On December 17th 1998, during our 98-99 Deployment in the Persian Gulf, President Clinton ordered air strikes to be launched on Iraq immediately. At 1600 hours (4:00 p.m.) my branch officer came to our work center and explained the situation to us. At 2230 (10:30 p.m.) the other ships around us began firing Tomahawk missiles, this went on for about two hours. On-board USS Enterprise, we manned up all four catapults at 2330 for a midnight launch. I was top side P.0. for catapult 3.
My fellow shipmates and I waited patiently, then before we knew it, thirty-five jets were in the air and on their way to Iraq in just over 20 minutes. One catapult can have a new plane ready for launch in less than 30 seconds.
All air strikes on the first night came from the USS Enterprise. We launched four strikes that night, our final recovery of aircraft was at 0530 in the morning. This continued for almost four days with help from allied forces in Great Britain.
PHOTOS OF AIR STRIKE
|Timed exposure photo of flight
deck during air strike.
|Crewman watches sunrise starting
the second day of air strikes.
|FA-18 Hornet being directed to
Catapult 1 during stirke.
|FA-18 Hornet goes into after-
burners on Catapult 3.