the music of my mom and my grandparents, who are no longer with us is a big factor in the music I shared. Also, it is the music I learned about and shared with good friends I no longer get to see. This is something a young person likely has to learn much about.
We used to share our culture. We used to experience things like music and shows together. We no longer do that. We are now electronic narcissists, calling up the music of our heart’s desire whenever and wherever we want. And we don’t have to ask if anyone else likes it too or if they want to share it with us. It’s for me, me, me!
I learned about a lot of good music from my older “brothers” in the service. Generations overlapped there. So much of the music I shared came from an appreciation developed by me from people older than me who knew more than me. I was just passing it on to students for their consideration.

So if somebody wants to play “Guess the Decade of the Song” with me sometime, hit me up. I still have it ready to go.

Fall 2020 Diversity Film Series – With Dr. Onalee McGraw

The K-State Polytechnic Campus SGA (Student Government Assn.) and the COT 105 Mastering Academic Conversations class proudly present the Fall 2020 Diversity Film Series. Three excellent classic films have been chosen that are still relevant to our turbulent times.

For three consecutive weeks in late October and early November, we will be viewing and discussing a different film with classic film expert and author Dr. Onalee McGraw. Dr. McGraw has been leading discussions related to diversity with young people for many years. She was personally involved in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

We have several viewing options available to participants, including an online watch party on Monday evenings at 7 pm, a digital download (for students), or watching the films online through a paid streaming service.

For more information about these films and to register for the discussion sessions, please follow the links below.

Remember the Titans

Remember the Titans: Liberty and Justice for All –
A Classic Film Series with Dr. Onalee McGraw

Come join us in a night of online learning with Dr. Onalee McGraw. 

What: An interactive discussion with Dr. McGraw about the film Remember the Titans (links to Amazon Rental for $2.99).

When: Wednesday, November 11, 2020 – 7 pm Central (for 1 hr)

Where: Via Zoom Meeting Room (Register below to receive instructions and access)

Why: “To explore together the mysteries of our human condition and the longings of the human heart with one of the greatest of the films of Classic Hollywood.” – Dr. Onalee McGraw


Dr. Onalee McGraw is Director of the Educational Guidance Institute, which helps instructors use classic films to present universal truths about Character, Virtue, Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. In the 1980s, Dr. McGraw was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the National Council on Educational Research. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from Georgetown University.

Dr. McGraw appeared on Turner Classic Movies as a guest programmer for the film, 12 Angry Men. We are so very honored to have access to her wisdom in these uncertain times.

Join us on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 at 7 pm central time. To be sent details about accessing this unique opportunity for learning, please register below. Don’t delay, space is limited! For the best experience, be sure to view the film Remember the Titans (2000)prior to attending.

No Way Out: An Evening With Dr. Onalee McGraw

 

No Way Out: Liberty and Justice for All –
A Classic Film Series with Dr. Onalee McGraw

Come join us in a night of online learning with Dr. Onalee McGraw. 

What: An interactive discussion with Dr. McGraw about the film No Way Out (links to full film on YouTube).

When: Wednesday, October 28, 2020 – 7 pm Central (for 1 hr)

Where: Via Zoom Meeting Room (Register below to receive instructions and access)

Why: “To explore together the mysteries of our human condition and the longings of the human heart with one of the greatest of the films of Classic Hollywood.” – Dr. Onalee McGraw


Dr. Onalee McGraw is Director of the Educational Guidance Institute, which helps instructors use classic films to present universal truths about Character, Virtue, Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. In the 1980s, Dr. McGraw was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the National Council on Educational Research. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from Georgetown University.

Dr. McGraw appeared on Turner Classic Movies as a guest programmer for the film, 12 Angry Men. We are so very honored to have access to her wisdom in these uncertain times.

Join us on Wednesday, October 28, 2020 at 7 pm central time. To be sent details about accessing this unique opportunity for learning, please register below. Don’t delay, space is limited! For the best experience, be sure to view the film No Way Out (1950)prior to attending.

A Raisin in the Sun: An Evening with Dr. Onalee McGraw

A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sun: Liberty and Justice for All –
A Classic Film Series with Dr. Onalee McGraw

Come join us in a night of online learning with Dr. Onalee McGraw. 

What: An interactive discussion with Dr. McGraw about the film A Raisin in the Sun (links to Amazon Rental for $2.99).

When: Wednesday, November 4, 2020 – 7 pm Central (for 1 hr)

Where: Via Zoom Meeting Room (Register below to receive instructions and access)

Why: “To explore together the mysteries of our human condition and the longings of the human heart with one of the greatest of the films of Classic Hollywood.” – Dr. Onalee McGraw


Dr. Onalee McGraw is Director of the Educational Guidance Institute, which helps instructors use classic films to present universal truths about Character, Virtue, Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. In the 1980s, Dr. McGraw was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the National Council on Educational Research. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from Georgetown University.

Dr. McGraw appeared on Turner Classic Movies as a guest programmer for the film, 12 Angry Men. We are so very honored to have access to her wisdom in these uncertain times.

Join us on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 at 7 pm central time. To be sent details about accessing this unique opportunity for learning, please register below. Don’t delay, space is limited! For the best experience, be sure to view the film A Raisin in the Sun (1961)prior to attending.

Teaching in the Pandemic- Part 1

Yesterday was fun. I brought a nice lunch from home but because it takes me 15-20 minutes to set up for my “hybrid” class in which people can come face to face or attend by Zoom videochat, I didn’t have a lot of time to eat.

Then, I hurried off to my classroom and was nearly there when I realized my mask was still on my desk in my office next to my half eaten cup of soup. There went my planned head start I needed to get my tech set up! When I finally made it to the classroom with appropriate PPE in place, I was winded, a little dizzy, and couldn’t see anything because my glasses had fogged over.

I have ten minutes to scarf down this soup before class begins” width= Running late! Shortcut time!” width= Oh shit! I forgot my freakin’ mask!” width= Pant! Pant! Hey gang, give me a sec’ while I catch my breath and clear these foggy glasses.” width=