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Retired San Diego Navy captain remembers Desert Storm 30 years later

Posted at 5:47 PM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 21:24:47-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — It’s been 30 years since Desert Storm, an operation during the Gulf War that drove the Iraqi army out of Kuwait.

During that time, the USS Midway, which is now a museum in San Diego, was the command ship for all Naval forces in the Gulf.

Jim Reily served 25 years in the Navy and part of that time was as the Supply Officer for the Midway during Operation Desert Storm. He was in charge of making sure supplies were stocked on the ship. This included ensuring 1,000 cartons of a dozen eggs made it to the sailors every day, making sure 6,500 pounds of laundry got done every day, and getting haircuts to all of the people on-board every other week. He also made sure crucial items like toilet paper and dog bones (a tool needed to launch an aircraft) were in stock at all times.

“What you can get fired for is running out of toilet paper, you don’t want to do that,” he said, laughing.

Reily was a huge part of the operations of the USS Midway in 1991 and is still a leader on the ship. He is now the director of the docent program, so he oversees all of the volunteers and tour guides who work on the ship today. He’s able to share his firsthand knowledge of the ship with visitors, including his time in Desert Storm.

“It doesn’t feel like 30 years, it feels like yesterday,” he said, standing inside a room that was once where classified, top-secret planning meetings were held, but is now open to the public to explore.

During Operation Desert Storm, the USS Midway’s squadrons flew more combat missions than any other United States aircraft carrier in the region but had zero casualties during that time.

After familiarizing himself with the USS Midway for decades, Reily said he’s not ready to leave the ship yet. He said he was asked recently about when he will retire completely.

“I said you're going to carry me out feet-first. I'll stay here as long as I'm doing okay and contributing,” said Reily.

The museum on the Midway has been closed because of California’s state-wide shutdown, however, now that the restrictions have been lifted, the USS Midway will be re-opening to the public on Feb. 1, 2021.