11 Years After Operation Iraqi Freedom Invasion, a Reflection in Progress

SFC Cushionberry (on right) listening with SSG Walker (left)
to BBC Kuwait as message from President George W. Bush
to Saddam Hussein and his sons to surrender soon before we
invade. It was jarring to listen to a radio station that included
PSAs like be sure you have your gas masks with you and
here’s how to spot a suicide bomber.
We truly live in a different

I can’t believe that it has already been 11 years since I watched SCUD missiles fly overhead towards Kuwait City and the camps we vacated weeks prior to invasion day. A real life Missile Command battle was waging overhead as I received instructions to suit up into my chemical suit (J-LIST). My battalion was going to launch its artillery assault in a matter of hours. The guard towers along the Iraqi border already targeted, leaflets already dropped by PsyOps warning guards to vacate the towers and region if they wanted to live, 3-lane sand roads plowed through the border’s minefield.

As I prepared for the invasion, I remember thinking to myself, “Are we allowed to do this? Am I ready to do this?”

I was the medic for B Battery, 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery, “The Raging Bulls”. My self-made call-sign was “Bull2Mike” so people would know it was the medic from Bravo’s 2nd Platoon talking on the radio network. The call-sign was more for comic relief as well, because this wasn’t an official call-sign. Everyone who heard it would say to themselves, “Who the F*(@ is ‘Bull2Mike!?'”

There wasn’t much time to worry about anything, but my job. I double checked my aid bag, enough to treat four trauma patients simultaneously. I double checked my reserve medical supplies, the two NBC litters we carried in our Humvee, then I set out to clean my M-4 carbine. Mentally, I reviewed basics like ABC (Airway, Breathing, Circulation) assessments, common injuries to expect like broken bones from dropped artillery rounds and bullets to the chest, and then there was the morale issue. I was a 27-year old Army Medical Sergeant surrounded by younger soldiers looking to me for encouragement. Despite being scared out of my mind, I had to stay focused on my tasks, appear confident in myself, my leadership, and the plan.

Bravo Battery (my battery) fired more than 3,000 of the 6,283 artillery rounds fired by the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery. We were involved in every major engagement of the 3rd Infantry Division during the 21-day invasion. That fact always causes me to step back and say, “Wow!” then I sober up when I realize just one round can kill everything on a football field.

Day 1 inside Iraq. This was a counter-battery mission outside of Nasiriyah. We were shooting back at an enemy artillery piece that was shooting at us. The counter-battery radar had a fix on its position before the first of its four rounds ever landed. While that artillery piece missed us by a mile, our five cannons didn’t.

Desperately needing a shower on Day 6 after sitting through a 3-day shamal that painted the sky red by day and pitch black by night. This was somewhere outside of An Najaf, about 110 miles South of Baghdad. We had already advanced about 300 miles into Baghdad in the first three days of the invasion. Our unit stayed here for a couple of weeks while we waited for our sixth cannon to join us from Kuwait, resupply on ammo (we were out of artillery rounds by Day 3), and regroup. Our supply lines needed to be secured before we could press on.

Excerpt taken from Military.com

In January 2003, 1-10th Field Artillery and 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) again deployed to Southwest Asia in support of the Global War on Terror and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Battalion repeatedly distinguished itself during 26 days of sustained combat, fighting in every major engagement of the war except one. After crossing the Kuwait-Iraq border on the night of 20 March 2003, the Battalion traveled more than 750 kilometers in 20 days, culminating in the 3rd Infantry Division’s attack into Baghdad on 6 April 2003. The Battalion fired a total of 6,283 rounds in support of all 3 ground maneuver brigades of the 3rd Infantry Division. These fires destroyed more than 800 enemy soldiers and 75 direct fire combat systems. The Battalion processed 218 radar acquisitions that resulted in the confirmed destruction of more than 50 enemy indirect fire systems. The Battalion lost no soldiers during the initial conflict and sustained only one casualty.

Chasing out looters next door. May/June 2003. Many were after scrap metal, but on occasion, we would come across men who were hiding AK-47s, AK-74s, or prepping what we later realized were the first IEDs.
Homecoming, July 2003

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