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by PAO Staff


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 enemy contact.

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 discharged.

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.

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