The 14th Quartermaster Detachment, a U.S. Army Reserve water purification unit stationed in Greensburg, Pa., was mobilized for service in Southwest Asia on Jan. 15, 1991.
The unit arrived on Fort Lee three days later to conduct intensive mobilization training in preparation for deployment to Saudi Arabia. For the next 30 days, detachment Soldiers trained 18 hours a day on water purification units and Soldier tasks. The unit, augmented by 35 filler personnel from other active Army and reserve units, arrived in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia on Feb. 19, 1991. The detachment’s Soldiers were quartered in a warehouse that had been converted to a temporary barracks. There they waited for the arrival of unit equipment and movement to a field support location.
Iraqi SCUD Missile Attack
At 8:40 p.m. (12:40 p.m. EST) on Feb. 25, 1991, parts of an Iraqi SCUD missile destroyed the barracks housing members of the 14th QM Det. In the single, most devastating attack on U.S. forces during that war, 29 Soldiers died and 99 were wounded. The 14th lost 13 Soldiers and suffered 43 wounded. Casualties were evacuated to medical facilities in Saudi Arabia and Germany.
The 14th, which had been in Saudi Arabia only six days, suffered the greatest number of casualties of any allied unit during Operation Desert Storm. Eighty-one percent of the unit’s 69 Soldiers had been killed or wounded.
A Community and Nation Grieves
No community suffered a greater loss during Operation Desert Storm than Greensburg, a Southwestern Pennsylvania town of 18,000 near Pittsburgh. Once word of the attack reached Pennsylvania, the 99th Army Reserve Command, parent unit of the 14th, began a 24 hour-a-day vigil at the Greensburg Reserve Center to assist Family members in their pain and grief. A community memorial service was held on March 2, 1991. More than 1,500 citizens attended, filling the First Presbyterian Church and its adjoining grounds. Local ministers, the mayor, the Governor of Pennsylvania and the Secretary of the Army honored the members of the 14th killed in the missile attack.
“They were all of us,” said Pennsylvania Governor Robert Casey, “a high school football star, a lover of country music, future homemakers of America, secretaries and salesmen, hunters and fishermen, postal workers and volunteer firemen, friends and lovers, fathers, sons, brothers, and two of our daughters.”
Bright yellow ribbons decorated the windows of homes and stores in Greensburg, but there were also black ribbons and wreaths lining the streets in remembrance of the 13 Soldiers who gave their lives in the service of their country.On April 20, 1991, the Quartermaster Center and School dedicated a new Water Training Facility on 41st Street in the memory of the fallen members of the 14th QM Det. A stone monument and plaque list the names of the 13 unit members who perished.
On March 3, 1993, Fort Lee also dedicated one of its gymnasiums as “Clark Gym” in honor of Spc. Beverly Sue Clark of Armagh, Pa.