James Douglas Higginbotham enlisted in the Army in 1988, just following his high school graduation, in order to earn money for college. The only difficult aspect was getting accustomed to being around people from all over the world, as he had never left his home state of Texas before.
Higginbotham’s first assignment was Fort Bliss, Texas. He and his unit, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, arrived in Saudi Arabia in October 1990 for Desert Shield. Throughout his deployment, Higginbotham’s unit crossed the borders between Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait frequently, never staying in one location for longer than two weeks. In February 1991, Higginbotham’s unit moved into Iraq to watch the Kuwait border. Their job was to prevent Iraqi soldiers from retreating back once other units had pushed them out of Kuwait during Desert Storm. Additionally, they cut Iraqi supply lines.
As a part of the Headquarters Headquarters Troop, Higginbotham worked in communication. Using his training from the signal corps, he used wireline phones to transmit orders to others. He saw many prisoners of war captured by the American military, injured soldiers and burning tanks. Two weeks after the ceasefire in March 1991, Higginbotham returned to the United States. He received a Kuwait Liberation Medal for his service.
In June 1991, Higginbotham discharged from the Army. After discharge, Higginbotham got a job and returned to school. However, after experiencing war, Higginbotham found it difficult to connect with his family. As a result, he spent much of his time feeling isolated and depressed.
In 2002, Higginbotham began having seizures and became a regular at the VA hospital. He credits the VA services for allowing him to have a life again.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Graphic artist: Grace Yang