Former Prisoner of War Retires
By by Master Sgt. Mindy Gagne, 141st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 31, 2011
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Lt. Col. Richard "Dale" Storr, the Director of Operations for the 116th Air Refueling Squadron and a former prisoner of war, retired June 2011, after 28 years of military service. During a recent commander's call, Storr recalled the ejection from his A-10 Thunderbolt that led up to his 33-day ordeal during the Gulf War.
On Feb. 2, 1991, during his 17th SORTIE of their campaign, Storr's aircraft was struck below the cockpit, while targeting a truck park in Kuwait. The blow damaged the control cables of the jet and disabled all outgoing radio transmissions. "Something hit the airplane. I don't know what it was. My wingman never saw it. I never saw it, but it felt like a 50,000 lb sledgehammer had just come up and hit the bottom of the jet." Storr described. "I made a radio call to my wingman Bolt, and I said 'hey Bolt I'm hit and I'm hit bad!'" Storr ejected three miles from the Saudi Arabia border.
"As I was coming down the chute before I hit the ground, after I realized I made it through the fireball, I remember seeing a truck coming from the truck park that I had just shot and was still burning," Storr said. He was quickly captured by the Iraqi soldiers. Storr was beaten and taken on a rough and harrowing ride in the back of the truck to a Quonset hut in the middle of nowhere. There Storr describes his first interrogation.
"The guy behind the desk, who hasn't said a word the whole time we were there, grabs the Colt (.45) walks over to me, cocks it, hits me over the side of the head, jams it up against my temple and starts screaming and yelling at me. The interrogator just looks me square in the eye and says tell me your home address before he kills you," Storr said. Storr was moved to Baghdad where he was repeatedly beaten, interrogated and held prisoner. "It was the Regional Intelligence Headquarters for the Ba'ath Party. That's why Qusay (Hussein) had moved us there because he knew we (the allied forces) were going to bomb it," Storr said.
Four allied bombs struck the building on Feb. 23. Amazingly the wing that housed the American and British POWs did not collapse and all survived. The damage to the building allowed the POWs to communicate with each other. During these hurried conversations, Storr learned that the Air Force reported him KIA and that a fellow prisoner was Bob Simon from CBS news.
After being held for 33 days, the Iraqis released Storr and his fellow POWs to the Red Cross. "I was shot down weighing 225 and I got back out weighing about 178. First stop was Taco Time. I had to have Mexi-fries," Storr said.
"Twenty-eight years," Storr said! "I can't believe how fast it's gone but it's really been something. It's been an honor to serve my country and my country has served me so well getting me home.
"We are very, very fortune to have within our unit a fantastic American, a true hero in my mind," said Col. Richard W. Kelly, commander of the 141st Air Refueling Wing. "Dale's story will hopefully help you define why you come to work and why you should be proud of being part of this organization and being in the military," Kelly said.