...,1st Draft

Chapter 3 – The Push01 Feb

See the following highlighted section — Douglas

Chapter 3 — The Push

The initial task organization of 3/7 was fully “meched up” as the Marines put it. By itself, 3/7 consists of 3 Rifle Companies with 180 Marines each, as well as a Weapons Company and a Headquarters Company. Attached to 3/7 were a series of other combat units: a Company of 14 M1-A1 Main Battle Tanks — 70 ton vehicles with a 120 mm main gun and 3 machine guns; a Company of Amtracs, which could “mech up” several of the rifle companies, as well as command elements from the Headquarters Company; a platoon of Combat Engineers, who would be responsible for clearing obstacles; artillery spotters; a signals intelligence team; an interrogation team (Human Intelligence Exploitation Team); a detachment of British chemical detection troops; a detachment of British signals intelligence vehicles; and embedded reporters.

On March 17 at 10:30 PM, the warning order was issued and 3/7 began immediate preparations to move to the dispersion area. It was during this time that Staff Sergeant Carpenter and his Weapons Platoon, Lima 3/7 missed the last chance for a shower that they would have in weeks, maybe months.

On March 18, 3/7 was up and preparing for movement at midnight. 3/7 departed LSA-7 to the dispersion area (DA) at 9:00 AM. Two hours later, 3/7 arrived at the DA and set in security. In the early afternoon, the Heavy Machine Gun Platoon from 3/7 Weapons Company, under the command of 1st Lieutenant Kevin Shea dealt with repeated incidents of civilian vehicles stopping along a nearby highway to observe and photograph the Marines in the DA. The Machine Gun Platoon consists of almost a dozen armored Hummers — “gun trucks” to the Marines — each of which carries either a M2 .50 caliber machine gun or a Mk-19 40mm fully automatic grenade launcher, as well as lighter weapons, and a crew of 3 Marines.

On March 19, at 3:00 AM, the weather worsened. Visibility was limited due to a significant sand storm. At 11:00 AM, 3/7 received a fragmentary order to take over border security from the Kuwaiti Border Guards. 3/7 tasked Company A, 1st Tank Battalion, with this border security mission. With its 14 M1-A1 tanks, Company A would have had the longest range weapons in 3/7 — the 120mm main guns of the tanks which have a classified maximum effective range and powerful optics. As well, at least some of those tanks had Forward Air Controllers (FACs) in one of the crew positions, such as the loader’s position. Putting a FAC in the Loader’s Position would have allowed the Pilot to observe potential targets through the tank’s powerful optics, to use the tank’s robust communication gear and to employ his own specialized communication gear, and to be in the most well armored position in the entire battalion. The Abrams tanks were secure against almost all enemy weapons. From the Loader’s position, the FACs, together with the Company A Company Commander, could control the border many kilometers North of their position.

At 2:10 PM on March 19, 3/7 received a report of a SCUD missile attack from Al Basrah. 3/7 executed its standing operating procedure and began to to disperse. Corporal James Brenner of 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, India Company, recalls the incident as follows, ““It was the last day at our dispersion area, and we were awaiting our first mission when we had the SCUD missile alert. I’ll never forget it because one of the Marines in our squad was over at the straddle trench going to the bathroom during the time of the alert. While I was crouched down in the fighting hole, I just remember seeing this Marine running back from the straddle trench, which by the way was about 150 meters away, with his pants around his ankles.”

At 3:00 PM on March 19, Team Alpha (Company A with its attachments) pushed its TOW Platoon forward to screen along the international border with the remainder of the Company in tan [Janar, what is a tan attack position?] attack position about 3000 meters to the South. The TOW vehicles would have had the ability to observe several thousand kilometers to their front while the tanks could overwatch the TOW vehicles which were within the tanks’ maximum effective range. The 81mm Mortar Platoon, commanded by 1st Lieutenant Jeremy Graczyk, established a firing position in support of the screen line. With the longer maximum range of the medium mortars, the 81mm Mortars would have been able to perform covering, screening, or target-marking missions.

For the rest of the day on March 19, from 5:00 PM to Midnight, Team Alpha’s attached TOW Platoon received sporadic direct and indirect fire from across the border. The TOW Platoon Commander, 1st Lieutenant Christopher “Buster” O’Brien inserted a sniper team into a Kuwaiti Border Guard tower to watch for the source of the enemy fire.

[Janar, I think it best to cut the following highlighted section ,since it has been covered in better detail elsewhere in this chapter — what do you think? It doesn’t flow very well in my opinion. Douglas 07/06/08]

The following day the company moved out of the dispersion area and up to the border. There Carpenter saw a platoon of Marine M-1 heavy tanks, and he could see that Weapons Company had been bounding back and forth from the border for the last day. “Our [3/7] Fire Support Team was already on the border calling fire from, I think was, a U.N checkpoint tower (close air support and artillery) onto the little town of Safwan; it was around 2200,” recalled Carpenter.

A curious geological feature outside of the town of Safwan, Iraq was a very large hill. On the desert plains of Southern Iraq this hill resembles more to a mountain, since there is no other terrain feature to compare it with. Safwan hill was the key to success in Southern Iraq, if the American Military was going to capture the city of Basrah. The hill was covered in Iraqi defensive fortifications, and also had towers used by artillery forward observers. Both the Marines and the Iraqis understood the importance of this hill, but it was the Marines who had the overwhelming superiority in firepower. The hill was alight with artillery impacts and strafing aircraft. Cobra attack helicopters were making passes firing a combination of Hell Fire missiles and 2.75 inch rockets, followed by attack fighter/bombers dropping various types of bombs.

However, this superiority in American firepower was also double edged. The commander of the attached M-1 tank platoon found his tank victim to one of the first friendly fire incidents of the war. It is believed that a Cobra helicopter mistook an M-1 tank for an Iraqi tank when the pilot saw this Marine tank heading south towards friendly troops, and fired a Hell Fire missile. The missile struck the tank and destroyed it. To the surprise of those who witnessed this friendly fire incident watched in relief as the tank crew bailed out. The commander of the tank would fight the remainder of the war in a Hummer.

The next morning the Marines of Lima loaded onto their AAV’s and began to move across the border. In support of the Marines was a British artillery battery firing on Safwan hill. While training in Kuwait the Marines would, on occasion train with their British cousins – Carpenter believes these artillerymen were from the Black Watch Regiment. Under this protective artillery fire 3/7 headed towards its first objective of the war, which was the base facilities of the 51st Iraqi Mechanized Division. “We were pretty amped-up, we had just crossed the border…………

4 Responses to “Chapter 3 – The Push”

  1. Halepaska

    Test

  2. Tom O'Neil

    CPL Ronny Spruell actually fired the first rounds of the war for 3/7 at the Police Station on the other side of the border. We ran over (100) 81mm rounds on the city and(26) Hellfires into various targets. LTC Bill Dunn, Forward Air Controller, was controlling (2) Divisions of Snakes at once, just bringing them into Attack positions as they orbited behind us, and using a SOFLAM designator to squirt targets. We were taking small arms fire for most of the afternoon albeit light and inaccurate. Our Cobra’s observed white flags and I remember LTC Mike Belcher looking at me and saying, “finish up the air and cease as I am going to push the battalion through. We dismounted off of our OP (Police Tower on the Kuwait Border) and mounted up in our tracks. The engineers had breached the roadblock on the Iraqi side of the border with D7s. We slowly pushe the battalion through the breach; an M1 Abrahams hit a mine right behind our Command Track and Sustained a mobility kill. We pushed through the town and did not receive any contact. I had my M16 oriented outboard and we rolled on up to Az Zubyr, home of the 32nd Mechanised Infantry Brigade.

    CPT Tom O’Neil
    Company L Fire Support Team Leader
    3d Battaliom, 7th Marines
    Operation Iraqi Freedom I

  3. Brian

    Do you recall anymore stories involving Major Jeremy Graczyk? He was a great friend of mine growing up.

  4. Administrator

    no. sorry.

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About

This is a website for writing a book about Lima Company, 3/7, during 4 deployments to Iraq between 2003 and 2007.

About

This is a website for writing a book about Lima Company, 3/7, during 4 deployments to Iraq between 2003 and 2007.