Encircled by Bombs: Nighttime Skirmishes

Mar 31, 2003  •  Post A Comment

The Allies are dropping bombs all around us. Just as soon we crossed the northern berm into Iraq from Kuwait, th e radio came alive, we saw tracer fire and we heard the Javelin team being told to “take the shot-take the shot.”
The young men did and they killed that tank.
There are units all around me now engaged with Iraqi units that are hiding their tanks and armored personal carriers behind sand berms. But they are giving off some heat signatures. So the bombs that I hear falling-almost all around us in a 360-degree circle-are coming from aircraft that are responding to calls describing where the heat signatures are.
The first skirmish lasted about 45 minutes. It’s very dark here. Unless you have on night-vision goggles, you can’t see very much. The dust is so thick it covers all of our vehicles. It looks as if we are in a snowstorm here. I can see maybe 100 yards at the most, and that’s when using my Nighteyes. But the guys in the turret, the gunner, Sgt. Steve Holden, can see much farther.
We are in chemical gear but we have not gone to any alert status, yet we have our gas masks handy.
I’m sitting in the back seat of the command humvee that is commanding this platoon.
The mission has been to come into Iraq tonight and search out and destroy enemy armor. And that’s exactly what one of these Javelin teams did. This is a two-man team. They fire a $75,000 missile. The platoon leader says he thinks this is the first time this new missile has been fired in combat. And it did kill a tank tonight.
As a reporter involved in these nighttime skirmishes, I feel as if I am running around like a blind man. The guys with their night vision goggles on are calling out where these vehicles are. But I can’t see anything until we pull up beside them.
Earlier, I was able to see some burning oil wells until the sky just got covered in black. Before sundown the Iraqis torched three of their oil wells in the southern part of the country and now they are burning furiously. And they have kicked off an awful lot of black soot. In fact, the black cloud came real close to the ground, where at one time I could taste it in my mouth before the wind changed and blew it away.