Movement from DAWSON to link up with 3d FSB at the Line of Departure (LD), to ATTACK POSITION BULL
At 0700 hours on 21 March, the 507th departed ATTACK POSITION DAWSON to link up with the 3d FSB. They crossed the line of departure into Iraq at 1000 hours. The convoy moved approximately 35 kilometers, arriving at ATTACK POSITION BULL at 1200 hours on 21 March. (see FIGURE 3)
Movement from ATTACK POSITION BULL to ATTACK POSITION LIZARD
At 1800 hours on 21 March, the 507th departed BULL with the 3d FSB enroute to LIZARD, 80 kilometers northwest. The convoy continued to travel off-road and some of the heavier vehicles bogged down in the soft sand. Drivers from many units became confused due to the darkness, causing some vehicles to separate from their march columns. Poor trafficability and mechanical problems resulted in the fragmentation of the 507th convoy into two groups. The first group consisted of those vehicles that did not break down or get stuck in the sand and were capable of keeping pace with the 3d FSB convoy. The second group consisted of those vehicles that had mechanical problems or were stuck in the sand, along with those vehicles used to tow or pull other vehicles free. CPT King took personal charge of the first group and arrived at LIZARD at about 0530 hours on 22 March, after an all-night movement. 1SG Dowdy was charged with recovering the second group and leading it to LIZARD. Working through the night of 21 March and into the next day, 1SG Dowdy recovered and repaired vehicles not only from the 507th but from the 3d FSB as well. The 1SG and the second group of 507th vehicles would eventually arrive at LIZARD at 1600 hours on 22 March, 22 hours after departing ATTACK POSITION BULL. (see FIGURE 3)
SHAPE \* MERGEFORMAT FIGURE 3 Convoy movement to An Nasiriyah
Decision to Split the 507th Convoy at ATTACK POSITION LIZARD
After arriving at LIZARD, while awaiting 1SG Dowdy?s arrival, CPT King contacted his battalion commander to inform him of the 507th?s situation. LTC Joseph Fischetti, commander, 5th Battalion, 52d Air Defense Artillery (PATRIOT) acknowledged the report. CPT King also recalls reporting his status and confirming with the 3d FSB staff that the overall situation, to include route, was unchanged. The 3d FSB staff advised CPT King that the convoy would depart at 1400 hours as planned. Based on that information and with the intent to push support forward, CPT King directed his executive officer, 1LT Jeff Shearin, to lead all the available 507th vehicles and remain with the 3d FSB convoy. Shearin departed with 32 Soldiers in 17 vehicles at 1400 hours with the main 3d FSB convoy. King remained at LIZARD and waited for 1SG Dowdy and the remaining Soldiers and vehicles of the 507th.
At about 1400 hours on 22 March, 1SG Dowdy radioed CPT King to report that he had all of the remaining vehicles running or in tow and was 10-12 kilometers away from LIZARD. He arrived at LIZARD at about 1600 hours. Along with 1SG Dowdy were the two Soldiers from the 3d FSB, SGT George Buggs and PFC Edward Anguiano. Buggs and Anguiano were driving a 10-ton wrecker and had become separated from the rest of 3d FSB while recovering 3d FSB fuel trucks stuck in the sand between BULL and LIZARD. Apparently, 1SG Dowdy coordinated with Buggs and Anguiano to tow a disabled 507th 5-ton truck after they completed their recovery of the 3d FSB fuel trucks.
At 1930 hours on 22 March, 3 ½ hours after 1SG Dowdy closed on LIZARD with all remaining 507th Soldiers and vehicles, CPT King organized them into a new march unit. This second element, led by CPT King, departed LIZARD with 33 Soldiers, including himself, Buggs and Anguiano. The convoy was comprised of 18 vehicles, two of which were being towed (see FIGURE 4; composition of convoy on 22 March, including distribution of crew served weapons, radios, and GPS). SHAPE \* MERGEFORMAT FIGURE 4 Serial 2 convoy (Vehicle numbers represent original march order sequence entering An Nasiriyah)
Intersection of ROUTES JACKSON (Highway 1) and BLUE (Highway 8)
Unable to communicate with the 3d FSB, CPT King attempted to catch up with the 3d FSB main convoy by deciding to take the most direct route ( a straight line azimuth) to Highway 8. This route proved to be extremely difficult, over rough terrain, once again resulting in vehicles becoming bogged down in the sand. It took the unit five hours to reach Highway 8 [ROUTE BLUE] about 15 kilometers away. At this point, 42 hours had passed since the 507th had departed ATTACK POSITION DAWSON. Except for a 10-hour stop at DAWSON, the 507th had been continuously moving. Most Soldiers had slept only a few hours since the morning of the 20th and were in their second consecutive night of movement.
After traveling west on Highway 8, the convoy reached the intersection with Highway 1, ROUTE JACKSON, the assigned route for 3d FSB. The road on which ROUTE JACKSON was designated led southwest of An Nasiriyah, eventually intersecting again with ROUTE BLUE, east of OBJECTIVE RAMS. The initial entrance to ROUTE JACKSON required a left turn at this intersection, where a manned Traffic Control Point (TCP) was planned to direct traffic. When the convoy arrived at this intersection, U.S. personnel were present, but by this time there was no formal TCP. CPT King states that the personnel that were present confirmed that BLUE continued North. Believing ROUTE BLUE was his assigned route, CPT King led his convoy through the intersection and headed north on Highway 8, towards An Nasiriyah in the general direction indicated by his GPS receiver ? the waypoint west of An Nasiriyah.
At about 0530 hours, the convoy stopped when CPT King saw lights ahead, which he believed to be an industrial complex or an oil refinery. He conferred with 1SG Dowdy and decided to continue. At an intersection south of An Nasiriyah, Highway 8--ROUTE BLUE-- turned west, requiring a left turn. CPT King did not recognize this and led his convoy straight North through the intersection and on to Route 7/8, exiting ROUTE BLUE. Route 7/8 led the convoy across the Euphrates River into the eastern outskirts of An Nasiriyah. (See FIGURE 5) An Nasiriyah is flanked by the Euphrates River in the south and a series of man-made canals in the north. It is a city characterized by buildings no greater than four to five stories in height, with many narrow streets and alleyways. The surrounding areas of An Nasiriyah, including the roadsides along the route taken by the 507th, are marshlands that have been partially-drained, consisting of soft sand and mud.
Movement through An Nasiriyah
Five vehicles in the convoy had SINCGARS radios and could communicate with one another (see FIGURE 4). SINCGARS communications were augmented by handheld radios in each vehicle, but because of the extended duration of the convoy the batteries had expired. CPT King and 1SG Dowdy were communicating about their location and situation frequently as the convoy moved through An Nasiriyah.
SHAPE \* MERGEFORMAT FIGURE 5 Convoy routes JACKSON and BLUE
Several Soldiers in the convoy, including CPT King, observed armed civilians and what appeared to be armed Iraqi soldiers at two checkpoints?one upon entering and the other exiting the town. None of these people fired or indicated hostile intent against the convoy. In fact, the Iraqi soldiers at the checkpoints waved to the convoy. One or more civilian trucks with armed civilians and mounted machine guns (some reports refer to these as ?technicals?) drove past the convoy several times during its travel through the city, but again, no hostile intent was shown towards the 507th convoy and personnel.
Statements from 507th Soldiers indicate that rules of engagement issued by higher headquarters would only permit firing on personnel that exhibited hostile intent. Soldiers had also been warned to expect possible ?happy fire?--shots fired in celebration and not intended to cause harm, which is a common practice. Additionally, they had been informed that the carrying of weapons by uniformed or civilian personnel would not, by itself, constitute hostile intent. The Rules of Engagement (ROE) in effect were summarized on a card issued to Soldiers. The ROE were issued by the Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC). (See FIGURE 6, CFLCC ROE Card).
SHAPE \* MERGEFORMAT Figure 6 CFLCC ROE CARD (Copied from original for clarity)
On its way through the city, the convoy crossed a bridge over the Euphrates River and then another over a canal before coming to a ?T? intersection with Highway 16 (See FIGURE 7). CPT King led the convoy left at this intersection, believing that he was still on his assigned route. The convoy soon reached another ?T? intersection with Highway 7, at which time CPT King turned right, heading north with the rest of the convoy following. CPT King continued to move the convoy north and out of the city for approximately 2 kilometers. At this point, King realized, for the first time, that the convoy was off ROUTE BLUE. CPT King stopped the convoy and set up security. His GPS indicated that the main convoy route lay due west. There appeared to be no hard surface roads leading west from his location. After conferring with 1SG Dowdy, CPT King decided to retrace their route back through An Nasiriyah to find ROUTE BLUE/Highway 8. Realizing that he was off the convoy route, he instructed his Soldiers to ?lock and load? their weapons and to be vigilant. SFC Pierce reiterated these instructions to all Soldiers. In some of the vehicles, Soldiers took the halt as an opportunity to change drivers. King then began turning the convoy around. This would be the first of two U-turns by the convoy.
While turning around, the 10-ton wrecker, crewed by SGT Buggs and PFC Anguiano, ran out of fuel. CPT King stopped all vehicles and ordered the wrecker refueled. Soldiers refueled the wrecker using 5-gallon cans, as the only fuel truck in this convoy was emptied over the course of the 507th?s extended movement. After refueling was completed, CPT King resumed turning the vehicles around and headed south on Highway 7. CPT King was at the head of the convoy and 1SG Dowdy was in the rear. At the intersection with Highway 16, the convoy turned left (eastward) and headed back towards the city. (See FIGURE 7)
SHAPE \* MERGEFORMAT FIGURE 7 Convoy route through the city
Attack on the Convoy (See FIGURE 8)
As the convoy turned left on to Highway 16, at about 0700 hours, it began to receive sporadic small arms fire, the source and direction of which could not be determined. The 1SG radioed CPT King that the convoy was being fired upon and they needed to speed up to get away from the small arms fire. The 1SG directed the vehicles at the end of the convoy to increase their speed, consistent with unit procedures for reacting to a convoy ambush. Due to dissimilar vehicle size and acceleration rates, spacing between vehicles in the convoy began to increase.
In the speed and confusion, CPT King, who remained at the head of the convoy, passed the intersection with Highway 7/8, missing the right turn going south. 1SG Dowdy radioed CPT King to alert him that he had missed the turn. SFC Pierce, in a 5-ton truck driven by SPC Johnson, sped up to catch CPT King, to tell him that he (SFC Pierce) knew the way back to the turn. CPT King ordered SFC Pierce to lead the convoy back to the intersection. At this point all drivers had passed by the Highway 7/8 turn going south.