In a post card written 1-19-91 at 7:30 am, I wrote the following message to my grandmother:
"It's Saturday morning here and the third day of this war. It's 10:30 pm Friday in Dallas. I'm still at the port in Jubayl off the Gulf coast. I'm on guard duty again. I had it last night from 6 pm to 12 am. And now from 6 am to 12 pm.
We had to get up again last night about 3:30 am and put on our gas masks for a while. We don't yet know exactly why, but we heard loud booms that sounded like artillery blasts. I think everyone overreacted.
In the last half hour I've seen several war planes overhead flying north and heard others from above the clouds. I have yet to be overcome by fear of anything. I kind of think this whole thing is pretty neat. Don't get me wrong, though. I don't want to be here anymore than anyone else. But there are a lot of people here that panic too much. Rumors go around every day.
Soon I'll be going up north to re-join my radar team. I was only supposed to be here at the port for five days. I've been here two weeks now.
Well, say hello to everyone at church for me and let them know I'm doing good. I'm enclosing some Saudi money. Six Riyals equal to about $2.16. Please keep this for me. Say hello to Linda and thank her for the wonderful care package. Love you much."
While the air campaign continued, Allied ground forces were inching closer to the border. Marine Light Armored Infantry (LAI) battalions were positioned ten miles from the Kuwaiti border as a screen for the shifting Allied ground forces. The Army's VII Armored and XVIII Airborne Corps began their redeployment westward. Combat units remained in place while supplies were sent to two secret sites. While the Allied forces shifted to the west, the Iraqi's continued their artillery attacks against Khafji.
In northern Iraq, the 23rd Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) and more than one hundred other aircrafts from a Composite Air Wing began air operations from an air base in Turkey. The Wing consisted of F-4Gs, F-16Cs, F-111Es, EF-111s, F-16Es, EC-130s, AWACS, and KC-135s. The 23rd TFS was made up primarily of F-4G Wild Weasels and F-16C Eagles from squadrons in Europe. The Air Force labeled the Turkish operations of this Air Wing, "Operation Back-Door Slam." They flew as many as three strike packages per day into Northern and Western Iraq. Some of the packages contained as many as sixty aircraft in formations that stretched for forty miles. The pilots called the formation, "a forty mile gorilla."
More Air Raids
Air operations in the south continued unabated. In day three, three large waves of F16 aircraft were scheduled to hit Baghdad in the first daylight raids on the Iraqi capitol. The early morning attack never happened, but I don't know why. A second wave of fifty planes was diverted at mid-day to attack the SCUD facilities in Western Iraq. The third wave would be the only attack on Baghdad on the 19th.
In Kuwait, heavy attacks began at 0600 when four B-52s swept in and bombed the Republican Guard Medina Division. Wave after wave of B-52s, F/A-18s and F-16s repeatedly attacked the Medina, Hammurabi, and Tawakalna Republican Guard positions until well after sunset.
In the mid afternoon, a massive wave of American aircraft headed north from Saudi Arabia toward Baghdad. Package Q, more than eighty aircraft, was involved in the first daylight raid on Baghdad and the surrounding area in what would turn out to be the largest coordinated air attack of the war. It consisted of four F-15Cs, eight F-4G Wild Weasels and two EF-111 Ravens. The F-15Cs would protect against Iraqi aircraft while the F-4s and EF-111s would conduct SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) operations. Seventy two F-16s followed closely behind carrying 2,000 lb. bombs.
During this air raid, two F-15Es were flying CAP (Combat Air Patrol) along the Saudi border when they received orders to join the strike package as added security. Just as the bombers were completing their attack and turning south to return to base, two Iraqi aircraft appeared on radar. Both F-15s descended on the enemy aircraft at Mach 1.1. The Iraqi MIGs both locked onto F16s but fortunately were just out of their range. The F-15s locked onto the MIGs who were so focused on catching up with the F-16s that they didn't even notice that the hunters had just become the hunted. Both MIGs immediately broke off and turned north. The F-15s decided not to chase them, staying with the American aircraft that were returning to base. Suddenly, they were informed by an AWACS controller that two targets popped up just thirteen miles from their position. Iraqi planes were chasing Navy A-7s that completed their mission and were returning to base. Once the F-15s were within range of the Iraqi aircraft, they awaited positive identification since there were so many allied planes in the area. Once the positive identification "BANDIT" was given, they fired an AIM-7 Sparrow radar guided missile (as seen in the included picture), destroying the first MIG and giving the confirmation "SPLASH!" The second MIG headed their way and the F-15 went into defensive and maneuvered in a series of sharp turns until he finally worked his way around behind the enemy aircraft. In an attempt to evade the F-15, the Iraqi pilot rolled on his back and started an inward loop to reverse direction. This maneuver is known as a "Split S." In the heat of combat the Iraqi had lost track of his altitude and was not able to complete the Split S, and instead, smashed into the ground.
From the Iraqi Lieutenant's Diary:
"Few enemy air raids today because of the bad weather, and our missiles have been fired at Israel for the second time. I am very worried for my relatives."
A second flight of F-16s code named "Collar," headed toward a nuclear research facility at Tawaitha located on the banks of the Tigris River just south of Baghdad. Initially they were able to dodge several SAM missiles and AAA from the heavily defended site. All seven of Collar's Falcons lobbed their 2,000 lb. bombs on the facility from maximum range.
Major Jeffery Tice, call sign, "Stroke 1," was leading one of the last groups of sixteen F-16s toward Baghdad. One group of four attacked the Iraqi Air Force Headquarters in downtown Baghdad, another four attacked a Republican Guard target. Tice personally lead the remaining eight Falcons against an oil refinery. Seconds after Stroke 1 lobbed his bombs, an Iraqi SAM hit Stroke 4 as he was coming off his target. Captain Harry M. Roberts managed to eject before his F-16 went in. A second SAM hit Stroke 1, seriously damaging his aircraft. Major Tice had enough control to keep the plane upright, but it would not last long before his engines went out and a fire started. He gave his current location over the radio and then ejected 206 miles from the border. As he slowly drifted down to earth, he noticed he was about to land in the center of a Bedouin camp. They were on him immediately. The nomadic Iraqis turned Major Tice in to the local police for a ten thousand dinar reward. He was taken to Baghdad where he was tortured, interrogated, and imprisoned. He also appears in the video of former POW pilots that I will share in a later post.
Today, Iraq began showing Allied Pilots that were captured and now Prisoners of War on Iraqi TV. Some showed the visible scars of being tortured. Although Iraq would claim these injuries were sustained during their plane crash, none of the pilots reported any injuries when ejecting from their aircraft.
Iraq fired 10 more Scuds at Saudi Arabia; nine were intercepted, one fell offshore. News of the air war began to be overshadowed by the Scud attacks. Three more Scuds fell on Israel. That afternoon two battalions of U.S. Patriot missile batteries began arriving in Israel. This was a historic move as it was the first time that U.S. deployed its own forces inside of Israel. The Patriots were set up immediately and began defending Israel against further Scud attacks.
"Fight them with your faith in God, fight them in defense
of every free honorable woman and every innocent child,
and in defense of the values of manhood and the military honor...
Fight them because with their defeat you will be at the last entrance
of the conquest of all conquests. The war will end with...dignity,
glory, and triumph for your people, army, and nation."