Steve A. Hass

Hass was born and raised in West Duluth, Minnesota, graduated from Denfeld High School in 1979, and enlisted in the Army in 1980. During the Gulf War, he was in A Company, 4th Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, all a part of the 1st Infantry Division. Hass was honorably discharged in 1992.

Of his experience in the Persian Gulf, Hass says: “When I first received orders to the Persian Gulf, before the war started, I had the ridiculous feeling of 'getting to see some action'. Some people tend to see war through the eyes of Hollywood, and think it would be 'cool' to be a part of. It is not cool, and it is not Hollywood. I arrived in Saudi Arabia the first week of December, 1990, and the waiting game began. Everyone knew the war would start in mid-January, so until then it was 'business as usual'. In fact, the redundancy almost made the war something to look forward to. But that attitude changed instantly, when the first Scud missile came in. I should buy stock in Patriot missiles (which are fired at the Scuds), because the Patriot missile is the only reason I came home. We were bombed constantly, relentlessly, by Scud missiles. We also caught terrorists planning truck-bomb missions against us. Uglier stories would be best told elsewhere, but there are uglier stories as well. War is not cool. War is not Hollywood. War is feeling fear on a completely different scale than anything you've felt before. War is 'controlled chaos'. And when it's done, and you come home, it's almost surreal. Everything is still right where you left it, but it's not the same. I think the strangest thing about war is the first day back home. You go from one extreme (think Hollywood) and back to the calm of "home" in a matter of hours. My first night back home brought my first flashback, when my son broke a glass tray in the kitchen and I thought someone had lobbed a grenade into my house. I told the kids, loudly, to get down while I scrambled to the kitchen to get "the grenade" out the window before it exploded. Now it seems humorous, but it didn't seem that way back then. Eventually, time takes over, and memories fade. Life goes on, as they say, and you forget a lot of the little things.
"Memorial Day takes on a new meaning, though. You watch people making picnic plans, and being excited about getting a day off from work, and that's what Memorial Day means to them. So be it - they are what we affectionately call 'the untested'. 'And freedom has a flavor that the untested will never know' (quoting an unknown source). Memories that linger about the Gulf War? Hot...sandy...all the bottled water a man could drink...lots of boredom, injected with moments of undefinable 'intensity' (for lack of a better word)...camaraderie...bags and bags of mail from 'Stateside'...and the feeling of getting on that plane and getting the hell out of there. Am I glad that I was there? I can think of a hundred places I'd rather have been, but I had my orders, and I served - proudly. Would I do it again? Don't ask me that. War was an amazing, intense, unbelievable experience, but I'd rather think of it as a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. To finish this commentary on a positive note, one of the most incredible things to see was the mountains of mail from people here in the States. So many schools wrote letters, so many people wrote and sent things. The rule was that we could take as many letters as we wanted to read, as long as we wrote back. It really was amazing to see. So, if you were one of those who wrote, thank worked!"

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