26 years ago today: offensive operations in Desert Storm end

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26 years ago today: offensive operations in Desert Storm end

Hard to believe it has been 26 years since the first Gulf War, but it has.   Just the other day I wrote about the Battle of 73 Easting, not actually realizing we were coming up on the anniversary of it, but my friend Jonn Lilyea of This Ain't Hell was in a sister unit, and marks this as the anniversary of the Battle of Norfolk that he took part in:

The Battle of Norfolk was the cousin of the Battle of 73 Easting. Objective Norfolk was just the other side of that invisible line in the sand. Wiki says of that battle;

The Battle of Norfolk has been recognized by some sources as the second largest tank battle in American history and the largest tank battle of the 1st Gulf War. No fewer than 12 divisions participated in the Battle of Norfolk along with multiple brigades and elements of a regiment. American and British forces destroyed approximately 750 Iraqi tanks and hundreds of other types of combat vehicles.

Task Force 1-41 passed through elements of the 2d ACR at about 30 minutes after midnight in total darkness after a day-long march to get to the battle. The horizon in front of 2/2 Cav was dotted with burning armored vehicles, hundreds of Iraqi prisoners sat in tiny groups waving white flags so they wouldn’t get shot by the advancing armored vehicles. We could make out them and their flags through our thermal optics. As soon as we passed through the Cav’s vehicles, it became a 360-degree battle. Bravo Company’s commander became disoriented and led a platoon diagonally across the battlefield where they were mistaken for Iraqi armor by M1 gunners who immediately destroyed three of the Bradleys. Remarkably, only six of that 35-member platoon were killed.

After the battle Jonn notes:

We reconsolidated after a sleepless night and set out for Kuwait from there. Eventually, we began running out of fuel and the whole Brigade lagered up the night of the 27th and waited for the fuelers – and we got our first real sleep since we’d crossed into Iraq three days before only because our fuel tanks were nearly empty. I laid on top of our TOW missile launcher while I waited for the troops to get their own sleeping gear situated and woke up with the sun in my face the next morning with a few hours left before the ceasefire so we mounted up and moved out.

As the ceasefire deadline approached, we engaged with remnants of the Iraqi Army left behind by their leadership (which had fled back to Iraq on the nearby Highway One – the Highway of Death) and at 0800 local time, we turned left and stopped firing.

Anyway, I am rewatching the Frontline special about Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and thinking how much of what was left undone at the time would come back to revisit those of us who joined in the aftermath.  I was still in college at the time, trying to get into the military in time to get into the fight, but realizing that was unlikely.  Luckily I finished up college, because 100 hours after the ground offensive started, it was over.

February 22 - President George Bush issued a 24-hour ultimatum that Iraq must withdraw from Kuwait to avoid start of ground war.

February 23 - Iraqis ignited an estimated 700 oil wells in Kuwait.

February 24 - Allied ground assault began at 4 a.m. (February 23, 8 p.m. Eastern time).

February 25 - Iraqi Scud destroyed U.S. barracks in Dhahran, killing 28 U.S. military personnel.

February 27 - President George Bush declared Kuwait liberated, and suspended all U.S. and allied force offensive operations, exactly 100 hours after the ground battle started and six weeks to the day since air attacks were launched against Iraq.

February 28 - Cessation of hostilities declared, 8:01 a.m. (12:01 a.m. Eastern time).

Here's the video if you have 3+ hours:

Salute to Jonn and everyone out there who participated in the first Gulf War.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.