WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Operation Desert Storm was fought and won in 43 days — that swift victory was in large part due to the ground combat teams and the specialists who supported them.
“As a kid, you know, you know, I was always working on cars and stuff like that,” retired Army Staff Sergeant Aron Randle said.
As a child, Randle knew he wanted to join the military but hoped simultaneously to pursue something involving fixing cars. Years later, when he spoke to an Army recruiter, Randle was sold on the idea of joining when he learned he could be in the service while pursuing his passion for all things on wheels.
“It kind of went hand-in-hand with working on your own personal vehicle,” Randle said.
After joining at the age of 28 in 1980, Randle would become an Army Recovery Specialist — training for his role as an Army MOS 63F (or what Randle calls a ’63 Foxtrot’) at Fort Steward, Georgia.
“63 Foxtrot is more or less to you. It’ll be just like if a civilian, it’ll be just like a tow truck guy — so, it’s a tow truck on tracks,” Randle said.
Any fault his unit found with certain equipment would fill out a specialized report and turn it into Randle and the men working for him.
“I would ensure the company that I was with and the vehicle that I was going to be in charge of taking care of — these guys would do what we call a ’24-4′ maintenance report,” Randle said.
Aron would work on a wide range of recovery vehicles while in the Army. His favorite: the 57-ton M88.
“We had what we called a[n] ‘A frame’ that would hook up to your engine in the tank, then you would pull that engine out,” Randle said. “To me, after so many years, they were just like a big Tonka toy.”
While training at Fort Steward, Randle was met with a number of challenging situations when it came to recovering and repairing tanks.
“Some vehicles would be turned over, and if all else fails, you just get it upright, hook it up to yours, and tow it back to where it’s safe,” Randle said.
Although Randle didn’t know it yet, his training would become a part of a bigger mission years in the making.
“Upkeep on those vehicles was vitally important because you never knew when, you know, you’re gonna have to go to war,” Randle said.
While Randle’s unit was constantly promised new equipment when the time to enter the battlefield arrived, Randle said this simply was not the case.
“The same thing you have in your unit right now is the piece of equipment that you’re going to be taking, taking to war with, so you have to keep them up at all times,” Randle said.
Randle’s training would be put to the test around the world, starting in Korea.
“I was stationed in what we call Second Division — it’s on the DMZ, so it’s pretty close to North Korea,” Randle said.
Randle would then go through extensive training in between Nuremberg and Frankfurt in the midst of the Cold War. At one point, Randle would visit Berlin after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
“Comparing the two of them was just like night and day because the Russians had just took and destroyed everything,” Randle said.
Then, in early 1991, Randle would be sent to Saudi Arabia to help the men on the front lines.
“Every vehicle that goes out is going go out on its own, and is gonna return on its own, so that was, you know, kinda the motto I had,” Randle said.
Overall, Randle would serve for 13 years and six months in the Army. He would retire an E-6.
“I can honestly say, you know, being in the Army was, was great for me,” Randle said.
If you would like to nominate a veteran for our Veteran Salute, email KSN reporter Hannah Adamson at email@example.com.