Veterans and anyone who has ever known or loved anyone in the military will find Steve Manchester’s Book, The Unexpected Storm-The Gulf War Legacy, riveting and revealing.
It’ s not a book for the history or war buff but women will appreciate it.
Prior to reading The Unexpected Storm, I thought that I understood. We send our soldiers to war with prayers. We worry about them, pray for them and their families, and show our support. When they return, we rejoice and are thankful. And, life returns to normal.
But for our soldiers, life is anything but normal. This I learned from Sgt. Steven Manchester who now sees the world through a different set of eyes. Manchester draws the reader into a world where we care about him, his family and friends as well as
his comrades in arms. As I opened Chapter One for the first time Steve was talking about being onboard the C-5A Galaxyplane that was taking his National Guard unit off to the Middle East.
He writes sincerely of his feelings toward the war and his fellow soldiers. He is open and honest. He is heart-wrenching and
heart-warming. The Gulf War was the first time the American public watched on the television as soldiers were being
deployed to serve their country. Everything was aired on television and the country quickly became aware of the sacrifices our
men and women in uniform were making. Many were leaving spouses, children and jobs behind. In some instances both
parents of children were being deployed and their children were being left with grandparents or other family members.
Steven’s group was no different. Many members of his Military Police (MP) Company from Massachusetts were married and had families.
Throughout the chapters he reflected on some of them. Manchester speaks of how he and “his comrades have come to heal
their nation from a ghost that has haunted them for two decades: the poltergeist of Vietnam.” He writes of seeing “the after-
effects of 41 days of uninterrupted bombing.” AND how “The Arabian Desert has been used as a testing ground for every
new weapon in the American arsenal.” He held nothing back including his feelings and emotions. The war itself ended on 28
February 1991 but that ‘s when Steve’s group was really put to work.
However, Steve’s war began earlier when he was first injected with the many shots required of the soldiers before they could
deploy. They were already getting ill from those shots and the pills they were forced to swallow frequently that were supposed to protect them from various known nerve agents. Now “Steve’s body is invaded with its own ghost of torment.”
He and his fellow soldier’s have been “brutally introduced to ‘The Mystery Illness'” better known to the American public as
Persian Gulf Syndrome. Upon returning home, any semblance of medical review was cursory, although during the months in
the Persian Gulf and after, hundreds, if not thousands, of American Soldiers suffered a smorgasbord of symptom including
joint pain, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, gland problems, and the useful catch-all, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Manchester’s book is a must read as the country Steve went to, the Middle East, to defend and protect let him down. His
book goes on to explain what was done to him, how it effected his relationship with his wife, and what he ultimately did. When
his wife became pregnant he worried the whole nine months that he would have passed on his illness to his son. And although
most Persian Gulf veterans have learned that all war wounds aren’t suffered on the battlefield, the government was generous
enough to hand them another dark, little secret. Not all war wounds are visible either. For many Desert Storm Veterans,
although the yellow ribbons and flags were taken down, the shiny medals have lost their gleam and the euphoria of victory has
subsided, the war is far from over!
This is one book that needs to be read in its entirety by everyone. Go through his life with him, journey to a foreign land, and pray for him as he goes. This is truly an inspirational story. And it seemed that just as I finished the book and wiped my eyes, reality struck:
Manchester didn’t escort me on an exciting adventure he took ten years ago-he actually taught me to FEEL what he and his
comrades endured…and continue to endure. His struggle back to a life of joy has taken him years. The lessons he has learned
from experience or the loving advice of others are for all of us.
We need to be reminded that our soldiers coming back from Iraq may experience the Persian Gulf Syndrome with its crippling
ailments. But this time we have done our homework and we’ll be prepared because we are different, changed and we know
understanding brings about compassion.
Manchester, Steven THE UNEXPECTED STORM
P.S.I. Research; Hellgate Press
ISBN: 1555715427 $15.00