30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

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

Post by rgrokelley » October 26th, 2013, 12:31 pm

October 26, 1983

Afternoon

As A Company moved past the burning buildings and dead bodies, ammunition cooked off like popcorn popping. As they passed by the Cuban bodies the paratroopers shot them several times to make sure they were dead. Due to this every body had multiple wounds. Inside the buildings were cases of weapons and ammunition. All of the paratroopers who were only armed with a .45 pistol snatched up AK-47s and used them until the end of the invasion. There were also cases of sardines that the paratroopers filled their pockets with, and Cuban cigars that were stuffed into rucksacks. Every man grabbed a handful of Soviet grenades and hooked them to their LCEs.

During all of this I stayed on the ridgeline and pulled security with my sniper rifle. Providing security for me was SP/4 Bush, an M203 grenadier with the HQ section. He would be my spotter for the rest of the invasion. We filled our canteens from 55 gallon oil drums set up beside the buildings to catch rain water. Heat proved to be the killer and it took down more soldiers that the Cubans did. We suffered 29 heat casualties. When the 3/325 showed up they had 48 heat casualties. The Battalion aid station used up their entire supply of IVs on these soldiers. We had lost two men killed by the enemy and 12 wounded in the attack.

After the company cleared the Cuban compound we headed up the large hill to the rear of the compound. We moved slowly up this steep hill, the heat making our hearts race. Paratroopers stopped and dug through their rucksacks, throwing out anything they didn’t need. The hill was littered with abandoned gear, but no ammunition. After that morning’s fight, we did not know what was going to hit us next. We wanted all of our ammunition. When I stopped, to catch my breath, I sat under a small tree and watched the compound. I could see some of our soldiers dragging the bodies out of the buildings and lining them up by the road. While I sat there some troopers told me that the SEALs who had been holding out in ST George’s had been slaughtered. By the time we got to the top of the hill five more of our men went down due to the heat. CPT Jacoby ordered all the men to take off their flak jackets and tie them to their rucksacks. I had never put mine on.

In reality, the SEALs at Sir Paul Scoon’s house had not taken any casualties. The Marines had done a landing north of St. George’s and were moving to the SEALs with M-60 tanks. The tanks had no main gun ammunition since it had been stored underneath other equipment on the ships. A few brave Grenadians had fired at the tanks, but most fled. By 0730 the Marines linked up with the SEALs. Scoon was flown out to the USS Guam and was given a letter, backdated to October 24th that had him requesting military intervention. He gladly signed the letter authorizing the invasion.

MG Trobaugh had learned that there were American students at the Grand Anse campus through a HAM radio operator on the campus. The HAM operator talked to the USS Guam, who relayed the information to Trobaugh. Initially the plan was to have the 2nd Ranger Battalion move by foot to the Grand Anse beach and rescue the students, however on board the Guam MG Schwarzkopf decided that the Rangers should go in by Marine helicopters that were not being used on board the ship. Nine CH-46 helicopters carrying the Rangers would secure the compound, while four CH-53 Sea Stallions would pick up the students and take them to the airfield. Prior to this the campus would be bombarded by A-7s, AC-130s, naval artillery, mortars from our company and the 82nd’s howitzers. The students were told to wear a white armband and put white sheets outside their windows. They were also told to lie on the floor. The bombardment would begin at 1600.

On the top of the hill was Morne Rouge, that gave a fantastic view of the airfield and the area to the south of the ridge. Smoke still poured out of buildings at the Cuban compound and every now and then a C-141 would land on the airfield. CPT Jacoby told me to follow him and we met LTC Hamilton for orders. We also refilled our canteens from rain barrels by the shacks on top of the ridge. Hamilton told Jacoby that the Battalion would be attacking a warehouse to the east, and he wanted A Company to provide support if they got pinned down. The warehouse was the supply post in Frequente that we originally were supposed to attack before Ritz got killed. CPT Jacoby had all the platoons rotate through the 3rd Platoon position to refill their canteens before we moved on. We did not know when there would be a resupply. We moved to our attack position and waited.

Bravo Company had a hard time of it. They had lost their commander and the loss of even a single man will devastate a unit, but to lose your commander was too much. Bravo Company’s objective was Radio Free Grenada that was 1000 yards away. They had to move through terrain so thick that the lead men had to hack their way forward using machetes. CMS Barajas, Vietnam veteran, described the terrain as “rough”. They were still wearing their flak jackets and thirty soldiers went down due to heat. LTC Hamilton ordered every man to take off the flak jackets after this. B Company finally arrived at RFG by 1600 and secured it without a fight.

Our CSC gun jeeps drove to where the Ranger jeep had been ambushed the day before. They saw two BTR-60s that had been abandoned on the road. They fired their LAWs at them just to be sure they were abandoned. It turns out they weren’t abandoned and started receiving fire from around the BTRs. The enemy had waited until the first two jeeps had passed them, then they fired on the last three jeeps. The M60 gunners on the back of the jeeps had to stand up to fire their machineguns, totally exposed. One gunner had his helmet hit by an AK-47 round, ripping it off his head. Bullets also punched holes through his canteen and his cargo pockets.

While the CSC gun jeeps returned fire, our “C Company” fired upon the enemy from the ridgeline. The enemy had not known we were there. The “C Company” mortars fired down onto the ambush. Twenty-nine rounds slammed into the Cubans. The enemy withdrew, leaving behind four dead and an unknown number of wounded.

While this was going on the bombardment of Grand Anse began. The AC-130 circled over our position and the 20mm and 7.62mm machineguns sounded like giant buzzsaws. When the 105mm howitzer fired we would hear the round going over our head first, then the explosion on the ground, then the AC-130 firing due to the distance to the plane. So it sounded like “whooooosh…. KABOOM….. BANG!” each time. Off shore artillery screamed by our ridge and detonated below on the houses lining the beach. We could see the rounds flying through the air. A-7 Corsairs streaked in, firing 20mm cannons at the bungalows, while Cobra gunships weaved in and out of the area, firing at any suspected targets. To add to the noise our Company 81mm mortars fired down onto the beach, directed by Ranger LTC Hagler flying above it all in a helicopter. It was an awesome show and all we needed was some popcorn to make it perfect!

Unfortunately the plan for the rescue mission went wrong from the start. A Company, 2nd Rangers, landed 500 meters to the southwest, near the radio station that was being bombarded. Luckily the bombardment ended 20 seconds before they landed. One CH-46 landed on the beach, but the rotar blade hit a palm tree, disabling the helicopter. The Charlie Company Rangers came in on Ch-53s and grounded their rucksack by a wall planning on returning to them. They never did retrieve their rucksacks. Over at the Soviet Embassy a mortar fired from the roof. It was now a legitimate target and the roof was blown up. The Soviets complained to the UN, but Jean Kirkpatrick, our UN representative, denied it ever happened.

Many of the students were so scared by this bombardment that they hid and were not rescued by the Rangers. They would later be extracted by our Battalion of the 82nd Airborne. The Rangers jammed 60 students into the CH-53s and were able to rescue 233 of them. Only one Ranger was wounded by friendly mortar fire. The disabled Ch-46’s crew worked on the helicopter and was able to get it to fly to the airfield. When the CH-46s returned to pick up the Rangers, another helicopter hit a palm tree, tearing apart the rotar blade and had to be abandoned in the surf. The entire operation took 26 minutes.

In the chaos eleven Rangers had been left behind. The Ranger commander, CPT Hanna, tried to get other helicopters to retrieve them, but the Army and Marines were working on different frequencies and radios. Hanna told the squad leader to make his way to our position on Morne Rouge. Unfortunately the Rangers did not have the frequencies that the 82nd was using so they could not talk to us. Luckily the Rangers were able to find three inflatable rafts on the helicopter. They fired bullets into the cockpit of the helicopter, piled their gear in the rafts and swam alongside, all the way out to the USS Caron. They finally were taken on board at 2300.

Back up on the ridge we were told that we would be spending the night there. We were also incorrectly told that the Rangers had lost five men killed and 20 men wounded. The company formed a cigar shaped perimeter on the narrow ridge, while I was chosen to be an OP. I took SP/4 Bush and PFC Stillson with me. The sides of the hill were extremely steep, so sleeping was an impossibility. One of us would stay awake, while the other two would sleep. We would rotate that every hour. The only way I could stop myself from rolling downhill was to jam my Randall knife into the ground and lean against it. My rucksack would roll down the hill from time to time and I would have to wake up and go get it.

Our entertainment that night was watching B Company attack the warehouse by Radio Free Grenada in Frequente. There was a short fight that ended with the warehouses catching on fire. All night long ammunition popped and exploded in the burning warehouse. Throughout the night helicopters, A7s and artillery continued to fire upon the enemy. All the rounds seemed to pass within a few feet of our ridge. There was no food. We had eaten it all. Though soldiers continued to pour into the airfield, there was no resupply of food or ammunition since all vehicles were left behind. I had not eaten in 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

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

Post by rgrokelley » October 27th, 2013, 5:22 am

October 27, 1983
Morning

Before the sun came up my sniper section was told to return to the company perimeter. My scope had so much condensation in it that there was a puddle of water. I couldn’t see anything out of the fogged lens, so I unscrewed the end caps off and dumped out the water. It didn’t help. I would have to use iron sights until the sun came up and dried out my ART-1 scope. The Company moved out down the ridge to Grand Anse beach. The paratroopers were slipping and sliding on the slick orange mud. When we got to the bottom of the ridge we saw some uniformed soldiers crossing our front. We set up an ambush to attack them, but we soon discovered that they were our own Bravo Company.

At 0630 we moved from the jungle covered hill to a large open that was a residential area. Our Company led the way, moving onto a road that had burning buildings on either side. Ammunition cooked off in the burning Police Training College and when we first heard it we all hit the dirt thinking we were being fired at. Soon the noises did not faze me and I walked through the burning and devastated Grand Anse beach. There were gaping shell holes in the street, and pieces of blasted tile littered the road. The Spice Island Inn had been hit and there were ripped mattresses laying out in the road (currently I am staying at the Mount Cinnamon Resort, located where the company entered the Grand Anse area. Where the burning buildings were located is now a Kentucky Fried Chicken and a shopping mall).

As I passed by the Spice Island Inn I saw the CH-46 laying in the surf. We moved a little past the helicopter then stopped and searched the area for any enemy. The 1st Platoon found a body in the surf and put it in a body bag, then moved it out to the road for pickup. At first we thought it was a dead American, but since no Americans were killed in the rescue operation, it must have been a Cuban soldier. The 1st Platoon also found the Ranger rucksacks that had been left behind. The platoon took the Claymore mines and put them in their own rucksacks since we were never issued any. One of our guys found an UZI in the sand and put it in his rucksack. I found a black beret with a Ranger crest on it and put it in my pocket for luck.

We continued to move until we came to a cross roads that had a travel bureau and some shops on one side of the road and a Holiday Inn on the other side (not THE Holiday Inn). There was an anti-aircraft gun beside a restaurant at the intersection. Abandoned cases of RPG rockets, and AK47 ammunition were stocked near the AA gun, along with uniforms and equipment. The PRA had figured out that it was pretty futile to fight the Americans and they were stripping off their uniforms and blending in with the civilian population. The Cubans would not be so lucky since the local population was black and they stood out pretty easily.

When we stopped I moved to the restaurant and tried to open the door, but it was locked. I didn’t think it would be right to break in, so I went to the second floor of the restaurant and found the door unlocked. I put down my sniper rifle and drew my .45 pistol. For the last few days I had been around incredibly noisy fighting and now, when I entered the room, it was quiet enough to hear a pin drop. The room looked like a modern apartment, with a living room and a kitchen. The lights were off due to no electricity, but I found the refrigerator and opened it up. When I did I heard a noise coming from the living room and it scared the hell out of me. I dropped down to one knee and aimed at the back of the couch, getting ready to fire. I had my finger on the trigger when I saw an old man rise up. I had his head in my sights, but he just stared at me, shocked to find a dirty paratrooper in his living room. He just stared so I said “82nd Airborne… I’m from the United States”. He let out a whoop and then jumped up telling me how glad he was to see us. I lowered the pistol and told him he needed to go outside. It turned out he was the owner of the restaurant (that building is still there but the intersection turned into a traffic circle with a KFC on one side).

I moved outside and a squad leader, SSG Moore, chewed me out for clearing a building by myself. I told him I was hungry and was looking for food. As he talked to me a shot rang out. I found myself behind the wall and looking through my scope for an enemy. I must have done a back flip over the wall, but I don’t remember doing it. Due to my acrobatics I ripped the crotch out of my cammie fatigues. The shot had come from one of our assistant machine gunners, who drew his pistol out and fired it by accident.

I continued to look for food and water and found a group of Grenadians hiding in the kitchen, afraid that we would shoot them. They showed me where to get water behind the hotel. I found some coconuts that had fallen off a palm tree and Bush and I tried to break it open. We were smashing the coconuts on the road when an American drove up on a Moped and almost crashed his scooter when he saw us. He ran over to us, waving wildly and telling us how glad he was to see us. He told us that he had come from a group of Americans hiding in a basement that was too afraid to come out. While we were listening to his story a group of Grenadians came up and told us about some West Germans who were trapped in a nearby basement. The Grenadians told us that the PRA was gunning down civilians down in St. Georges. That was the first time we had heard that the enemy was called the PRA and the first time we had heard of the capital of St. Georges. Until then we thought the enemy were just Cubans. A Canadian drove up and asked how we could get him and his son off the island. We directed all these people to the rear where the Battalion commander was.

Since we had not harmed any civilians the Grenadians began coming out and thanking us. One of them cracked open the coconut for me and I shared it with Bush. The restaurant owner opened up his shop and gave us some food. A Grenadian came out and gave me a cold fried chicken leg and a stale piece of bread. That was the best food I had ever tasted. CPT Jacoby decided we would drop all our extra gear at the Holiday Inn and leave behind some men to guard it. Many of our men were ill due to the heat and they were chosen to guard the rucks. Every time we stopped the medics would set up an impromptu aid station and start plugging IVs into the worst casualties. However since there was no resupply vehicles they had to limit who would get treatment.
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 Steadfast » October 27th, 2013, 2:23 pm

History unfolding again right before our eyes.
RLTW
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4/325 82d DIV 68-69
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K Co (Rgr), 75th Inf (Abn), 4 ID
69-70
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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by rgrokelley » October 27th, 2013, 3:08 pm

October 27, 1983
Afternoon

At the Holiday Inn I dropped off my rucksack, gas mask and flak jacket. I kept my LAW rocket and put my journal in my cargo pocket. We would not see those rucksacks again for three days. We continued down the road but when Bravo Company came to the crossroads where I had the fried chicken, they were attacked. One of their men on security, PFC Brent Taylor, had fallen asleep and his platoon left him there. The paratrooper woke up when he heard a noise and found two enemy soldiers standing near him. They fired, hitting him twice, and then ran off. He was found by his buddies, lying on the ground bleeding to death (there are three different versions of this story). Another soldier, PFC Kirk Shartzer, had also been wounded by an unseen sniper and was wounded in the neck. He was rushed to the crossroad in a commandeered Daihatsu pickup and Medevaced from the Grand Anse campus.

Two Newsweek reporters were able to break the blockade and rush to the island in a speedboat. They were at the crossroads when paratroopers burst into a house nearby and found six Cuban soldiers armed with AK47s. When CSC gun jeeps drove to the medical school to get much needed supplies, a third soldier was wounded and treated by a medical student. Due to all this resistance MG Trobaugh was ordered to attack the enemy camp at Calvigny.

The Rangers had been at Salines airfield, ready to return home, when the new mission was given to them. They had already unloaded their magazines, but they methodically reloaded them for the new threat. The Rangers were told that there might be as many as 600 Cubans there and six anti-aircraft guns. Ranger COL Hagler demanded prep fires for this mission. Artillery would fire 500 rounds of high explosive ammo into Calvigny. When the Rangers came in on Blackhawk helicopters the first two overshot the target, and the third spun forward, smashing into the second Blackhawk. The fourth Blackhawk avoided the wreckage, but landed in a ditch damaging the tail rotor. The pilot tried to fly forward but it spun and smashing into the ground. Three Rangers were killed in the accident and two more were wounded. Other helicopters came in but no enemy was found. No bodies, no wounded, no prisoners.

Tragedy struck our Brigade also. As our 3rd Battalion moved forward on the right flank of our Battalion, down the True Blue-Grand Anse Road, they were 300 yards from the village of Ruth Howard when they were met by cheering villagers. As the celebration went on snipers fired on the paratroopers. One paratrooper fired a LAW at the sniper and scared him off. The 3rd Battalion continued through Ruth Howard and climbed a steep cliff located in what was known as Woodland Estates. When the 3rd Battalion saw our 2nd Battalion they fired on us, and a short firefight ensued until both sides realized they were firing on friendlies.

At Ruth Howard Marine Anglico teams heard the shooting and called the Air Liason officer for the 1/505th. Initially AC-130 gunships were called, but there were none available. Four A-7 Corsairs were diverted from bombing Calvigny and were directed to attack a white house with a red roof. What they did not know was that Brigade Commander COL Silvasy had moved his HQ near the target building. At 1645 the A7s did dry runs on the enemy, and the Air Liason Officer cleared them hot. When the A7s came in for the actual run they were off and fired a burst of 20mm into the 2nd Brigade’s command post. Seventeen paratroopers were wounded in the attack. SGT Sean Luketina had both legs ripped apart by the cannon fire. MEDEVAC helicopters could not come in due to a sudden downpour of rain. Luketina would later die of gangrene in both legs.

We continued to move down the road as the rain came down. We didn’t mind the rain since we had not cleaned up in three days and we were extremely hot. On that day I saw the first sign of resupply. The only Gama Goat to arrive on the island delivered C-Rations, Cuban cigarettes and mail! I wolfed down the C-Rations and read letters dated before the invasion. I also got a Playboy magazine with Joan Collins on the cover. The Battalion Chaplin told us we could send letters home by writing on the back of a C-Ration box and giving it to him. I quickly wrote a letter to my mom and dad telling them that I was OK.

While we sat in the roadside ditch and wrote letters Grenadians continued to come out of their homes and give us Coca-Colas and some tried to give us rum. I turned down the rum since I did not know what would happen in the near future. Radio Free Grenada blasted reggae music from the homes, “Electric Avenue” seemed to be the most popular. RFG told the Grenadians to stop the invaders and fight back, but the people just laughed. As I sat in the ditch leaflets started fluttering around us dropped from a low flying helicopter. I grabbed some and stuffed them in my pocket. They were “Safe Conduct Passes” for any enemy soldier wanting to surrender. It also told the civilians to stay in their homes and they would not be harmed.

As the sun set we ended up beside a hotel with a white sand beach. We had gone about two miles from Morne Rouge. My platoon moved into the hotel, creating an urban defensive position. The rest of our Company was in a circular perimeter around the hotel. We were told we had to slow our forward progression, since we were the farthest unit to push to St. Georges and they were worried we would out distance our artillery. The Battalion XO, Major Baine, drove up in a jeep that had a captured RPK machinegun on the hood. He told us the hotel would become the Battalion CP.

As the 2nd Platoon moved into position a shot rang out and everyone dove for cover. It turned out that a PFC in the platoon had shot a dog that looked menacing. Everyone was ready to beat his ass for firing that shot. Back on the airfield our HHC and the Engineers spent the morning digging graves and burying the dead. They dug ten graves. One platoon of Engineers was providing security over the vehicles and came under sniper fire from nearby houses. The Engineers returned fire until sunset. They were also able to rescue 28 civilians who were caught in the crossfire. Eight of them had been wounded.

CPT Jacoby decided to move his CP, since Battalion had taken it over. He decided to use a porch of a house in the 1st Platoon’s area. A few of us wanted to clear the house, mainly to find food. Though we had been issued C-Rations earlier, it seemed we just couldn’t find enough food. The door was locked so SP/4 Bush kicked it in. We immediately fanned out in the room, cleared it, then headed for the kitchen. We found a case of Coca-Colas and filled our pockets with them. We also found cans of sardines, corned beef and boxes of crackers. As I passed by the bedroom I saw one of the guys looking into a jewelry box. I told him to not even think about it. “We are foragers, not looters!” He looked embarrassed then quickly headed outside.

When it became dark the streetlights came on and we immediately heard gunfire. I dove to the floor and crawled to the window, searching the darkness for the new threat. All I saw was SSG Moore shooting out the streetlights. He was worried that they would give away his squad’s positions and he was “turning them off”. After our hearts slowed down we moved outside, away from the officers. We did not want them to know we had found food. They might make us put it back. In the shadow of the house we ate everything, washing it down with warm cokes. Ironically as soon as we finished our GAMA Goat showed up and issued more C-rations. We ate those too. There was not enough food to fill our stomachs that night.

After we finished eating the sky opened up and dumped rain on us. It rained for the rest of the night. Since we had no rucksacks and no ponchos we took cover where we could, a small house being used as a Post Office. I found some cardboard boxes in there and l laid out on them. Occasionally we would hear a burst of gunfire, or the deafening explosion of a Claymore mine going off. I could also hear the AC-130 gunships firing up a golf course that was right beside our makeshift position. The shock from the explosions would rock us out of any sleep we were trying to get. We were told Cubans had dug in positions around the golf course.

Some critics of the invasion said that the Army moved too slow and took too much time clearing pockets of resistance. They said we should have moved faster and gone to St. Georges first. Ironically during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 the critics said the Army moved too fast and bypassed resistance, allowing them to organize guerilla warfare against us. It just goes to show that the ones who criticize are never the ones on the ground. Grenada was also criticized for being over too fast and not having enough casualties (that’s not a real war!), while the Iraq war was criticized for being too slow and having too many casualties. In the end, those who criticize will do so for any reason at all. They are the complainers, not the ones who have to do the job.
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 Jim » October 27th, 2013, 5:54 pm

Steve Trujillo just published this on Facebook, I was not aware of this piece of news:
Mike Yon paid me the compliment of republishing the piece that appeared a few days ago on the Beast.

One correction needs to be made: Mike said that I received the Silver Star from President Reagan. That is not correct.

The misstatement crops up because President Reagan cited me in two speeches.

The first time was at a Rose Garden ceremony for the students from the St. George's School of Medicine in early November, 1983. The second time was at the 1984 State of the Union Address on 25 January 1984.

Both speeches were widely reported in news media of the day, and photographs depicting me with President Reagan and the First Lady appeared everywhere. I have not seen them all. The front page of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that Randal Sozoff published on Facebook a couple of days ago, for example, was one that I had never seen before.

I was decorated sometime after the State of the Union Address. It was a typical rainy day on Ft. Lewis, WA, it would have been in February or March, 1984. No one even told me what was happening. All that I was told was, "Be at the Battalion Aid Station at 0700 hrs." This was a pain in the ass because I was up on North Fort, as a RIP instructor. So I had to drive to main post. I did not know why.

Then we had a Battalion formation, which did not happen often. Still no one told me what was going on. I did not find out until I was marched up to the front of the formation and Brigadier General Joe Lutz pinned the medal on my chest. My Battalion Commander, LTC Ralph Hagler, handed the medal to BG Lutz. Ranger Randy Houseman took a pic that I will put up another time. I believe that the ceremony was covered by local media, but I have no copies.

I felt bad that the entire battalion had to show up and stand in formation for that. If anyone had asked me, I would have told them to just put the citation and the medal in my distribution in box. But I was not asked. So everybody had to stand in formation for me. I felt guilty as hell. Then I got mad, because there was a reception in the Ranger Dining Facility afterwards, but no Rangers were invited. I asked someone, "can I at least have my platoon come over?" The answer was no.

They had chow. Big shrimp. And this fountain with colored kool-aid in it. I met some girl in civvies who was a CID agent. A bunch of officers were there, mostly sucking up to BG Lutz, but no enlisted Rangers. And that was pretty much it. The reception lasted for like 30 minutes, then it was over. No one really talked to me, and you would never know what the event was for if you did not have to stand in formation that morning. I felt bad that the chow hall crew had to do that whole layout. Those guys worked their asses off, keeping the battalion fed.

I do not remember what happened the rest of the day.

We all just went back to work.

So anyway, no, I did not receive the Silver Star from President Reagan. I was decorated by SOCOM Commander BG Joe Lutz.

I already sent Mike Yon a correction. He will get to it when he wakes up in a couple of hours. It is now 0501 hrs in Bangkok, and I just woke up because of some strange noises on my balcony. Today is October 28. Thirty years ago, we hit Calivigny.

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

Post by IEDmagnet » October 27th, 2013, 6:01 pm

I think I know one of the guys wounded in that A7 incident. It's not said enough, but thank you and all the Veterans of Grenada for your sacrifices and service.

You helped set an example for the rest of us to follow as we went off to our wars.
A/3/505 PIR, 82nd 96-98
B/2/121 Inf, 48th BCT Iraq 05-06
B/1/118 Inf, 218th BCT Afghan 07

I'm not stupid, I'm crazy...there is a difference.

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

Post by rgrokelley » October 28th, 2013, 10:58 am

October 28, 1983

I woke up on the morning of October 28, wet, tired and hungry. We continued our pattern of march… stop… search houses. We were looking for any enemy still left, but they had disappeared. There were rumors that the PRA and Cubans had drifted into the jungle and were going to do a Vietnam-style guerilla warfare. At 0730 we came across Marines manning a roadblock, searching cars at Ross Point. We were surprised at this because we didn’t know there were any Marines in our area. It turned out it was “their area” of St. Georges and we had wandered into it. I asked one Marine if he had seen any action and he told me he “hadn’t seen a damn thing yet”. We were able get some gun oil off of them, which we needed badly. We deployed so quickly that we didn’t bring a lot of oil and our weapons were losing the battle against rust.

The Marines were clean shaven, clean and looked sharp. We had four days growth of beard, muddy, and had not bathed since the day before we left at FT Bragg. My uniform had the crotch ripped out of it and that split now went down to my knee. Some of our men carried Soviet equipment and AK47s. The M203 grenadiers carried their grenades in Soviet style chest pouches or just tied to their LCEs. Some of our guys had worn out their boots, and they wore Soviet half boots. Soviet grenades dangled from our LCEs while Tokarev and Makarov pistols were tucked down the front of the belts. Our Battalion XO drove up with the RPK mounted on the hood. The Marines at Ross Point must have wondered what we had been through, and looked on us with some envy.

At Ross Point we cleaned up the best we could, cleaned our weapons, then laid out on the grass in the sun to dry out. We were issued C-Rations for lunch and I traded my rations to the Marines for MREs. While I lay on the grass I saw my first reporter. We had two French guys follow us with a camera, but they had been on the island filming a documentary when the fighting began. President Reagan did not allow any reporters on the island, since he did not trust they would tell the truth. However a few slipped in through the blockade.

The reporter walking amongst us was from Newsweek magazine. We ended up asking him more questions than he asked us. I asked him what did America think about the invasion, and he replied that the American public was dead set against the invasion and there were protests in the streets back home. He told us the American public thought we were killing civilians for no reason and we were “stormtrooping” across the island. I found out when I returned home that the reporter had been lying about everything and almost the whole American public was behind us. A CBS news poll had 91% of the American public favoring the invasion. However due to that one biased reporter, we worried that we would be looked down upon when we returned home, like the Vietnam vets had been.

While we waited there a diplomatic staff car pulled up with Soviet, East German and Cuban advisors. We initially held the car up, searching them, but CPT Jacoby told us to let them pass. LTC Hamilton arrived and told CPT Jacoby his new orders. We were to occupy a tall hill beside Ross Point. As we trudged up the hill an American ran out to meet us and asked me how he could get off the island. I pointed to the Marines, now leaving Ross Point, and said “you can hitch a ride with them, but they are going to Beirut.” The American told me that about 250 Grenadians had come out of the hills, threw their weapons in the jungle, changed into civilians clothes and then blended in with the population.

As the company searched the houses around the hilltop, I sat down and watched the surrounding neighborhood for anything suspicious. I had the RTOs from the HQ section around me. I noticed that the house we were beside had not been cleared yet, and there were pieces of paper in the yard, with military symbols on it. Lying nearby were some AK47s and a cattle prod. I gathered the HQ soldiers and took my improvised team into the house to clear it. Once our eyes adjusted to the darkness of the house we discovered propaganda posters of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro on the walls, and dozens of passports on the floor. I shoved as much stuff as I could in my pants pockets, but there was too much. There were manila foldiers, dossiers, logs, film negatives, paper money and coins laying about. Weapons racks lined the walls. In one room there was a large hole in the floor, so I took out my flashlight and jumped into the hole. There were more weapons racks in that room, along with Soviet aid bags and medical supplies.

I walked to the end of the hallway and found a garage with military motorcycles and vehicles there. There was a refrigerator against the wall, and I learned a lesson that is seared into my memory from that day. DO NOT EVER OPEN A REFRIGERATOR IN A TROPICAL COUNTRY WHEN THE ELECTRICITY HAS BEEN OFF FOR FIVE DAYS!!!!! When I cracked open the refrigerator the smell of rotting meat and vegetation rushed out and engulfed the closed garage. I slammed the door shut, but it was too late. All of us began gagging and a few threw up, which led to more gagging and throwing up. Years later I would stand on a battlefield that had hundreds of corpses on it. The smell was as bad as that.

I went back outside and told CPT Jacoby what we had found and we needed to get the S-2 up there. I gave him all the passports that I shoved into my pockets. While we were searching our lone GAMA Goat arrived and it had our rucksacks shoved in the back. We had been living out of our pockets for two days, so this was a welcome sight. The supply sergeant also issued more C-Rations, which we devoured. He also handed out warm cokes and US hand grenades that had been taken from the Rangers when they left the island.

For some reason my rucksack was not there. Also all the rucksacks from the HQ section was missing. I figured they were still sitting by the resturaunt where we dropped them. The mortar section had their jeeps now, and I convinced one of them to take me back to get all the rucksacks. Since the Grenadians drive on the “wrong” side of the road, we had several near misses. When we arrived back at the “rear” we found our rucksacks stacked neatly in a row. The REMFs were back there, stockpiling weapons and taking pictures of themselves looking big and bad. They put on as many grenades as they could, and held up AK47s, trying to look like real soldiers. It was pretty comical.

When we returned our company was digging into the yard of a doctor’s house. That night the old man who lived at the house where we had dug in came out and introduced himself. He told me that he had been living in Grenada for the last twenty years. He told me he had been a lieutenant in the British Army in WWI and showed me his scar where he had been stabbed by a German bayonet. He offered us all a drink of gin, but we politely turned him down. I asked him if we could get water from his garden hose and he gladly showed me where it was. He also invited us to eat all we wanted from his fruit grove. There were grapefruits, lemons and limes. I sat down with the machinegunners and at them with some C-ration sugar, as we looked at the incredible view of St. George’s harbor. There were US Navy ships all across the horizon. The view was breathtaking. Afterwards I dug a simple hole, then threw a poncho over my head, pulled out my flashlight and sewed up the crotch of my pants. I spent that night on the front yard of the doctor’s house, pulling radio watch with the HQ section.

That afternoon Marines from 2/8th were ordered to search a cave near Mirabeau Hospital. The Marines moved through a banana plantation and discovered three white men standing near a Land Rover. Grenadians are black, which made these three instantly suspect. One Marine yelled out “FREEZE!” and the three men took off running. The Marines opened fire, wounding two of the men, but the third ran through a house and escaped. The wounded men, one of which was mortally wounded, were Cubans. While the Marines were taking care of the wounded they came under fire. Marines at the top of the ridge tried to support them, but they also came under fire from the hill above them. The Marines returned fire with M60 machineguns and LAW rockets until the Cubans withdrew. Blood trails were found, but no bodies.

More of the 82nd Airborne arrived on the afternoon and night of October 28th. LTC Nightingale’s 2/508th infantry arrived and received the mission to clear the Hartman Estates east of Lance aux Epines. The two companies came under fire around 1600. The paratroopers returned fire with the enemy for about an hour, until they finally wounded a PRA soldier. The rest of the PRA broke contact and withdrew into the jungle.
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 rgrokelley » October 28th, 2013, 1:36 pm

This is my last “30 years ago today” entry. Though there was still sporadic sniping, the main combat was over after the third day. We stayed at the doctor’s house another night, finding weapons caches and more intelligence documents. When our Battalion commander, “Mad Jack” Hamilton met with Schwarzkopf, Admiral Vessey and the Marine commander, he said the Marines could do the mopping up since they had not done much yet. The Marine commander threw a fit and then said we were scaring the hell out of the locals with our “damned German helmets”. He also said that our battalion was looting the houses and threatening to rape the women. Mad Jack came unglued and grabbed the Marine… LTC Ray Smith… and threatened to “beat his jar head ass”. Schwarzkopf had to pull him off of the Marine. He wasn’t known as Mad Jack for nothing.

On October 31st, we flew an air assault mission with a dozen Blackhawk helicopters. We moved to the “Golflands” golf course and boarded the helicopters to fly to Grand Etang lake. All the seats had been taken out and the doors were fixed open. As we flew to the target Cobra helicopters escorted us, as two AC-130s circled overhead. We hovered over a soccer field in a village and all jumped out before the chopoers touched down. We moved two kilometers to the top of a tall mountain, then searched around the lake, an extinct volcano, looking for a PRA camp. We did find a tunnel system and sent some men down in the tunnels with .45 pistols and flashlights, but they didn’t find anything.

On November 1st we marched down the mountain to a village and found a weapons cache and a BTR-60. The BTR-60 was in perfect condition. Bush and I cleared the armored vehicle, accidently setting off the main gun which scare the hell out of everyone. Afterwards LTC Hamilton told Bush to try to drive it back to the airfield. It only got as far as the next village and the villagers helped us push it a few miles, all the while cheering us, giving us food and drinks. Our GAMA goat hooked up to it and towed it back to the airfield. It went to the US and ended up at FT Belvoir, MD. We spent the night beside a village soccer field.

On November 2nd we were told we would be going back to Point Salines for R+R and then we would return to the jungle to hunt down the remaining PRA. However by mid-morning we learned from the radio that we would be heading back to the airfield to fly home! After we landed at Point Salines we turned in our ammunition and I was able to take off my shirt and boots for the first time in nine days. We stank, but we enjoyed baking in the sun. Some guys got totally naked, but this was a different time and there wasn’t a single female soldier on the island… or if there was, we never saw them. We got all our mail and we spent the afternoon savoring every word… even the junk mail. That night we threw chem lights into the ocean of True Blue bay and watched the tide carry them out. Everyone slept on the beach, with no worries for once.

On November 3rd we had a memorial service by the airfield for CPT Ritz and SSG Epps. We gathered around two M16s jammed into the ground on that grassy peninsula. There were two helmets on the M16s, representing our two fallen soldiers. The chaplain said his remarks and then a final roll call was called. The men of Bravo Company were called and would answer “Here, 1st Sergeant!” Finally the names of the fallen were called… answered by silence. The names would be called two more times, answered by silence. The 1SG then said that the men were to be dropped from the rolls. When the roll was over a firing squad shot three volleys over the water. Normally this would be done with blank rounds, but we didn’t have any.

After the memorial service we moved back to our company areas and were ordered to lay out all our our equipment, to make sure nothing had been lost. We were told to turn in any “war trophies” so that they could be inspected. Anything we were not allowed to have would be confiscated. I had a Makarov 9mm pistol, but was not allowed to keep it. Many men were so disgusted with the lack of trust that they threw the pistols over the cliff into the water instead of turning them in.

As soon as we finished the rain hit us with sheets of water. We didn’t run for cover and just stood there, letting it rinse our clothes and hair. As soon as the rain finished everyone stripped out of their clothes and hung them on bushes. We took bars of soap from “care packages” sent to us by the wives of our company and jumped naked into the ocean to wash up. We then laid out naked in the sun, eating the care package Snickers bars and M&Ms.

Later that afternoon all the snipers were gathered around an officer from Division. He wanted to know if we had actually shot anyone. The snipers who had not were sent back to their companies. There were only three of us who had actually shot someone. The officer then questioned us about what we had done. He said he was trying to make sure they found all the bodies. The two other snipers with me said they had only shot at the enemy inside the Cuban compound. They were dismissed, since all the bodies in the compound had been found and they had been hit multiple times. He then asked me what I had done.

I told him about firing on the BTR60 when it attacked, but he wasn’t interested in that incident. I also told him of firing on the Cubans behind the cinderblock wall in the compound. I told him I shot between five to seven of them. He said he found those bodies, but they had been torn up badly by the A7s 20mm rounds and couldn’t tell if I had killed them or if the A7s had. I then told him about the one Cuban I shot in the head who had been running for the door. He wrote down that information. I also told him of shooting the blue shirted Cuban on the side of the hill. He wrote down that information and told CPT Jacoby, standing beside me, that they had found that body, with a single shot through the chest. He told CPT Jacoby I would get credit for two confirmed kills, and then walked away.

That night we screened by a Custom’s official in the hanger by the airfield. I thought my personal .45 was going to get confiscated, but CPT Jacoby told him that I was allowed to have it. Afterwards we lined up on the runway in our chalks and waited for a plane to take us home. We slept on the same runway, where nine days earlier we had fought and died. At 0400 on November 4th we crammed our whole company on board a single C-141. When the plane lifted off everyone cheered.

When we landed the plane taxied down the runway in what seemed like an eternity. The back doors opened up and we were told we had to wait. We were all worried because we remembered what that Newsweek reporter had told us. We thought the American public would look down on us. Finally we were given word to march out in a single file into a drizzling rain. As we exited the 82nd band played and thousands of people were lining the runway cheering us. Banners flew from the hangers and fences and it was pure pandemonium! The Secretary of the Army, John O. Marsh, gave a speech to us in the drizzling rain, but none of us were listening. We just wanted to GO! The Secretary then moved to three men, one officer, one NCO and one enlisted man and pinned on the Combat Infantryman’s Badge on their uniforms. We did not think we would get this, so it was a huge surprise. Someone in the formation complained “I hope they get some 80 paks here” and when we rounded the corner we saw what appeared to be every 2 ½ ton truck and dump truck in Division, lined up, ready to take us home.

On the drive to our barracks down Ardennes Street there were banners everywhere and thousands more lining the streets cheering us on. The Riggers had hung a giant American flag from the shakeout towers and were standing on the roof holding it down. Many people ran up to our trucks and gave us a “high five” as we drove by. When we got off the trucks wives and girlfriends sprinted forward and hugged their men. I walked alone to the arms room and turned in my sniper rifle. It was good to be home.

Aftermath

The official listing of dead and wounded was 19 killed and 152 wounded. However the covert units were not counted, so the number of killed could be as high as 29. The Navy SEALs had four killed, the Marines had 3 killed and 15 wounded. The Rangers had 8 killed and 69 wounded while the 82nd Airborne had three killed and 36 wounded. In addition to this the 82nd Airborne had one man killed and 25 wounded in non-combat conditions. On the enemy side the Cubans had 29 killed, 59 wounded and 602 unwounded prisoners taken. The Grenadians had 67 killed and 368 wounded.

A huge criticism of the operation was that too many awards were given out to just a few soldiers on the island. I agree with that criticism. Initially the dates to receive the EIB had been the dates we were there, from October 24th to November 4th. However after we returned home the CIB dates were changed to November 21st. The only significant action happened in the first three days of the invasion. The Army units that saw action were two half strength Ranger Battalions, the men of DELTA force, the helicopter pilots and crewmen of TF 160th and the 82nd, and the three companies of the 82nd Airborne’s 2/325 infantry (to include our redesignated “C Company”). The total number of soldiers who saw combat numbered less than 1,000 men. However the Army awarded 812 Bronze Stars (59 with V devices), and 5,079 Army Achievement Medals (99 with V devices). A total of 3,530 CIBs were awarded to soldiers who never heard a shot fired in anger. Besides these medals every soldier involved in the invasion was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.

When it came time to determine who would receive medals in our company, I am proud of the direction we took. We did not flood the field with medals for everyone. Our company was still just as guilty for giving out a Bronze Star for anyone who was an E-7 or higher, but only one Bronze Star with a “V” device for valor was given out… to 1LT Nicholson. A “V” device is a small copper “V” that is attached to the medal, and it stands for “valor”. It is given out for a heroic act. Our company gave out seven Army Commendations with a “V” device. Six of these medals were given out to soldiers below the rank of E-4. They were the M60 machine gunners below me on the second day. They were SP/4 Edmonds and Schofield, PFCs Messenger, Lowe, Freimuth and Callaway.


This left the one ARCOM with a “V” device awarded to myself. This was a dilemma. I was originally put in for a Bronze Star with a V device, but I had also screwed up royally and missed the call out. So my medal was downgraded to an ARCOM with a “V” device. On the day I was awarded the medal I also had to stand in front of CPT Jacoby’s desk for ART-15 punishment.

But this was my military career…
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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fatboy
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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by fatboy » October 28th, 2013, 9:46 pm

Thanks for the retelling of your history. Guys like you set the path for us to follow in the years and decades to come.


And I heard it said once that any NCO that was worth anything had at least one ART. 15 in his back ground.
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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by mortar_guy78 » October 30th, 2013, 1:26 pm

fatboy wrote:Thanks for the retelling of your history. Guys like you set the path for us to follow in the years and decades to come.
X2
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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by RMP-RLTW » October 30th, 2013, 5:24 pm

Awesomeness!!!


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

Post by Jim » October 30th, 2013, 5:52 pm

This is one of the better threads. Let's make it a sticky.
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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by Jim » October 31st, 2013, 4:01 pm

The National Rifle Association tribute

http://nralifeofduty.tumblr.com/tagged/Grenada
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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by Jim » November 1st, 2013, 11:27 am

Please note the citation for the final Silver Star awarded in Grenada:

http://www.homeofheroes.com/valor/02_aw ... enada.html

One of our very own ArmyRanger.com members.
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Re: 30 years ago today... Operation Urgent Fury

Post by Jim » November 4th, 2013, 7:42 am

An 18+ minute recording of a medical student's account of the invasion and how he used a clandestine ham radio to pass on information.


http://www.thestory.org/stories/2013-09 ... on-grenada
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