• Chapter 42: Air Land and Sea

    February 6, 2016
  • Peanut Butter and Jammed Up Mail

    I found some time to write a letter today to my grandmother at 3 pm.

    "Hi grandma. It's unbelievable but I have a few minutes to write. I just know any minute someone is going to find something for me to do." That someone would be Ryder. I never saw him writing to anyone or getting any letters. I don't know why. But it seems that every time I wanted to listen to a tape from home, write or read a letter from home, he had something for me to do or somewhere for us to go. Was he trying to keep me busy or himself busy? Maybe he didn't want to think about home so he would quickly get us doing something to take his own mind off of family. This was just one of the many things he did that drove me nuts. I haven't mentioned all the little things yet that he did that made no sense and nearly drove me to the point of insanity, but they are coming soon.

    "Anyway, we were going in on a raid today, but that changed for some reason." The last raid I was involved in was on the 4th. We wouldn't have another one until the 8th. It seemed like plans were changing a lot lately, especially after Khafji. "We've been doing an excellent job on our air strikes. The sooner this thing is over the better. I had a dream last night that it was Thanksgiving Day at your house 1991 and I was there answering everyone's questions about what it was like over here."

    "We managed to get a hold of some bread, peanut butter, and jelly. I had three sandwiches after I ate my MRE lunch. I ate everything in my MRE too, so that shows how hungry you still are after eating one." The bread was a new MRE product but not yet packaged in MREs. It would eventually become standard in the new MREs that were coming out starting 1991."

    "I haven't gotten a letter in almost a week now. They say the mail is getting jammed up back in the states. Then they finally mailed it over here and now its jammed up over here. They don't have enough people to sort the mail. They would if they asked around. I've heard several people say they would volunteer. Oh well, I'll get it soon." 

  • Getting Pounded from the Air, Land, and Sea

    General Thomas Rhame decided to eject the Iraqis from the small border town of Markaz Samah Al Jadid. The enemy had held the town for almost a week and 1st Infantry Division headquarters had received numerous reports of enemy activity in and around the town.

    The 1st Infantry Division's 1-4 Cavalry sent a heavily armed airborne team to attack Samah Al Jadid near the border. Two Kiowa and two Cobra helicopters swooped down on the town, firing 20-mm cannon and 2.75-inch rockets. Only one Iraqi survived the attack. The lone survivor rushed out of a building and surrendered.

    The U.S. had more air victories today. A Navy F-14 shot down an Iraqi MIG-8 helicopter, and Captain Robert Swain, flying an Air Force A-10 from the 706th Tactical Fighting Squadron, scored the first A-10 air-to-air kill when he shot down a B0-105 helicopter with a long burst of 30-mm cannon fire.

    The USS Wisconsin joined the USS Missouri with its 16" guns. The Wisconsin (pictured here) fired eighteen rounds into the enemy positions. The 16-inch barrages were the Navy's version of the Marine artillery raids along the Kuwaiti border. The battleships maneuvered in close to the coast, fired several rounds in a few minutes, and then withdrew out to sea to relative safety. The Iraqis were now being bombarded from the air, ground, and the sea. Frontline and rear area positions were being attacked. No place was safe for the Iraqis. Later tonight, the Air Force would increase the pressure even further.

  • Flee or Die

    Two MC-130E Combat Talons from the 8th Special Operations Squadron dropped two 15,000 lb. "Daisy Cutter" bombs (BLU-82s) to blast corridors through the minefields and defensive berms in Kuwait today. As night settled in, Major Skip Davenport and Colonel Carl Henly piloted their MC-103Es toward the southwestern corner of Kuwait (right where 1st and 2nd Marine Division breaches would be conducted). The Talons and their escorts of EF-111s and F-4Gs zigzagged toward their targets. Stuffed within each of the specially equipped C-130's cargo bays was a single Daisy Cutter bomb.

    The Daisy Cutter, the largest conventional bomb in the U.S. inventory and roughly the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, was designed to clear helicopter landing areas in the jungles of Vietnam. The enormous overpressure produced by the explosion will clear an area several hundred yards across, even in the densest jungle. In the open desert, it was believed that a single bomb could destroy an entire minefield.

    One bomb was dropped on a suspected Iraqi division headquarters, the other on a minefield in southwestern Kuwait. An SAS commando who was one hundred ten miles away radioed to his headquarters, "Sir! The blokes have just nuked Kuwait." The next morning, another MC-130E flew into the same area and dropped propaganda leaflet. On one side of the handbill there was the following message:

    "You have suffered horrendous losses as a result of us using the strongest conventional bomb in this war. It has more explosive power than 20 scud missiles. BEWARE! You will be bombed again soon. Kuwait will be liberated from Iraq’s Saddam. Hurry up and join your brothers in the south. We will treat you with all the love and respect. Leave this position because it will not provide safety for you."

    The other side had a picture of a Daisy Cutter with the following message:

    "Flee and preserve your life, or stay here and meet your death."

    An Iraqi battalion commander and his staff immediately heeded the warning and fled south to surrender. Allied forces entering the area after the start of the ground war found that the bomb's explosive force was so powerful that not only were the mines destroyed, but also every Iraqi soldier within about three miles had been killed.

    From the Iraqi Lieutenant's diary:

    "I awakened to the noise of air raids. I dressed quickly and put on my helmet. Afterwards, I had breakfast. Then there was another air attack. I ran to the trench. It was small, but it held all three of us: myself, the lieutenant in charge of the 2nd Section of the 3rd Company of the Tank Battalion and a communications man. The planes dropped a lot of bombs before returning to Saudi Arabia. We were covered with dirt. We were buried alive. God is good."

  • Arab Breach Points

    Up until the Battle of Khafji, the Marines had been planning to conduct a two division offensive into a single point on the "Saddam Line" (the Saudi/Kuwaiti border). As mentioned in an earlier post titled Operation Plan, some of the Marine commanders were nervous about committing both of the Marine Divisions to a single breach point. They argued that if both the 1st and 2nd Marine Division were to conduct their own breach at different points on the Saddam Line, the Iraqis would be more confused and less able to organize a concentrated counterattack.

    Additionally, the Saudis and Qataris had performed much better than expected at Khafji. Their commanders were now requesting that they be considered equally in the offensive against Iraqis. During the days that followed the Battle of Khafji, the final Marine attack plan jelled. The Qataris, Saudis, and Kuwaitis would be given their chance. The Joint Forces Command East (JFCE) was assigned the mission of attacking north into western Kuwait. Once through the Iraqi fortifications, they were to turn eastward toward Kuwait City. The U.S. Marine divisions would attack up the middle. They would break the back of the Iraqi Army in Central Kuwait and then pause to allow the Arab forces to enter and retake Kuwait City. It seemed only right to let Arab forces be the first to enter and liberate an Arab city. The Kuwait forces would enter first, regaining the pride and honor stolen from them by Iraq.

    With this new plan, the Marines had decided to make two separate thrusts into Kuwait. The 1st Marine Division, commanded by Major General James M. Myatt, would attack near the elbow. The more heavily armored 2nd Marine Division, commanded by Major General William M. Keys and reinforced by the U.S. Army's Tiger Brigade, would attack farther to the north, south of the top of the heel in Kuwait. In order to support this new strategy, the Marine logisticians needed to move their Combat Service Support Area (CSSA) from Al Kibrit, located along Tapline Road, to a deserted grave plain near the Kuwaiti border. The new city in the sand was named Al Khanjar. Within minutes of Lieutenant General Walter E. Boomer's (Commander of I MEF) decision, trucks from the 7th and 8th Engineer Battalions began to roll in the largest logisitics effort in the Marine Coprs' history.

    The two Marine engineering battalions and the SeaBees arrived at the gravel plain first and began constructing the site. A Seabee is a member of the United States Naval Construction Forces (NCF). The word "Seabee" comes from initials "CB", which in turn comes from the term "Construction Battalion". Within two days the SeaBees had carved two C-130 landing strips out of the gravel, "Khanjar International," and supplies began pouring in by air as well as over land. While all of this going on, the entire 2nd Marine Division was to move west of the 1st Marine Division, one element at a time.

  • History on Saddam, Part 2

    "No episode better reveals the essence of Saddam's regime than the baptism of blood that accompanied his ascension." The book, Saddam Hussein and the Crisis in the Gulf, is referring to the rise of power for Saddam who is referred to as "the Don of Takrit." Saddam loved the movie The Godfather. "He is especially fascinated by Don Corleone, a poor boy made good, whose respect for family is exceeded only by his passion for power. The iron-willed character of the Don may perhaps be the most telling model for the enigmatic figure that rules Iraq. Both came from dirt-poor peasant villages; both sustain their authority by violence; and both, family is key, the key to power."

     Learning about how Saddam rose to power reminds me a lot of how Hitler rose to power. They both were leaders of a reform party. They both had a similar ideology. They both tried to overthrow the government. They both spent time in prison for their uprisings. They both were eventually promoted within the government for their political influence. And they both were eventually successful in an overnight coup.

    Saddam was a horrible man. Even worse that Hitler. You may wonder how someone could be worse than the man that exterminated millions of Jews. The reason I say he is worse, is because Saddam didn't just kill anyone opposed to him. Saddam had his enemies severely tortured. I can't even bring myself to mention the many ways people were tortured under his rule. I've never heard of anything like it before or since. He was the very essence of ruthlessness, and the embodiment of evil; as ruthless and evil as they come.

    “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”
    ― J.K. Rowling

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