Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebookYouTube

Categories Menu

Posted on Jun 15, 2004 in War College

The Battle of Al Busayyah

By Richard S. Lowry

The Battle of Al Busayyah

The IRON SOLDIERS’ First Encounter in Iraq

The following is an excerpt from the newly published book; The Gulf War Chronicles by Richard S. Lowry.

At 0630 on Tuesday, February 26, 1991 , the 2d Brigade of the 1st Armored Division opened the assault on Al Busayyah. In preparation for the attack, Division artillery had been pounding the town all night. Then at 0635, Team Gator mounted a small ridge and paused momentarily. Team Gator, commanded by Captain Dave Bither, was the lead element of Lieutenant Colonel Mike McGee’s 6-6 Infantry Battalion. Moments later, the entire Battalion rolled over the ridge. One more ridge lay between the "Iron Soldiers" and the Iraqis in Al Busayyah. 2-70 Armor rolled into position on 6-6′s left flank. Open desert stretched out to the horizon, on 6-6′s right flank. Over a hundred armored vehicles ground to a halt at the face of the final ridge. The Iron Soldiers could see the town, some four kilometers in front of them.

Subscribe Today

Al Busayyah was a critical crossroads and an Iraqi Army stronghold. The town consisted of forty to fifty buildings, most located along one main north-south road. A reinforced Iraqi commando battalion defended Al Busayyah. The town was heavily fortified with rooftop, sandbagged, machine gun nests and fighting positions. Eleven Iraqi tanks and twelve other armored vehicles were dug-in deeply at strategic positions in, and around, the town. Trenchlines stretched fifteen hundred meters south of town, radiating out to perimeter strong points.

2-70 Armor and 6-6 Infantry rolled forward over the ridge. Both battalions ground methodically forward on line. Team Gator was on the point of the spear. Bither’s lead tanks headed straight for one of the more prominent defensive positions?two thousand meters ahead. Team Gator rolled forward and the Iraqi defenses grew closer?fifteen hundred meters?fourteen hundred meters. Each M1 gunner carefully selected and locked on to his target?thirteen hundred meters?twelve hundred meters. This was it. The Iron Soldiers were going into battle. Each man nervously awaited the first blow. The Iraqi defenders opened fire on the advancing tanks and Bradleys with heavy machine guns. Sparks flew as the rounds bounced harmlessly off the American armored vehicles like bbs hitting an oil drum.

For a moment the scene before their eyes mesmerized the Iron Soldiers. Captain Bither quickly broke the spell. He ordered his mortar teams to cover the battlefield with smoke, then ordered his men to "return fire." The company’s mortars responded immediately and dumped smoke rounds right on top of the forward Iraqi positions. Bither’s men snapped out of the trance induced by first contact with the enemy and all the advancing vehicles opened fire with their full force. Gator’s M1s pounded the Iraqi bunkers with their main guns and the Bradley gunners raked the enemy lines with machine gun fire.


M1A1 Abrams Tank

Then came the excited cry from the tank platoon leader on the left flank. "Gator Six, this is White Six! Tanks, we got tanks! Over!"

Bither calmly responded, "White Six, this is Gator Six. Kill them. Out."

White Six had spotted two T-55 tanks and an Iraqi armored car, dug in some twenty-two hundred meters away. Over a dozen Abrams gunners that were all itching for their first tank-kill had spotted the unfortunate Iraqis. Within seconds, a dozen rounds slammed into the three vehicles, turning them into a tangled mess of blood and metal. Team Gator ground forward killing more tanks, armored vehicles, and bunkers.

The Iraqis continued to fight. The Iraqi tanks fired on the advancing juggernaut. Machine gun fire bounced off the American vehicles. Team Gator continued to advance, destroying everything in its path. Once the Iraqi tanks were destroyed, the only real threat to the American vehicles were RPG teams. All of the Iron soldiers scanned the battlefield and as soon as an RPG team would pop up, they would be mowed down by machine gun fire. The Iraqis managed to get off a few shots, but they all missed. 2-70 and 6-6 slammed through the outer defenses.

Around two kilometers from Busayyah, 2-70 turned to skirt the town on the left, while 6-6 swept around the right side of town. Both battalions swept north past the buildings, firing at anything and everything in the Iraqi position.

Once past the town, 2-70 continued north into Iraq . 6-6 stopped two kilometers north of the town and regrouped for the assault on Al Busayyah. Mike Ferris and Team Bandit remained in position north of town. The Team’s eight M1s and four Bradleys blocked a retreat from Al Busayyah. The rest of the battalion strung itself out along the east side of town. At 1100, Captain Dane Tkacs led the battalion Engineers in the final assault on the town. A Combat Engineer Vehicle (CEV), two Armored Combat Earthmovers (ACEs), and five Bradleys attacked from the south. The CEV and ACEs rolled into town, in the center of Main Street , like desperados in the Wild West. The CEV knocked over buildings and destroyed enemy vehicles with its 165-mm gun. The ACEs rolled over and crushed everything in their path and the Bradleys shot at anything that moved. They rolled north for seven hundred meters. At the north end of town they turned around and headed south, continuing the havoc.

6-6 Infantry completely demolished the town. No Iraqis were left alive. While 2d Brigade was attacking Busayyah, the 3d Brigade had attacked remnants of the Iraqi 26th Infantry Division, southeast of Busayyah. Farther to the east of the Iron Soldiers, the 3d Armored Division attacked what was left of the Iraqi 26th Infantry Division. By noon Iraq ‘s 26th Infantry Division was decimated. The victorious soldiers had little time to reflect on the morning’s events. They quickly refueled and rearmed, turned and raced north to catch up with the rest of the corps. This battle had broken the ice, but the Republican Guard still lie ahead, waiting for the American tankers.


Combat Engineer Vehicle ? CEV

Richard S. Lowry, author of The Gulf War Chronicles, (see: www.gwchronicles.com) is currently working on his next book, Marines in the Garden of Eden . It will tell the complete story of Task Force Tarawa’s week-long battle for An Nasiriyah.

68 Comments

  1. dear sir ,

    I was in the battle of Al busayyah, I was with the 54th Combat Eng. Bn. attached to TF2-70 . It seems that the information about the combat engineers role in the battle is ,(although acurate ) incomplete. The Combat Engineers were much more involved in the battle than just limited to the ACE’s and the CEV’s.We cleared two mine fields leading to the approach to the town and assisted in clearing buildings ,as well as continuing on with the main element to fight in the “Battle of Madina Ridge” I would be most appreciative if you would ammend your article to include the role of the Combat Engineers in more detail so we can get proper recognition.

    thank you .

    • I was in the lead unit of the 1st Phantom Brigade..we were the first brigade of the 1st AD. We were an attached Brigade and before the storm we were 3rd Infantry Division soldiers. we linked up with 1st AD in saudi weeks prior to the assualt. The 1/7 brigade and 4/7 brigade of the 3rd ID as well as the 4-66 armored division made up the 1st brigade of the 1st AD in Desert STorm,,,,we were the Phantom Brigade/1st brigade of 1st Ad in that battle……..WE wore 3id patches before , during, and after the war…..but we were proud to be 1st AD soldiers as well in Desert Storm….I still wear both patches Proudly!

      • It is good to hear that folks are capturing the history. My Combat engineer platoon 2nd PLT, B Co. 16 Eng, 1AD were tasked organized to 4-7 Infantry (Combat Team Archer)for the 80 hours. I am a proud “Iron Sapper” but also very proud to have served with 3rd ID in combat. The professionalism of the Marne soldiers was second to none.

      • You are correct, sir. It did not give credit to the engineers. I was the scout platoon leader on the flank, and witnessed the CEV and dismounted engineers.

  2. It’s really good to see this in the pages of history. This is all a fuzzy memory for me when we pulled up to Al Busayyah and they opened up on us. I was with the 1st Platoon Rebels, C company 6/6 Inf. Thank you for the article. It clarifies some of the things that happened those days. As far as the comment that everyone was KIA as result of the 6/6, that was not right. Many of the enemy surrendered, and our soldiers fed them MREs. I remember that they didn’t have a problem eating dehydrated pork patties at all.

    • i dont know if u guys check this reguarly i was wondering if u guys remember a bradley commander named ken mohr i was also wondering if u guys could give me a little more insite as to the battles u fought my father doesnt want to tell me too much any reply would be appreciated, thank you ken mohr jr.

      • Ken, I’ll just say that I served with ssg mohr. Good man ! Great soldier! We were all a big family in 6/6 at Bamberg

    • Cregg, I too was at this battle, i can vouch for what you say. You see I was a Sergeant back then just got to the unit prior to shipping, I was on C-88, along with Hopkins, and Sgt Adamczyk. It is really cool to see that we were part of history.

      • Hopkins! He was a mechanic right? That dude wired the generator from an A-1 Bradley into my A2 so that I didn’t have to get towed into battle. Good man, only cost a carton of reds.

        As for the writing above, remember this stuff is written for those who don’t go to battle but rather read about it after. I remember my gunner, Larry (Spanky) Green using the 25 MM almost exclusively when we pulled up to the town, not the “machine gun.” The 25 mm HE rounds were super duper for blasting holes into those buildings and they killed well too. I’m shocked that those people were somehow considered above average soldiers and that the size of the unit was described as a “comando battalion.”

      • Greg Skinner. What is up dude..?

      • Kyle,

        Nice to see your name. Hope you’re well. It was all so long ago. Longer now than Vietnam was in the past for us in our day. Flack is still a big Rush fan, FYI.

  3. I was with HHC 6/6 Infantry, and was with the T.O.C. vehicle, overlooking the town and monitoring the events throughout the assault. I can verify Thompson’s account of the KIA (above). There were 8-10 Iraqi 26th Infantry soldiers who surrendered, and to whom we fed MRE’s and gave water. Other than that, the account reconciles with my memory of the events of that day. Thank you for this article….it brought back some memories.

    SPC Darryl Barber
    6/6 Infantry
    “Fighting Regulars”

    • I also was In HHC 6/6 inf ” the “Fighting Regulars”/ “Mail Foot”. I was looking for a crest of my old unit to show my kids and ran across this article. It has been almost tweenty years and this is the first time That I ever saw an article on our Unit The Iorn Brigade. Yes I can also verify what Thompson and Barber stated. Not only that but the Destruction of the “B” Brigade of the Medihnah Republican Guard Division on the 27 of February. It was a honor and a privalage to have served with these men. I also would like thank the other units that served along with us. They also deserve their credit also. It was nice to see a article of a time in history that you can point to and be able to tell that you were their. The map also gave me a visual way to show my kids what took place and what role we played in it.Telling someone what happened is not the same as letting them read it. Its In Black and White History
      Thank You

      Cpl Christopher ( cant smoke a rock) Slade
      6/6 inf “Fighting Regulars”

    • I was also in HHC 6/6 Infantry at the battle of Al Busayya, I was in the communications platoon. It’s good to see post from fellow soldiers from my old combat unit. I hope all 6/6 infantry soldiers are doing well and good wishes to all.

      It was a time to remember,

      Thanks for serving,

      Cpl. Kevin Colter

  4. Skinner here, 2nd platoon, Charlie Company, 6/6, track Charlie two four.

    I drove a Bradley, though I never trained to. I remember pulling up to town (Al Busayyah) with turrets at 180 degrees and getting shot at pretty good with “small arms” –12.5 mm machine gun. I remember pulling back a bit to let the MRLS rockets do their thing. I remember some killing, but not wiping out a town. We used a bunch of 25 mm HE on buildings and walls and once a person. I don’t remember seeing anyone surrender. Cleared a large nearby bunker complex shortly after securing town.

    • Hi skinner . are you from chicago.I was also in c 6/6 inf

      • Gualtieri,

        Not from Chicago anymore. Out near Seattle, by way of many other places. Hope you’re well. Hit me back on this, i got a few questions for you.

    • Don’t you remember the one wounded iraqi all bloody on the stretcher and angel had his m16 about 3 inches from his beat up mug? I’ll never forget the MLRS attack that morning. A sight to see.

      • Herbie. What uuuuP?

    • whatever we did or didnt do or remembered that part of our lives.
      we all made it home!!!

  5. SGT. Barber Blacksheep Company 6/6 Infantry Track two three a part of TF-2-70

    We encountered heavy amount of surrendering Iraqi soldiers. We rolled into a mine field at one point which put us on a major delay.

    I know TOW rockets were fired twice at T-55s and 25MM used on buildings and light vehicles.

    Oh and the bodies of sheep were every where!!!! Seems they had a large herd of sheep in the town and that artillery attack that lasted for hours must have tossed those sheep every place!!!

    The tranch line had sleeping bags and boots laying around which means the artillery hit and caught them off gaurd and they just ran for cover leaving there boots behind.

  6. there with the scouts-still serving,commisioned now a LTC with three more tours in IRAQ. Still remember those days.

    • Shoupe!! My old Roommate!! Scouts Out!

      Damn ! A LTC!! No sh**. Good on you Shoupe… er… Sir.

      Many of us from the Scout Platoon have hooked up on Facebook. Kerns, Blango, Yeakel, Avans, Moore, Haywood, and me.

      I am still in. Look me up on global. Jose.a.garcia1@us.army.mil

    • Hey fellow vets, It’s now LTC Shoupe,USA, Ret. Just completed hiking the Appalachian trail, enjoying life. Say, Does anyone know what became of LTC Mcgee? Thanks, and best wishes to all.

      • David R Shoupe? It’s Mike Farnum! I’m at pacific lutheran university in Tacoma WA. If any of you guys are still following this link let me know. Scouts Out!

    • Are you still in? and where?

    • David heard you retired, give me a shout Mike Gordon.

  7. Greetings to my brothers in Arms, it is great to see fellow ODS Veterans here that were in the same unit. I hope that everyone is doing okay. I tip my hats to those who served, those who currently serve, and those before us.

  8. Former E. Co 6/6th soldier. Was reassigned to D. Co when we changed over to Bradleys. Y’all remember when “Iron” Mike pulled us into the theater and said he would bite a bullet if we got deployed? LTC Mike McGee and CSM Vincente Mesa were great leaders. Will never forget them. Nor my brothers from 6/6.

  9. Good to see some folks remember Gulf 1, we did kick their ass. Still training troops and working ranges! Scouts out! Shoupe!!

    • Hey Mike! Remember the MLRS launching over top of us from like 20 feet away? End caps raining on top of us! I thought we were dead.

      • I could never forget that one! Not to sound like a wimp but I told the LT….I don’t know where the hell we are but we need to get the hell out of here!

        I did see LT Shoupe in Graf a few years after that and was glad to see he went to O-school. I guess you can say it validates that grumpy ass SSG’s are sometimes right?

      • Mike, I know you’re not wimpy. I remember how you lead with ferocity from the BC Hatch, adding another machine gun to our capabilities, ever vigilant and engaging the corrugated tin roof hidden RPG fighting positions. How quickly you identified targets for us to engage and at a far enough range that we had the advantage. I think we made a pretty formidable team actually. Do you remember that tank we destroyed with the TOW? Was that a T55 or a T62? And how many BMPs did we destroy? I wish I had kept a journal. Most of that time was such a blur.

  10. would be nice to see a pic of the Bradley IFV on here!
    I remember mine doing a lot of work for the team.

    • Fact base on the Army AAR for the gourd war, infantry in BFVs killed more Iraqi armor and vehicles that the M1 tankers did. The infantry won the largest tank battle in history!

  11. Anyone here from Aco. I was a brand new private when we went over there. I remember standing on the ramp of the Bradley watching the MLRS thinking I’m glad on this side. Great to see grunts staying in touch.

    • I was in Aco 6/6inf Sgt Fechner

  12. I was the tank commander of C-22(Cerberus) of Centurion Company attached to 6-6 Infantry. I have two questions for you guys.

    1 Who shot the water tower with 25mm. LOL. They said to not shoot the tower.

    2 Who was shooting at the Iraqi medic trac inside the walls? You know the 531 with the red cresent on it.

    3 LTC McGhee was a good leader.

    • That was a gunner in 1st platoon, that shot at the medic. He says they were shooting from the vehicle. I was driver of C-24.

      • You guys were on our left. I did not see any fire comming from the Medic track. He probably saw sparkling from our .50 cal API fire in that area.

      • If McCrary says they were shooting, then they were shooting.

      • Well, I was the 4th Tank on Gator’s left and closer to that section of the wall. We didn’t see any fire coming from that area. It had a bunch of knocked out trucks outside the wall. It may have been a different Type 531 or fire from that area had already been suppressed.

        I’m talking about when we backed off an did that mini mad minute just before they sent the CEV in to breach.

      • Make that the 4th tank on Gator’s right. The attached Company from 4-70 was on our right.

  13. Willey I was A Co, 2nd Platoon. I remember you, and that same view. What’s up? I just retired two years ago from the guard (16 yrs. after my 4 regular). Have a son with tours in Iraq, two Purple Hearts.

    • Webster. Can’t say I remember you…. Sorry. But it is great to hear from someone from A co. I got out after my 4. Have wife 2 boys

  14. Fairly accurate account. The account does not mention the fact that we sat on a ridge overlooking the town the previous night and pounded the town with artillery until we shifted fire for the ground assault. The first actual kill was made by me from 2800 meters on a truck load of Iraqi artillerymen who were attempting to get back out to the Arty positions. Our call sign was blue two, A company, 1st Platoon, 6/6th Infantry. I was the gunner on the vehicle with SSG Bruce Smith BC and Ron Whitehead as driver. The kill was made with the Bradley’s 25mm HE rounds. I do remember that transmission from White SIX. Bither did exactly that. Very calmly said Kill em.

  15. Haraway. I remember that moment. Very intense moment. Still remember thinking I’m glad I’m at the top of this freakin hill!!!

  16. I served in ACO 6/6 3rd Platoon at point of Al Busayah and never forget my first of 6 combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan in 22 years in Army. I miss the days of that crazy old 1SG Mann coming up to me after detaining Iraqis and asking me do you think you bad now going back to his Vietnam days. I want forget guys like SFC Klinetobe, SSG Bradley in major combat operations and CSM Mesa saying in formations if You FK me I will FK you and LTC McGee saying I crush your balls. I am glad this battle is not forgotten after over 22 years years ago. Fighting Regulars hooah

    • Ray Sibert from Kentucky?! This is Carlos Daza(Sgt.). I was also A co 4th platoon though. I am the little guy from Hawaii. Remember the gym at Bamberg? Aloha

    • Those were two name I had not heard for years.

  17. Arrived about 1600 7DEC90. CSM Mesa asked LTC McGee if he was going to bite the bullet now or later? Thanks, Swars for clearing that up. Assigned to D Co. for the war, then got shifted to 4/11ACR up in the gap. Never made it with them because someone torched the vehicle holding area Saudi. My other choice was across the street with 2/2Cav. Nothing will ever replace the time I spent with 6/6 in the desert.

    • Greenawalt, this is Haithcock we were in D co together and shared a tent in Desert Strom, We just had a 25 year reunion at Ft. Benning Ga.

      • Boots Up!
        You, me, and a defiant rat during the rain.

    • Hey if you are on FB look me up, I tried looking for you but did not find you.

      • Kids are 6,8,and 10, not much time for boots up

  18. LOL Good old Jelly Neck Manns! Hahaha Craziest 1st Sergeant in the army! Between him and SFC Clifford Williams, 1st platoon took hell on a daily basis!

  19. I drove the Battalion S-3 M-577 during our deployment. I’ve got to dig them out but I have audio recordings from our radio nets during the main parts of this battle. I also have a bunch of photos from the overall deployment.

    Have any of you read the book about this battle “Iron Soldiers”?

  20. I have read “Iron Soldiers” found it lacking in some areas, overall a good assement of what we did. LTC McGee “Iron Mike” knew we would go to Hell and back for him.

    Alpha Co 6/6

    • Hell yes. I was B Company 6/6 with crazy ass 1SG Brock!!!

  21. drove for cpt. Smithson Cco.6/6 inf. cobra6. this is the first time I have read this .and it has brought back a lot of memories. hello brothers,

  22. I was attached to A Battery 2-1 FA as a Stinger Team Chief. We were in Direct Support and Had moved closer to the front away from the rest of the battalion. The Battery Fired DPICM and HE all night before the assault. I was in awe of the Level of destruction. I still remember the engineers Vehicle leveling buildings. Thank you to all the other men that served with me that night and for your dedication that helped us all to remain safe.

  23. Zurita, Slade, and Colter. Good seeing you guys posting. I talk about those days from time to time and remember each of you. Hope you are all doing well. If you get time, you can reach me at dbarber970@aol.com. Would love to hear from you. Regards, DB.

  24. I was in the FDC for Bravo Battery, 2/1 FA and we hit the town with DPICM and HE all night before the tanks and infantry moved in. I’ll never forget watching building collapse as our rounds started taking them down. It’s the only time I’ve been close enough to see my target, as an artilleryman; except for the direct fire range at Graf. Good summary of our first combat action of the war, even if the King of Battle was given short shrift.

  25. Not to take anything away from the maneuver elements but being a part of the “Division Artillery”(two fingers up) and the Artillery Battalion assigned to the 2nd BDE – 2/1 FA. That morning before 2/70 and 6/6 and 1/35 went towards that town. We prepped it with Arty. We were close enough to watch our rounds leave the tube (3 green bag, small charge)and follow them as they hit the town and watch the building fall apart as our HE shells slammed in and sent Iraqi’s scrambling for cover or worse.

  26. Wow you guys brought back memories. We were the last of 6/6 Infantry troops as the company de-activated. I still remember to when LTC McGee told us we weren’t going to the war. Hell I still got the letter he put in everyone’s mailbox about not going. Then we go on a 10 day exercise to Spain and come back for them to close the gates on us one morning after PT. Marched us all across the street to 2-2 Cav in the gym and we was off to the desert. Got to say I still love it and would not have want to go with anyone else besides my crew. Hey anyone remember them stealing my Deuce 1/2 at KKMC phone tents with 12 cavelars on it. LTC McGhee and 1st SGT Morgan tried to throw us all in jail…lol….

  27. Sir I was in the 6bn 6th Infantry attached to 270th Armor for the entire battle and you capture it all with great accuracy. MAILED FOOT!!!!

  28. I remember going in to the town in support of the engineers and if I recall right I think I was in third patoon Aco 6/6…. I do remember sticking my head out so I could see what the hell was going on around us… my driver was specialist Aguilar and my gun or was specialist Alvarez…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Madinah ridge | Dmkimages - [...] The Battle of Al Busayyah » Armchair GeneralRidges in Mintaqat al Madinah, Saudi Arabia. Dhakhr Ridge, 231 km (143 …

Leave a Reply to Christopher(cant smoke a rock) Slade Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>