Twenty years ago

| February 17, 2011 | 26 Comments

Twenty years ago, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry attached to the Third Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division (from the Third Brigade of the 2d Armored Division (Forward)), was the only US unit in Iraq. We were fifteen clicks from the Saudi border, screening for the sweep east of Schwartzkopf’s “Hail Mary” strategy. For two days we had been watched by Iraqis and had a little contact. with some reconnaissance elements. However on February 17th, my gunner spotted 5 T-55s about 1500 meters in front of our defilade position and I called for indirect fire. The first response came from an Apache unit. The pilot ignored his instruments and fired the wrong grid coordinate, directly to my west, striking two vehicles in our own Scout platoon anchoring our far west flank.

COB6 was the platoon leader of the platoon between my platoon and the Scout elements. Despite the orders of our company commander (a phrase that I use in several other stories involving COB6 and our commander), COB6 pulled his vehicle off the line and rushed to the burning vehicles (An M3 and and an M113 from the GSR unit). COB6 and his crew pulled the broken bodies from the vehicles with burning ammunition exploding around him and shielded the injured Scouts with his own body. Two of those scouts were dead, but three others owe their lives to COB6 and his crew.

Needless to say we stopped calling for Apaches and after slamming two TOWs into a berm about a hundred meters in front of us, we used artillery fire. My first ever call for indirect fire in total darkness. The following morning, M1s found the T-55s 5000 meters north of the spot my gunner had spotted them.

And, oh, yeah, my granddaughter celebrates her 20th birthday today, too.

Category: War Stories

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Comments (28)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Old Trooper says:

    I remember seeing that footage back then. I also remember when you first told the story of what happened. Sad time, indeed, but it also shows what COB6 is made of. I’ll tip one to COB6 this evening. Good on ya.

  2. jerry says:

    Thanks for serving,
    Always Faithful
    Never Forget
    Jerry

  3. BooRadley says:

    Jonn,
    Your rememberance of this every year is an important contribution to TAH and the veterans comunity at large. Men stumble on your …years ago… posts all throughout the year, usually in the middle of the night, presumably searching for something relating to that night. It’s so hard, yet so important to read those posts, also.
    God Bless you, my friend.
    Amy

  4. Old Tanker says:

    We were off to your east not to far when we got word…chain of command used the incident to great effect in reminding us to watch what the hell we were doing…the good lesson was that we didn’t have a friendly fire incident the whole time.

  5. thebronze says:

    Sad, all the way around.

    RIP Warriors…

  6. Chuck Z says:

    Toast of the Army, Favorite Son!
    Hail to the brave Big Red One!
    Always the first to thirst for a fight.
    No foe shall challenge our right to victory.
    We take the field,
    A grand sight to see.
    Pride of the Infantry.
    Men of the great division,
    Courage is our tradition,
    Forward the Big Red One!

  7. pontiff alex says:

    ALWAYS grateful, NEVER EVER,FORGET…..

  8. PintoNag says:

    Can never thank you enough for all that you have done. All of you are always in my prayers. God Bless.

  9. Old Tanker says:

    Jonn

    I had a buddy, Charles Rice, that was in 3rd Brigade, 2nd AD…they were being deactivated just before the war so you got a brigade and I believe another brigade was attached to a Marine Division…

  10. Parachute Cutie says:

    I never can find appropriate words when I read this story Jonn. God rest the souls of those gone before us. I am forever grateful for men like COB6.

  11. exRanger says:

    OP were you there?
    Was SPC Jeff Middleton GSR or LRS?

  12. exRanger says:

    let me re-phrase that…

    SPC Jeff Middleton mentioned at the end of the video,
    do you know if he was GSR (or LRS) and was attached
    to 1/41 ?

  13. COB6 says:

    Middleton was the Scout PSG’s gunner. He was assigned to TF 1-41 organically and came from Germany with us. The ISU in the M3 had went out and Middleton has just got a chance for some much needed sleep. The PSG was in the turret and was blown out the top on impact. SFC Richard Miller’s wounds were severe but he survived and recovered. Trying to recover Middleton’s body is something that replays in dreams often.

  14. Cedo Alteram says:

    Jonn, Granddaughter? Your a grandfather never would have guessed it.

    Old Tanker, wasn’t that Armybrigade opconned to the Marines the so called “tiger” brigade?

    Hey Desert Storm vets, thanks for your service.

  15. Tman says:

    Thank you all for your services.

    Rest in peace to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

  16. Doc Bailey says:

    I have to admit I have rather ambiguous feelings about Desert Storm. As I said before after one day convoying North to Kirkuk I went further than the LOA of the entire op. I understand that the purpose was to remove Sadam from Kuwait, but not dealing with him definitively meant we had to go back 12 years later. Also I think not supporting the Shiite in the south and the Kurds in the North was a HUGE mistake. Probably cost us some allies when we went back. I don’t begrudge that to anyone that was there, in fact the services did so well people got “Gulf War syndrome” much like the “Vietnam syndrome” which was a mass terror of “quagmire” this particular syndrome gave us the *false* belief that wars could be won at low cost in terms of lives, and quickly. very few if any wars are like that.

  17. Old Tanker says:

    I understand that the purpose was to remove Sadam from Kuwait, but not dealing with him definitively meant we had to go back 12 years later

    ….I won’t speak for anyone else here but when I left I had the distinct feeling it wasn’t over and we’d be back. After our initial push into Iraq, we backtracked south, then did the big “left hook” We had cut off the remaining Republican gaurd from supllies or escape when the cease fire was called. I sat and watched alot of armor drive by going back into Iraq….don’t doubt that image was front and center in my mind in 2003…

  18. Old Tanker says:

    Cedo,

    I’m pretty sure you’re right, it was the “Tiger” Brigade.

  19. Jonn Lilyea says:

    At 08:30 local time on the day the war “ended”, we were still engaged with an armed enemy. A squad was on the ground, bounding toward an entrenched enemy, but the clock struck 0830, we were ordered to cease fire and remount. So we kind of knew it wasn’t over.

  20. Old Tanker says:

    Hey Dutch, I think you meant this for the other 20 years ago thread….

  21. DUTCH says:

    Yup! Thanks for clearing it out. My bad!

  22. Doc Bailey says:

    No Sacrifice too Great
    No Mission too Difficult
    Duty First!

    Its sad that Iraq seems to be testing that motto again and again, just as Germany did before. I really hope this doesn’t become a national habit.

  23. Old Tanker says:

    Doc,

    I think it was put to bed this time….

  24. Doc Bailey says:

    OT, I hope so. Its the sacrifice part that’s really starting to get to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *