1st Battalion 22nd Infantry
Operation Iraqi Freedom
The following is a report on
the activities of 1-22 Infantry,
written on June 20, 2003, by the Battalion Commander,
LTC Steven D. Russell
LTC Steven D. Russell
20 June 03
Dear Family and Friends,
Wanted to drop a note to let you all know how things are going with the Regulars of TF 1-22 Infantry.
As most of you know, our soldiers operate in the city and surrounding villages of Tikrit, Iraq. Tikrit was the birthplace and hometown of Saddam Hussein. Needless to say, this has made it an interesting place to operate, as there are many die-hard loyalists to the old regime. Most are not and even some who are welcome our soldiers because they fear the local population will kill them for living privileged lives under Saddam.
Our operations target hostile forces trying to prevent the efforts of US soldiers and the Iraqi local government and police. The local government is making great progress here. I cannot speak for the rest of Iraq, but if Tikrit is any indication, these people are well on their way to self-government. We have made great strides in working together and they continue to provide us valuable information on the activities of hostile elements within our sector.
This phase of the war in my mind seems to be an insurgency. The Iraqi army had no formal surrender and the soldiers were not formally processed anywhere. Instead the Iraqi soldiers simply dissolved into a hundred cities, towns and villages. Most want simply to get on with their lives. A small minority appears to cling to the past. These are the ones that are attacking our soldiers. In the last few weeks we have engaged them and recently we have hurt their local command and control structure in such a way as they cannot quickly recover.
The first week of June saw our soldiers attacked in a series of small arms and RPG raids. The hostile elements were not afraid to engage our forces. On the 4th of June, hostile elements attacked a section of our B Company Bradleys attached to 3-66 AR. Our Infantry avoided the initial strike but as they came around the village, they were ambushed from the rear. An RPG penetrated the ramp door of the lead Bradley. Providentially, the penetrator threaded the fire team of Infantry in the vehiclemissing them all. The warhead hit some electronic equipment near the turret wall and exploded. Although the 5 men suffered flash burns and shrapnel wounds, the body armor and Kevlar helmets saved their lives and all escaped without severe life or limb injury. All are recovering well and a couple have now returned to duty.
On the night of 5 June, a Bradley from this same company hit an anti-tank mine on the front left side of the vehicle. The blast ripped a hole through the drivers compartment and sent the front drive sprocket, a couple of road wheels and the hull access covers flying. The resulting laceration in the hull was almost big enough for me to climb through. The driver, a young private, endured the shock of the blast, instantly suffering two broken legs and a broken arm. His body armor and equipment saved him from more severe injuries. This brave young man kept his head and immediately hit the fuel shut-off valve and dropped the ramp door, allowing his fellow Infantrymen to escape from the vehicle. His comrades came to his aid, as he was trapped in the vehicle. He is now recovering well from his wounds.
That same night our C Company also had a Bradley hit by an RPG. The cone of the warhead hit a case of water, causing the warhead to malfunction. Miraculously, the warhead did not explode and we are able to render the explosive safe. Our men suffered no injuries. Our men also acted quickly on a mortar that was fired on US forces, which we subsequently captured with 15 rounds of ammunition. The soldiers continue to behave with amazing discipline and our nation should be very proud of them.
On the night of the 5th to 6th of June, hostile elements struck our civil-military coordination building. This is where local Iraqis come to work out issues with US forces in our area. A volley of RPGs ripped the stale night air after plunging into the walled compound. Soldiers reacted immediately as hostile small arms fire peppered the compound. Our men gained a position behind walls, Hesco Bastions and windows as they returned fire. The initial volley wounded 4 of our men but they continued to fight the assailants who had positioned themselves on the rooftops of homes across the main highway. An MP from our task force a few buildings down at the Iraqi police station opened up with .50 cal fire on the rooftops. His suppressive fire allowed the men at the other building to employ a Bradley at the enemy element. An enemy element from a different direction then opened up on the MP with an RPG, severely wounding the young soldier. Our Bradley opened up with machine gun and 25 mm along the rooftops, effectively deciding the contest. All firing at this point ceased. The brave MP had emptied a can of .50 cal ammunition before falling unconscious from his wounds. We were able to evacuate and stabilize him at our aid station. He later died from his wounds and loss of blood. Our other soldiers suffered mostly shrapnel wounds. The enemy paid dearly. While we did not realize it at the time, we wounded at least 4 and were later able to capture 4 others involved in the attack along with 2 x RPG launchers. Other enemy wounded or killed remains unknown although reports from locals say we caused a great deal of damage to him.
From this point we acted quickly. The curfew was strictly enforced in Tikrita city of approximately 75,000. Those caught out after curfew were rounded up in the local soccer stadium where we employed them as a trash detail the next morning to help keep Tikrit beautiful (an optimistic task at best). The effect was immediate as the locals had no desire for such work and the streets were eerily empty during subsequent nights. We then focused our efforts to grab the initiative like a stick and beat the enemy with it. For the last week we have had great cooperation from the local government and police. Our own efforts have focused on hostile activities. Using multiple simultaneous raids, we have captured a number of important individuals that led us to bigger fish. By now you all have heard that #4 was captured here in Tikrit on the night of 16 June. Our men performed superbly and worked in cooperation with special operations forces. We also spoiled an attack on our market and our flash checkpoints from C Company captured 14 armed men with AK-47s in the space of an hour and a half. Information from raids and pressure on people we detained led us to the info for #4s capture and culminated this week with the raids on the Hadooshi farm on the night of the 17th. The Hadooshis were believed to be personal bodyguards of Saddam Hussein. It was here TF 1-22 IN seized AK-47s, night vision and surveillance equipment, sniper weapons, global position equipment and large amounts of ammunitionnot your typical farm implements. But the biggest catch of all at the farm was $8,303,000 in US cash and another $1 million worth of Iraqi currency. We also found an estimated $2 million worth of Jewelry that belonged to Sajida Kerala Telfa, better known as the wife of Saddam Hussein.
I had never seen such cash or treasure in my life. It simply boggles the mind. Our men preformed magnificently and our recon platoon leader, 1LT Chris Morris, ensured our great success with his quick actions at the farm. He decided to take the farm with his scouts even though we intended to maneuver additional force there. The activity at the farm called for immediate action however and the element of surprise and the discipline of our men carried the day. CPT Mark Stouffers A Company also struck gold with a captured top-ranking Republican Guard officer and also one of Saddams bodyguards. The noose is tightening. Now the enemy is scattered and on the run. The next morning after these operations, our men captured a man at a checkpoint attempting to flee with $800,000 US cash in a gym bag. C Company, 3-66 AR has been a big help as well with our flash checkpoints.
Local authorities report we have hurt the subversive elements severely. Even the Muslim Imams have expressed an appreciation for our efforts. But our work is far from being over. The hostile elements remain and attempt to strike back with indirect fire attacks or attacks on our convoys. We remain vigilant. Keep us in your prayers. Know your young men are taken care of and are doing superb work.
The men have good morale and are flushed with the recent successes. We are living well for the most part, billeted as we are in former palace compounds. The weather remains oppressive and all we generally do is soak our uniforms with our own sweat in the 115-degree heat. But we are eating well and have generally good hygiene. Our equipment is holding up relatively well given the operations and environment. The robust Bradleys and body armor have earned the absolute respect of our men as they have repeatedly shown that they will save lives.
I trust all is well back at home. Please keep our men in your prayers. God has blessed our arms and continues to protect us in many miraculous ways. We will continue to uphold the traditions of the Infantry and the US Army and the United States of America. Do not worry about us. Psalm 91. SDR
LTC Steve Russell
TF 1-22 Infantry