The intensity and unpredictability of war cultivate odd situations
that keep soldiers telling stories for a lifetime.
The Allied Coalition forces used several means by which to
stay a step ahead of the enemy. And the 323rd Chemical Decon
Unit was no different.
In fact, the Sioux Falls, S.D., Reserve unit used nuts, bolts
and a little elbow grease to drive on and stay one step ahead.
During the ground battle, the 323rd experienced some mechanical
problems because of rugged terrain. After that, you might say,
they became a replacement detachment of sorts.
According to 1st Lt. Timothy Walsh, unit executive officer, members
of his unit lost the torsion bar on a 5-ton vehicle. A torsion
bar is part of the suspension system that twists to maintain
stability. When the bar fell out, it ripped the brake lines,
drive shaft and universal joints.
"It was pure initiative on the part of the men in this unit
that we kept the 5-ton running," said Staff Sgt. James Zimmermann
of Sioux Falls.
"We spotted two M-813 Iraqi trucks that had apparently been
hit by helicopters. We needed the parts so we looked the trucks
over and saw that we could get the parts and do the job ourselves.
"We knew that we were going to lose our rear differential,
so we took one of those and whatever else we thought we might
need that wasn't damaged.
The five-man crew, which took on the self-assigned task, was
separated from the main body of their unit for two days while
they cannibalized the American-destroyed Iraqi vehicles.
"It was spooky because there wasn't anybody out there,"
Zimmermann said. "We were north of Saudi Arabia about five
miles into Iraq while we worked on the vehicles."
"It was really quite amazing," Walsh said, "It
took them two days to find their truck, fix it and find us again.
Sergeant Alvin Lee Walker - a gunner on an M-109 Howitzer for
Charlie Btry., 4th Bn., 82nd Field Arty. - missed his shot to
make history in the Persian Gulf War.
Instead of riding with the crew that fired 3rd Armored Division's
first round of the ground offensive down range, Walker was traveling
in an 8-vehicle convoy, which had no support as it headed ndrth
from Saudi Arabia into Iraq. Walker was on his way to link up
with his unit, but he was less than at pase as he drove through
territory that was marked by the enemy. Fortunately, Walker eluded
Unfortunately, Walker's vehicle experienced some mechanical trouble
during the convoy. So there he was, stuck, with a convoy moving
on without him.
From that point, Walker had to wait for a maintenance unit to
help recover his vehicle. So, Walker spent the night at a maintenance
unit, hoping to link up with his crew soon.
But before Walker could get a start on a good night's sleep,
a shot rang out on the compound where Walker was staying.
Walker thought the worst. "It felt like the enemy was firing
on us, and there weren't enough people to support a ground attack."
As everybody scurried around, though, it became evident that
the blast didn't come from the enemy. It
came, instead, from an M-16 rifle that someone had inadvertantly
Walker was relieved, but he didn't feel secure until he caught
up with his unit.
Capt. John Snider, the 28-year-old commander of Delta Co.,
23rd Eng. Bn., tells the story of how one of his NCO's nabbed
three Iraqis after walking into an enemy bunker. Reportedly,
one Iraqi told the mess sergeant, "Don't shoot, I have kids
as old as you."
Investigating an enemy bunker after a battle would seem relatively
safe, especially if the area has been cleared. But two soldiers
who work with G-2 intelligence had quite a scare when four Iraqi
soldiers emerged from a bunker.
Specs. Kevin Sherman and John R. Ramsey, who are both 20, were
investigating enemy equipment and came across a bunker draped
with a sand-covered blanket. "We didn't think much about
it, so we uncovered it. It was real dark inside and went back
farther than we thought, so we left it alone," Sherman said.
Once Sherman and Ramsey turned their backs, though, four men
exited the bunker and approached the specialists.
Shocked, Sherman and Ramsey took them prisoner.
"Naturally, we would like to say they were huge and mean,
but actually they were pretty small - about 5-foot-5, and they
came at us with their hands up and hands on their head, except
for the one who was smoking a cigarette," Ramsey said.