1st April 15:10
Bush's tax cuts for the rich compromised our troops.
War on the cheap: 17 were awarded purple hearts after suffering wounds
By Dawn House
The Salt Lake Tribune
The optimism, pride and bravado of American Marines in Kuwait bellowed from
Lance Cpl. Terry Davis in a letter to his parents in Utah last March. "Our
intentions are to invade and occupy Iraq. There are no limitations," he
the Iraqi armed forces will either surrender or die."
Waiting in Kuwait for the invasion to begin, Davis and others in Fox Company
had reason for optimism -- they were, after all, part of the greatest
military force on Earth.
But on March 19, the night before the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Regiment, crossed
the Iraqi border, Marines in Fox Company, drawn mainly from Utah and Nevada,
learned they would not have armored vehicles equipped with powerful weapons.
Instead, they would ride into combat in soft-sided trucks with few heavy
"It was probably one of the scariest things I had ever been told," Cpl.
Scott Lee of Ogden wrote to his wife. "Everyone was freaking out. I had
Lance Cpl. Arnold give me a [LDS priesthood] blessing, and he asked for one
In the days of fighting their way to Baghdad, Davis' and Lee's battalion,
honored by the Reserve Officers' Association as the nation's finest Reserve
infantry unit, found they were short on ammunition, hand grenades, signal
devices, chemical weapon detectors and heavy guns.
The Marines had to share night vision goggles and body armor. They ended up
stripping needed equipment from wounded and injured comrades. They had no
spare parts to repair weapons, radios, trucks or Humvees. Until the end of
the fighting, they didn't even have spare tires.
Because they did not have a satellite radio, their headquarters frequently
lost contact with higher command -- contact necessary for learning the
evolving war strategy and in calling for airstrikes, artillery or medical
At one point, food became so scarce that gunners held up signs to passing
Army combat engineers scrawled with the words "Will Shoot for Food."
Maj. Jeff Nyhart, spokesman for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, the
senior command for the 65,000 Marines sent to Iraq, said they were provided
with sufficient equipment and supplies.
"We have got the best equipment in the world," he said. "Is there enough
equipment? It depends on which units, which Marines you talk to. I can say
the forces we sent were properly trained, properly equipped and
But interviews with nearly 40 Marines in Fox Company and the 2nd Battalion
raise the question of whether military leaders endangered some troops by
waging war on the cheap, sending Americans into combat without adequate
resources to fight the enemy and protect themselves.
No armored vehicles: When orders finally came to cross the border into Iraq,
ships carrying AAVs -- armored land-sea vehicles that transport infantry --
had not yet arrived. Maj. Lawrence Kaifesh, commander of Golf Company, said
the decision on which three battalions would get the AAVs "went back and
The 2nd Battalion was allocated 44
7- and 5-ton trucks; seven were armed with either an MK-19 grenade launcher
or an M2 .50-caliber machine gun. Fox Company got 13 trucks. One broke down
and a single truck was armed with a grenade launcher, the company's only big
The 1,000 Marines in the 2nd Battalion piled sandbags into the backs of the
trucks, which provided their only armor.
The 2nd Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Geff Cooper, said protection from
sniper fire also came from armed Marines riding shotgun.
"The firepower the Marines carried with them on the trucks was powerful,"
said Cooper. "They made the most of the assets they were given."
Like other units in its battalion, Fox Company had no Automatic Chemical
Agent Alarm, capable of detecting blister and nerve agents. It relied on
smaller devices and its pigeon, Speckled Jim.
"We had the bare minimum and a contingency plan with the regiment in case of
contamination," said Chief Warrant Officer Jose Garcia. "I made sure I got
everything I could and then prayed every day that no one would have to use
Fox Company also was short on ammunition for its M240 Gulf machine guns, the
largest weapon the infantry can carry. There were so few colored signal
flares that the company scrapped plans to use them. Some Marines stuffed
bullets into their pockets because they had no ammunition pouches. And the
company had only 75 hand grenades for its 200 Marines, who are trained to
carry two to four grenades each.
Cooper said equipment deficiencies were made up by backup systems and
improvising. Marines with no hand grenades, for instance, had grenade
launchers attached to their M-16 rifles.
Compounding equipment shortages were the Pennsylvania Truck Company drivers,
who arrived in Kuwait to ferry the 2/23rd into combat with no night vision
goggles and no ceramic flak jacket inserts, designed to stop rifle and
machine gun rounds.
"A few of us were able to get the [ceramic] plates from the unfortunate
Marines who got hurt," said Staff Sgt. Don Neisner of Ebensburg, Pa., who
refused the armor for himself so other drivers could be protected. "We also
worked out plans on how we could share the night vision goggles with the
Marine Forces Reserve spokesman Capt. Jeff Pool said equipment was not
withheld from the troops. The Pennsylvanians had 18 sets of night vision
goggles for 120 Marines, the standard number. Typically, goggles and ceramic
plates are issued to gunners, not to support troops such as drivers.
"We travel fast and we travel light," said Pool. "The Marine Corps does the
most with the least when it comes to money and equipment."
That assessment was not shared by Capt. Michael Schoenfeld of Salt Lake
City, and several of his comrades who gave the front or back of their
ceramic flak jacket inserts to others who had none and shared their night
vision goggles with their drivers.
The goggles did not have depth perception, an added -- and more expensive --
feature that industry experts say is vital for drivers.
The 2nd Battalion rolled across the border into Iraq on the first day of the
war, March 20. Riding atop some of its trucks were bright orange bread
holders used in mess halls, to alert U.S. attack helicopters they were
Americans. The bread holders had been employed because there were not enough
of the 5-by-6-foot orange signal tarps to go around.
Marines in Fox Company, predominantly from Utah and Nevada, hence their
Saints and Sinners nickname, were relegated to the rear. The 2nd Battalion
supposedly would be protected by better-equipped units moving ahead of it.
But at An Nasiriyah, that protection began to dissolve. The battalion drove
through the town, past bombed-out armored fighting vehicles, taking sniper
fire all the way. A bullet grazed the arm of Chief Warrant Officer Frank
The battalion sped north to al Gharraf where about 35 Marines from an
artillery unit were pinned down by heavy fire. The reservists provided
cover, enabling Alpha Battery to withdraw from a firefight that cost its
commander his right hand.
"I was wounded when my Humvee was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade," said
Alpha commander Capt. Jason Frei. "There was a sandstorm, so no aircraft
could come in and pull us out. The 2/23rd came up from behind and cleared
the Iraqi [fighters] out of the town."
Fox Company commander Maj. Jonathan Kirkpatrick, a Los Angeles police
officer, has been recommended for a Bronze Star for quickly putting together
a plan to relieve the artillery unit. The infantry sped into the town,
drawing fire that pinpointed the insurgents.
"What the 2/23rd did was extremely important," said Frei, 31, an Annapolis
graduate now seeking to stay in the Marines despite the loss of his hand.
"We had more firepower than the Iraqis to shoot up the town, but it took a
well-trained [infantry unit] to clear them out."
Maj. Richard Doherty took shrapnel in his arm and leg in two separate
firefights that day, while delivering ammunition.
On Route 17, one of the convoy trucks overturned during a night sandstorm,
injuring 16 Marines.
Sgts. Christopher Merkle and Jose Rodriguez were among those airlifted to a
shock trauma center. Their commander said the two slipped away, borrowed
ill-fitting flak jackets and helmets, and talked a Marine helicopter pilot
into flying them back to their unit. The two Southern California men
returned, each with a pillowcase stuffed with hand grenades that were in
such short supply.
Layton man dies: It was on March 29 outside Al Fajr that Sgt. James Cawley,
41, of Layton, was killed when a Humvee speeding to aid a Marine advance
team ran over him as he lay sleeping. Capt. Harry Porter received severe
head injuries in the early morning accident.
"No mail. Very little food, one MRE a day, very tired," 1st Sgt. Nick Lopez
of Salt Lake City, wrote to his wife. "Staff Sgt. Cawley was killed two days
ago . . . I am very sad."
Porter later told his comrades the Ch-46 helicopter that airlifted him and
Cawley's body from their camp ran out fuel and was forced to land in the
desert. Two attack Cobra helicopters were dispatched to guard the downed
chopper until another helicopter could pick up Porter and the body of his
The battalion continued to race north, stretching supply lines. The lack of
spare parts was Cooper's biggest worry. Five Humvees and five convoy trucks
broke down, forcing as many as 27 Marines to crowd into rigs built to carry
"Our mechanics did everything they could to keep the vehicles running," said
Maj. Duane Clark. "When we couldn't tow something anymore, we grabbed the
most common parts we were short on, such as starters, alternators and tires.
Toward the end, we got some tires, and that was a great assistance."
Cpl. Daniel Reina of Salt Lake City, and Lance Cpl. Mark Patterson of Provo,
had no night vision goggles.
"At night, I fired blind," said Patterson, a gunner for a light machine gun
dubbed a SAW. "The SAW has tracer bullets so I could determine where I was
firing and I had an assistant [with night vision goggles] who told me where
I needed to aim. But it's not accurate."
M-16 rifles and SAWs have night laser scopes, but they cannot be used
without night vision goggles.
For a whole week, the Marines were down to a single daily Meals Ready to Eat
field ration. Normally, they ate three MREs a day.
The Marines were so famished from hauling around more than 100 pounds of
personal gear and digging foxholes that they begged food from passing Army
combat engineers. The engineers tossed them extra MREs.
Still, Marines picked through trash piles, looking for portions the Army
troops hadn't eaten. They usually found dehydrated cream and sugar packets
intact. They gulped down the contents dry or mixed them with water for a
concoction of calories and protein.
"We acted like Iraqi children," said Lance Cpl. Brent Bower of Salt Lake
City. "We were hungry."
Finally, headquarters told the company to eat its humanitarian foodstuffs,
which had been held in reserve for the Iraqis.
Searching for snipers: The battle in eastern Baghdad began April 8, shortly
after Marines parked their trucks on a soccer field. While a few Marines
stayed behind with the vehicles, Fox Company fanned out in three platoons,
looking for snipers in a 4-square-mile area called Al Amin.
Near a busy intersection where five roads converge, the platoons ran into an
unmapped fortress that housed the secret police, the center for state
security and Republican Guard headquarters.
"The next thing I knew there was a loud flash and a loud boom right in front
of us," Lee wrote to his wife the next day. "It knocked me over and I
started to run. When I got behind a wall I wanted to see if [Lance Cpl.
Roger] Anderson was OK. I saw a lot of blood on the ground and was freaking
out because I thought it was his. Then I felt it running down my face."
Twenty-five-year-old Lee was wounded by shrapnel. Anderson, 28, of
Clearfield, took a shrapnel hit in his right arm. A sniper's bullet crashed
through the helmet of Cpl. Jesus Vidana, hitting his skull. He bled so
profusely, Kirkpatrick radioed that Vidana was dead.
Sgt. Derryl Spencer of Salt Lake City, and Cpl. Robert Reeves of Las Vegas,
stripped off their gear and carried the unconscious Vidana out of the line
of fire. Military physicians asked CNN correspondent and neurosurgeon Sanjay
Gupta to operate. Twenty-five-year-old Vidana survived.
Insurgents fired at the Marines from rooftops, apartment houses and the
walled military compound. Dozens of cars and trucks charged the platoons'
fighting positions. An armored Humvee from the battalion's Weapons Company
brought out casualties and sped back with water and ammunition.
Thousands of rounds were fired.
"Maybe we got fired on because we didn't have any heavy weapons," said Cpl.
Taggart Giles, a former Logan resident now living in Virginia. "AAVs can
draw fire because the enemy will want to knock them out, but they can
suppress fire, too, because you'll want to get the hell out if one shows
Cpl. Wayde Broberg, whose SAW machine gun had jammed in the firefight at al
Gharraf, fought with an M-16 rifle. Available repair parts were limited to
those cannibalized from other weapons. Broberg, 26, of Herriman, was hit in
the face by shrapnel.
"We had moved into an area that had three times the fighting force that we
did," said Staff Sgt. Brian Ivers of Colorado Springs, Colo. "We threw
everything we had at them."
Still nursing bruised ribs from the al Gharraf battle, Ivers, 38, fell from
a balcony and fractured his elbow. The image he remembers most from the
Baghdad firefight is of a gunner shouting that he had fed his last belt of
ammunition into his machine gun.
"I got a lump in my throat when I saw the Marines fixing their bayonets," he
said of the moments before the third platoon caught up with his unit.
"Rounds were skipping off in front of them and landing all over the place.
They were out of ammunition but they weren't going anywhere."
Marines said Cpl. Robert Tomczac of Flagstaff, Ariz., and two other
reservists set up their machine gun at a strategic point, drawing intense
enemy fire. One of several cars speeding toward them crashed into their
position. Tomczac dove out of the way, retrieved the white-hot weapon and
resumed firing. He has been recommended for the Silver Star.
The company's only big gun, the grenade launcher, could have punched sizable
holes in buildings where snipers were firing down on the platoons. But it
jammed back at the soccer field when Marines were attacked there.
The only firepower the Marines had at the soccer field, which became their
casualty collection point, were M-16 rifles. The platoons had taken the
machine guns and night vision goggles.
Lopez said big guns mounted on his trucks or armored AAVs would have made a
difference in the firefights in Baghdad that wounded 12 Marines in his
"Other than going on a suicide mission, there was no way I could have
extracted the Marines fighting ahead at the intersection," he said. "I
couldn't even defend my own position where we were treating wounded Marines
and civilians. I felt helpless."
At dusk, Lopez was ordered to abandon his position. He took night vision
goggles from the wounded Marines, passed them out to the drivers and
Busy elsewhere, no fighter planes or land artillery could help Fox Company
in its daylong battle.
Air support came during the night. Two tanks showed up the next day after
enemy combatants had sneaked back into the military compound and set fire to
The Marines sorted through the wreckage, finding an underground jail,
numerous pictures of Saddam Hussein, torture devices and packages of Viagra.
Purple Hearts: For their service in Iraq, 15 Marines in Fox Company have
been awarded Purple Hearts for wounds and injuries received in combat.
Vidana will get two Purple Hearts, one for his severe head wound in Baghdad
and the other for an ankle injury during the firefight at al Gharraf. Medics
discovered the ankle injury in Baghdad when they cut off his boot.
A 17th Purple Heart went to Cawley's family after his death.
Cawley's sister, Julie Hanson, said she knows her brother's death was a
tragic accident, but she cannot forget a photograph she came across among
his personal belongings.
"The picture is of a sea of Marines listening to a pep talk before they
crossed the border into Iraq," she said. "They were being promised they
would have all this firepower and cover that they never got."
1st April 15:11
Bush's tax cuts for the rich compromised our troops.
Sure they were short of everything that's why they swept accross Iraq as
they did huh! Yep I guess that explains why few civilians qwere you know no
bullets to win a war with yep yep, I guess they kinked the enemy to death.
4th April 09:06
Bush's tax cuts for the rich compromised our troops.
Not to say the article below is true (I doubt it and would want more
do***entation before buying it), I wonder do you suppose after losing a war
in 1990 followed by 10+ years of sanctions might have has anything to do
with the overwhelming success our forces had vs iraqs army?