Desert Storm Cop

INSPECTOR Eric Chau Wing-sheung, Police Duty Officer HQCCC OPS Wing, wanted to be a cop ever since a Hong Kong police officer stepped in and prevented a teenage bully from beating him up when he was 11 years old. "That incident made me realise that a police officer could really make a contribution to the community," he recalls.

@Little did IP Chau think that one day he'd also help make a contribution to the world community. He has an accolade he is quite proud of - a medal from the Saudi Arabian Government as a token of thanks for his military service during the 1991 Gulf War. It's an interesting story.

US Reserve Private Eric Chau in Saudi Arabia in full combat gear during Desert Storm

@Eric Chau Wing-sheung joined the Hong Kong Police in 1979 and served as a police constable for seven years, but "realised without a higher education it was possible that I'd remain a PC for the rest of my career. So, I quit. My goal was to obtain a university degree, then re-enter the Force at Inspector level."

@He began a BA degree in Business Management at a university in the San Francisco area in 1988. Two years through the three-year curriculum, he decided to take advantage of a programme offered by the US Army Reserves. After going through basic training, US Army Reserve graduates must report for active service two days every month. In return the Reservist receives a college grant.

@"So, in order to help finance my degree at university, I joined," recalls IP Chau. "I never expected a real war to break out."

@After 20 weeks of basic training with the regular Army in Missouri, the young man from Hong Kong was transferred to Virginia for the second part of his training.

@"I graduated around Christmas of 1991, then returned to San Francisco - where I was notified that my Reserve Unit had already been deployed to the Gulf and I was to join them immediately," he recalled.

@A couple of days later (following formal induction, medical exams, the completion of his last will and testament, and anti-chemical warfare training), US Army Reserve Private Eric Chau Wing-sheung was on a plane heading for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf War.

Hong Kong Police Inspector Eric Chau today

@"I was mentally prepared because tensions between Iraq, Kuwait and the US had been brewing when I was in basic training," he said. "There was always the possibility that my Unit could be called upon. The Drill Sergeants kept telling us that we'd better train hard because we'd be making use of it in the Gulf War. But everyone thought they were just trying to scare us.

@"Once I arrived in Saudi Arabia, it was really scary. We landed in the middle of the night. As soon as I stepped out of the plane, a SCUD missile lit up the sky and an air raid siren started to wail. Almost immediately, a Patriot missile intercepted and brought it down with a huge explosion.

@"We put on our anti-chemical masks and suits at once and took cover in the airport control tower. All the windows were taped, everybody had their masks on, and we sat on the floor packed like sardines. No air. Completely silent. Really hot. All the talk of the Gulf War finally rang home and I realised it was real."

@For Private Chau it seemed like ages before the all clear siren sounded. "I sat there wondering: 'How long am I going to be here?'"

@Meanwhile, back in Hong Kong Eric's parents thought their son was safely attending to his studies. "They didn't know I was in the Gulf War, because I decided not to tell them," he admits. "I didn't want them to worry - especially my grandma. I didn't tell them until I returned."

@Although he never saw combat nor entered Kuwait until Desert Storm ended, life in the Military Police Unit in the Saudi Arabian Desert had its moments. Because of the constant threat of chemical bomb attack, soldiers were often forced to sleep in full anti-chemical suits (including gas masks), and to be ready to retreat into bunkers they dug next to their tents. The whole experience was incredibly hot and stifling.

@After Desert Storm, Eric Chau returned to San Francisco, where he completed his university degree, then came back to Hong Kong.

@Because of the War in the Gulf, he graduated one year later than expected: "I was 31. My plan was to return when I was 30 to rejoin the Hong Kong Police Force. But when I applied, I was told that I was too old - that the Force doesn't generally recruit or accept people above 30 years of age for direct entrance."

@So he wrote a letter to Personnel Wing begging them to let him join.

@"It caught the attention of SP Ma Wai-luk, who replied to me. He told me to fill out the required forms and take the exams. He made no promises, but said I might be given a chance - and I was," he recalls. "Co-incidentally, SP Ma Wai-luk (now SSP Ma at the Secondment Finance Bureau) was one of my interviewers. He said he approved my application. I will be forever thankful to him."

@So Eric Chau Wing-sheung went back to PTS again - but this time at Probationary Inspector level.

@"It was my goal after getting a degree to rejoin the Force as an Inspector - and I did. So, I was very happy."

@His long term goal is to develop a career in the Crime stream.

@"I'd like to work in CID. There you handle a case from start to finish. And you get the satisfaction when the case gets solved - and the criminal gets caught. To me that's making a contribution to the community."

Ceremony of Remembrance

A CEREMONY of Remembrance for members of the Force who gave their lives in line of duty was held at the Police Headquarters.

@After observing a two-minute silence, the Commissioner of Police, Eddie Hui Ki-on, laid a wreath on behalf of the Force at the Memorial Books at the entrance of Caine House at Police Headquarters.

@Other wreaths were laid by the Commandant of the Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force, Chau Cham-chiu, and representatives of various police formations and associations.

@Among the senior police officers who attended the ceremony were the Deputy Director of Police, Operations, Peter Wong Tsan-kwong; the Deputy Director of Police, Management, Tsang Yam-pui; the Director of Operations, Ng Ching-kwok; the Director of Crime and Security, Douglas Lau Yuk-kuen; the Director of Personnel and Training, Anthony Mullins; the Director of Management Services, Ching Kwok-hoo; and the Director of Finance, Administration and Planning, Stanley Wong Wing-hong.

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