17 Jan 1991
0300 Local Time (0000Z) the war started. CB woke me @ 0420, I arrived at TOC 0430, prepared for CSAR or whatever. Only one US aircraft down during the night, and that was overland.
Sun-up - stood easy, but everyone was glued to the news and adrenalin pumped. Easy, uneventful day.
About 2000, 4 or 5 incoming arty rounds drove everyone to bunker. Impacted across the street. Word is one Marine injured. (First Desert Storm Purple Heart?) Stood easy about 2300.
About midnight we received word that an armored column of tanks, etc was heading for the border at Khafji, getting ready to cross into Saudi. We started making preps to "get out of town". Put all five boats in the water (3 were in already) and made plans to evac everyone by sea. We put all the weapons we weren't bringing with us in a conex box and the SEALs rigged it to explode. We burned all our personal shit, letters, pictures.
As it turned out, air strikes and arty turned column back, so we stood down about 0100, but didn't get the boats back secured until about 0300.
I had just got to bed when we got word of scud launch. I didn't bother to get up, I just put my gas gear nest to me, figuring I would hear an explosion before anything happened adn I went back to sleep. Learned the scuds were aimed at Israel. Asshole is trying to start a holy war.
Up at 0600, spent rest of day standing TOC watch and working - no rest. Planned on sleeping on the pier tonight. Got down about 2100. Tired.
Then ... about 2200, incoming. Four more arty rounds, and it was back to the bunker. Sleep about midnight, and thank God, a full night sleep from there.
19 Jan -
SDV Team tipped our crane over, landed on a Humvee. No casualties, but it scared the crap out of the LT sitting in the hummer.
(I have some other comments in my log book concerning this incident, but they aren't appropriate)
Later that night - incoming artillery again - getting closer.
20 Jan -
Coordinating strikes against the MRLS site that is putting on the nightly arty show.
About 2100 got word Sadam launched multiple scuds, possibly chemical, headed in our direction. Got moppped out, hit the bunker and waited. Later found two were destroyed in the air by Patriot missiles, and one landed in Bahrain.
Buff 51 Raiders 3!
21 Jan -
three scud alerts, this time toward Saudi. This time, based on time of flight, delay in report, etc, we didn't go to the bunkers as it appeared they weren't coming our way. Reports that six of the six launched scuds were shot down by Patriot missiles.
This morning, about 0730, it got dark. Really dark, like nighttime. Apparently the wind blew thick oil smoke across the sun. About 10 minutes, back to normal. We noticed an oil slick (diesel fuel) off the pier. Reports of same from border to Safanyah.
Worked on FMP to take SEALs into Kuwait for recon.
More Scud alerts tonight.
22 Jan -
More Scuds, and the evening artillery show is getting closer. Sleep interrupted, getting tired.
23 Jan -
First CSAR mission. Downed pilot off Khafji. Scorpion and Setton to investigate. No luck, learned a helo from a ship picked up pilot. The Scorpion began to take on water, to the point where the whole front compartment was flooded. EN2 Brown coordinated the pump-out efforts, using buckets, ice chests and anything that would hold water to bail the water out, all the while, remaining up on plane to keep more water from coming in. We were able to bring her home and got her out of the water. The stringers were cracked, four 8" cracks along each stringer. (BTW, I credit Brownie with saving the boat ... he was cool headed and just "took charge" when he needed to.)
24-25 Jan -
Scorpion to Bahrain for repairs. SBU-13 RIB detachment arrived. Good to have some more assets, we're stretched pretty thin. Ugly weather, no boat ops. Finalized plan for recon into Kuwait.
More scuds, more arty, same old shit. Artillery rounds landing closer - scud landed near Riyahd.
Prepping boats for recon mission. First push into Kuwaiti waters. Boats will take SEALs and CRRCs to drop off for recon of Kuwaiti coastline. Boats will wait on the border for comm relay and pick up when required.
Oil slick is huge and getting bigger. About 3-6" of crude oil everywhere.
More arty and scud launches - nothing close to us.
Boats returned early AM. Successful operation - boats covered in oil. Rained all day. Prepping boats for another recon op tomorrow night. Heard on CNN that the oil slick has been shut down.
Recon mission turned back because of oil slick. Fouled the engines, created overheating conditions. Will get underway in daylight and recon scope of the slick.
Oil slick is huge, reportedly 6-10 times bigger than Exxon Valdez. Hopefully as reported, the pump is shut down. It's an environmental mess.
Setton on patrol tonight - big bright moon, clear sky, weird night. Setton sees lights right outside the channel. TOC directed them to "follow at a safe distance", and sent the Saudi boats to investigate. Saudi's claim the didn't see anything. We launched three other boats to investigate, nothing sighted. It took command 4 hours to make decision to pursue. (I have other notes regarding this in my log, but they are not appropriate or relevant).
While all this was going on, an Iraqi patrol came across the border into Khafji, causing the SEAL platoon on the border to evac, leaving behind a lot of gear, but fortunately nobody got hurt. Weird night for sure.
Sent RIBs on patrol to see if they could find the source of the lights seen last night. Nothing.
Reports of invasion are wide and varied. We are trying to prepare for all contingencies, without knowing what is what. Hell of a way to run a war.
There must not have been much happening of note the last couple of days. I'll recap the highlights Got to call home
After patrolling 3 nights in a row, Fountains finally got a day off. Had to tow them back, both broke down.
I went on the patrol tonight - two settons. My first time in the oil slick. It was worse than I expected. Interesting thing, when the boats hit the oil slick, it's like a black curtain was drawn along the sides of the boat ... strangely quiet and dark as hell.
Scorpion returned, full mission capable
Setton 4, cracked fuel tank - sent to RAG
Fountains bay tested, FMC
RIBS took Me, Commander Holden and a couple SEALs north to visit the USS Nickolas to deconflict future northward trecks. After, we continued north over the border. Damn it was cold. We were about 5 miles from USS Missouri when she fired her 16"ers. Damn impressive.
Things have been pretty relaxed the last 2 days. Wx kept the boats in port yesterday and we didn't do much. They are as ready as they can be, for now.
Tonight - first 3 boat patrol, Scorpion and 2 FTN. All three came back under their own power. (this is significant, based on how often we have to tow them back or return on one engine.)
CO and I discussed the issue of bringing DEVGRU boats to augment the Task Unit. It was decided that it would be a good idea and they will be sending four boats, crews and maintenance.
No ops. Windows rattled from NGFS dumping on Kuwait. Both Wisconsin and Missouri are raining down.
Doing recon ops every night. Fountains are truly pieces of shit. We haven't finished one op without a breakdown. The guys are putting 110% into it, but the boats are just old, used up junk, with pisspoor parts support.
A mine washed up on the sand-bar north of here last night. Saudi EOD exploded it - wow, now I see why mines are so destructive to shipping.
Went to Khafji yesterday - first time since the invasion and reclamation. I have seen numerous pictures of all the dead tanks, but this was my first trip there.
The tanks were all gone, but you could see where they had been. Litter, debris and burnt area marked where they had been.
The town was deserted. A few stray dogs, but no one around. It was a very eerie feeling, I've never seen anything like it. It was a ghost town, a few junked cars, lots of broken glass and trash ... just empty.
Sunny day. Ribs on night patrol last night had to hold for an engagement by Kuwait PBs. They are being vectored for a BDA. They think it was an IZ PB. Will find out tomorrow what they find.
The BDA the Ribs did last night turned out not to be an IZ craft ... it was a radar reflecting barge. But the Kuwaitis blew the shit out of it - and the coordination btwn US and KUN went well.
Devgru boats have been here for a few days. Nice boats, much more capabilities than we have. Carry more SEALs, much better comms, more guns and much better parts support and equipment.
The Devgru guys are melding in well with our guys. The local knowledge our guys have is priceless, given the lack of charts of the area. The mechanics have been a big help as well, although our boats are still pieces of shit.
FTN 6 is down hard, broken ribs. Taking to Bahrain for repairs.
The ground and buildings were literally quivering from the bombs. This AM the sky was black - remained fairly dark all day, probably due to all the ordinance dropped last night. Spent day mission planning for DA mission into Kuwait with the Devgru boats. Plan is to land a SEAL plt to place charges on beach to simulate amphib landing. Boats will be manned by both SBU and Devgru personnel.
Ground war is scheduled to start tonight at 0300. I love you Karen and Kristy.
Last nights op was good - no great. The SOCs took a squad to Mina Saud. The SEALs laid down explosives on the beach, and as they went up, the SOCs hosed the area with 50, MK19 and minigun. It was a diversion to simulate the amphib landing that never happened. Reportedly, elements of two Iraqi divisions reacted to the diversion. Good op, and good coordination btwn our guys and the Devgru.
Planning a mission to take SOCs to Kubhar Island to run a DA/CPI mission. Looking for a better location, maybe Karin inlet or Ras al Qualaih.
Went w/ SEAL recon team to check status of KN boats in Khafji harbor. Three boats are salvageable, but unmovable w/out crane support. Both the cranes there were OOC. The base is deserted. Even the guard shack at the entrance was deserted, apparently in a big hurry. Food, bikes, clothes, etc were still there. I think they bailed out because they were scared of the ground war starting and were afraid the IZ would come through Khafji again.
The pier and surrounding area is covered with boats of all types, canoes, paddleboats, speedboats, jet skis and even an oil-rig life raft. They were all used by Kuwaitis to escape the Iraqi invasion and recovered by the SACG. There are literally hundreds of craft rotting by the pier.
Khafji is still empty. I still wonder why Iraq chose to invade Saudi, but they got their asses handed to them for their efforts.
On the way to Kuwait for a site survey at Ras al Qualayiah (RAQ) Naval Base. Got as far as the border when we got turned back. Command wants to launch the boats to do interdiction patrols off Kubhar.
Bummed out. Returned home, boats got underway. Scorp, F-7 and 4 SOCs. The wx turned to shit, helos laid on to fly support and C2 team was grounded, and we turned the boats around at the border. They got back in about midnight. F-7 was broken .. a SOC rammed it and broke the transom. (Pros from Dover?)
CO directed to get u/w at 0600 tomorrow. Worked all night getting Scorp/Setton 2 ready. After busting ass all night to be ready, we got u/w late. Seems like the pros from Dover "lost" the SOC slings. Anyway, finally u/w about 0730
Observations: Should have never been out there. The weather was shitty and getting shittier. Informed CO it was not a good idea, he didn't want to hear it. The crews were OUTSTANDING - soaking wet, tired and dirty, they turned to and did what needed to be done and were ready to go at 0600.
0730ish, 4 SOCs, Scorp and Setton 2 u/w for Kubhar. CO and C2 element went on helo.
Myself, 3 SEALS and Kuwaiti Marine Major Faisal went to RAQ to site survey the Naval Base. Crossing into Kuwait for first time - without a doubt a war zone. The highway is torn up, the mosque at the border crossing blown to shit. As we drove north, we had to weave through where the mines had been laid. They supposedly were cleared, but we made sure we followed someone elses tracks.
We passed the oil fire trenches, numerous minefields and a lot of bombed tanks, APCs and trucks beside the road. The further north we got, the less damage to the road/buildings. Until we got to RAQ.
We were the first people in since it had been "cleared" by Saudi National Guard. It didn't appear to have been cleared, there were no tire marks, no indications of anyone there for a few days. We proceeded very cautiously, to say the least. Got to main gate - locked. Base appeared deserted. Major Faisal took us to a side gate - open - and we went straight to the pier area.
Damage from NGFS was immense. The buildings were standing, but destroyed. There was debris and litter everywhere. We checked some of the buildings - office spaces, etc. I went with Major Faisal to his old office. It was in shambles. He was visibly shaken at seeing his books, papers and personal things ratfucked by the Iraqis. We found some clothes, shoes and a helmet there that had belonged to the Iraqi who occupied the office. The building was being used until the NGFS started busting it up. In most buildings, it was hard to tell if the damage was done by incoming or vandalism.
As we walked around, Major Faisal showed me his parking space, marked with his name. There was another car parked in it. I took the Majors name tag down and offered it to him. He said it was bad memory, and didn't want it.
I went through a couple of other buildings, one appeared to be a high level officers office. There was a large picture of Saddam in a very ornate frame on the wall. The furniture was very plush, it was obviously someone pretty high up. In another room, we found Saddam posters, Iraqi flag. It appeared when they left, it was very organized and planned. No personal effects, papers, clothes left behind.
The buildings that weren't hit by incoming were vandalized - no doors, windows, light switches, plugs, everything missing. A total rape of everything they could steal.
Under the pier, we located the command bunker. Furniture was nice, lots of bunks, tables, etc. We found 7 RPG launchers and 2 AK 47s. We only had small flashlight and hand weapons, so we didn't go in too deep.
On the way back to RAM we stopped near a Kuwaiti convoy. They were very happy, thankful to us for giving them their country back. Very emotional time ... for me and for them.
I hope my pictures turn out okay.
0800 - the war was over. A cease fire order was given. The ground war lasted 100 hours. Feel relieved - feel a little taller. I am just beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The boats returned from their last op.
Went back to Kuwait City. Witnessed a lot of destruction, but mostly it was the people celebrating. Everywhere we went, we saw signs thanking America and George Bush. There was parades everywhere, and people hugging and shaking our hands. I know a little now how it must have felt when WW2 Soldiers liberated France. I'm proud - of myself and my guys. We did good!
The rest is a blur --- getting ready to go home, then waiting around until finally, 9 March we left Saudi Arabia and headed home. I was home in time for my daughter's 15th birthday.
(Personal thoughts not from my log book)
On 1 March, a SEAL CDR led a platoon of SEALs into RAQ Naval Base to clear it. The CDR received a Silver Star, and there were a bunch of Bronze Stars handed out for that operation. They were cited for "being the first" to recon the Navy Base (the one I was at two days ago).
Of the Boat Guys, I made sure every one got a medal, some Navy Comms, some Navy Achievements. I put 1 Boat Guy in for a Bronze Star ... it was downgraded to a Navy Comm. The only Bronze Star handed out to any of the Boat Guys was to the SEAL Warrant Officer - who I had written up for a Navy Comm. Oh well, maybe now that SWCC is a rating and they are full-blown members of NSW, Boat Guys will stop being the red-headed stepkids.)