Distant Horizons

On March 6, 1948, a U.S. military transport plane landed at Dhahran Air Base, Saudi Arabia, and Major George Trial stepped out to an overcast desert morning. What had made a young Air Force officer leave his family, a comfortable life and pending promotion in Washington D.C., to travel to a tiny airbase in an isolated desert kingdom on the other side of the world? Born in 1910, George Trial was the only son of a farming family from the tiny village of Muscotah, Kansas. Ruth Wallace was the youngest of three children growing up in placid Nevada Missouri in the 1920s. George met Ruth in 1938 when they were both elementary school teachers in Kansas City. In May of 1940 they married, and in September of that year George reported for active duty with the Army. A new family of three Americans in Saudi Arabia, they lived among and learned of a culture fiercely proud, yet mindful of the ancient desert rules of hospitality to strangers and respect for family-a culture about to be impacted by the construction of the largest oil-production facilities the world has ever seen. From Kansas prairie and small town Missouri to the Arabian desert, this is Ruth and George’s story.