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"thousands these mines" Discussed on Game of Crimes
"And I've been on landing craft, during different operations, doing amphibious assaults and in those very similar landing craft, like they portrayed on Band of Brothers and seeing that and then having been in it before going, man, I can't believe that those guys were heroes. That gate comes down and there's totally exposed to the machine gun fire. Fricking 50 calibers, yeah, coming at you. Well, I had the honor of meeting and I didn't know this for two years, the guy was so humble, but do you know the name Colonel Barney Barnum? Kind of sounds familiar, but- He's a CMH winner from Vietnam and he's the husband of the wife of, I was at a nonprofit institute, I was on the board, but so we go to a Christmas dinner down at Ruth Chris in Arlington and what does he show up with? He shows up with a CMH around his neck and it's like, you sandbagged me for two years, you never mentioned shit. And you know what? I will tell you, it doesn't take long when you've got a CMH winner. The line at Ruth's Chris in Arlington there, it wrapped around the corner, went down the stairs. Every Marine I think within sniffing distance, within a stone's, I mean, even way out outside, anybody within 25 miles I think was lined up to go meet him. What an honor to see guys like that. Absolutely, yep. Well, back to you now, back to our regular scheduled podcast. So you're over there for nine months. When did you actually get into in country out of Saudi Arabia and in country and get into some fighting? We, what was that? The ground or the air war started in January. January, where they started bombarding and we started moving our, we're already very forward deployed at that time. Somewhat the speed bump in case the Iraqis came in and to at least delay or prevent them from attacking further in. But we're close enough that they would drop every night, they would drop leaflets before the bombing campaign and then they were dropping the 10,000 pound bombs on the Iraqis and the leaflets would blow into our positions and we'd see them, I have a bunch of them. And then a lot of times after they dropped the 10,000 pound bombs and the Iraqis got to experience that firsthand, that they dropped these leaflets showing a B-52 saying, hey, we're coming back tonight to drop these things again. But if you take these leaflets and go head towards the American lines and surrender, and I guess they were so, those bombs are so just demoralizing that they knew that that would be effective. I saw those pictures. I remember seeing those pictures of them holding up the leaflets. Yeah, but those bombs, I mean, all the bombs, the ground just shook crazy. And of course, before they started, we'd have to get in position just in the event that the Iraqis came forward or that we had people that would come across and surrender. But then we did the ground war actually in February. And I still remember, we had a briefing and they expected us to suffer about 30 to 40% casualties. We were taking nerve agent pills, anthrax pills. I got inoculated for botulism and all this stuff. And then during the briefing, they said, hey, because amazingly, it's really cold in the wintertime. It had a very low ceiling because it was drizzling. And they knew that it wouldn't be- Well, you're from California, cold is relative. What do you mean by really cold? If you got below 50, what? Yeah, it actually gets cold with the wind and everything over there. It'll cut right through your uniform or your clothing that you're wearing and it bites. But so they knew they weren't gonna be able to get air in to medevac people out. So they said, hey, we're just basically gonna throw them in anthrax, which is an amphibious armored vehicle that can go land in the ocean. And we're gonna send them back to the rear to the medical. But we knew that we're expecting a lot of casualties. We had to go through two minefields to get into Kuwait. But I remember lining up and I have a friend that retired from the Marines that a lot of my friends retired because I was a second term and they stayed in even though I got out. And I remember we're online getting ready to move forward. And it's in the middle of the night, the night before the ground war. And I walked over to his Humvee and I just shook his hand and say, hey, good luck, see you in Kuwait City. And he still, I asked him, not too long ago, hey, do you remember that? And he says, yeah, I remember that. And he went on, he ended up serving in staying over to Iraq and Afghanistan and stuff like that too. But we moved in and amazingly it was, the Iraqis were dropping artillery on us as we were moving forward, shooting at us. But it was almost like they didn't know how to aim. And we suffered nowhere near the casualties that we expected. We lost some people or at least some people on our task force, we had some people wounded, I think about 10, 15 wounded in my company. But we were able to move forward and attack. Some of our detectors went off for chemical and biological weapons, which we were told were false. But to this day, some people allege that they were just told that we were, but that stuff actually was real activations, but we'll never know. I mean, that's probably secret stuff. But yeah, so we went in and we set up on the Kuwait National Airport, which was our objective. And they told us to stand fast that night because the allied Arab forces were gonna go and actually seize the airport for CNN. So we had to stand back while they went in. Wait a minute, seize the airport for CNN? This was a staged photo op? That was a staged, the actual taking of the airport was reserved for the allies and for the CNN, yep. And we were there, we took all the brunt of everything before that point. So they were nowhere near us when the actual combat was taking place. All governments participate in propaganda. Yep, absolutely. Oh boy, didn't they say MacArthur, like to get that picture, it was like two or three times. He had to redo it, waiting ashore in the Philippines, coming back. And even the raising of the flag on Mount Surabarchi, that famous photo, that was the one they caught was not the actual one that they did, they did it before and then they redid it again, so. Absolutely, it's much smaller flag originally, they got a bigger flag and redid it, yep. Wow, man, so, but when you were there, did you lose anybody, it's not wounded, but did you lose anybody? I did not, not in my company, not in my battalion, but it was a large task force and there was, I think we had an individual, they ran over a mine, there was a ton of mines and he got killed that way. But there were, I think it was about 10, we had a formation before we came back where they handed out some Purple Hearts and I think we had about 10 people in our company that got Purple Hearts. There were some Marines seriously wounded, there was an incident that I didn't observe myself, but there was some Amtraks with some infantry in it that was behind us, we were afforded that with the tanks and the toes, but we were bypassing it, there was an Iraqi that was unarmed, we were moving forward so fast, they said, just drop your weapon, tell them to drop the weapon and we'll keep moving forward and let everybody behind us mop up the POWs. Here, take this and go turn yourself in. And the people behind us were gonna mop up the POWs. So there was some Iraqis that were surrendering and there was some Marines in the Amtrak and their lieutenant told them to dismount and take these prisoners and right when they dismounted the mortar land amongst them and wounded a bunch of those Marines. What, mortar from the Iraqi side? I would assume so, I hope it wasn't our own, but. A friendly fire, yeah. But I don't know if it was or wasn't, but I'm assuming it was Iraqi mortar, but those Marines were wounded and obviously had to take back. But what's funny is as you see the old pictures and we had it on our Humvees as well, because you want room inside those Amtraks because you're just crammed in there with all your gear, you typically would hang your Alice packs on the outside and the Marines inside, they said they would hear the pinging of the rounds off the light armor of the Amtrak while they're inside. What's an Alice pack? You know, that's another acronym and I can't remember what Alice stands for, but it's basically your rucksack, your civilian backpack. Yeah, all your gear and everything hanging off the edge. Hey, now I know you keep mentioning toes, but were the javelins out then or was that? Javelin's a more recent thing. So the javelin is my understanding, replaced the toe. So toe is just an acronym, yeah. And I didn't realize when it came out, but I got to fire a few when I went through basic, I went through Fort Leonard Wood army side. We got to fire toes, but how accurate or did you have a chance to fire a few of those? Were they good? I fired quite a few of those, yes. Not as many as you would suspect because back then they were about $10,000 a missile. And I think 12,000, but if there was an inner round which had everything but the warhead, it was maybe a couple of thousand dollars cheaper. So you fired more of the ones without a warhead than you fired with the warhead. And since they were so expensive because they're $2,000 cheaper. No, I mean, but what would the inert, what would, without the warhead, what could you actually do with it? Would it just disable it or? It just wouldn't explode at the end, but it's the same thing. And the purpose of the training was it's wire guided and you have to guide it all the way. Oh, you mean in the training. I was talking about though, like in actual combat though. Oh, no, no, they're all live. We had a combat load. So, you know, I had- I was going, who's firing in inert rounds? No, no, no, no, no, in training. But no, we had so many missiles that we filled the racks that held the missiles in our Humvees. And then it gave us an extra two to throw on top because we anticipated such an engagement take battle. And we have guys in my company, a Silver Star recipient, Wow. that when we went forward and he, I'll tell his story. He later got a commission about the time he was a corporal and we're under artillery attack from the Iraqis. And he had a mule, a laser designator that we could designate the target for like artillery or bombardment. And he was trying to laze the Iraqi artillery and it was just out of range. So he ran into the minefield to set up in a position so where he could laze that and then successfully did that and destroyed the Iraqi artillery. And he received a Silver Star for that. But then he's gonna get out of the minefield. Yeah, very carefully. A Silver Star and then an ass chewing from the gunning right after that, right? Obviously there were some that were still covered by the sand, but the Iraqis had set those up and we were there for months and the wind blows out there. So a lot of the mines were exposed. You could see them. Oh really? But of course there's probably some that were still covered. So it was dangerous, but for the most part you could see them, but still. Do they put those out in a pattern or they just randomly throw them out there? I don't know how they did it. I never laid any mines, but I'm sure there's a technique and a way to do it to cover an area. But they put out thousands and thousands of mines, all sorts of different, wherever they could buy them from over the course of the rain over there, if Saddam's saying he bought mines. Yeah, well, Saddam and... So we had a guy on, Jeff Sandy was an IRS agent, but he went over after the war. He did the investigation on Tariq Aziz, the oil for food, the huge scam that that was. So that was interesting to realize. They weren't dumb people, they just weren't militarily. He was, that the war between Iraq and Iran for Iran for years is kind of what degraded them. But they were not dumb people, the stuff that they figured out how to scam hundreds of millions of dollars with the oil for food program. You just wonder why, but it's greed, man. You want one country, you want oil, and then pretty soon we got a little war going on. Yep, and they had some, I'll tell you this, people look, and they think that was somewhat a bloodless war over there in the Gulf when we were there. And while we didn't lose very many people, the Iraqis lost a lot of people. They had a tremendous amount of losses. I don't think that we ever kind of disclosed the amount of losses the Iraqis suffered during that ground campaign, but there was a lot of losses. For example, there was the second morning of the ground war, very low ceiling. You couldn't even see that far in front of you because of the fog and stuff like that. And I wasn't at the command post. We were on the perimeter, but suddenly they started seeing these tracer rounds coming out of the fog, and nobody saw these Iraqi tanks and this tank column coming out of the fog. And it was shooting at our command post. But there was the lead tank, and it was the Iraqi tank commander, jumps off his tank, says, I'm surrendering, but the rest of them are coming to attack. And then all of a sudden these tanks started coming out of the fog. And there was even cobras and stuff hovering over the command post, kind of like that scene when you see in Black Hawk Down that we're firing at the Iraqis and the shell casings are landing on the command post. But one of the guys in our platoon, several of them, this guy in particular got a Bronze Star because he had fired off a round toe at a tank, destroyed that tank. And then you're supposed to leave it armed, the actual missile system, because it cuts the wire when you open it up. Well, in his haste and excitement, he disarmed it, which left the wire intact into the missile casing. And he got kind of twisted in it, and he had to discard it, got rid of it, loaded another round in, and destroyed another tank. And Iraqi suffered a tremendous amount of tank destruction and loss. And we destroyed quite a few of those guys over there. Wow, that guy that jumped off initially to surrender, that's leadership from the front, isn't it? Exactly, he knew what he was facing. Apparently nobody else got the memo. Exactly. So you said you were over there for nine months, right? So what was it like? Cause it was, I mean, they called it shock and all, right? It wasn't that long of a war, but were you surprised it ended as quickly as it did? You know, we were, just in a matter of several days. It was very little sleep, moving forward, constantly moving forward into Kuwait towards the objective. And there were a lot of people that kind of wanted to continue on and go into Iraq. I mean, the army hooked around, I think it would be north of us, to cut the Iraqis off, but we pushed through and pushed the Iraqis back so quickly that the army didn't have an opportunity to really cut off the Iraqi army as they retreated back into Iraq. But there was a lot of people that said, let's continue on, let's go to Baghdad, you know? And I'm like- Shades of MacArthur, let's just keep pushing on, you know, let's keep pushing past the 38th parallel and take care of this. But I think the Iraqis had suffered such losses in the media, there was no, you didn't see any reporters over there. There was no cameras, no video cameras, anything like that. And I've heard or read that Bush was kind of concerned about the amount of Iraqi casualties and that it would look like we were piling on and he was concerned about that. And that's one reason why he didn't push on. Plus he had said the objective overall was just to retake Kuwait and give it back to the Kuwaitis. Push Iraq out back to their own borders. Yeah. Wow, man. So you do your time there. When you come back, you still got like what, another year, year and three months? No, I was actually involuntarily extended. So I was more than likely gonna go to the academy in October with my brother in 1990, but I got over there to the Gulf and they said, we're gonna be over here to the duration. And so a matter of fact, I went down, some of the guys who had picked that first recruiting class for recruiting school, all of a sudden they got orders. They had to pack up and they go back to San Diego to go to recruiting school. So I'm like, hmm, I wonder if I've got orders. So I go down to our personnel department and I said, hey, do I have orders for recruiting school? They go, yeah, you got a flight date in January and you're going back to recruiting school. But then in December, I think it was, they did stop loss, which meant if you're in the theater, you're there till the end. And my actual EAS was in February. So February came and left and I was still over there and had to stay for the duration. And it's what they call an involuntary extension of the convenience of the government. So I came back. Did that get you any favors for later? It does not. And nothing, nothing extra. Of course not, yeah. Yep. So I come back and the Marine Corps tells me, cause I've already reenlisted once, sold a lot of terminal leave cause I had just got married and you can only sell back 60 in a career. And I sold back 30. So I had more leave than I could actually take or sell back. Cause the Marine Corps says, you're going to be out in 30 days. Well, I'd called, when I got back, I'd called LAPD. My brother, I got back just before my brother graduated the Academy, got to go to his graduation at the Academy. And LAPD says, hey, you're great. You're going to be in the next Academy class, but we've got a hiring freeze. And that hiring freeze lasted for a year. And so I had to start looking for alternatives. And San Bernardino was recruiting on Camp Pendleton, San Bernardino Police Department. And I didn't really know where San Bernardino was. I do a little bit, but I'd never been there in my life. And they were advertising on the Camp Pendleton newspaper. So I applied and literally got through the entire process in a month and a half. And my last day in the Marine Corps, my first official day in the police Academy was my last official day in the Marine Corps. But you had no thoughts about extending and staying on with the Marines. You were just at that point, were you done? I was done. I'd already had checked out. I knew that I was going to be making more money as a cop even starting out than I was as a Sergeant in the Marines. Well, that says a hell of a lot about the pay where you can say, I'm going to make more as a cop. Yeah. Very few occupations you can say that about. And the pension was better. I remember everybody was always sold on the Marine Corps that you're going to get 50% of your income for the rest of your life. And at the time I started in police work, it was 60%. So I was like, man, this is great. I'm going to get 10% more in my pension than I would have if I was in the military. And obviously it changed over time and I retired at 90%, which is pretty phenomenal, I have to tell you.