Midway in the convoy a 5-ton tractor-trailer driven by PVT Sloan with SGT Walters became disabled. The vehicle behind it, a 5-ton wrecker with water trailer, driven by PFC Miller, with SGT Riley in the passenger seat, executed a combat pick-up of Sloan while moving and under fire. It is unclear whether SGT Walters was picked up by others in the convoy or remained in the area of the disabled tractor-trailer. There is some information to suggest that a U.S Soldier, that could have been Walters, fought his way south of Highway 16 towards a canal and was killed in action. SGT Walters was in fact killed at some point during this portion of the attack. The circumstances of his death cannot be conclusively determined by available information.
The remaining vehicles of the convoy had to travel almost 3 kilometers past the intersection before finding an area large enough to allow the vehicles to execute a U-turn. The convoy pulled off of Highway 16 to turn around and head back to the missed turn. While attempting to make the U-turn, the 10-ton wrecker driven by SPC Anguiano with SGT Buggs, towing the 507th?s disabled 5-ton supply truck (originally driven by PFC Lynch with SGT Rose), got stuck in soft sand. While the rest of the convoy turned around and headed west, Soldiers continued to receive fire.
1SG Dowdy, in a HMMWV at the rear of the convoy, conducted a combat pick-up of Buggs and Anguiano along HWY 16. Also in that HMMWV were PFCs Piestewa and Lynch. Piestewa was the driver, and Lynch was seated in the rear. 1SG Dowdy radioed CPT King, informing him that he had picked up two Soldiers and advised King that they needed to get the convoy out of the city as quickly as possible. SGT Buggs or PFC Anguiano began returning fire with an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) from the rear of the HMMWV as they continued south.
CPT King regained the lead position in a convoy that had disintegrated into smaller groups and independent vehicles. In the dust and confusion and still receiving fire, the larger, slower moving vehicles required additional space to turn around while smaller vehicles turned around inside of them. This rearranged the convoy?s march order and further extended distances between vehicles. The remaining 15 vehicles, including a tractor-trailer being towed by a wrecker driven by SPC Hudson with CW2 Mata, sped south on Highway 7/8. The 507th convoy became divided into three smaller groups as it attempted to move south out of the area.
Group 1 The first group consisted of the following vehicles and occupants: #1- a HMMWV, driven by PVT Dale Nace with CPT Troy King in the front passenger seat, #3- a 5-ton tractor trailer driven by SGT Joel Petrik with SPC Nicholas Peterson in the passenger seat and #4- a 5-ton truck with trailer, driven by SPC Timothy Johnson with SFC Anthony Pierce in the passenger seat. As this group fought its way south through the city, it received fire from all directions, primarily from the west side of Highway 7/8. Iraqis attempted to block the road with vehicles and debris. While under fire, PVT Nace, SPC Johnson, and SGT Petrik successfully maneuvered their respective vehicles around and through obstacles and continued all the way through the city. Soldiers in this group returned fire while moving. Most of the Soldiers in this group report that they experienced weapons malfunctions. These malfunctions may have resulted from inadequate individual maintenance in a desert environment. About 10 kilometers south of the intersection of Highway 8 and 7/8, this group met elements of the 8th Tank Battalion, Task Force Tarawa, U.S. Marines. After CPT King briefed the Marines on his unit?s situation, the Marine unit immediately sent elements north on Highway 8 to attempt to rescue the remainder of the 507th.
Group 2 The second group consisted of the following vehicles and occupants: #2- a 5-ton tractor trailer driven by SPC Jun Zhang with SGT Curtis Campbell in the passenger seat, #5-a 5-ton tractor trailer driven by PFC Marcus Dubois with CPL Damien Luten in the passenger seat, #6-a HMMWV with trailer, driven by CW3 Nash with SSG Tarik Jackson in the front passenger seat, #7- a 5-ton fuel truck, driven by PFC Adam Elliot with SPC James Grubb in the passenger seat and #10- a 5-ton tractor-trailer, driven by SGT Matthew Rose with CPL Francis Carista in the passenger seat. Corporal Luten, in the tractor-trailer driven by PFC Dubois, attempted to return fire with the 507th?s only .50 cal. machinegun, but the weapon failed. Luten was wounded in the leg while reaching for his M16. The group took increasing small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire from all sides; and like the first group faced attempts to block the road with debris and vehicles. The tractor-trailer immediately in front of CPL Luten?s tractor-trailer, crewed by SPC Zhang and SGT Campbell, was hit multiple times and became inoperable about 5 kilometers south of the city?but short of CPT King?s final location further south. Zhang jumped out of the disabled tractor-trailer and got on the tractor-trailer rolling immediately behind, occupied by Dubois and Luten. SGT Campbell was shot while attempting to fire Zhang?s M16/M203. The HMMWV crewed by Nash and Jackson stopped to pick up Campbell, and was disabled a short distance further south. SSG Jackson had received multiple wounds prior to stopping to rescue Campbell. Dubois, Luten, and Zhang turned around and returned to the disabled HMMWV.
SPC Grubb returned fire with his M16 until wounded in both arms, despite reported jamming of his weapon, while PFC Elliot maneuvered their fuel truck through the ambush. SGT Rose, driving a tractor-trailer, maneuvered through obstacles in the road while under fire. CPL Carista, who was riding with Rose, was wounded by shrapnel. The fuel truck, crewed by SPC Grubb and PFC Elliot, and the tractor-trailer, occupied by SGT Rose and CPL Carista, linked up with the Soldiers already at the disabled HMMWV. This group formed a defensive perimeter, while Combat Lifesavers (Carista, Elliot, Rose, Zhang) under the leadership of SGT Rose tended to the wounded Soldiers (Campbell, Carista, Grubb, Jackson and Luten). The Marines arrived at the scene and rescued the 10 Soldiers at this location.
Group 3 This group consisted of the following vehicles: #8- a 5-ton tractor-trailer, driven by PFC Howard Johnson with PVT Ruben Estrella-Soto in the passenger seat, #9- a 5-ton truck with trailer, driven by SPC Jamaal Addison with SPC James Kiehl in the passenger seat, #12- a 5-ton wrecker, driven by PFC Patrick Miller, with SGT James Riley and PVT Brandon Sloan as passengers, #13- a HEMTT wrecker towing a 5-ton tractor trailer (vehicle # 18), driven by SPC Joseph Hudson with CW2 Johnny Mata in the passenger seat, #15- a HMMWV with trailer, driven by PFC Lori Piestewa with 1SG Robert Dowdy in the front passenger seat, and PFC Jessica Lynch, SPC Edward Anguiano and SGT George Buggs in the rear, and #16- a 5-ton tractor-trailer, driven by SPC Edgar Hernandez, with SPC Shoshana Johnson in the passenger seat. At the point north of the city on Highway 16, where CPT King ordered the convoy to turn around and go back to the missed turn (south on Highway 7/8), this group had difficulty turning around, probably due to the large size of vehicles and the fact that all were towing a trailer or disabled vehicle.
At about 0720 hours, the 5-ton tractor-trailer, occupied by SPC Hernandez and SPC S. Johnson, came under heavy fire. SPC Hernandez tried to avoid hitting an Iraqi truck blocking the road in front of him and lost control of the vehicle, veering to the right and off the road. To their rear, 1SG Dowdy, in the HMMWV driven by PFC Piestewa, reached Miller?s 5-ton wrecker and ordered him to increase speed and keep moving. The 1SG?s HMMWV was then hit by direct or indirect fire and crashed at a high rate of speed into the rear of the stopped tractor-trailer, still occupied by SPC Hernandez and SPC S. Johnson.
There were five Soldiers in 1SG Dowdy?s vehicle: 1SG Dowdy, his driver PFC Piestewa, and three Soldiers in the back?PFC Lynch, SGT Buggs and PFC Anguiano. 1SG Dowdy was killed on impact. Piestewa survived the crash, but was seriously injured and died in captivity. Lynch was also seriously injured and captured. The circumstances of Buggs? and Anguiano?s deaths remain under investigation.
PFC Miller?s truck, with SGT Riley and PVT Sloan as passengers, was disabled by enemy fire about 400 meters north of where 1SG Dowdy?s HMMWV hit SPC Hernandez?s tractor-trailer. PVT Sloan was killed by enemy fire before the vehicle came to a stop. PFC Miller and SGT Riley dismounted from their truck and moved to assist the occupants of the HMMWV and tractor-trailer just ahead of them. The occupants of the HMMWV appeared to be dead or beyond help. SGT Riley attempted to secure 1SG Dowdy?s M16, since his own rifle had malfunctioned, but was unsuccessful. SGT Riley then directed SPC Johnson and SPC Hernandez to take cover. Riley also attempted to fire Johnson?s and Hernandez?s M16s, but both jammed. Johnson and Hernandez were both wounded.
Consistent with the Code of Conduct, with no means to continue to resist, SGT Riley made the decision to surrender the two Soldiers (Hernandez, and Johnson) and himself. PFC Miller moved beyond the crash-site, engaged the enemy, and was captured after being surrounded. Although unconfirmed, Miller may have killed as many as nine Iraqi combatants.
In the HEMTT wrecker towing a 5-ton tractor-trailer, SPC Hudson attempted to fire his M249 SAW while driving, but it malfunctioned. After he had driven past obstacles and debris, including an Iraqi tank blocking the road, his vehicle was disabled on the southern edge of the city. Iraqi forces continued to fire on the vehicle after it stopped. CW2 Mata, in the passenger seat, was killed, having sustained multiple wounds. Hudson, also wounded, was immediately surrounded after the shooting stopped, and was pulled from the vehicle by Iraqis and captured. (FIGURE 8 shows the final disposition of the convoy).
The 5-ton tractor trailer (#8), crewed by PFC Howard Johnson and PVT Ruben Estrella-Soto, and the 5-ton truck (#9), crewed by SPC Jamaal Addison and SPC James Kiehl, attempted to drive out of the city. After both vehicles maneuvered several miles under fire, and nearly out of the city, both were destroyed. There are few details to describe what happened to the Soldiers in these vehicles. Both vehicles were stopped: #9 overturned at the Highway 8-7/8 intersection, possibly hit by direct or indirect fire, and #8 was disabled south of the intersection. There is some evidence to suggest that vehicle #8 struck the barrel of an Iraqi tank. All four Soldiers were killed in action.
SHAPE \* MERGEFORMAT FIGURE 8 Convoy?s final disposition Conclusion
Of the 33 Soldiers who entered An Nasiriyah in 18 vehicles (including two that were being towed) on 23 March, 11 Soldiers were killed, seven were captured and nine were wounded (including some of those captured). Sixteen Soldiers in eight vehicles emerged from the attack. The number of Iraqi casualties inflicted by Soldiers of the 507th and 3d FSB could not be determined. From start to finish, the attack on the 507th lasted an estimated 60 to 90 minutes.
In reviewing the actions on the morning of 23 March 2003, it is clear that the Soldiers of the 507th Maintenance Company, including two Soldiers from the 3d FSB, were attacked for a sustained period of time. Fatigue, stress, the asymmetric nature of the threat, and the environment contributed to the events leading up to and during this attack. Every Soldier performed honorably and each did his or her duty. The battle for An Nasiriyah would last until March 31st when the Marine Corps ultimately gained control of the city.
BULL to LIZARD 81 Km
Hwy 8 Intersection to Objective RAMS ~220 Km
Serial 1 Arrive 22 Mar 0530L Depart 22 Mar 1400L Serial 2 Arrive 22 Mar 1600L Depart 22 Mar 1930L +53.5 Hrs
Vehicles bog down Convoy splits
Arrive 21 Mar 1200L Depart 21 Mar 1800L Cdrs Coordinate +28 Hrs
Arrive 21 Mar 1000L Depart 21 Mar 1000L +20 Hrs