Thursday, April 02, 2015

Ranger Day: An insider's view of the Jessica Lynch Rescue.

Not a huge Lynch fan.  She got a Bronze Star... thankfully without the combat "V" device noting courage under fire, for what amounted to getting into a car wreck during an ambush.

That said, I don't mean to denigrate her service in any way, save one: any grunt did more, for far longer, without almost any of the fanfare that goes with it.  Many with no medals to show for it.

That said, I somehow became FB friends with a Ranger who was in on her rescue at the hospital.

I'm nothing special, had a so-so military career.... this guy... THESE guys.... huge one's.  Size of an aircraft carrier ones.

Unfathomable courage was the order of the day, and this is what happened from his perspective.
"Never"....Means never! 12 years ago today.
"Never shall I fail my Comrades"
The Jessica Lynch Rescue...
The part you haven't heard about...
In a few hours it will be 11 years since Bravo 2 walked into the back of a Marine Corps CH46 helicopter. I remember the Regimental Commander telling us Rangers "you are about to make history men" but us Rangers had no idea how the POW Jessica Lynch Rescue Mission would turn into something we never, ever expected!
After the 46 took off towards Nasiriyah, I just stared out the back, laughing to myself thinking "well, sure looks like Christmas in the sky" and it did... tracers and explosions were everywhere.
The helicopter finally sat down in a field and I ran off the ramp and Bam! Fell flat on my face! We had landed in a bunch of large rocks and falling fired me up. After we collected ourselves from the cluster f... landing, a squad leader silhouetted himself on the road while shooting an azimuth with his compass to the hospital. I remember my Squad leader SSG C yelling at him "you stupid f... the whole world can see you".
B CO then began moving to the hospital in road march formation. Resistance was little and besides a RPG going by, way over our heads, nobody but Josh Mathis got any trigger time.
As 1st Squad neared the wall of the hospital they began moving through a field of water. As they sank almost waist deep, they soon realized the water had human body parts in it as well. 1st moved back and my squad, 2nd, moved around them to place a breach (explosive) on the hospital wall. Seal Team 6 was still rescuing the PC (Lynch) so we could not blow the charge. We were told "use your sledge hammers to put in the breach"! (Punch a hole in the wall.)  I will never forget me and Adam Kilian in MOP level 5 (Chemical Warfare Suits) going crazy on that wall with the sledge hammers. It was like an adrenaline rush from hell. In just a matter of a minutes we had a sizable breach (opening) in the wall.
Meanwhile, Seal Team 6 had secured Lynch, then moved with her to a spinning Blackhawk helicopter and exfilled from the objective. (Took off from the Hospital)
The call then came in over the radio to blow the breach but me and Killian were like "wtf we already made one" but the Squad Leader wanted to blow it! So he did!! And since someone didn't inform the Forward Operator, Ryan, to send the MH6 Little Bird helicopters up in orbit, we almost blew one out of the sky when the charge exploded.
The perimeter of the hospital was quickly cleared and the realization that Private Lynch's fellow Soldier's bodies were not in the hospital morgue had our interpreters questioning the doctors. The doctors informed them "they are out front in the soccer field, we buried them (Soldiers) days ago.  Matthew Doyle, my team leader looked at me then and said "let's go".
I remember walking out to the soccer field.  One of the graves had already been opened and the smell was horrifying... it was so powerful... it embedded into our clothing and skin for days. The smell was nothing though compared to what we did next.
Everyone but a couple of M249 SAW gunners dropped their gear and we began to dig.... We used the only thing we had.... Our hands... Looking down into the mud and seeing your brother's and sister's decaying and falling apart bodies (5 males 3 females) was infuriating. They did not look human and they did (not) feel human. Some were even falling apart.
The Sergeant Major told one Ranger from B3 "pick him up by his arms" the Ranger replied "he doesn't have any fucking arms" and many of us Rangers remember SL John Fader in a rage yelling "shut up and go fuck yourself, Sergeant Major"
I took pleasure in that because hearing the SGM yell at us "dig faster" was garbage!
Especially since all he did was walk back and forth. If the SGM had been CSM Devens or CSM Greenway they would have been in the mud and the bodies digging hardcore with us Rangers.
We continued digging... noticing the female soldiers had IVs and tourniquets (Looked like some effort had been made to treat them) but the male Soldiers looked as if some had been brutally tortured.
Rangers would dig, get out of the hole. puke, and then get back in and keep digging.
There was curses and the occasional nervous laugh of Rangers who used whatever means to adapt, overcome and keep on digging. I remember one young Ranger just sitting at the edge of a grave, not moving but just staring down at the dead decaying Soldier in the ground. I told that Ranger "get the fuck out of the way and let this country boy dig"
The good Lord blessed Bemiss with a strong stomach and it thankfully helped me move a lot of dirt that night. I remember the different emotions I experienced, anger and hatred for the Iraqis, then there was a surreal moment were I was thinking "God I am so glad that's not me in that hole" The 8 Soldiers remains were recovered and returned to the Country they died for.
Us Rangers lived the Creed that night!!
"I will never leave a fallen comrade."
The one thing that has given me peace over the last 11 years after 5 combat tours 24 surgeries and 19 months straight of mental hell in the VA hospital, is this story of SP4 Lori Piestewa, a Hopi Indian who was one of Private Lynch's unit. (SP4 Piestewa was one of the female Soldiers we recovered.)
They say the Hopi Indians in Arizona believe that when it snows, it is their Ancestors (loved ones) who have passed on, returning to tell them that they love them. The day Hopi Indian Lori Piestewa's body returned to snowed.
RLTW (Rangers Lead The Way) Jay Strong

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