2:45 | Ferocious fighting and a myriad of cultures in Iraq, took 2LT Peter Sprenger and his fellow soldiers by surprise. Their training didn't prepare them for what they faced.
Keywords : helicopter Iraq Baghdad Iraq Mosul Iraq Fort Campbell patrols FOB(Forward Operating Base) training
2LT Peter Sprenger describes why he joined the Army after 9/11, his feelings about facing the battlefield, and how his training prepared him and his comrades for a different kind of war in Iraq.
Ferocious fighting and a myriad of cultures in Iraq, took 2LT Peter Sprenger and his fellow soldiers by surprise. Their training didn't prepare them for what they faced.
Trained very well before arriving in Kuwait, 2LT Sprenger experiences a Scud missle attack and witnesses just how well American forces are prepared. He describes what it's like to brace for chemical warfare in the desert heat.
Not knowing when he'd go to Iraq or what was going on politically, 2LT Sprenger recalls how it felt to finally enter the country. He relives the difficulty of moving through the desert while heading toward battle.
Once in Iraq, 2LT Peter Sprenger explains how he felt not knowing who was winning the war and why basic training was tougher than the living conditions he endured in the desert.
First assigned to an air assault, 2LT Peter Sprenger describes how that changed to a ground approach. He recalls experiencing an unexpected odd mix of fighting in Iraq and passing out candy bars to Iraqi children.
2LT Sprenger recalls not knowing how the enemy might attack at night during Iraq's desert sandstorms, and how a soldier's imagination can keep him on constant alert.
The first time 2LT Sprenger faces direct fire it gets his adrenaline going. He recalls how US troops intimidated Iraqi forces and how training prepared him for the real battlefield.
The uncertainty of war weighed heavily on 2LT Sprenger's mind. He describes how he prepared mentally for a surprise attack in the streets of Iraq.
Capturing Baghdad quickly surprised 2LT Sprenger and his fellow troops. He recalls all the excitement, how it boosted morale, and gave soldiers hope that they'd be home soon.
After moving North from Baghdad, 2LT Sprenger describes a surprising twist in the Iraqi culture, people dressed differently, and were more technologically advanced than he ever expected.
2LT Sprenger tells of weapons left unguarded and how dangerously coordinated attacks strengthened his resolve and dedication to fight the Iraqi enemy.
Slammed by powerful explosives, 2LT Sprenger describes the sheer terror of being blinded and badly injured. He relives the heroic efforts of those who helped him scramble to safety.
Blinded by an explosion in Iraq, 2LT Sprenger describes his Medivac Convoy and the first moments he spoke to his family about his devastating injuries.
After being badly inured, 2LT Sprenger describes the emotional ups and downs of his recovery, how his severely injured comrades fared, and the care he received at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Despite losing his eye, 2LT Sprenger describes what drove him back to the battlefield, how his doctors helped, and what he endured to become an Army ranger.
Bill Pearson had been to Vietnam twice and returned unscathed, but the Army wasn't done putting him in danger. He was assigned as an aviation consultant to Iran, advising the Shah's air force on it's supply of American aircraft. The day he arrived, martial law was declared and it wasn't long before there were mobs outside trying to burn down the building. The embassy was no help. Escape seemed impossible.
He was free. Bob Ratonyi had made it out of communist Hungary into Austria. His first stop was a refugee camp, which was overcrowded. He made it to Vienna with the help of a Catholic charity and, once there, he made straight for the American embassy. Unfortunately, the quota for refugees had been met. He had three choices, Australia, Sweden and Canada.
He considered it the finest education available. Geoff Farrell went to West Point, where he soaked up all the history and knowledge available there. He was assigned to Europe, where he patrolled the German border as Soviet Communism was dying. There was a brief period of jubilation when the wall came down, then they heard about Saddam Hussein.
Bob Stewart arrived in Houston as the first active Army officer to become a space shuttle mission specialist. After a year of classes, he was given a technical task, develop the shuttle's entry flight control system. The first flight was scheduled for two years out but he had to give management some bad news.
Thermal imaging had been around for a while and Geoff Farrell was very familiar with it. GPS, however, was new and expensive, and no one was familiar with it. Both were integral to the swift victory in Desert Storm. Before his deployment he declined a dose of an experimental drug that was supposed to protect against chemical weapons and he wonders if that drug contributed to Gulf War Syndrome.
Bob Stewart was walking on air. He just got a call from NASA that he was accepted as a mission specialist on the space shuttle program. He was going to be an astronaut, but first he had one more flight in his capacity as an Army test pilot.
After the battle, the men of the 2nd Armored Cavalry did humanitarian work for the Iraqi civilians, then it was time to return to Germany. For Geoff Farrell, a feeling of unreality set in on the flight home. How do you decompress from combat? At least those who fought in this war were not going to experience the humiliation that Vietnam veterans had faced.
Bob Stewart was more nervous going to Vietnam than he was going into space the first time. You could get maimed in combat but in space you were either A-OK or completely gone. He made two flights on the space shuttle and, along with Bruce McCandless, made the first EVA with the new MMU, the Manned Maneuvering Unit.
During Operation Just Cause, John Le Moyne was assigned to the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) as a liaison officer to other agencies. In this capacity, he was able to observe some high level command operations that were very impressive. It was only a short while after this brief conflict that Saddam Hussein began to make noise in the Middle East.
John Le Moyne never had a bad assignment. That's the way he looked at it, anyway, and it had a lot to do with the excellent leaders he encountered throughout his career. They helped him crack the code on how to win the trust of soldiers.
After the Challenger tragedy, NASA mission specialist Bob Stewart returned to the Army where they made him a general. He worked at the Strategic Defense Command, a legacy of Ronald Reagan's SDI program. At some point the Army wanted him in Washington DC, at which point he promoted himself to ski bum.
When the cease fire was declared, American units had not yet reached Baghdad. In his command track, Geoff Farrell had the graphics on his screen to guide him right in, but it was decided we would not go. Looking back to that critical moment, he reflects on the decision.
Some of his pilot friends were recruited by the airlines but Bob Stewart had other ideas. He became a test pilot. They got the money but he had the fun. He was instrumental in bringing the Apache and Blackhawk helicopters into the Army's fleet of airships.
John Le Moyne had come in to Saudi Arabia leading an advance team. Starting from scratch in the desert, in the summer, huge operating bases were established. The locals were amazed at the way the Americans adapted to the environment. It was during this conflict that many innovations in troop care and comfort were devised.
They had prepared for the wrong war. Geoff Farrell's armored cavalry unit was going to the desert to confront Saddam Hussein, but their vehicles and uniforms were green and all their training was for fighting in European forests. Once they got to the staging area in Saudi Arabia, they adapted well.
For Geoff Farrell, who fought in Desert Storm with the armored cavalry, it was obvious. It was technology and training that ensured victory. We had a lot of it and the Iraqis had very little. Our weapons had a longer range and, when a sandstorm came up in the middle of a battle, we had GPS and thermal imaging.
It began as a simple student march in Budapest permitted by the communist government. Overnight, it became a bloody uprising. Bob Ratonyi was an eighteen year old freshman who was swept up in the moment. It began a course of events that would lead to a brutal crackdown and to his eventual escape to the West. Part 1 of 4.
Lt. Geoff Farrell was sleeping in the command track when he heard it on the radio. We were at war with Iraq. His armored cavalry unit crossed from Saudi Arabia into Iraq where they were greeted by friendly children in the middle of nowhere.
It was near anarchy in Budapest following the fall of the Nazis. Many were starving surrounded by rubble. Bob Ratonyi was overjoyed when his mother returned from a labor camp but then he watched as communists turned Hungary into a Stalinist dictatorship.
The rumor was that the Iraqi's Soviet made tanks were superior to ours. Geoff Farrell had this on his mind while rolling across the desert to engage them. Just as they got near, a sandstorm came up. Then the Iraqi artillery began to fall. Then the first Iraqi tank was destroyed, shattering the myth.
On the spur of the moment, Bob Ratonyi sent a transcript to MIT. He'd never heard of it but one of his professors said it was one of the best engineering schools in the world. As a Hungarian refugee in Canada, he was unaware of it's reputation and he surely could not afford it. When he was accepted, he faced a hard choice. (Caution: coarse language.)