4/18 whips Iraqis from head to TOW
by Bill Armstrong, PAO Staff
||A combination of better training, troop discipline
and an overwhelming technological advantage moved the soldiers
of Alpha Co., 4th Bn., 18th Inf. swiftly through Iraqi trenchlines
during the allied ground offensivet And when the smoke cleared,
the mechanized infantry soldiers of Alpha Co.
discovered some shocking facts about the "elite" Republican
Sergeant 1st Class Marvin Rutherford, a platoon sergeant with
Alpha Co., was among the first in his company to .encounter enemy
forces. Two pair of Bradley Fighting Vehicles bounded forward,
protecting each other during an advance through Iraq, toward
Kuwait, in the wee hours of the morning on Feb. 27.
"We saw a missile coming toward us," Rutherford said.
"At first, we thought it was a flare coming down, but it
kept coming closer and closer."
The flare turned out to be an anti-tank missile. Rutherford's
gunner, Spec. Donald Barker, shot down the missile 200 meters
shy of its destination.
For Rutherford and his men, the fight was just beginning.
We didn't know what we had gotten into. They had tanks in the
trenchlines, and they were hard to -^ see. Again, my gunner got
on them and we started whipping H-E (high explosive), TOWs (anti-tank
missiles) and "A-P" (armor-piercing rounds) on them."
The battle proved to Rutherford and his men that a Bradley could
kill both T-62 tanks and "thinner skinned" armored
Not far from Rutherford's platoon, Capt. Charles Forshee's crew
engaged an Iraqi tank while backing up a Bradley. The Alpha Co.
commander's crew then killed a T-62 tank, in addition to two
armored personnel carriers by firing their TOWs and 25mm main
Forshee looks back on the battle as one of "no contest."
"We killed stuff that was blind to us," he said. Barker
attributes the victory, in part, to superior vision capabilities.
"We had such an advantage with our (thermal sights) on them.
It seemed like they couldn't even see us," the 22-year-old
And with first light came mass surrender. The Iraqi troops wanted
there to be no misconception of their intent.
"They carry large, white sheets or sleeping mats or anything
that's white, and just walk in mass," said Sgt. 1st Class
Michael Jones, another Alpha Co. platoon sergeant.
As the enemy prisoners of war came closer to the victors, the
U.S. troops began to question some of the things they had heard
about their opponent.
Starvation and a lack of adequate clothing were common among
the captured Iraqis, according to Pfc. James Barnette. "Most
of the EPWs we picked up didn't have shoes. They had blisters
on their feet the size of their thumbs."
"They were scared ... really scared," said Spec. James
Singleton, an infantry soldier. "One group looked like they
had been digging through garbage cans because they had pieces
of our food here and pieces of it there."
"The guys that we took looked like they had been planning
their escape for quite a while."
Not one soldier of Alpha Co. was killed during the battle. The
men in their Bradleys were able kill three T-62 tanks, three
PT-76 amphibious light tanks and nine armored personnel carriers,
several pockets of resistance.
Staff Sgt. Thomas Gregory, an Alpha Co. squad leader, admits
that Iraqi troops may have had the advantage of being combat
veterans going into the fight. But he points out, "They
have never met a force with such technology that rolls them up
Gregory adds that tough training gave his squad the edg in battle.
"We found them with their pants down. All of their equipment
was stocked, but it wasn't loaded."
On March 4, as the soldiers of Alpha Co. stood in forma tion
on a barren, sandy plain in Central Kuwait, Maj. Gen. Paul E.
Funk pinned the Bronze Star for valor on the chest of Forshee,
the company commander.
Afterward, the 3rd Armored Division commander made it clear to
the formation that every soldier standing there could be considered