• Chapter 63: G+3

    February 27, 2016
  • "Time On Target"

    Although the following information is referring to "The Reveille Engagement" from yesterday, I ran out of time and decided to include it in today's post.

    The following is quoted directly from a report written by Lieutenant Colonel Dennis P. Mroczkowski for the HISTORY AND MUSEUMS DIVISION, HEADQUARTERS, U.S. MARINE CORPS, WASHINGTON, DC. 1993.

    To have your unit specifically mentioned in a particular battle in a report that is part of the history of the Marine Corps is such an honor. I've included a small picture of the radar antenna trailer that our radar teams used during the war. It is the AN/TPQ-36 Field Artillery Fire Finder, or as we were known as, Counter Battery Radar (CBR).

    As I had mentioned once before, our radar teams were responsible for acquiring approximately 80% of tank and artillery targets from G-1 through the end of the Ground War. We were very busy!

    Throughout the morning, the division's elements came under indirect fire from enemy artillery. The division's artillery fired counter-battery missions when targets were acquired. In one of the more memorable artillery actions of the campaign, the 10th Marines' counter-battery radar acquired an enemy self-propelled artillery battalion. Four of the regiment's five battalions fired a "time on target" (TOT), with "zone and sweep" to cover this lucrative target. The entire enemy battalion was put out of action.

    In preparation for the day's attack, the 6th Marines had run several air strikes on the "ice-tray." This built-up area contained a large concentration of bunkers and dug-in tanks. As an additional assurance that there would be no disruption from this area, another regimental TOT was fired into its center by the 10th Marines. A final issue to be resolved before the division moved off in its attack was the location of the eastern boundary. The 2nd Marine Division, consolidated along Phase Line Red, was several kilometers ahead of the 1st Marine Division, which had not yet captured Al Jaber airfield. The original boundary ran just about one and a half kilometers west of a hard-surfaced road leading due south from Kuwait City to Al Jaber, placing the road within the 1st Marine Division's zone. It was along this route that the enemy had launched the "Reveille Counterattack" earlier that morning. To secure this flank, a change of the boundary, on a line running diagonally to the northeast and placing the road in the 2nd Marine Division's zone, was approved by I MEF. As additional protection, the 2nd LAI Battalion was ordered to screen the northeast sector of the division's zone.

    As the two Marine regiments and the Tiger Brigade made their final preparations for the assault to Division Objective 1, General Keys directed units to destroy all enemy equipment in zone. Colonel Richard further advised them to keep the division's momentum going by waving EPWs to the rear. They would then be taken into custody by follow-on elements and transported to the special camps established for them. By 1315, all subordinate units had issued their orders and the division resumed the attack. As Colonel Livingston recalled, it was "the highlight of a career" to look across the desert and see a Marine division on line preparing to attack.

    Even as they prepared to cross the line of departure, the 6th Marines came under artillery fire. The 10th Marines quickly began counter-battery fires. By 1341, all of the division's assault units had crossed the line; the attack continued through incoming artillery, tank engagements, and small-arms fire. The 6th Marines attack was led by the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, and the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, and supporting tanks as the regimental reserve. A platoon of tanks from Company C, 8th Tank Battalion was attached to Company C, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. This platoon’s experiences were representative of the actions across the division's front on this day. Commanded by Chief Warrant Officer-2 Charles D. Paxton, the tanks encountered several Iraqi tanks and armored personnel carriers soon after crossing the line. The platoon quickly destroyed seven tanks and four of the APCs, all the while continuing the momentum of the attack. When smoke and fog reduced visibility to only 200 meters, enemy targets had to be engaged at close range. Nevertheless, Chief Warrant Officer Paxton continued to press his platoon forward, destroying another six tanks and two ZSU 23-4 antiaircraft guns before consolidating his own defense for the night

  • Al Jahra

    As the division's elements consolidated their positions for the night, there was still much work to be done. Both Marine regiments now used their Kuwaiti liaison officers to make contact with the resistance forces operating to their fronts. It was these forces which cleared the remaining pockets of Iraqis in the town and secured Al Jahrah. At division headquarters that night, orders were prepared for both regiments to clear their zones up to the coast the following morning.

    At 2250 that evening, the division was notified that Arab forces on its left flank would pass through the division's zone on G plus 3, 27th of February. By 2330, communications were established with Egyptian forces operating to the left flank. Preparations for the coordination of the passage of these forces were immediately begun. At 0450, the fire support coordination center informed all units that there would be no firing north of Phase Line Bear, the road along which they were established, effective immediately. By 0555, Tiger Brigade had completed making liaison with the Egyptians. By 0720, these units were passing across the division's front lines on their way to Kuwait City.

  • What A Cluster!

    Last night, as we were pulling into our position near Jahra to cut off Iraqi retreat and/or reinforcements, I remember it being so pitch black dark. It was perhaps the darkest night so far. I don't remember where I read it, but one person stated that it was the darkest night of the war. As we pulled into our position, Ryder told me to stop. He had the NVGs on while I drove again. Although I got to wear them for a short while, I knew it wouldn't last long.

    He got out of the Humvee, walked a few meters to the front of it, and started talking to someone. The engine running on the Humvee kept me from hearing what he was saying. When Ryder came back to the Humvee, he told me "This guy's going to guid you in." I didn't know at the time why that was necessary, but I found out later in the morning. The place we were setting up camp at was littered with tiny unexploded Cluster bomblets. The slightest touch could set them off.

    The Marine that was guiding me into the camp area, use a red lens flash light. Its a low-level light shaded red so the light doesn't travel as far. I kept my eye on the light as it was the only thing I could see. Suddenly the light shut off which was my signal to stop. I got out and gathered my sleeping gear to prepare my bed for the night. I always like to "make my bed" prior to getting tired because I didn't want to fool with it later on when I was too tired. This way I could just crawl in my sleeping bag and go to sleep within a minute as opposed to getting everything out and setting it up.

    I had a routine that I had adjusted to each night. First I would take my shelter half and lay it on the ground. A shelter half is basically half of a two man tent. You used the buddy system to put your halves together and make a tent. I wasn't sleeping in a tent until some time after the war was over so I just used mine as a mat. I laid it directly in front of my Humvee because I wanted to make sure I didn't get run over by a vehicle that couldn't see me. After laying the shelter half on the ground, I then would spread out my sleeping bag on top of it. On top of the sleeping bag, I would spread out my poncho. The rain was still sporadic and I didn't want to have to get up during the night and get it if it started raining.

  • Death, Two Feet Away

    I don't even know what time it was when I went to bed but I slept like a baby. There were times when I would have to get up during the night for various reasons, fire watch, use the bathroom, radio watch, etc. But last night I slept solid. I was covered from head to toe so I didn't even see the daylight when the sun started to peak over the horizon. I heard vehicles moving around and people talking and so I figured it was time to get up. I pulled the poncho back from over my head and heard someone say, "Morning sunshine!" It was Lance Corporal Flowers. As he was walking by he said to me, "Careful where you step. There's cluster bomblets all around you." I looked at where he was pointing and saw an unexploded cluster bomb about four feet to my nine o'clock and another one two feet from my six o'clock. Now I knew why we had to be guided in. But you would think whoever guided me in would have seen these and warned me about them.

    The Cluster Bomblets were tiny bombs that are fired in a missile casing over the enemy and then released. It's like lobbing hundreds of grenades miles away. It was my first time actually seeing one. They looked like big fat darts and were painted yellow. I wish I had taken a picture of them but I was only interested in gather my sleeping gear and getting away from them. I was so glad I didn't have to get up in the middle of the night and use the bathroom. I included a stock photo of one that closely resembled what I saw.

  • Mopping Up

    Before dawn, Joint Forces Command North (JFCN) commando units had linked up with Tiger Brigade. The Arab units began passing through the Tiger Brigade positions by 1000, and were moving into Jahra. Meanwhile the Saudis of Joint Forces Command East (JFCE) pushed up the coast road and entered Kuwait city in the early afternoon. As the Arab forces moved to liberate Kuwait City, the 2nd Marines and Tiger Brigade held their blocking positions at Al Jahra and Mutlaa Ridge. The Tiger Brigade encountered minor pockets of resistance in its area of operations and spent most of the day clearing these pockets and collecting stray Iraqis.

    The United States Embassy in Kuwait City had been in Iraqi hands since the US ambassador was forced to leave late in 1990. Green Baret Soldiers, Navy SEALs and Marine Recon Team 7, led by Lieutenant Knowles, liberated the embassy at 1335. The Marines were first on the Embassy grounds, while the other special forces units repelled from helicopters in a "fast roping" maneuver on the roof of the Embassy.

    At 1400 that afternoon, Gen. Walter Boomer's small convoy of the I MEF jump CP headed toward Kuwait City along a wide deserted modern Highway. First they encountered a lone Kuwaiti standing on the shoulder, firing and AK-47 into the air. Then an automobile packed with more Kuwaitis swerved up next to Boomer's vehicle. Its inhabitants waved and screamed thanks to the Americans. More vehicles joined the procession and soon the streets filled with jubilant crowds of shouting, cheering, and crying Kuwaitis. It took the Marines 20 minutes to weave their way through the ever increasing crowd who were celebrating their freedom. Upon his arrival at the US Embassy, Gen. Boomer was greeted by an Army special forces soldier. Boomer took a quick tour of the Embassy grounds and then asked to meet the Marine in charge of the recon team that had been first to reach the Embassy.

    Before long, Lieutenant Knowles appeared and reported to his commanding general. Boomer greeted him and inquired, "What time did you get here?" Knowles, fearing that he was in trouble, replied, "We came in at 1900 hrs. last night." "Who ordered you to come in?" "Nobody sir. The Kuwaiti resistance brought us in." "How many of you came in?" "There were seven of us sir." "Okay, Lieutenant, you can go."

    Both men knew that Knowles had ignored the previous day's order to stay out of the city. Knowles was relieved that he had escaped the general's wrath. Boomer, on the other hand, struggled to hold back a smile. Although there were still battles going on, battles I haven't the time to include in my daily posts at this time, we Marines had accomplished our mission. We liberated the people of Kuwait from the oppressors who had brutally beaten, murdered, tortured, raped, and pillaged their country. And in the words of our commanding officer, General Boomer, who had previously described what our mission was prior to the start of the war:

    "not to conquer, but to drive out the invaders and to restore the country to its citizens.
    We will succeed in our mission because we are well trained and well equipped;
    because we are U.S. Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen, and because
    our cause is just….May the spirit of your Marine forefathers ride with you
    and may God give you the strength to accomplish your mission.
    Semper Fi."