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Daughter of Gulf War veteran Keith Rogers reflects on ‘forgotten’ conflict

Staff Sergeant Keith Rogers died in Co Antrim in 2015 at the age of 59 with motor neurone disease.

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Michelle Rogers with a picture of her father Staff Sergeant Keith Rogers who fought in the first Gulf War (Niall Carson/PA)

Michelle Rogers with a picture of her father Staff Sergeant Keith Rogers who fought in the first Gulf War (Niall Carson/PA)

Michelle Rogers with a picture of her father Staff Sergeant Keith Rogers who fought in the first Gulf War (Niall Carson/PA)

The daughter of a Gulf War veteran has described it as a forgotten conflict.

Thousands of soldiers from the UK were deployed alongside Americans to the Gulf in 1990 after Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Kuwait.

It has been recorded by the National Army Museum as the largest single deployment of British troops since the Second World War.

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The Gulf War (PA Archive)

The Gulf War (PA Archive)

PA

The Gulf War (PA Archive)

Hemel Hempstead-born Staff Sergeant Keith Rogers of the Royal Engineers considered it the most challenging tour of his 40-year army career.

This weekend marks the 30th anniversary of the end of the conflict.

Michelle Rogers said she feels in many ways it is forgotten about.

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She remembers living in army accommodation in Germany as a child at the time, and her father missing the birth of her brother.

She has kept a collection of letters that her father wrote to his family while he was in the Gulf.

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Michelle Rogers’s mementos of her dad Staff Sergeant Keith Rogers who fought in the first Gulf War. Picture date: Wednesday February 24, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story DEFENCE Gulf Rogers. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Michelle Rogers’s mementos of her dad Staff Sergeant Keith Rogers who fought in the first Gulf War. Picture date: Wednesday February 24, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story DEFENCE Gulf Rogers. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Michelle Rogers’s mementos of her dad Staff Sergeant Keith Rogers who fought in the first Gulf War. Picture date: Wednesday February 24, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story DEFENCE Gulf Rogers. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

They include accounts of initially having to “hang about”, a tented camp and not knowing where they were going next, but the observation, “it can’t be any worse than this”.

Another letter notes: “Who would think that in 1991, I would be sitting in the middle of the desert, I tell you, after this, I’m joining the Salvation Army.”

Other letters observed high levels of poverty and observing locals “carving sheep in the middle of the road” and Americans swapping kit.

They also record ongoing uncertainty, and Staff Sergeant Rogers urged his wife: “whatever happens in the next couple of weeks, I don’t want you to listen to the radio and worrying, I still don’t think anything will happen”.

One of his final letters refers to clearing minefields and hopes of returning to his family within weeks.

His mementos include a desert rats badge.

His daughter Michelle said her father served in Germany, Canada, Cyprus and also Northern Ireland where he met his wife and later retired in Co Antrim.

She joked that he compared Northern Ireland to a holiday camp after his experiences in the Gulf.

“I think he was quite traumatised about what had happened, there were a few horror stories, one of his friends was blown up in a hangar,” she told the PA news agency.

“I know that he suffered from PTSD after some of the sights he saw in the Gulf.

“Unless you saw it with your own eyes, probably no one could guess what happened out there.

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Michelle Rogers’s mementos of her dad Staff Sergeant Keith Rogers who fought in the first Gulf War. Picture date: Wednesday February 24, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story DEFENCE Gulf Rogers. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Michelle Rogers’s mementos of her dad Staff Sergeant Keith Rogers who fought in the first Gulf War. Picture date: Wednesday February 24, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story DEFENCE Gulf Rogers. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Michelle Rogers’s mementos of her dad Staff Sergeant Keith Rogers who fought in the first Gulf War. Picture date: Wednesday February 24, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story DEFENCE Gulf Rogers. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

“But I know he wouldn’t have changed it, it’s what he wanted to do from no age.

“The army was his whole life, he joined up when he was 16.”

Staff Sergeant Rogers died in 2015 at the age of 59 with motor neurone disease.

Michelle said soldiers were inoculated against the effects of anthrax and plague, which it had been feared would be used against them in attacks.

“He was pretty convinced that some of the injections he got was a trigger for his motor neurone disease,” she said.

“I would still be in be contact with some of my dad’s old friends and maybe coincidence they all have neurological problems.

“Gulf War Syndrome is recognised in the United States but not in the UK.

“I think it is forgotten about.”

PA


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