Abdullah Suwailim


What a night to remember. It was the night that turned that young pilot into a fighter. A night Abdullah never anticipated.

Lieutenant Abdullah Suwailim was a young pilot stationed on the Air Base that night. He was passing the time playing cards and thinking of his friends who were enjoying their weekend. The idea of going to war never crossed his mind. He did not expect that that night would change him from a pilot to a fighter.

Around 11 P.M. things started moving in a direction Abdullah could not make sense of. He was asked to call all the pilots of the base. A task he did while wondering why, since the stands by crews were there. Then he was ordered to wear his combat fatigue, which was uncomfortable in that hot night. He was not ordered to board his plane. He just stayed in the officers’ mess wondering what was going on.

Later on he was ordered to board his Mirage and be the last of the first formation that would go to fight. He still did not think that he would fly. He thought the first two planes would do the job. But this time he turned his radio on to hear what was going. To his astonishment he realized that there was a battle going on.

He was apprehensive. He did not get into battle before and was not psychologically prepared for it. So he started to think of all the heroes in Kuwait history, like the man this Air Base was named after. He kept telling himself that he wanted to be one of those heroes and that he should not be a coward.

As he was ordered to take off he turned his weapons on and flew his plane into that dark night to face his destiny. A hero’s death would be much better than a coward’s life.

As he looked at the battleground from his cockpit there was a lot of carnage. He had a hard time identifying his targets. The command tower kept on asking him about his altitude in order to identify him. There were many Iraqi troop-carrying helicopters. Some were empty returning back and fully laden ones going to Kuwait. He chose to target the ones going to Kuwait. But he had to choose the furthest ones from his colleagues in order not to hurt them.

After identifying his targets Abdullah for the first time in his life fired in wrath his air-to-air missiles and shot down two helicopters. Abdullah has crossed the threshold and became a fighter.

As he has erased the fear of being a coward from his mind, Abdullah became much calmer. He called the command tower reported his action and requested to land for further deployment.

Later on Abdullah would take his plane to Ahmed Al-Jaber Air Base and then to Saudi Arabia. Six months later Abdullah unleashed his wrath again. He was one of Dessert Storm veteran fighters. A fearless fighter who inflicted more damage than that night to the Iraqi aggressors.