Speicher would be the only American still missing in action at the end of the war. "Hey, Rico, party's off," the officer told him. His wingman on the far left took on a second MiG-21. The air war lasted from the day of Fox's encounter with the bandits, Jan. 17, until Feb. 28, 1991, with coalition forces dropping 88,000 tons of munitions during more than 100,000 sorties. "Some of the intel that we had studied, before the war started, was the Iraqis during the Iran-Iraq war would do some pretty sophisticated bait-and-drag kind of tactics, where they'd have somebody come up and do something really stupid," Fox said. Consisting of Headquarters and service Company, and Companies A, B, C, D, the attack Battalion responded with swiftness and determination to reports that a large armored enemy force was approaching the 24th Infantry Division's security zone from the east. But as it turned out, the Iraqi military had been trained by and gained equipment from the Soviets, including an array of helicopters and jet fighters. He had not. President Ronald Reagan supported Hussein with money and equipment, ceasefire negotiated by the United Nations, first woman to serve as an aviation unit commander in combat, 1993 lifting of the combat exclusion policy, the Soviet Union shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007, Red Flag training at Nellis Air Force Base, the United States launched airstrikes against Libya, Scud B tactical ballistic missiles terrorized troops based, The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act - SCRA, Here Are the Rules on Political Activity and Protests for Active-Duty Troops, National Guard Plans to Ask Thousands of Troops to Remain in DC Until Mid-March, It's Official: Lloyd Austin Is the First Black Defense Secretary, Biden Has 'Not Spent a Moment' Considering Air Force One's Paint Job, Press Sec Says, Engine Failure, Aircrew Error Led to Fatal E-11A Crash in Afghanistan, Air Force Says, How the Army and Navy Won the First Battle of Desert Storm, Commanding Officer of Navy Reserve Center Fired After Investigation, US, UK Sign Agreement to Merge Forces for Historic Joint Carrier Deployment, You May Be One of the Many Veterans Getting a Big Bill from the VA Next Month, New Law Will Give Gold Star Families Free Park Access, Know A Volunteer Helping Veterans? His eight F-15s flew against about 24 Missouri Air National Guard F-4E Phantom IIs. At night, "We would fly next to the Apache instead of leading it.". Fox had an extra 2,000-pound bomb. It was terrifying.". Major Units - Division Size and Up VII Corps 1st Armored Div. And complications in the Middle East -- from dust storms to pitch-black nights to unfamiliarity with unstudied territory -- presented constant challenges. That lasted about a minute with August temperatures zooming into the 100s. And then planned again on top of that.". "As we got closer and closer, it became more and more obvious that he wasn't going to leave," Fox said. "We didn't know it, but it was the end of the Cold War," Fox said. But at the company level, you're pretty much in the dark. They made their way to the threat, but they also searched for clear skies, eventually working down from 35,000 feet to about 15,000 feet, in and out of thunderstorms and clouds and rainstorms. When it became obvious Hussein wasn't going to chance it, they began to plan the attack. His group came in from south to north, and they had four F-14 Tomcats to handle any air-to-air threats. Wildermuth return from Desert Storm You Tube. Many survivors will see at least $400 more in their Feb. 1 annuity payments. "Marvelous," he said. "There's nothing really magical about that, except for the fact that you don't know until you actually release ordnance in anger, and then you realize, 'My training has been very good.'". The U.S. forces hit 28 fixed Scud sites with everything from B-52s to F-117 Stealth Fighters the evening of Jan. 17, 1991. Desert Storm also signaled the beginning of modern warfare for pilots, as the first ... "First to Fight" -- 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), Army. "Whether they knew to be looking for us, or they could see us, I don't know that one," he said. "From the sky, the answer is, 'It sure sucks to be down there.'".  Approximately 3,000 Iraqi soldiers were captured. You don't know if there's going to be another guy or gal on the other side who has prepared harder than I did. The next morning, another company of Apaches and a Blackhawk found them: They had crashed about four kilometers into Iraq. Another Scud was launched against Israel, and strikes continued in the following days against both countries, ultimately killing 31 people. His dad was a doctor, but he had been on aircraft carriers during World War II. "It was different than [Iraq]" -- where Wellman deployed after 9/11 -- "where you could pick up satellite. So yeah, 'scared' was a part of my ritual.". The sand hindered helicopter landings as it rose up in gritty, blinding clouds. Joe Mobley, a pilot who had been a POW during the Vietnam War after his plane was shot down and was an "absolute prince of a man," looked at Fox's tape. The division was assigned the 21st Infantry Regiment and the 22nd Infantry Regiment, both of which had been assigned to the US 11th Infantry Division prior to 1921. Well, you kill the sensors. Quickly coordinating an engagement area with the responsible ground Commander, the attack battalion established a battle position to the northwest of the oil fields, effectively cutting the enemy's escape route across the Hammar Causeway. Most of the five-mile-long Iraqi caravan of several hundred vehicles was first boxed into a kill zone and then in the course of the next five hours systematically devastated by the U.S. 24th Infantry Division, including its armored forces, by AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, and nine artillery battalions. But then he saw the secondary target, a big hangar. During their debrief, the two American pilots learned that it had been a coordinated attack, designed to bring them into the Iraqi integrated air missile defenses. "I've been in crisis before. The Apache cockpits were filled with red lights. 2nd A.C.R. I am sure she is with him now looking down on us. When they got the call to deploy, he was leading a detachment at a flying exercise at Gulfport, Mississippi. "We had to be ingenious, like, how do you land without any dusting out?". And we were the smallest squadron as far as number of airplanes in the air campaign.". Later, on 2 March 1991, while serving as the 1st Brigade's reserve force in defensive positions astride Highway 8, east of Basrah, Task Force Tusker attacked into the enemy formations, and in doing so, completed the destruction of the Hammurabi Division and the remnants of several other Republican Guards Forces Command Divisions. The airplane burned from mid-fuselage to aft. That day, January 17, Fox flew without knowing what had happened to Speicher -- the pilot who had crashed early that morning after taking off from the Saratoga. They planned to send in two scout weapons teams, with Wellman and Spc. Not only were they heading into a tank war, but the Apaches operated like tanks -- even flying in tank formation. Together with the penetration of VII Corps units deep into Iraq, the combat actions anchored the coalition left flank and completed the encirclement of Iraqi forces in Kuwait and southern Iraq. "My wingman shot down one of them with an AIM-7 Sparrow" -- a radar-homing air-to-air missile -- "and the other one, I was in a visual maneuvering dogfight" -- a close-range, one-on-one air battle -- "with him, and it forced him to execute his last maneuver into a 'split S'" -- as he flew away from Rodriguez, the Iraqi pilot, Captain Jameel Sayhood, rolled upside down, pointed his nose to the ground, and tried to level out to come back at Rodriguez, but he was too low -- "which basically caused him to crash into the ground.". He felt the excitement of the possibility, but he needed to focus on landing his aircraft on the carrier. Within hours, the attack battalion destroyed 32 Iraqi tanks, 49 BMPs, 37 trucks, 8 Frog Missile launchers, numerous other assorted artillery pieces, anti-aircraft guns, and support vehicles. Wellman had been promoted to platoon leader of a scout helicopter platoon in Alpha Company, part of a battalion that had just transitioned to alpha-model Apaches. Both the Sparrow and the Sidewinder had hit the back half of the Iraqi pilot's plane. As they monitored the west side of Baghdad, the F-15s went up against three MiG-23 Floggers coming out of the airfields to the west. "And what you train to in peacetime is what you do in combat.". "It turned out these A-9 Mikes had brand-spanking-new smokeless motors," he said. "I thought that the 'war of all wars' had been fought, and the country would never be tested or reach out like the Vietnam era.". "As well as what were the real current Russian capabilities that were there, to include knowing that at some point, we could also be fighting against Russian pilots. Appler, Thomas, A Look at the 24th Division After Korea, Part 1 . Operation Desert Storm began with an extensive aerial bombing campaign on 17 January 1991. The third time I did it, I get the rar-rar-rar-rar-rar" -- Fox made a noise like a vibrating spring. They decimated Saddam Hussein's air force, bombing shelters Hussein thought would be impervious to attack. As Hussein missed the deadline to pull out of Kuwait, Desert Shield became Desert Storm on Jan. 16, 1991. Wellman's father had served in the Marines during World War II; he lost one uncle with the Marines in Korea, and a second was an Air Force pilot who died when his bomber crashed. He shifted out of the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps program and into the Air Force program, and he eventually qualified for flight school. had extensive desert training and desert-oriented medical and water purification equipment. We had mechanically scanned radars in the bay, and so my look assignment was to look low.". Rumors would persist for years that the pilot had ejected as his jet crashed early that morning.  The division took over 5,000 Iraqi prisoners of war while suffering only eight killed, 36 wounded, and five non-combat casualties. At the time, the two pilots didn't understand the additional danger -- they simply took on the MiGs. Fox was a lieutenant commander in 1990, and he commanded an F/A-18 Hornet squadron. "It was pretty hair-raising," Wellman said. That, he said, was when he realized just how real his mission was. Without constant training, U.S. pilots say they would have accomplished none of that. And then Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. and Maj. Gen. Chuck Horner came into the picture. All three said they never expected a desert war, and that they found themselves scared, ready, well-trained, and surprised by the skills of their opponents. "But the joke was that Apaches couldn't navigate: Their job was to blow shit up. Fox's target was in an airfield called H3. This special Desert Storm 25th Anniversary Edition of the Victory Book (2016) explores the pictorial history of the 24th Infantry Division during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Nine American artillery battalions would fire thousands of rounds and rockets during this particular engagement. The plan is to have it in July or August of 2021. Instead, they had used their ship -- referred to as "Zulu" -- as the bullseye.  Surviving Iraqi soldiers were either taken prisoner, fled on foot or swam to safety.. "In the meantime, we're coming straight up," Fox said. But as he fired at the MiG, he didn't see a plume of smoke. This is the order of battle for the ground campaign in the Gulf War between Coalition Forces1 and Iraqi Forces2 between 24–28 February 1991. "I always thought that he would somehow figure out a way to finagle it and wiggle out of it somehow. "I guess in the vernacular of air-to-air squadrons, we were the lucky ones," Rodriguez said. "My wingman and I engaged two MiG-29s that were using a highly sophisticated tactic to both attack us, and then also lure us into running into their integrated air missile defenses," Rodriguez said. Maj. Marie Therese Rossi-Cayton was the first woman to serve as an aviation unit commander in combat, and she died in that role when her CH-47 Chinook hit an unlit microwave tower while she was flying at night on March 1, 1991, in Saudi Arabia. Then, they went after "Scud trucks" -- trucks from which Scuds could be launched and that were scattered throughout western and southern Iraq. Everyone flew relative to Manny, and that's how the Hawkeye let the pilots know where the bandits were. Fox earned his commission in 1978 -- during the post-Vietnam "doldrums." She had expressed a desire to attend our 30th Reunion and meet many who served with her son. "I had a close call myself on a night where it was just blacked out and I couldn't see shit.". "I was always anticipating that there would be some sort of dust-up with the Soviets," he said. "He must look back and think, 'What a fucking idiot,'" Wellman said, laughing. At the same time, they studied Iraq's systems and defenses to try to figure out how to "crack" them. "But then out of the explosion comes a burning MiG-21, and then the Sparrow hit him, so he'd eaten two missiles.". Iraq's Scud B tactical ballistic missiles terrorized troops based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, beginning the night of Jan. 17, sending them into MOPP-4 protective gear. Like many of that generation, he worried that he'd never get a chance to prove himself. Retired Army Lt. Col. Fred Wellman had wanted to be anywhere but a heavy mechanized division. This is the order of battle for the ground campaign in the Gulf War between U.S. and Coalition Forces and the Iraqi Armed Forces between 24–28 February 1991. Is the US Losing the Fight for Arctic Dominance? "But we respected them -- there was no question about it.". And they were used just like tanks: to take out tanks. came in on the radio. "The E2 said, 'Those bandits are on your nose 15 to 30 miles,' and we're about 30 miles south of the target at this point," Fox said. The United States set up hospital ships and field hospitals along the Iraqi-Saudi Arabia border in preparation for a blood bath. I'm at .9 Mach or .91, so I'm close to supersonic, but I'm not supersonic.". It was the third day and Rodriguez's sixth sortie. This special Desert Storm 25th Anniversary Edition looks back at the Victory Division’s defense of the … This is the official website of the 24th Infantry Division Association. In rapid succession, the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), the 197th Infantry Brigade, and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) moved to the Gulf. Now I know that I was like, really wired. 24th Infantry Division Desert Storm Reunion. Considering that he grew up in West Texas and didn't see the ocean until he went to the Naval Academy, this seems particularly prescient. Editors Note: This article first appeared on The War Horse, an award-winning nonprofit news organization educating the public on military service. , For extraordinary heroism while engaged in military action against Iraqi ground forces on 26 February 1991 and again on 2 March 1991. And then he realized he was on the target, and he would have to fly past it to pursue the other pilot with 8,000 pounds' worth of bombs. "The tactics we used were pretty darn good," said Fox, now a retired Navy vice admiral. The division insignia is based on the taro leaf, emblematic of Hawaii. Fox said. "It just takes a slight twitch and people die.". Maps weren't as big of an issue for his squadron because they flew high -- at 30,000 or 40,000 feet, so they weren't looking for landmarks. And then you start to work your way so that you're blinding them or you're jamming them.". It was reorganized as a Mechanized Infantry Division in 1979 and sent to Saudi Arabia in 1990 in Operation Desert Shield. But this was the first time that I ever expended ordnance in personal combat experience.". The division was apart of the 18th Airborne Corps during Operation Desert Storm and served as the corps heavy armor unit. He had been stationed in Fort Stewart living in an apartment by the airfield when Panama went down a year before Desert Storm, and he could hear the Rangers flying out. 8 Desert Shield and Desert Storm Operations Overview, 9 May 1991, prepared for United States Senate Armed Services Committee, Document no. And then the war began with the "Great Scud Hunt" of 1991. As the air war continued into February, Wellman's unit became more important. "We don't know what their flight plan was really telling them to do. "It takes a lot longer to just say this than it actually happened," Fox said. People forget how old-school it was.". Still, Iraq had the fourth-largest army in the world, and Iraqi pilots had years of combat experience. Our squadron didn't even have any maps of the Middle East.". Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach is not to be confused with the Marine Corps training base in southern California. This devastating aerial attack assured the destruction of the Republican Guard Forces Hammurabi Division and the remnants of several other infantry divisions. And the Americans hadn't trained for everything: Smoke from oil fires lit by Hussein grew so thick that the sun disappeared and pilots had a hard time seeing past the beaks of their planes. "Nobody ever even thought we would be engaged in the Middle East. "Things are happening pretty fast, I guess is the way to put that," Fox said. When the sandstorms didn't force grit into every surface, thunderstorms took over. But as a pilot, the chief warrant officers -- technical experts who often have time as enlisted service members before they commission -- were older and had more time in the cockpit than Wellman did. Iraqi units that were not in the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations are excluded from this list. Director McCaffrey graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts and the U.S. Military Academy. The 24th Infantry Division traces its lineage to Army units activated in Hawaii. All rights reserved. Rodriguez and his squadron flew in and out of clouds all day, and they found themselves in bad weather as they formed for an engagement. And Rodriguez said that while he wasn't familiar with the Middle East, he had been training -- particularly during the two or three trips a year to Red Flag training at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada -- against exactly the weaponry of the Iraqis. So we wound up in exercises fighting British F-4s and Italian F-104s.". At that point, everyone started to check the news to see what they might be in for, he said. "'I just wanted to be sure,'" Fox said, laughing. "The Tomcats are up north as a target, and I'm hearing these calls about the bandits," Fox said. As they prepared, they practiced with mirror-image flights: The ship would launch the airplanes with the loads they would use in combat. The next week, the unit loaded their equipment on ships and headed out. His father, a career Army officer who retired as a lieutenant colonel, had served in Vietnam, but he never talked about it, Rodriguez said. On the ground, intel worked hard to get the pilots what they needed. Bruce Till served as his wingman. The 24th Infantry Division’s heavy armor moved rapidly northward, meeting sporadic resistance from demoralized Iraqi troops. Battle But the Iraqi pilots weren't bad, either. , For extraordinary heroism while engaged in military action against Iraqi ground forces in the Rumayiah oil fields on 2 March 1991. "I keep telling the Sidewinder, 'Look down the radar line of sight,' and he didn't see anything," Fox said. Because of the United States' involvement, the warfighters going into the Persian Gulf to fight Hussein had a pretty good idea of what they were up against -- and they had trained against Soviet tactics for generations. "I didn't call my shot," he said. ... Operation Desert Shield transitioned to Operation Desert Storm on 17 January 1991 with the start of the air war. "That may have given me a little taste of it," Fox said. "And you know, that didn't work out.". As he flew back, he wondered if perhaps the first explosion was his Sidewinder. Subscribe to their newsletter, Gov. Their brains are frazzled; they're losing friends: Don't get distracted. And some of them knew how to do their jobs well and had proved it in the war against Iran, but with the training Rodriguez's team had had, "I'll just say it bluntly: We would have kicked anybody's butt," he said. Maybe we'll be doing a battlefield interdiction against the tanks. … I said, 'OK, what's going on?' Fox and the other pilots moved in quickly toward the target, and Fox was about to drop his bombs. "But also, we got two corps or three corps of troops in position undercover.". "I would say first and foremost, that I'm pretty sure that they all woke up 100% committed to defending their nation," he said. The 24th Infantry Division's Task Force Tusker attacked entrenched Iraqi forces on 26 February 1991 to seize battle position 143, effectively severing the Iraqi Euphrates River Valley line of communication to the Kuwait Theater of operation and destroying the major combat elements of the Iraqi Republican Guard Forces Command's elite 26th Commando Brigade. Over time and multiple landings, the sand turned to "moon powder," so the pilots wet it down with water. Task Force Tuskers extraordinary gallantry and valor in two key combat actions contributed significantly to the success of the 24th Infantry Division's offensive operations in Iraq. This devastating application of firepower set the conditions for a swift and decisive counterattack by armored ground forces. Mike Daniels. After a mission in Kosovo, Rodriguez would be one of three pilots to get three air-to-air hits -- the most hits since the Vietnam War. The war was historic: Iraq lost 259 aircraft, with 36 being shot down. In 1983, the Soviet Union shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007, and Rodriguez flew his A-10 Warthog to the northern coast of Japan to look for bodies. It is with a sad heart I have to announce that the Desert Storm 30th... Reunion is being rescheduled due to COVID-19. "Combat patches were a very rare thing in 1990 -- just the old Vietnam guys and maybe a few Panama vets," he said. "So the airplanes that were on alert status on different bases around the region came together, and we went and attacked this particular target.". "'We're, no shit. And the Apache did an abort mission and came back, and when they returned across the border, Hal and Mike weren't with them.". On my right very calmly says, 'That bandit 's on your nose at 15, ''... 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