Ambush Alley: The Most Extraordinary Battle of the Iraq War

Ambush Alley: The Most Extraordinary Battle of the Iraq War by Tim Pritchard Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Ambush Alley: The Most Extraordinary Battle of the Iraq War by Tim Pritchard Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tim Pritchard
Tags: General, nonfiction, History, Military, Iraq War (2003-2011)
Sergeant Aaron Harrell, one of 2nd Platoon’s tank commanders, and tasked him with the recovery. The tanks were still receiving small-arms and machine-gun fire.
Thank God it’s not that accurate.
With one eye on the unfolding fight and the other eye on the stricken tank, he switched between manning his guns and giving orders on the radio. He saw Harrell’s loader crouched on the front slope of the tank, unhooking the tow cables as rounds passed overhead and mortars landed in the fields off to the side. Harrell hooked up the cables to Cubas’s tank and ordered his driver to push his own tank forward. Slowly Cubas’s tank was pulled out.
    At the same time, Captain Jim Thompson, a marathon runner and triathlete, had jumped off his tank and was running toward one of the wounded soldiers. He expected to be able to carry him to safety, but as he tried to heave him up in a fireman’s carry, the weight of the soldier just crushed him. Thompson was so exhausted from the fight that he could hardly lift him. Two other marines ran over and helped the soldier limp to safety behind one of the tanks.
    Captain Dyer rolled to the conduct of fire net. As the leader of the company’s designated FiST, or fire support team, his job was to communicate with battalion staff to get more fire power. Frustratingly, he still didn’t know whether he was getting through. He shouted instructions into the radio. No one acknowledged him. The amount of incoming fire had now increased. Mortar and artillery shells were throwing up mud and dirt around the dump.
    “I need counterbattery support. I need to know where those mortars are coming from. We need to run some air missions.”
    The fire support net was silent. He tried again on battalion tac 1, not sure whether anyone could hear him.
    With him was Major Donald Hawkins, the forward air controller, who supervised air support from the ground. With no reply from battalion, Hawkins called up close air support using the UHF “guard” frequency. Several Cobra attack helicopters and fixed-wing planes had come on station and were circling overhead, surveying the unfolding firefight from the air. Speaking directly to Hawkins, they told him that they could see hundreds of Iraqis beginning to encircle them. They started to take antiaircraft fire. Then one of the pilots spotted a T-55 tank moving toward them.
    Dyer and Hawkins both looked. They couldn’t see it because it was hidden behind a railroad bridge. The Cobra pilot had a good view of it and took aim with a Hellfire missile. Dyer saw it leave the rail and then go “stupid,” losing its direction and missing the target. Hawkins called on the Cobra to laser designate the target and then contacted a Hornet circling overhead to drop a laser-guided bomb. The Cobra pulled to the right, painted the target, and the Hornet came in to attack. Just then, the voice of the battalion fire support coordinator, who was based at the forward command post, and whose job was to oversee what each FiST was doing, came over the radio.
    “Abort! Abort! Abort!”
    The Hornet pulled away, just before dropping the bomb. The tank, now alerted to the danger, sped off into the tree line.
    Dyer and Hawkins couldn’t believe it. Dyer got on the radio to the battalion command.
    “What the hell are you doing?”
    “We’ve got counterbattery fires in the area.”
    Dyer was furious.
    “Guys, these are not tire stacks out there. This is not a training exercise. These assholes are shooting at us. I’m on the ground. I can see what is going on. I’ve done the deconfliction. This is perfectly legit.”
    Dyer was boiling with frustration. The fire support coordinator had a perfect right to call off the mission. But the FSC was sitting miles away, buttoned up in an AAV. Dyer and Hawkins had their eyes on the target and were well aware of what was going on.
When I need battalion they aren’t there.
But when I’m working well, they throw a wrench into a perfectly good run.

Similar Books

The IT Guy

Wynter St. Vincent

A World Too Near

Kay Kenyon

The Reaping

M. Leighton


V. K. Sykes


Madeline Baker

Romancing the Storm: Second Chances

Alana Hart, Alana Claire

Fire Country

David Estes