By the 148th Public Affairs Detachment
Filed by Sgt. 1st Class Gail Seaman and Sgt. Tony Wunderlich
The blast from the launch motors of the rocket blazed green
in the night vision goggles, silhouetting a lone Bradky on the
horizon. As the glare subsided, a second rocket launched, and
another, one every three seconds until all ten were away from
the MLRS, each terribly beautuul green flare climbing gracefully
behind the other into the low ashen overcast until it was lost
Their arc would cany them well beyond the visible horizon, already
alive with continuous flashes of light as other rockets, artillery
rounds, aerial bombs and secondary explosions detonated with
such frequency it was impossible to hear their individual reports.
They combined into a low, ominous rumble, the background static
of a battle that was grinding the Iraqi Army into the desert
For two days the Third Armored Division had chased the fleeing
Iraqi Army. Now, having reached the dug-in tanks of the Republican
Guard, the Iraqis would stand and fight. Perhaps they expected
the battle would be like the air strikes - swift and deadly,
but endurable. It would pass, and they could continue.
But this was the U.S. Army. It was not to be a high-speed pass
and then back to the base to wait tor Bomb Damage Assessment.
The Third Brigade would find the enemy, destroy all who resisted,
take the battlefield and then remain long enough to demolish
everything that was missed in the first sweep. That's why the
ground troops were called in -- not to continue the war, but
to finish it.
It started with a scouting report of a T-62 on the fringe of
the Brigade's sector, between them and elements of the 1st Armored
Division. The tank was quickly dispatched. Then another report,
this one of at least nine T-72s, the Main Battle Tank of the
Republican Guard this brigade had come 150 miles to engage.
But while the Third Brigade was relentless in pursuit, its tanks
were not going to hastily wander into an Iraqi trap. Brigade
Commander Col. Rob Goff called for a Time on Target artillery
barrage on bunkers guarding access to the Iraqi armor. M-109s
went into action, many looking for links to forward observers
so they could bring their laser-guided Copperhead artillery rounds
into the fray.
Close behind the artillery volley, the 5/18 Infantry task force
moved in, taking out an entrenched T-72 and clearing the way
for the 2/67 Armor task force. Working together, the Bradleys
and Abrams gunners accounted for seven T-72s and four BMPs. The
Brigade task forces sustained no casualties.
It was a scene repeated many times in separate, small engagements.
The Iraqis were unable to mount any coordinated defense and never
attempted a counter-attack. Instead, dispirited and abandoned,
soldiers began filtering across the battlefield, often holding
aloft a bedsheet, the largest white object they could find.
Some came singly, many came an entire company at a time. Expecting
harsh treatment, they were overjoyed at their reception as the
feared Americans offered them MREs and water. One company broke
into spontaneous cheers for their captors, chanting and dapping
their hands over their heads. For them, the war was over.
Less than 16 hours after the battle began, the war was over for
Third Brigade as well The surprise at the abrupt cease-fire was
almost as great as the relief and the joy of the prospect of
"You're kidding," said Spec. Herman Weatherd upon hearing
the news of the impending cease-fire scheduled to go into effect
in two hours. "Is it true, really? That's great. It means
I can go home."
Spec. Ivette Torres shared Weatherd's surprise. "Don't tell
me that if it's not true," she warned through a broad, hopeful
smile. 'Tve been dreaming for too long, I don't want to get my
For Pfc. Daudio Gomez, the cease-fire and the peace it promised
meant one thing - he could see his little boy. "That's him,"
Gomez said, pointing to a name written across his helmet cover,
"Adam Joseph Gomez," he said proudly.
But Gomez grew more serious as he thought of what the months
of waiting and days of combat meant. "I guess what I learned
is that you never underestimate anyone, because that's what Saddam
Hussein did. Don't underestimate anybody and don't mess around
with what you don't know."
Weathered reflected the weariness of many soldiers when he said
he couldn't say exactly what the end of the war meant to him.
But he spoke about something on many people's minds. "I
can't stop thinking about Hitler," he said. "That if
people back then had done what we're doing now, we might have
stopped the whole thing."
And speaking with the perspective born of experience, Sgt. 1st
Class Leanard Thompson pointed out that while the war may have
been won, the peace was not yet gained. Thompson was looking
ahead to the demolition of remaining equipment and mop-up of
Iraqi positions. Tin real proud of the Brigade and I'm glad we
did it right the first time. Hopefully, we won't have to come
back anymore. That's what it's all about"