As I reflect upon my experience in the Persian Gulf War I can recall
the fighting all too clear. The time was 2110 hours on 16 January
1991. The ground war had been underway for five days and I was
mentally exhausted. My platoon had been assigned the duty of
clearing bunkers. During the last portion of our briefing we were given
explicit instructions to ensure that we all made it back alive. We were
also instructed to take prisoners if we could, if not, do what you
were trained to do, “kill”. Those orders will always remind me of the
reason I am alive today.
Within minutes of receiving our order we were headed to what was
going to be a turning point in my life, front line combat. After walking
almost an hour a member of my team detected movement about one
hundred meters straight ahead. I halted my squad, grabbed the radio
from Pvt. Tucker and warned the remainder of my platoon. I
whispered into the handset, ” Rock six, Rock six, this is, rock two
Charlie, we have positive contact”. Without hesitation, the
commander ordered us to engage. Sparing no hesitation on my part, I
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directed two members of my squad to wait at the right side of the
bunker, the other three men were to follow me. We dropped into the
prone position onto the cold, wet, Saudi Arabian sand and began to
crawl toward the left side of the bunker. While crawling, I realized
that we could be killed within seconds; it was my job as squad leader
to insure that wouldn’t happen. Was it fear, excitement, or perhaps a
mere lapse in concentration? I wasn’t certain if I could, or even had
the time to weigh the feelings I was having. I halted my men,
regained my focus and re-clarify the importance of our mission. Upon
completion of our final plan of attack we continued to crawl toward
As we approached the bunker, I realized that it was not only a
bunker, but a trench line as well. I crawled back and radioed the
commander of my findings. He began to repeat his last order, “Rock
two Charlie, engage your objective”, when a new order was given.
That order was to send one man inside to investigate. At that very
minute, my world stood still. I had to make a decision. Which one of
my warrior brothers was going to be the unlucky man? The decision
was simple, I’ll send myself. Without notifying the commander, I slid
into the trench as silent as I could possibly be. Once inside the
trench, I looked to my right and then to my left. No one was there,
at least not in the trench. I began to move toward the bunker when
Some historians argued that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, and Reza Shah Pahlavi, the preeminent Shah of Iran, were ‘men of order’ who took their countries down the path of authoritarian modernization in the first half of the 20th century. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was a staunch nationalist who sought to transform the defunct Ottoman Empire into a secular and modern state. ...
an Iraqi soldier, like a ghost appearing out of a fog, stepped out of
the bunker. I knew that our orders were to take prisoners’, but the
decision was his; would he die today, or would he surrender? With
one look at the American flag sewn on the left sleeve of my uniform,
he laid down his rifle. I motioned for him to walk towards me and to
climb out of the trench. With his hands above his head he proceeded
up the side of the trench, only to be detained by my men.
My mission wasn’t over yet; I still had to clear the bunker and survey
the remainder of the trench. I began to move toward the bunker at a
slow and steady pace. As I approached the entrance of the bunker, I
noticed a soldier lighting a cigarette. Taking full advantage of the
light provided by the match, I could make out three figures standing
in the darkness, there were no weapons in sight. Without delay I said
a short prayer and committed to the task at hand. I ran inside
shouting some words that I understood to be their native language.
But the men simply stood there looking at me with tears in their eyes.
In disbelief I shoved one of the men against the wall of the bunker.
The other men ran up to the wall and stood next to their friend. Their
surrender was in parallel to the hundreds that had surrendered the
night before. While inside the bunker, I visually inventoried the
contents. I was surprised to find twenty-four large wooden boxes
containing enough explosive material to level two city blocks. After
my brief inspection of the bunker I thought to myself about the
pathetic condition of our so-called enemy and how eager they were
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to lay down their arms and surrender.
Later that night, I sat and pondered the evening’s chain of events. I
recalled the brief lapse in concentration that had saved our lives. If I
would have ordered the destruction of the bunker, or had I chosen
another man to enter the trench, the entire platoon could have been
vaporized by twelve tons of explosives stored inside.
I am so grateful to have remembered the advise of my grandfather.
Gramps always said, “Son, take your time with the difficult tasks
because when you rush you act with haste, so slow down and think
things through”. This time his advice really paid off!