30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

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30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by rgrokelley » October 23rd, 2013, 10:19 am

Sitting in Miami... waiting to board the plane to Grenada. So...

30 years ago this week… On October 15th our battalion, the 2nd / 325th Infantry assumed DRF-1 (Division Readiness Force 1). Rumor had it that we would be going to Seneca, NY to pull security on a nuke site that was going to have some “no nuke” demonstrations against it. Two days before that Grenada Prime Minister Maurice Bishop had been placed under house arrest by General Hudson Austin. Grenada had invited assistance from Cuba and other communist countries, conflicting with America’s foreign policy. An airfield was built by Cuba so that they could spread their brand of communism into El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, but mainly it was going to be used as a staging base for Angola. On the island were 600 American citizens going through the True Blue Medical School. News media tried to get in, but they were arrested and searched. Some film did get smuggled out though. On October 16th Bishop was placed in Richmond Hill Prison.

On October 18th our battalion was alerted at 10:00 that night to conduct an EDRE (Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise). The entire battalion was not going to do this mission… just A and B Company were chosen. B Company was to rescue eleven American civilians from 120 enemy. My company, A Company, was chosen to secure and destroy three bridges and a dam. My squad leader, SSG Sengebusch was detached, so I was the acting squad leader. I took along my sniper rifle, since I was the only school trained sniper in the company, but I didn’t think I would use it.

On October 19th we boarded Blackhawk helicopters and flew to Camp MacKall. We thought this was just going to be a little training mission, but there were units everywhere involved in this. C-130s had air dropped in 105mm howitzers and the CSC gun jeeps had dropped in with them. When we landed a dozen other Blackhawks were off loading their paratroopers. My squad, with an Engineer attached, “blew up” the bridges and then had to fight our way back to the PZ (pickup zone) through a determined enemy. We finally got back to the barracks at 11:45 that night.

While we were at Camp MacKall an angry crowd stormed Fort Rupert and freed Maurice Bishop. Bishop asked for the Cubans at the airfield to support him, but Fidel Castro told his men to not get involved. Three PRA (People’s Revolutionary Army) BTR-60s (armored vehicles) fired on the crowd at Fort Rupert, firing 57 caliber machineguns and RPG rockets into the throng of men, women and children. When they got close enough they threw grenades. There was nowhere to go and the civilians either died or jumped off the fort walls, twenty feet to the rocks below. Forty were killed and over 100 wounded in what would become known as “Bloody Wednesday”. Bishop and eight supporters were lined up against the wall of the fort and executed. US Atlantic Command immediately planned to evacuate the 600 American citizens on the island.

On Friday, October 21st, our battalion commander “Mad Jack” Hamilton said we would take it easy for PT and only do a run of two miles. We knew that was a joke. No soldier just ran two miles unless it was for a PT test. We ended up running six miles. The surprise ending was that the whole battalion was released at noon! I went to a gun show in Charlotte on Friday, and bought a WWII British Enfield rifle. On Saturday I went to a friend’s house and shot it. I helped him pull some stumps in his front yard and at dinner at his house.

On Sunday, October 23rd, we learned that a Muslim suicide bomber had drove a truck full of explosives into the Marine barracks in Lebanon and detonated it. 241 Marines were killed. My brother was in the Marines, but I wasn’t worried since he was in Okinawa on a float. I also learned that a buddy of mine, Brian Jeznach, had returned to the Army and was going to be at the Replacement Detachment on Monday. That day President Reagan authorized the course of action to get the US citizens out of Grenada and handed the mission to LTC Oliver North. The Joint Chiefs of Staff prepared to seize the island in a full scale operation. The 22nd Marine Amphibious Unit (on the way to Lebanon), the 1st and 2nd Ranger Battalions, and the 82nd Airborne Division were alerted to the possible mission.
A & C Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion 1984-1986
2/325, 82nd Airborne 1979-1984
F Company, 51st LRSU 1986-1988
5th Special Forces Group 1989-1995
3rd Special Forces Group 1997-1999
RS - DHG 5-85

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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by RMP-RLTW » October 23rd, 2013, 11:53 am

Don't stop!!!


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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by Jim » October 23rd, 2013, 6:15 pm

And...?
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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by rgrokelley » October 24th, 2013, 5:07 am

I am now sitting in the Mount Cinnamon Resort, overlooking Grand Anse beach... the one where the Ranger helicopter went down due to hitting a palm tree. Fantastic view.

I met a couple of Rangers who were there that day. Broland and Donaldson from 1st Ranger Battalion.

30 years ago today....


On the night of October 23rd twelve men from SEAL Team 6 and four Air Force CCT HALOed near the island to be picked up by the USS Clifton Sprague. They were to be picked up by four Zodiac rubber boats and then would observe Point Salines airfield prior to the Ranger drop. Tragedy struck when four of the SEALs came up missing. They were never found. The remaining SEALs headed to the island, but had to cut their engine when a Grenadian patrol boat was spotted near them. The wake of the enemy boat swamped their engine, so they could not restart it and had to row back to the USS Caron. The SEALs were the first casualties of the Operation and not a shot had been fired yet.

After work, on Monday, October 24th, I found Brian Jeznach and we decided to go to a movie… The Right Stuff. It was a really long movie and half way through I called up the company to make sure nothing was going on. The CQ told me everything was quiet, don’t worry about it. When the movie ended Jeznach and I drove back to FT Bragg and saw convoys of trucks on the road. I figured someone was going to the field, but it was a lot of trucks! After I dropped off Jeznach I drove to the barracks and found… nothing. The CQ was missing. I joked and yelled out loud “I’m going to steal your CQ desk!”, but no answered. Quiet… to quiet. I went to the backdoor and saw that it had been chained shut. I then looked out the back door and saw the whole Battalion on the field.

DAMN! There had been a callout and I had missed it!

I quickly changed into my uniform and my platoon leader, LT Nicholson, came in and told me that this was real. He wasn’t angry that I was late, but he wanted to know if I had any 9mm ammunition. He decided he was going to carry his 9mm. I didn’t have any 9mm, since I was from a .45 family. He told me that he didn’t know where we were going, but it was somewhere south, maybe in South America. My bags had already been packed for alert status and all I had to do was put on a uniform. On the way to the field I stopped by my car and grabbed my M1911A1 .45 pistol, 40 rounds of hollow point ammo and a shoulder holster.

My squad was waiting for me and they had both my M16A2 and my M21 sniper rifle. I didn’t want to carry both, but I was stuck with them. Normally the sniper rifle would be in the company trains, but we didn’t know if our vehicles would be going. I wanted the M16 since I thought we would be jumping into a hot drop zone, but LT Nicholson over-ruled me and told me that my primary would be the sniper rifle.

On the night of October 24th a second SEAL Team HALOed into the ocean near the USS Clifton Sprague and boarded two Zodiac boats. As they approached the beach the rough seas swamped the boats again and the CCT lost their equipment. The mission was aborted for a second time. The original H-Hour was supposed to have been 0200, but it was delayed until 0500. The Rangers would also be jumping into the airfield without having any intelligence of what was there.

Our company was the IRC (initial readiness company) and would be going in first. We learned that our C Company would not be going since it was a Cohort Company and it was not trained or considered competent enough to go. What took the place of our C Company was B Company, 2nd Battalion, 508th Infantry. They were redesignated as C Company for this operation so there wouldn’t be any confusion at having two B Companies. The 1st Battalion of the 325th Infantry would not be going since they were scheduled for peacekeeping duty in the Sinai. So our 1st Battalion was replaced with the 2nd Battalion of the 508th.

There were some soldiers who kept coming up with reasons not to go, such as one trooper saying it was against his religion. Our Platoon SGT, SFC Howard, told him to quit being a pussy, grab his gear and get his ass on the vehicle. SFC Howard had been with the 101st Airborne in Vietnam. On the opposite side were troopers trying to do anything to go. I saw one soldier, with his arm in a cast, cut it off so that he could jump in with his unit.

We rode 80 packs to a fenced in barracks area near Green Ramp and moved into the buildings. I took time to rearrange my rucksack and put on a pair of “cammies” instead of the heavier BDUs. I also took all the cold weather gear out of my ruck and left it in my contingency duffle bag. Afterwards I laid down, getting about an hour of sleep. Little did I know it was the last sleep I would get for the next 24 hours.
A & C Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion 1984-1986
2/325, 82nd Airborne 1979-1984
F Company, 51st LRSU 1986-1988
5th Special Forces Group 1989-1995
3rd Special Forces Group 1997-1999
RS - DHG 5-85

rgrokelley
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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by rgrokelley » October 24th, 2013, 9:21 am

Admins

Could you move this to the Mosh Pit and out of the Mojo.

This is for everyone, not just Rangers. They need to know what happened before them.
A & C Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion 1984-1986
2/325, 82nd Airborne 1979-1984
F Company, 51st LRSU 1986-1988
5th Special Forces Group 1989-1995
3rd Special Forces Group 1997-1999
RS - DHG 5-85

Jim
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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by Jim » October 24th, 2013, 9:59 pm

Ranger Class 13-71
Advisor, VN 66-68 69-70
42d Vn Ranger Battalion 1969-1970
Trainer, El Salvador 86-87
Advisor, Saudi Arabian National Guard 91, 93-94
75th RRA Life Member #867

rgrokelley
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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by rgrokelley » October 25th, 2013, 4:29 am

October 25th, 1983
Morning…
I woke up at 0300 and marched to the ammo issue point. We were given a mosquito net, a Kevlar flak jacket, two 2-quart canteens, two poncho liners, there C-rations and all the ammunition they thought we needed for this mission. I was issued 140 rounds of 5.56mm ball, 90 rounds of 5.56mm tracer, three magazines of .45 ammo and two LAW rockets. We were not issued Claymore mines or hand grenades since they thought it was unsafe to give the soldiers hand grenades. Company commanders were issued the cases of grenades and stored them with follow on vehicles. The M203 grenadiers were not issued any vests or pouches, so they had to carry their grenades tied to their LCE or in their cargo pockets of their pants. I did not get any ammunition for my sniper rifle, so I jumped into B Company’s line and got issued 240 rounds of 7.62mm MATCH ammo.

We moved back to the fenced in holding area and started getting rid of anything we didn’t need. Since we thought we were going to South America all cold weather gear got thrown aside. Only the basics would go. In my rucksack I threw out everything except a poncho, wet weather suit, field jacket liner, three pair of socks, two T-shirts, and toilet articles like a razor and tooth brush. I threw out the C Rations and packed just one MRE meal that I was issued the previous summer during Operation Bright Star in Egypt. MREs were new and I figured that was enough to last me the first 24 hours. I also carried the double ammunition, my ART-1 scope for my sniper rifle and the M49 spotting scope. I also had a small 35mm camera that I always carried in a separate ammo pouch. My rucksack weighed 150 pounds and I couldn’t stand without someone helping me up. When we left the area clothing, C-rations and all sorts of items lay on the ground because the troopers could not pack it in their stay behind bags.

At 0330 a Ranger team parachuted onto Salines airfield. Two of the chutes did not open and the Rangers smashed into the ground (this may not be true...???). The pilots on board the C-130s were told that the Cubans had blocked the airfield with heavy vehicles and none of the aircraft would be able to land. On board the Ranger’s planes there was mass confusion as they were told they would land and they took off their chutes, then they were told they would jump and they put them on again. The 2nd Battalion Rangers decided to leave their reserves behind since they would be jumping at 500 feet. If the main chute didn’t open, their reserve would not have time to be open.

We were told we would get some sleep when we went back into the barracks, but I took the time to change my practice filters in my M17A1 mask with real combat filters. I just laid my head down when we were told to get outside and get on trucks… but the trucks were not there. So we marched to Green Ramp with all our heavy gear.

We arrived at Green Ramp at 0500 and laid out in rows behind the C-141 aircraft and rigged ourselves for the parachute drop. No one had given any word out yet, but all the men began loading their magazines. Some loaded entire magazines with tracers, to set things on fire, while I loaded my magazines with the last four rounds with tracer, so I would know when I was running out of ammunition. I gave my sniper rifle to PFC Dodson, the assistant machine gunner. The AGs had no weapon except a pistol, so this gave him an advantage. I did not give him my scope, since I figured he could use the rifle with the iron sights. I gave my scope to SP4 Meiers, who I trusted would take care of it.

An officer ran over and gave us an operations order… sort of. He said we were going to a country called Grenada. I did not know it was an island until after I had been there for a half a day. The officer showed us an aerial photograph of an airstrip and told us that the enemy had an unknown number of hostages. He told us the 2nd Ranger Battalion had already jumped in and suffered a lot of killed and wounded. We were told they were surrounded and we would be jumping in to rescue them. The officer pointed to an intersection of roads and told us to link up there. The entire operations order took five minutes.

At 0530 the 1st Battalion Rangers jumped over the airfield. Only a platoon could get out due to the small drop zone. The following C-130 aborted the drop because the pilot didn’t want to fly through the anti-aircraft fire. This left 50 Rangers on the ground to fend for themselves for the next 20 minutes. AC-130 gunships circled the airfield shooting at any opposition it could find.

A second MC-130 dropped another 120 Rangers from the 2nd Ranger Battalion onto the airfield. The enemy directed fire at the aircraft, which allowed the Rangers to move the equipment on the airfield by hot wiring construction vehicles and pushing obstacles out of the way. Two Engineers from the 82nd Airborne jumped in with the Rangers and were tasked to move any heavy equipment.

During this entire time the Cubans did not return fire and tried to remain neutral. This proved impossible and soon they engaged the Rangers. Miraculously not a single Ranger was killed by enemy fire on the jump in, but Private Mark Yamane was the first Ranger killed by enemy fire when he tried to cross the runway. Another Ranger, SGT Manouse Boles, jumped into the cab of a bulldozer and drove towards the anti-aircraft guns, using the bulldozer blade to cover himself and his squad.

I was on the first aircraft with Major General Edward Trobaugh and my company commander, CPT Jacoby. I had Meiers take a picture of me with my camera. I figured this would be my last photo and someone would find the camera on my body and develop the picture for my parents. After we boarded the plane I tried to get some sleep, but that wasn’t going to happen. We all kept thinking of the upcoming fight. A third of the paratroopers had been killed jumping into Normandy, and we were about to do a hot jump. It didn’t help any when the pilot kept coming over the loudspeaker telling us about what was happening. He told us that the Rangers were still surrounded on the airfield and the SEALs were surrounded at a fort in St. Georges and were being slaughtered.

By 10:00 the Rangers had fought their way to the airfield’s fuel tanks on the ridge overlooking the Cuban barracks. The Rangers saw the Cubans setting up some mortars, but they turned the Grenadian anti-aircraft guns around and fired .51 caliber bullets into the compound. The Cubans scattered. 1st Battalion Rangers had fought their way to the high ground around the Calliste area, but were driven back by a Cuban 90mm recoilless rifle. The Rangers called in a Marine Cobra gunship to deal with the 90mm, but the pilot could not identify the enemy. The Rangers used a signal mirror to identify their position and the Cobra fired a TOW missile into the building hiding the Cuban 90mm. The building collapsed. Two Rangers rode forward on motorcyles, unaware that the enemy was in the buildings and were wounded by heavy machinegun fire. Ranger snipers kept the Cubans from rushing out and capturing them.

The first Ranger C-130 was able to land and the Ranger’s gun jeeps were able to offload. One gun jeep, commanded by SGT Randy Cline, was ordered by Captain John Abizaid to secure a road intersection, but without any maps the gun jeep became lost, and had to turn around to find the intersection. The PRA (People’s Revolutionary Army) ambushed the jeep, tearing it apart with machinegun fire and RPG rockets. Though the Rangers returned fire, they were outnumbered. SGT Cline, Marlin Maynard, Mark Rademacher and Russell Robinson were all killed. PVT Timothy Romick was wounded, but was able to crawl back to his unit without being detected.

Most of the special operations missions went horribly wrong. At 0615 SEAL Team 6 flew over St George’s harbor in seven Blackhawks and were met by a hail of anti-aircraft fire. Four AA guns were at FT Rupert, two at FT Frederick and all the BTR-60s fired up at them. The Blackhawks were shot to pieces while the SEALs on board were wounded. None of the helicopters were shot down, but they had to turn back to the USS Guam to offload the wounded.

On their second attempt the SEALs found their objective, the home of Governor-General Sir Paul Scoon, representative of the Queen of England, and they fast roped onto the grounds. Shortly after the SEALs secured Scoon, by placing him in a closet for protection, a Grenadian BTR-60 smashed through the gate and began firing on the house. A Spectre gunship disabled the BTR-60, but it had to return to Barbados to get more ammunition. The SEALs were on their own. A single SEAL sniper kept the PRA at a distance, killing 21 of the enemy. The SEALs would remain trapped in the Governor’s house until the morning of October 26th.

DELTA and their Ranger support were supposed to fly to Richmond Hill prison to rescue any political prisoners. The prison was built like a fort with 20 foot high walls with watchtowers along the perimeter. The DELTA soldiers were supposed to fast rope into the prison, and they expected little to no resistance. They flew into the most heavily defended place on the island. The Blackhawks flew at the same level as the anti-aircraft guns, that fired at them at point blank range. The Special Forces soldiers inside were torn apart by the bullets passing through the helicopter. Pilot CPT Keith Lucas was hit five times in the chest and head and died instantly. His co-pilot, LT Paul Price was shot in the head, but was able to maintain control of the helicopter, flying away, but being hit again and crashing near Amber Belair Hill. Price was able to crawl from the wreckage before it burst into flames. Twenty to thirty soldiers were killed in this rescue mission, but since they are covert, they are not included in the official casualty figures.

At 0900 SEAL Team 4 fastroped into the Beausejour transmitting station and captured it, but were soon attacked by a BTR-60 and 82mm mortar fire. The SEALs only had MP-5 submachineguns and could not hold off the attack. After fighting for an hour the SEALs retreated to the beach with their wounded. They hid there until night fell and then swam all the way back to the USS Caron. The radio tower was fired upon by the five inch guns of the USS Caron but it never fell.
A & C Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion 1984-1986
2/325, 82nd Airborne 1979-1984
F Company, 51st LRSU 1986-1988
5th Special Forces Group 1989-1995
3rd Special Forces Group 1997-1999
RS - DHG 5-85

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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by Maggot275 » October 25th, 2013, 6:44 am

Keep it going!! This is legendary!
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I then asked the Lord: "Why was there only one set of footprints?"
He answered: "The terrain was beginning to constrict and our hit time was coming close. So I put us in a Ranger file."

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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by rgrokelley » October 25th, 2013, 12:11 pm

I just finished walking from Point Salines airfield, over the ridge, through the Cuban compound, up over the hill behind it and across Mourne Rouge ridge. I then came down onto Grand Anse beach. This was the same route I took 30 years ago. I am smoked. Not a 22 year old anymore!

October 25, 1983
Afternoon
Our flight to Grenada took four hours. When we were two hours out we were told the Rangers had secured the airfield and we would now be airlanding. I was pissed and relieved. I was really pissed because I would not be making history by jumping into a hot drop zone like the paratroopers in Normandy. However I was really relieved because we would not be jumping into a hot drop zone like the paratroopers in Normandy. They suffered almost 50% casualties.

Thirty minutes from our landing time we were told to take off our parachutes. There was mass chaos as parachutes and reserves came off and were passed to the front of the plane to get them out of the way. My company commander, CPT Jacoby, told me that I would be assigned to his HQ section as a sniper. I found PFC Dodson and got my sniper rifle back. I was going to give Dodson my M16, but CPT Jacoby wanted it. A company commander was only armed with a .45 pistol and he wanted something more. I gave him my rifle and my seven magazines full of ammunition.

Our C-141 hit the runway with a hard jolt, and immediately everyone stood up and faced to the rear of the plane. As the plane shot down the runway, being chased by enemy bullets, the tailgate opened up. I was the fifth person in line, right behind CPT Jacoby. In front of him was the Division commander. The jumpmaster ran down the middle telling everyone that when they got off the plane they were to head to the high ground to the right. The C-141 did not stop, but kept moving so it wouldn’t be hit by enemy fire. We were told to get out, NOW!

General Trobaugh jumped out, lost his balance and went tumbling down the runway. I thought “that had to hurt”. I then saw the Division CSM do the same thing, bouncing down the tarmac. CPT Jacoby amazingly jumped out, didn’t lose his balance and then ran off to the left. It was now my turn. I jumped, hit the runway and the forward momentum of the plane threw me backwards. I was right. It did hurt.

My first impression of Grenada was the heat. It was like I was hit with a sledgehammer. We left FT Bragg on a chilly October morning, and now we were only a few degrees above the equator. My second impression of Grenada was… HOLY SHIT! SOMEONE IS SHOOTING AT ME!!! Though we were told to head to the right… that was where the bullets were coming from. We all head to the left and the ocean beach. The C-141 did a “donut” on the runway, turned around and took off at full speed. Only one plane could land at a time on Salines airfield. I could hear the bullets smacking up against the plane as it took off. It sounded like throwing a large rock against a tin roof. “Mad Jack” Hamilton, our Battalion commander, yelled “Let’s Go Alpha Company!” and we all sprinted across the airfield. I say “sprinted” but it was pretty slow due to the 150 pound rucksacks. I saw SFC Howard, curled up behind a small tree, not moving. He was a Vietnam vet from the 101st and this charge across the airfield under fire was too much for him. He soon shook it off and ran after us.

A black Ranger jeep approached us and pointed to where we needed to go on top of the ridge. We would be relieving Abizaid’s Rangers. As we trudged up the hill we came under fire from Rangers nearby. Luckily no one was hurt and the Rangers realized their mistake. As we moved up the hill we passed by burned out buildings and the bodies of enemy soldiers left where they had fallen. At the top of the hill I dropped my ruck beside an anti-aircraft gun that had several Rangers beside it, observing the Cubans. The Rangers told me that a lot of the Cubans had surrendered, but those that were in the barracks, 800 meters away, were the diehards and would not quit without a fight. They had raised a Cuban flag on their building in defiance.

As we had been slowly moving up the hill CPT Newman from the 1st Ranger Battalion had organized a rescue mission to get the two wounded Ranger motorcyclists. As he moved forward he captured some Cubans who told him that there were 150 Cubans in the compound. Seventy of these Cubans surrendered, two were dead and 23 were wounded. This left about 80 Cubans in the barracks to take on the Rangers and 82nd Airborne.

General Trobaugh linked up with MG Richard Scholtes of JSOC and assumed command of the operation. When he learned of the stiff resistance against the SEALs and DELTA and about the Cuban holdouts still on the airfield, Trobaugh fired off a message to Washington, “Keep sending battalions until I tell you to stop!”

CPT Jacoby told me to follow him to 1st Platoon’s area as his “bodyguard”. For the next few days I went wherever he did. The Rangers were with the 1st Platoon and had several PRA prisoners, one of them had been shot in the foot. We couldn’t understand the Grenadians and had one of our Spanish speakers question them. We soon found out that the Grenadians didn’t speak Spanish. What they were speaking was English. A very heavily accented Bob Marley type English. My main concern at this time was trying to find water. I had run out and there was no place to refill my canteens. When we went back to the 2nd Platoon area one of the M-60 gunners, SP4 Edmonds, gave me one of his canteens. Inside one of the houses we had found a placemat with a map of the island on it. We then discovered that we were on an island. I used the placemat at a map for the rest of the operation.

As I walked back to the Company CP (a white house with an anti-aircraft gun beside it) with CPT Jacoby we were ambushed. A long burst of fire from an AK-47, just a few yards away, tore through the bushes by the trail we were on. I jumped over the side of the ridge without even thinking about it, then fired back into the bushes as fast as I could with my M-21 sniper rifle. I had not put on the scope yet and was using the rifle as an M-14 more than a sniper rifle. I fired one magazine into the bushes as fast as I could. The thunderous noise of the 7.62mm rifle must have shocked the Cubans, since they vanished. Amazingly none of us had been hit. Right at that moment all hell broke loose at the eastern end of the runway where the C-141s would turn around.

Around 3:00 three BTR-60s launched a counterattack against the runway. There were 24 PRA soldiers in the three armored vehicles. The BTR-60s rushed through the perimeter of the Rangers and began firing their big turret mounted cannons. Every Ranger returned fire on the enemy vehicles. As soon as I heard the deep booming of the cannon I took off running towards the sound of the fire. CPT Jacoby followed me, but at some point he stopped or got left behind.

I could hear explosions and see the dirty gray smoke rising up from the trees, but I couldn’t see what the Rangers were shooting at. I saw one of the Rangers fire a LAW at something up the road, and when he fired the backblast peppered me with sand and rocks. I saw the rocket fly forward, and then it hit something, ricocheted off of it, and flew straight up into the air. I couldn’t see what was going on and it seemed as if every gun on the island was focused on what was up the road. I slid down a steep ridge, trying to find the target that was concealed by the houses to my front. A Ranger M-203 grenadier ran to me and then we both moved as a team to the noise of the firefight.

When the BTRs broke through the lines the driver must have realized what a mistake this was, and the lead vehicle stopped quickly, then began backing up. It slammed into the second BTR and they both stopped in the middle of the road. When the two vehicles were motionless the Rangers took advantage of this and fired LAW rockets and 90mm recoilless rifles at them, disabling them. The third BTR-60 saw what happened and turned around. A LAW rocket hit it in the rear as it drove away, but it didn’t stop it. The moving vehicle drew the attention of the AC-130 gunship. The gunship fired a 105mm round, destroying the enemy vehicle and flipping it on its side.

As the Ranger and myself ran to a building, we slid down a hill to the rear wall and then I drew out my .45 pistol, and we entered the building to clear it. No one was inside, but there was glass everywhere from a shattered plate glass window in the front that blew inward when the AC-130 rounds impacted. I looked out the window and saw two BTR-60s at the end of the road, about 200 yards away. They weren’t moving and smoke was coming out of the hatches. Behind the vehicle a group of Grenadians in green uniforms were moving away from the fight. They were in the road, not moving very fast, and had blood on their faces from the concussion of the explosions. Suddenly a Ranger machinegun opened up on them. The Ranger with me yelled “get ‘em!” and we both began firing. The hot brass from the Ranger’s M16 went down the front of my shirt. I fired into the middle of the PRA soldiers as fast as I could, emptying the twenty round magazine in a few seconds. After I changed magazines there was no one left in the road. One of the PRA soldiers hung upside down from the BTR-60 by his boot lace.

I suddenly felt a burning in my chest and I jumped up, thinking I had been wounded, but soon discovered the hot brass from the Ranger’s M16. I yanked my t-shirt out of my pants, letting the brass fall to the floor. Since we had no more targets I looked around the room we were in, and discovered it was a kitchen. I found various containers filled with water. Finally! I could fill my canteens!!

While the BTRs counterattacked our 1st Platoon came under fire as they were climbing Goat Hill. The 1st Platoon rushed the hill and captured the enemy hiding under a house. I moved back the Company CP and finally put my ART-1 scope on my rifle. I needed to zero my weapon, since I had just put on the scope. The Rangers had withdrawn from our position, so it was just me up there with one of the M60 machinegun teams that were about ten feet below my position on a lower terrace. I yelled to them that I was going to zero my rifle so they wouldn’t get too excited about me firing. The rules of engagement were that we could not shoot until we saw an enemy with a rifle, so I waited.

The Cuban barracks were about 800 meters away and looked like three long rectangular buildings. In front of these buildings was a covered parking area with a low cinderblock wall. A Cuban flag flew from an air conditioned on the side of the building. There was a Mercedes vehicle and a Soviet style jeep in the covered parking area. There were warehouses 500 meters away surrounded by construction equipment. I didn’t see any enemy but from time to time green tracers would fly up from the buildings at our position. My company occupied the ridgeline to the front of the barracks, while our CSC company occupied the ridge to the right of the Cubans. The left of the compound was another tall ridge line that B Company occupied. Behind the barracks was a large hill that led to the Grand Anse beach and more students who needed to be rescued.

I watched the compound, looking for a target and finally found one. A Cuban dressed in a khaki outfit walked casually to the parked vehicles behind the cinder block wall. He was carrying an AK-47. There was no wind since the Cuban flag lay limp. I thought it was great for the Cubans to put out a wind gauge for me. I set the scope for 800 meters, put the point of aim on the Cuban’s chest… and fired! I don’t know where the shot went and the Cuban wasn’t there anymore. Another Cuban looked out the door to see what had happened and I fired at him. He also disappeared. I did not know if I hit them or not.

I was frustrated with not knowing where the bullets were going, but we had not been able to zero our weapons before we went to war. CPT Jacoby told me later on (when he was LT General Jacoby) that “As far as I know we are the only unit that actually executed a no-notice N-hour sequence into combat…I have often thought the battalion deserved a unit award, (recall A Co was the Initial Ready Company) and LTC Hamilton deserved far more credit for pulling it off.” We deployed in 14 hours, taking whatever equipment we had.

I needed a spotter, so I saw the company first sergeant, 1SG Polachowski, nearby and asked him to spot me. I set him up with my M49 spotting scope and told him to look at a large tank 400 meters away. It was either a water or propane tank. It was white so I figured the hits would show on it. I fired a few shots until the 1SG could see the hits. I adjusted my shot group until it was within a few inches of the point of aim. I then aimed at the Mercedes car 800 meters away. I fired at the front window, shattering it. I then turned my attention back to the Cubans.

Each time I fired a string of green tracers would race towards me on the hill, but the Cubans had no idea where I was. The tracers did give away their position though. After several minutes of harassing fire (because I still didn’t know if I hit anyone) I called it quits. The sun had gone down and I figured I was only making noise. I ate my lone MRE meal, and it was the first food I had since the movie popcorn the night before. A small puppy came over and I fed it some of the beans from the MRE. Our platoon would adopt this puppy for the war, calling him Fritz or Flash.

When the moon came up I laid on my side, holding my .45 pistol and tried to sleep. Throughout the night I could hear the CSC gun jeeps firing into the valley and would hear the AK-47s return fire, every now and then hitting the tin roofs of the buildings around us with a tremendous bang! In the distance Navy A-7 Corsairs would fire their cannons at targets near ST Georges. The Marines were conducting an amphibious assault at Grand Mal beach, north of ST Georges to relieve the SEALs trapped in Sir Paul Scoon’s house.
A & C Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion 1984-1986
2/325, 82nd Airborne 1979-1984
F Company, 51st LRSU 1986-1988
5th Special Forces Group 1989-1995
3rd Special Forces Group 1997-1999
RS - DHG 5-85

SLEDGE HAMMER
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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by SLEDGE HAMMER » October 25th, 2013, 2:41 pm

Maggot275 wrote:Keep it going!! This is legendary!
This.
2/2 SCR 06-09
1/75 09-12
RS 01-10

“There is a savage beast in every man, and when you hand that man a sword or spear and send him forth to war, the beast stirs.”

-George R.R. Martin

Mike11C11B
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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by Mike11C11B » October 25th, 2013, 6:14 pm

Continue...Please.
1/75 Mortars 1999-2002
3/75 B Co, 1st Plt 2004-2005
3/75 Snipers 2005-2007
OEF/OIF
Class 7-00

Jim
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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by Jim » October 25th, 2013, 7:51 pm

Ranger Class 13-71
Advisor, VN 66-68 69-70
42d Vn Ranger Battalion 1969-1970
Trainer, El Salvador 86-87
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75th RRA Life Member #867

rgrokelley
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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by rgrokelley » October 26th, 2013, 4:55 am

I'm wondering if Magic Man even knows about this. It looks like it was cut and pasted from his old site "Dispatches from the Magic Kingdom"
A & C Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion 1984-1986
2/325, 82nd Airborne 1979-1984
F Company, 51st LRSU 1986-1988
5th Special Forces Group 1989-1995
3rd Special Forces Group 1997-1999
RS - DHG 5-85

rgrokelley
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Joined: February 5th, 2008, 5:57 pm
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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by rgrokelley » October 26th, 2013, 5:02 am

Last night I went to the memorial at ST George University. Talked to the brothers of Mark Yamane. I also sat with the widow of CPT Ritz. I had to tell her what happened that day. No one ever told her. Seriously?? :shock:

As I walked from the airfield to Grand Anse, following the same route I took before, I got picked up by a Ranger who had a rental car. We both searched around and around looking for where the three BTR60s attacked the airfield. We think we finally found it, but a lot of it had been pushed away by bulldozer when they expanded the airfield. I finished my walk, or should I say death climb, and now I'm feeling it mightily.

Another 82nd vet, who ended up in Special Forces, has been diving all around the island. He found the Ch-46 that went down on Grand Anse when it hit the palm tree. The Army picked up the wreckage and dropped it in the ocean off the beach. He had found it and dove on it. It was about 75 feet down.
A & C Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion 1984-1986
2/325, 82nd Airborne 1979-1984
F Company, 51st LRSU 1986-1988
5th Special Forces Group 1989-1995
3rd Special Forces Group 1997-1999
RS - DHG 5-85

rgrokelley
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Joined: February 5th, 2008, 5:57 pm
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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by rgrokelley » October 26th, 2013, 5:02 am

October 26th
Morning…
Our Battalion commander, “Mad Jack” Hamilton decided to attack the compound in the morning. This was the days before night vision devices for every man, so we didn’t own the night like we do now. B Company was to attack the Cuban compound, while my company… A Company… was to attack towards Frequente. After B Company pushed through the Cuban barracks they were to move to the high ground to the rear known as Morne Rouge. Our “C Company” would be held in reserve in case of counterattack.

The B Company commander, CPT Michael Ritz, did not know enough about the target and decided to do a leader’s recon of the objective. During our EDRE exercise CPT Ritz had been “killed” when he did a leader’s recon. It was a bad omen. With Ritz was his 1st Platoon leader, his 3rd Platoon leader LT Seager, SGT Terry Guinn and another SGT who was an RTO. Ritz chose where the support position was and left behind the 1st Platoon leader and the RTO, while he continued on with the others.

As they moved forward Ritz found an abandoned Cuban position that had a crate of hand grenades and some commo wire leading up to the hill. Ritz drew his .45 pistol and made a “follow me” gesture to Seager and Guinn. Guinn later told me that a flare went off, and Ritz was hit several times by machinegun fire. He was killed instantly. Guinn was also hit. The bullet went into his right arm and exited out his chest below the collar bone. He said it felt like he had been hit by a truck. Guinn immediately returned fire, but he was also blacking out. He said there was no pain, or fear, just a thought of returning fire and going out in a blaze of glory.

Seager wrote that he got down and fired off a magazine, and then took off his flashlight on his LCE because it was in the way of him getting even lower to the ground. Seager crawled back to the platoon perimeter, thinking that Guinn was dead. Guinn passed out, but when he came to he discovered that the Cubans had come forward, and bandaged his wound. They had put a piece of cellophane from a cigarette pack over the chest wound to stop it from “sucking”.

I woke up when I heard the ambush that killed CPT Ritz. I could see tracers flying in the sky from the left side of the perimeter, where B Company was located. I fired a few rounds down into the Cuban buildings, just to keep their head down, but I needed to have a better view. I moved away from my rucksack and took up a position on the front porch of the white house that was being used as the Company CP. When the sun came up I was able to make out an intense firefight going on between the Cubans and our Bravo Company. Green tracers flying uphill and red tracers coming down. Many of the B Company paratroopers fired their LAWs at the Cubans, since they did not have any hand grenades. The rockets zipped through the Cubans and exploded behind them. I kept asking CPT Jacoby for permission to shoot, but he told me to hold fire, since we was afraid I might hit our men by accident. Finally as the Cubans began withdrawing, he gave me permission to fire.

The first Cuban I put my sights on had a blue work shirt and a pair of blue jeans. He was 600 meters away. Since he was so far away I was able to bring my sights back onto the target after I fired, and was able to see if I hit him. The blue shirted Cuban stumbled, looked directly at me with a surprised look on his face. He then fell down and did not get up again. I later found out that I had hit him in the chest and it had exited out the other side.

I fired at other Cubans running back to their barracks, but I don’t think I hit any of them. Though I was the only sniper in my company, a couple of CSC company snipers came up on the porch with me. Soon all three of us were firing at anything that moved. Every Cuban in the valley must have decided to turn their weapons on us, since we were not very hidden on that white porch. When the green tracers raced up to us and started slamming into the tin roof and the walls of the house the CSC snipers jumped over the side. I stayed on the porch because every Cuban that fired my way revealed his position. It was a sniper’s playground.

SP/4 Ray Meier watched me on the porch and years later wrote, “I dropped right where I was, in tall thick grass. Listening to the rounds fly over my head, I thought, I can't stay here much longer. It was then that I saw a thick blade of grass get cut in half by a bullet and fall right in front of my face! I immediately jumped up and dove to our position. We then started receiving fire near our position, and I remember Haring yelling at me; “Thanks alot Meier!” Marborough our M-60 gunner was on our left. He wasn't firing, so we started yelling at him to fire his weapon. He yelled back that he had no targets. We told him to just spray the area in front of us, so he did. At the same time all this is happening, we looked over at you. You were locked in on someone taking shots with your sniper rifle, and we could see that you were also getting shot at, because right above your head and behind you, that white house was getting nailed. After that fire-fight, we knew you had a big set of Kahuna's!”

I estimated that at least nine AK47s or machineguns were shooting at me. The tin roof sounded like someone kept throwing handfuls of rocks at it. I continued to fire at any targets I could find, when I felt a sharp pain in my hand. I looked down and saw a long wooden splinter coming out of my thumb. I pulled it out with my teeth and kept firing. Blood made my trigger slippery so I tied a cloth around my hand. I figure a near miss had hit the porch railing and drove the splinter into my hand.

My rifle quit working and I had a moment of panic until I realized I was out of ammunition. Unfortunately I had made a cherry mistake. I only had four magazines. I had emptied one at the ambusher the day before. I had emptied a second one at the BTR-60. I had fired two more magazines and now all were empty. My other ammunition was in my rucksack. I should have reloaded my magazines, but I had made a major mistake. I jumped down off the porch and grabbed several boxes of MATCH ammunition from my rucksack. As I ran back to the porch the Company XO yelled at me to get down. I laughed and told him that they weren’t hitting that close! The bullets were at least two feet above my head! When they get six inches above me I’ll take cover! I quickly loaded the magazines, and then resumed firing. If I couldn’t see the Cuban target I fired at the origin of the green tracers coming my way.

The M-60 gunner to the left of the porch began firing, but the bullets were going everywhere, without any real pattern. The noise was deafening. Over in LT Nicholson’s 1st Platoon sector they were firing mortars and machineguns. At the time I thought the explosions in the compound were from naval gunfire. I did not know we had brought our mortars. I also did not know that our own 105mm howitzers were firing over our head and into the compound. The howitzers had arrived the night before and were set up northwest end of the runway. Before the day was over they fired 600 high explosive rounds.

To my right SGT Bannon saw movement to his front and raised up on one knee to get a better look over the grass. He saw a Cuban creeping up, I figured to try to flank me, and he saw Bannon at the same time. The Cuban fired first, hitting Bannon in the arm and knocking him backwards. Bannon yelled out “I’m hit!” but a nearby paratrooper didn’t believe him since he didn’t hear the shot. Bannon had to convince him he was actually shot. Bannon was quickly extracted back to the airfield and flown away.

Over to my left another group of Cubans were trying to flank from that direction, but and fired upon Brad Gallardo. One paratrooper was so shaken by Bannon being wounded that faked being injured and limped to the airfield to get away from the intense fight. After the initial flurry of bullets had come my way, it soon died down. The CSC snipers came back upon the porch with me. I wasn’t able to see any Cubans, just their tracers, so I fired at the windows in the barracks to keep their heads down.

Our mortars began raining down fire upon the Cuban compound, walking the rounds closer to the main buildings. One round hit a warehouse and set it on fire. Our company M203 grenadiers fired their 40mm grenades down into the closer buildings, about 400 meters away, setting more warehouses on fire. The grenadiers were trying to hit a gasoline truck, but it was just out of range. Small arms from the burning warehouses popped continuously while tracer rounds sputtered and spun around on the ground, setting even more buildings on fire.

The first sergeant of B Company had assumed command, since all the officers were gone. He told SFC Capetillo, a Vietnam veteran, to take his 3rd platoon towards the firefight. Capetillo moved cautiously and found two Soviet SPG-9 recoilless rifles. Capetillo left his 1st squad, led by SSG Gary Epps, behind to secure the recoilless rifle position. Capetillo then ordered his M203 grenadier to “recon by fire” and shoot a grenade 20 meters to their front, and continue to do so as they moved forward. This technique worked and the third grenade fired flushed out a Cuban ambush position. Capetillo’s platoon rushed forward and captured the hill, but they were running low on M16 ammunition and they had thrown all their grenades. When they ran out, they opened up a case of Soviet grenades and used them. As they searched the hill Capetillo’s men found the wounded SGT Guinn. The medics initially began working on Guinn but soon had to move because an airstrike was coming in. Capetillo also found the body of CPT Ritz and was able to bring it back. As Capetillo’s men moved back they found the body of SSG Epps. Epps had attempted to unload the recoilless rifle and the round went off, killing him and wounding five of his squad members.

The body of CPT Ritz was passed down the line, carried to the airfield. Each paratrooper looked upon the face of the dead commander. Ritz was flown back to Fort Bragg, where his wife was waiting. She was seven months pregnant. By the way, she named her son Michael Ritz and he is currently in the Army right now.

The artillery and mortar barrage stopped so that two A-7s could strafe the compound. When the A-7s dove on the Cubans the cannons ripped up a baseball field 100 meters in front of the buildings. I saw bodies flying through the air. With each pass the A-7s got closer to the main building where the Cuban flag was flying. When one of the A-7s fired up a warehouse, chunks of concrete flew through the air. The Cubans in the compound kept low and just put their AKs over the wall and sprayed in our direction on automatic. One of the Cubans behind the wall was Colonel Pedro Tortolo, the Cuban commander on Grenada. Beside him was LTC Matamoros, commander of the Cuban defenses and Carlos Diaz, the senior civilian Cuban official.

I saw one of the Cubans behind the wall get up and start running to the door of the main building. I fired at him and was able to my scope back down in time to see my bullet hit him in the back of the head. His head blew apart and he skidded through the door. Another Cuban got up and ran for the door when he saw the A-7 coming in for a run. I saw the 20mm round cut him in half, throwing his body through the door of the barracks. Matamoros later wrote that Diaz and another Cuban were killed by a grenade or a mortar, however no one was close enough to fire a grenade and the mortars had also stopped firing. I think what Matamoros witnessed was Diaz being hit by my shot, and then the other Cuban being hit by the 20mm round from the A-7.

I saw a wounded Cuban dragging himself to the door, as his comrades waved at him to hurry. I yelled to the M-60 gunner that he had a target right in front of the door and to FIRE! The M-60s were relying on the snipers to tell them where to aim. The M-60 fired, and the bullets impacted all over the crawling Cuban’s body. The CSC snipers also fired into the body. Amazingly the Cuban continued to crawl and made it to the safety of the doorway.

The final pass of the A-7s hit the building with the Cuban flag. The wall fell outwards and the flag fell to the ground. Bravo Company had moved close enough to the building to hit them with M203 grenades and LAW rockets. One rocket hit a building and sent the wall crashing inward while dust blew out the windows. Suddenly everyone heard the unmistakable sound of a DRAGON missile being fired. The missile made a popping noise as it flew. Everyone stopped firing and watched to see this only missile fired. The missile hit the largest Cuban building, making a huge explosion. The Cubans finally had enough and waved a white flag frantically out the windows. The order to cease fire was echoed around the ridge line.

Cubans came out of the buildings, waving white sheets and dragging their wounded comrades. CSC Company drove down into the valley and accepted the surrender of the prisoners. Several Cubans ran out the back and up the hill behind the barracks. We didn’t fire since we were honoring the white flag. CPT Jacoby gave the order to fire a machinegun in front of them to stop them from retreating. The M60 let out a long burst and all the Cubans in front of the building ran back inside. The Cubans who escaped were Tortolo and the only woman in the compound, LT Garcia. There were 86 Cubans who surrendered and 16 dead.
A & C Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion 1984-1986
2/325, 82nd Airborne 1979-1984
F Company, 51st LRSU 1986-1988
5th Special Forces Group 1989-1995
3rd Special Forces Group 1997-1999
RS - DHG 5-85

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