Magazine Index      NEXT

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 Guard.

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 vehicles.

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 gun.

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 gunner said.

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, despite
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 like that."

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 a hero.

Return to Top

Magazine Index      NEXT