7:56 | 2LT Pinkerton tells of a harrowing experience during Operation "Black Eagle" when Iraqi forces unexpectedly struck, killing his friend.
Keywords : Najaf Iraq Striker armored fighting vehicle RPG-2(hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher) M2 Browning machine gun insurgent mess hall food rocket fragmentation casualties
2LT Pinkerton describes why he enlisted in the army and a frightening experience in airborne school.
2LT Pinkerton describes why he stopped training for the Army's Special Forces and how he became part of his brigade's elite security detail.
While training to fight in Iraq, 2LT Pinkerton relives getting married and the loneliness that followed as he prepared for war.
All the excitement of a C-130 flight to Iraq doesn't prepare 2LT Pinkerton for the death of a soldier killed hours before returning home.
2LT Pinkerton relives shocking explosions and indirect fire that awoke him one night and what happened when his brigade set up counterfire.
Assigned as an officer's driver in the lead truck, 2LT Pinkerton describes how he felt the moment after riding over a live improvised explosive device (IED) that miraculously didn't explode.
2LT Pinkerton dramatically recalls what happened after an explosive projectile slammed into an army truck injuring two buddies and killing an officer all the soldiers respected.
2LT Pinkerton tells of a harrowing experience during Operation "Black Eagle" when Iraqi forces unexpectedly struck, killing his friend.
2LT Pinkerton reflects back on a memorial service for a fallen friend, and describes how a bagpipe ceremony, a colonel's heartfelt words, and the army rangers honored their comrade.
2LT Pinkerton remembers going home for "R and R," and seeing the first signs of victory after returning to Iraq.
Massive warheads slam into 2LT Pinkerton's compound killing several soldiers and destroying the chow hall. He describes how some soldiers had to adapt, and what he did to help on their missions.
As action in Iraq slowed down, 2LT Pinkerton spent hours working out and studying for a promotion. He describes the excitment of learning that he was going home, and helping the 101st Airborne replacements.
Unable to sleep for two weeks before heading home, 2LT Pinkerton remembers why he slept on rocks near the airstrip, sold a lot of his belongings and volunteered to pack up the plane.
The amazing feeling of coming back home from Iraq was just part of a surreal experience for 2LT Pinkerton as he landed in Dallas. He vividly describes how he and his fellow soldiers were greeted by Texans when they landed.
After staying at home for awhile, 2LT Pinkerton gets "the itch" to go back to Iraq, and explains why it's the right thing to do.
2LT Pinkerton relives the sheer terror of being hit by a powerful explosion on the way to Baghdad. Not knowing if he was badly injured, he describes the frightening moments before he found out.
2LT Pinkerton describes being examined by medics and pulling practical jokes on a comrade, after their truck was hit by explosives. He laughs as he shares what he did and why.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.