4:19 | 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.
Keywords : truck combat mortar Anti-tank weapon food water Iraq maintenance
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.
After the tragic events at Desert One, planning began for another rescue mission. Parallel with this was the decision to create a permanent and robust special operations structure. Keith Nightingale was right in the middle of this difficult effort which involved all the services.
In the aftermath of the debacle at Desert One, an effort to plan and execute another mission to rescue the hostages in Iran got under way. Air Force special ops pilot George Ferkes recalls that new tactics and equipment were developed that served as the blueprint for the revitalization of special operations units throughout the military.
The rebuild of the 75th Ranger Regiment was underway at Fort Benning. Keith Nightingale was the headquarters company commander among other odd jobs. They were developing a new training regimen that was to be the finest anywhere. One important task was the creation of a Ranger Creed.
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.
Operation Eagle Claw was the name of the attempt by US Special Forces to rescue the hostages from the embassy in Iran. The mission was aborted because of mechanical failures in helicopters and then turned tragic when eight men died in a fiery crash. Pilot George Ferkes was part of that team and he describes the events from his perspective.
Clowns in action. That's how Keith Nightingale describes the confusion and snafus during the initial Grenada operation. Most objectives were quickly achieved but there were some difficult battles, including one with a Cuban unit. When the Rangers got to the medical school where American students were waiting, they found out about a second campus with more students. Part 2 of 3.
When the Iranian Revolutionary Guard seized the American embassy, the joint chiefs began looking for the means to rescue the hostages. It was decided to build a team around Delta Force, the elite special ops unit led by Charles Beckwith. General James Vaught was selected as the overall commander of the operation and on his staff was Keith Nightingale, who was then immersed in the urgent planning process. Part 1 of 4.
When the Iran hostage crisis happened, President Carter asked the joint chiefs if there was any way they could be rescued. This set off a mad scramble to put together a multi-branch operation and Air Force special ops pilot George Ferkes was right in the middle of it.
After a long stint with Joint Task Force Eagle Claw, Keith Nightingale left to command a battalion in the 82nd Airborne. This unit was called to be part of Operation Urgent Fury, the liberation of Grenada from a Communist takeover. Part 1 of 3.
With so many joint operations with other countries, Keith Nightingale believes it is more important than ever to be cognizant of their culture and mindset. This was not done in Vietnam and it contributed to the failure of that venture. As he looks back on his career, he salutes some of the leaders who helped him along the way.
Unfortunately, human intelligence had been allowed to wither in favor of satellite technology. This meant that the CIA was little help to the joint task force planning the rescue of the American hostages in Tehran. Every means to extract the hostages was examined and a combination of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters was chosen. Keith Nightingale describes the deliberations that went into this. Pt 2 of 4.
Special forces went through a bit of a renaissance after the failed rescue of the hostages in Iran. Never again would US special operations be caught flat footed and unprepared. Pilot George Ferkes was a part of that mission and it provided him with a purpose that guided him through the rest of his career.
It was a lousy assignment. Jim Bolan was one of the first Special Forces officers and, after Vietnam, he wound up in a training unit with no jump slot. Prodded by his wife, he went to Washington to dust off his most valuable inside contact, who was now the Army's Chief of Staff.
Keith Nightingale remembers that, during the buildup of the new Ranger Battalion, the team researched units from the past including British commandos and Vikings to extract any useful training techniques. Live fire exercises and road marches became very important. In December of 1974, the new Rangers were ready.
There was some good intelligence available during the planning of the Iran hostage rescue attempt. For instance, pilot George Ferkes knew that an aircraft could easily avoid the radar at the border. That was not the problem, though, once the effort got underway.
Keith Nightingale recalls the sometimes uncomfortable fallout from the aborted Iran hostage rescue attempt. There were congressional briefings to give, an investigation to face and a special operations structure to build up. This wasn't made any more pleasant by the conflicting personalities involved.
The decimation of the Army was complete. The leadership had punted in Vietnam and there was no support among most of the public. Army Chief of Staff Creighton Abrams decided to rebuild the Army around a reborn Ranger Battalion, which would be built from the ground up as the finest light infantry in the world. Keith Nightingale found out about this and made sure he was in on it.
When he returned from Vietnam, George Ferkes is fairly sure he saw his old hooch burning on the television when Quang Tri fell. After a couple of years he leapt at the chance to join a special ops outfit, even though, at the time, there was little interest in those units.
Keith Nightingale was heading up post-invasion operations in Grenada when he got a packet of good intelligence on the leaders of the coup there. This aided him in locating and capturing Hudson Austin, who had been behind the Communist takeover. Part 4 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.
No one could get Charles Beckwith to admit that Delta Force didn't have enough personnel to secure all the locations that would be needed for the rescue of the hostages in Iran. Keith Nightingale had to present three times the briefing that proved this. Finally, the Rangers were brought in to enhance the operation and training began in earnest. Part 3 of 4.
Delta Force and the Rangers had arrived at Desert One but the helicopters were delayed by a dust storm. Only five of them were deemed flyable when they got there and the mission requirements were for six. The mission was scrubbed until the next day and mission planner Keith Nightingale describes the tragic circumstances of the departure from the Iranian desert.
In the aftermath of the Grenada invasion, peacekeeping forces from all around the Caribbean were assembled to help keep order. Keith Nightingale's battalion was spread all around the island involved in various missions and the locals in all these enclaves helped their liberators celebrate Thanksgiving. Part 3 of 4.
It had been a long and tortuous process for Keith Nightingale and the rest of the joint task force but Operation Eagle Claw was ready. All the moving parts were primed and all that needed was for President Carter to give the word to go. Pt 4 of 4.