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4th Sqdn 7th Cav Desert Storm.
Alpha (apache) Troops Actions From 24 February to 21 March 1991.













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Historical account of Alpha (apache) troop's actions during Operation Desert Storm from 24 February to 21 March 1991.

































On 24 February 1991, at 1300 hours, Alpha troop 4th sqdn 7th cav crossed the Iraqi/Saudi Arabian border, called the Line of Departure or "LD" into Iraq beginning their phase of the war in the Persian Gulf. The Squadron's mission was to provide a 41 kilometer long screen from front to rear on 3d Armored Division's right flank, which was also VII Corps right flank. Travelling northeast, the VII Corps' mission was to destroy all Iraqi Republican Guard elements deployed the Kuwait Theator of Operations (KTO).
3d Armored Division moved across the LD with Brigades in coloumn formation. 2nd Brigade (Iron) led, 1st Brigade (Ready) followed and 3d Brigade (Thunder) was trail. The 4th Combat Aviation Brigade (Lead) and the Division Support Elements were last. Charlie and Delta Troops (Charger and Dragon), the Squadron Air Cav, scouted ahead of "Iron" Brigade and helped "Apache" maintain contact and orient it's movement on the main body.
"Apache" deployed over 10 kilometers from the head of "Iron" Brigade to the middle of "Ready" Brigade. Bravo Troop (Blackfoot), the Squadrons other ground troop deployed from "Ready's" middle to the divisions rear (a 15 kilometer length). The squadron's screen line totalled 41 kilometers.
At the head of the squadron ground column was "Apache's" 3d platoon, with A-35, commanded by SSG Edward "Fast Eddy" Deninger, leading the way. To his left, one kilometer closer to the division main body, was A-36, commanded by Sgt Ronald S. Jones. This formed an "L" shape at the formation's head. About 500 meters to their rear and centered was the troop commander, Cpt Gerald S. Davie Jr.
The troop's trains and support vehicles were 400 to 1000 meters inside the screen and centered on the troop. Charger and Dragon continued screening ahead of "Iron" and helped maintain contact between the squadron and the division.
After crossing the LD, 4th sqdn 7th cav's first challenge would be the Iraqi 48th infantry division. Reportedly the 48th was low on food, water and medical supplies but the squadron prepared to fight it's way across the LD. Late in the afternoon of the 24th, "Apache's" lead elements, A-35 and A-36 unknowingly by-passed an Iraqi trenchline with bunker positions. Iraqi's suddenly popped up from the trenchline 200 meters to the front of Cpt Davie's bradley, A-66. Hiding in well camouflaged and well placed positions, the Iraqis who were equipped with RPG-7 anti-tank weapons, could have done a great deal of harm to "Apache". Luckily, the Iraqi's bore out the S-2's report of low morale. Of Kurdish origin, the Iraqi soldiers, though obviously disciplined troops as demonstrated by their controlled movement, had no fight left in them.
Apache was moving one to two kilometers to the west of a low rideline fortified with bunkers. The first Iraqi left trenches which extended from the west of the ridgeline. Two more groups of Iraqis came down from those bunkers to surrender. Ssg Deninger and Sgt Jones fired 25mm HE (high explosive) rounds into the the trenchline to force the rest of the Iraqis out. Apache's attached engineer platoon, under 1Lt John Brown and Sfc Clifford Vaughn, quickly processed the prisoners for evacuation by 1Sg Martin Olsen.
Having dealt with all the prisoners, Apache was ordered to halt movement north and reorient it's screen to the east for the night. Since the 1st Infantry Division was attacking north through the positions to Apache's east, the squadron would have to move west to avoid fratricide. The squadron had to shift twice during the night in order to put a greater and hopefully safer distance between it and the 1st ID's attack. Hampered by darkness and dense fog, the the troops repositioning was a very slow and frustrating all night event. 2Lt Micheal Vassalotti (3d platoon leader) and 1Lt Daniel J. W. King (2d platoon leader) finally reported their elements set at 0545 on February 25, 1991. "Just in time for stand to," quipped a tird Cpt Davie.
1Lt Christopher Hoffman, Apache's Executive officer (XO) announced over the Apache radio net the the troop should be ready to move at 0600. The 25th proved to be a good day for movement. Apache swept north under clear skies. Apache made contact with 3-66 armored battalion of 2nd armored divisions Tiger Brigade at Contact Point 101. This completed the Allied encirclement of the western end of the Iraqi defensive belt. Apache then continued north. At 1530, Apache stopped for the night while continuing to screen the division's right flank. The squadron was hot on the heels of the 2d armored cavalry regiment (2ACR) Dragoon, VII Corps lead element.
On February 26, 1991, the squadron was ordered to pass west of the 2d ACR, then turn to the east following a 90 degree azimuth. The troop was told by squadron to expect contact with the enemy. After turning to the east, apache contacted Foxtrot troop (Red Fox) who led apache to the turning point.
Apache's mission took on a greater dimension. The troop would now maintain contact between 3d AD's right flank battalion, 4-34 armor (centurion) of 1st brigade and 2d ACR's left flank unit, Golf Troop (Ghostrider). Apache would conduct zone reconnaissance in the gap. This gap was originally intended to span 5 kilometers, and Cpt Davie's plan was to have his 3d plt on the right in a zone reconnaissance formation and have his 2d plt on the left in a zone reconnaissance formation. 1st plt, under 2Lt Robert Ricks, would maintain it's column formation to provide length to the screen and maintain contact with blackfoot. 3d plt maintained it's contact with 2d ACR by having Ssg Deninger tune his radio to ghostrider's frequency. 2d plt gained and maintained visual contact with centurion's scouts.
On order of Major General Paul Funk, the 3d AD commander, centurion extended it's front to the south decreasing the squadron's frontage to 3 kilometers, then 1 kilometer.
When the frontage became 1 kilometer, Cpt Davie ordered 1Lt King to move 2d plt behind 3d plt to provide depth to the zone recon. 1st plt maintained it's formation.
The squadron was now moving due east. Navigation became more difficult as a sandstorm kicked up, ultimately decreasing visibility to a mere 300 meters for bradley thermal sights.
After refueling for an hour, the squadron continued east. Shortly thereafter, Sgt Strong, on AA-33 reported 2 bunkers manned by 2 soldiers. 2Lt Vassalotti ordered him to engage the bunker and reported to Cpt Davie. Sgt Strong and Sfc Baker, 3d plt plt sergent, then reported that men were trying to surrender. 2Lt Vassalotti ordered Sgt Strong to cease fire and to take the men prisoner. When 3d plt moved closer, it found noone in the bunker, a false alarm and apache pressed on.
At approximately 1500, Sgt Jones reported hot spots on a low ridgeline to his front. Sfc Baker and Ssg Deninger confirmed the sighting. The three then reported contact with dismounted troops. Sfc Baker gave the order to fire as 2Lt Vassalotti reported back to Cpt Davie.
Sgt Jones then reported one, two then three BMP's in rapid succession. 2d plt engaged them and 2Lt Vassalotti reported to Cpt Davi that three BMP's were burning. Jones, Deninger and 2Lt Vassalotti's gunner, Sgt Delon G. Blackwell each claimed kills. Apache had begun the destruction of two Iraqi mechanized companies reinforced with two platoons of T-72 tanks which had not yet made their devastating appearence.
Cpt Davie ordered 2d plt to split into two sections and move onto the north and south flanks of 3d plt because they were running low on ammunition. 2d plt's A section, led by 1Lt King moved to the south and it's B section, led by Sfc Raymond Egan moved to the north. 2d and 3d plt then began engaging T-72 tanks, which had just made their presence known onto the battlefield, with TOW missles.
Ltc Terry Tucker, the squadron commander, having received Cpt Davie's report on the action, ordered Davie to shift Apache south so that Centurian could assualt through the enemy position. 2d plt had come on-line with 3d plt as 3d plt moved rearward under concealment of smoke from it's on board smoke generators. Cpt Davie gave the order for Apache to move south and for 2d plt's B section to link up with it's A section. Cpt Davie, trying to sort out the situationthrough limited visibility and smoke obscuration, ordered Apache to cut the smoke.
2Lt Vassalotti bounded his plt around 2Lt King's A section bringing it back on line so that it could continue to engage the enemy. 3d plt then had to shift further south to provide more ground in the north for Centurian's assualt. Ssg Deninger, on A troops right flank, reported artillery bursts and some enemy direct small arms fire from the southeast, slowing the movement.
As 2d plt's B section moved south, A troop suffered it's first casualties of the war. A-24 was struck in the turret by a tank sabot round. The round struck and mortally wounded the gunner, Sgt Kenneth Gentry. It also severely wounded Sfc Egan, the Bradley commander, throwing him from the vehicle.
Ssg Jeff Rousey, the Bradley commander of A-25, ordered his Bradley between A-24 and the enemy to shield the vehicle and crewmen from enemy fire. Ssg Andrew Connette, commander of A-26, reported over the the troop net that A-24 was hit. Cpt Davie told him to clear the net and that medics were on the way. Ssg Connette then led the the medic track, commanded by Sgt Tafari Houston, to A-24 to begin first aid and medevac procedures. Both A-25 and 26 remained with the stricken 24 until the whole crew was evacuated. Csm Ronald Sneed, in HQ-77, also came to the aid of the crew of 24 and evacuated Sgt Gentry's body after the other vehicles had moved safely rearward.
Minutes later, Cpl Efrem Evans reported over the troop net that A-33 was also hit. He reported several times and was also ordered to clear the net. "He's bleeding," was one of Evans reports. Sfc Baker called Cpl Evans on the plt net and kept him in the battle. He ordered Evans to stay near him. Cpl Evans continued to fight, moving south with the platoon, while 3d plt was engaging the enrmy. After moving south, A-36, commanded bt Sgt Jones, reported a loss of power but continued to fight. It was later determined that the loss of power was caused by a tank sabot round through the transmission. Ssg Deninger ordered them to get out of there and then ordered his Bradley between 36 and the enemy, who were to the east. Realizing that 36 was immobilized and not having heard Sgt Jones' transmission, 2Lt Vassalotti ordered his vehicle forward. His driver, Spc Jerry Wheat, placed the vehicle at the rear of 36 between the immobilized vehicle and the flanking enemy positions to the south.
Having picked up A-36's crew, 2lt Vassalotti ordered his driver to turn the vehicle around and head west sothat he could link up with the rest of his platoon. As it moved, AA-31 was hit by two T-72 125mm sabot rounds. That caused secondary explosions of the 25mm ammo stored on board the bradley. The track's occupants all sustained moderate burns, except for Sgt Blackwell. Spc Wheat continued to drive west, evacing the wounded to the Apache trains.
2d platoon's A section continued to fight as 3d platoon continued to fan back to subsequent positions. 1lt King, in A-21, identified a large hot spot and elected to engage it with a TOW missle. The TOW fired and detonated on an Iraqi T-72 some 400 meters away. As the ball of fire cleared and the tanks turret returned to earth, Cpt Davie realized that it was time to pull back and complete the battle hand off.
In the confusion of the fight, Cpt Davie did not receive all accountability reports and spotted an abandoned bradley to the east in the area that 3d platoon had withdrawn from. Cpt Davie, thinking that it was A-33, though in fact it was A-36, moved back toward it with 1lt King and 2d platoon's A section. 1lt King placed his track to the south of AA-36 and Cpt Davie placed his to the north. Ssg Wimpy Myers, in A-22, and Sgt Hunt, in A-23 remained north of the other tracks to provide overwatch. 1lt King dismounted and ran to the vehicle to ensure that no one remained on board. Climbing inside, he verified that no soldiers had been left behind.
Enemy fire, bothe direct and indirect, was mounting and 1lt King reported to Cpt Davie that the vehicle was abandoned.
While the tracks were withdrawing, A-22 was hit by a tank sabot round in the turret. The round instantly killed the gunner Sgt Edwin Kutz and wounded Ssg Myers. The force of the impact blew Ssg Myers out of his hatch, and from there he crawled to the ground. In the rear compartment, Pvt Cory Daniels was wounded.
Sgt Hunt stopped his vehicle and carried Ssg Myers to A-23 for evac. as the rest of A-22's crew abandoned the vehicle and mounted A-23 for evac.
While moving by another abandoned vehicle, Cpt Davie and 1lt King stopped to verify that it was empty. Pfc Eugene foster dismounted to check the track and returned to report that a crewman was dead inside. Sgt John Kardatzke then dismounted to verify that the crewman was dead while Pfc Foster provided security with his M-60 machinegun. Sgt Kardatzke and Pfc Foster remounted A-66.
Cpt Davie then pooped smoke grenades to conceal their movement as he and 1lt King, who stayed with him to provide overwatch, moved to the troop's link up point.
Apache consolidated and moved on with the Division and a new mission. The Squadron, having made contact with the enemy, passed "Ready" 1st Bde forward. The 3AD then rumbled over the demoralized and fleeing enemy. At any moment the Squadron could have been called to regain contact with the enemy if the main body had lost contact, but the Division was not about to let that happen, as it bit into and held tenaciously onto the enemy.
Apache greeted the cease fire on 28 February 1991 with elation. Another short road march to an assembly area on the Kuwait-Saudi border ended with some time to rest, relax and remember. MG Funk visited the Squadron on 2 March 1991 to decorate seven soldiers with the Purple Heart. LG Franks, VII corp commander, visited the Squadron on 4 March 1991 and presented Ltc Tucker with the Silver Star. Afterward, the Squadron held a memorial service for Sgt's Kenneth Gentry and Edwin Kutz.
But the Cav can never rest. Apache was alerted at 2300 hrs on 10 March 1991 to move at 0830 the next morning into Iraq to screen the Basrah pocket west of Hwy 8. The Iraqi's were fighting a cicil war and using ammunition from caches west of Basrah to keep fighting.
It was slow and precarious going through the land of tomato fields surrounded by six foot dikes, pipelines which channelized mocement through narrow and distant crossing points and farm houses filled with Iraqis. Several former Iraqi soldiers surrendered to 1st and 2nd platoons. After some tense moments trying to coax them out of buildings, 1lt King and some of his men went from room to room clearing buildings. Luckily, no firing was necessary. The Iraqis had no more desire tomfight, they wished only to live with their families. Many civilians came to the soldiers asking for food and Apache met the people's needs with many MRE's and water.
The Squadron's air troops were woking ahead of the ground units. They reported the zone clear to the north but full of dangerous unexploded ordnance. The recon mission was cancelled by higher due to the explosives. The Squadron
formed into troop laager sites for the night.
In the morning,  Apache moved to another laager site further to the west. Confusion reigned for some time as orders countermanded orders. Finally late in the day, Apache received orders to move east and set up a screen line southeast of the Shaibah oil processing complex. The mission was complete. Apache was ordered to screen in order to prevent the Iraqi forces in Basrah from coming west to gather ammunition from the caches. We were then told to push forward into the zone, clear the area and destroy any vehicles and equipment which remained operable. Additionally, the Squadron was to show a strong U.S. presence in the area and render any aid possible to the local populace.
On 14 March, "Iron" 2d bde arrived to take control of the area. The Squadron was attached to Iron bde and ordered first to clear a zone stretching from Hwy 8 in the east, toward the west; and from Safwan Airfield in the south to Al Rumaylah in the north. At 0830, Apache moved east cautiously but quickly destroying trucks, trailers and anti-aircraft guns. The troop reported all ammunition caches and bunker complexes. Apache returned to the screen line and was set by 1530.
Several more days found Apache scavenging the countryside for bulldozers and bucketloaders. Col Higgens, the Iron bde commander, wanted all positions dug in and Apache complied, hunkering down for a long stay. The soldiers came back from their daily bunker clearing with Iraqi medals, berets, pictures of Saddam Hussein and Iraqi flags. Explosions resounded around the area as engineers destroyed captured Iraqi munitions, tanks and pc's. When the winds came from the northeast, the sky was clear, but if it came from the southeast, black clouds from burning oil fields blotted out the sun.
On 18 March 1991, Ssg Deninger took some sporadic small arms fire as he was reconnoitering a battle position with 2lt Vassalotti. The two pulled back to the west and radioed for instructions. Cpt Davie moved east with the rest of 3d platoon to clear the area. It was an operation reminiscent of Vietnam as the soldiers walked on line through tomato fields, crawled into bunkers and searched a families house. No more shots were fired and the operation ended admirably with the soldiers taking pictures of the smiling children.
On 19 March 1991, Apache received orders to prepare for movement into Kuwait. 1st and 2nd platoons were occupying battle positions to the east of the Apache trains and 2lt Ricks reported sporadic automatic weapons fire in the afternoon. Short lived, the episode did not fluster the men of Alpha troop who went on improving their fighting positions. 
2d bde relieved Alpha troop in place on 20 March 1991 and the troop moved south to Kuwait (AA Camalot) at 0630 on 21 March 1991.  


 




























Sgt Kutz body was recovered the following day as Alpha troop recovered it's vehicles it had abandoned during contact with the enemy at Phaseline bullet. No U.S. soldiers were left behind.
 
"I shall never leave a fallen comrade"
From the Soldier's Creed