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COMBAT:How Green Berets Overcame the Odds at an Iraq Alamo
NY Times ^ | September 22, 2003 | THOM SHANKER

Posted on 09/22/2003 9:10:38 PM PDT by Pharmboy


The Javelin Missile

FORT BRAGG, N.C., Sept. 16 — The low-slung ridgeline overlooking a strategic crossroads in northern Iraq offered scant protection for the small band of Green Berets, vastly outnumbered and under attack from four T-55 tanks, six armored personnel carriers and hundreds of infantrymen with artillery on call.

"We all made a mental promise," Staff Sgt. Jeffrey M. Adamec recalled of that battle on Day 18 of the war. "Nobody had to yell out commands. Everybody just knew. We were not going to move back from that point. We were not going to give up that ground. We called that spot `the Alamo' "

In what is becoming one of the most celebrated missions of the war, just 26 Green Berets, along with three Air Force bomb targeters and two others faced off against a reinforced Iraqi motorized rifle company numbering in the hundreds.

After a four-and-a-half-hour firefight, not only did they seize their first objective, a crossroads, but they also moved on deeper into enemy territory to sever Highway 2. That way they could halt the Iraqi Army's ability to maneuver across the north, and at the same time secure a route to the Kirkuk oil fields.

Soldiers are known for what they carry into combat. And the Green Berets who battled and bested tanks and armored personnel carriers that day had no armored vehicles of their own. In fact, they had no armor at all save body armor, useless against a direct hit from the artillery and tank shells that rained so close that dirt was tossed in their laps.

Soldiers are also known by the stories they carry home. Ones like this are often shrouded in the secrecy of Special Operations. But this previously classified mission was illuminated at an awards ceremony this week for two of the combatants.

The battle is reconstructed here from interviews with five participants: three sergeants, a captain and a major, all far removed from efforts in Washington to recapture the glory of the military victory in this current much-debated period of postwar reconstruction.

Sergeant Adamec was cited this week for gallantry and valor in the battle, as was Staff Sgt. Jason D. Brown. Officially, they received Silver Stars. Within the elite community of Army Special Forces, they have earned the title "Javelin aces" from the encounter, which was the first major offensive by American forces moving south from Kurdish-controlled zones and into government-controlled territory of northern Iraq.

Under fire from artillery, tank shells, mortars and antiaircraft artillery bursts fired in a low arc toward them, Sergeant Brown squatted and fired shoulder-launched Javelin antitank missiles to take out two armored personnel carriers and ignite a troop truck full of Iraqi infantrymen. An hour before, Sergeant Brown had fired his very first Javelin at an Iraqi troop truck in the distance.

During the peak of the battle, Sergeant Adamec also used his Javelins to destroy two armored personnel carriers and a troop transport.

The remaining Iraqi forces abandoned their offensive and drove into defensive trenches. They gained no more ground.

"Two guys shut down the attack," said Maj. Curtis W. Hubbard, commander of Company C, Third Battalion of the Third Special Forces Group, in charge of all the Green Berets along the ridge that day. "Two guys turned an organized Iraqi attack into chaos. They halted an entire motorized rifle company."

The battle of Debecka Pass, as the mission is called in briefings that Army Special Forces gave at the Pentagon and to Congressional staff members, and now to a reporter for The New York Times, began just after first light on April 6.

But it was not without devastating loss to Kurdish allies. A bomb dropped by a Navy fighter that had been summoned by an Air Force tactical air controller missed its intended target, an Iraqi tank firing from the south. Instead, it hit an abandoned tank at a crossroads to the north where allied Kurdish fighters were regrouping.

Seventeen people, among them Kurdish fighters, were killed, and 45 others were wounded. Military investigators continue their inquiry into the worst so-called friendly fire incident of the war.

Capt. Eric M. Wright, a Green Beret "A Team" leader, was conferring with the Kurdish fighters less than five minutes before the bomb hit, but then moved to rejoin his team's battle against Iraqi armor and mortars. Grabbing some of his men, he ran back to the carnage to oversee emergency medical care.

"We were dragging the wounded to safety even as their own ammo was exploding all around us," Captain Wright said, recalling rocket-propelled grenades flying. "I remember this one went right by me — whoosh!"

Their mission, near the village of Debecka, was to capture a crossroads. It easily fell to the Green Berets, but it did not offer the desired control of the area.

"We could see Highway 2, with a roundabout and a tall statue in the middle," said Sgt. First Class Frank R. Antenori, a Green Beret team sergeant. "We could see vehicles driving along as if nothing was happening. We couldn't just sit two kilometers away and watch the Iraqi Army drive back and forth all day long. We were already way beyond our objective, but we decided to occupy that next junction. We figured we could stay all day and shoot up anything that came through."

The day was thick with haze, when the soldiers saw three trucks approaching, blinking their lights. "We thought, `Don't shoot, don't shoot,' they might be surrendering," the sergeant said.

But it was the start of a disciplined attack following classic Soviet mechanized doctrine, which Army officials now say was one of the Iraqi Army's last coordinated offensives.

The Iraqis fired smoke grenades. Six armored personnel carriers drove out of the fumes, three on each side of the troop trucks, firing. The Green Berets returned fire with .50-caliber machine gun rounds. The Iraqi vehicles slowed and spread out — but only to make way for the next phalanx, four T-55 main battle tanks that rumbled from the smoke at a distance of no more than 900 yards.

Realizing they might be overrun before they could arm and fire their antitank missiles, the Green Berets hustled up the ridge to their Alamo. Sergeants Brown and Adamec jumped from their vehicles, and let the Javelins fly. It was moments later when the Navy bomb hit the Kurdish position and Sergeant Adamec left to grapple with its toll. Meanwhile, the Iraqi mechanized assault fell into sudden disarray.

There was a move by some Iraqis to surrender. More than a dozen Iraqi infantrymen left their trenches waving pieces of white paper. But two white S.U.V.'s drove up, and six men got out. Their flowing robes suggested that they were enforcers for the governing Baath Party; fedayeen fighters favored combat gear.

"Through our binoculars, we could see a heated discussion, and then these guys in robes started executing those guys who were trying to surrender," Sergeant Antenori said. "They shot every one of them, and then walked around to make sure they were dead."

The massacre was over in less than 30 seconds. The Americans decided something had to be done.

"We called in an F-18 to drop a 750-pound bomb on those S.U.V.'s," Captain Wright said. "It was like a magic show. You know, now you see 'em, now you don't. The S.U.V.'s, the guys in the white robes — they simply vanished."

The Green Berets spent three sleepless nights holding their ground as the Iraqis lobbed artillery and mortars down on them. In a prescient decision early in the mission, Captain Wright had ordered his team to gather Iraqi land mines by hand and blast a breach in an Iraqi defensive berm, and that gap now provided a route for needed supplies , including more Javelins.

By the time the entire engagement was over, the Green Berets had destroyed two T-55 tanks — one was hit by a Javelin fired by Sergeant Antenori and one by a 10th Group soldier — eight armored personnel carriers and four troop trucks.

With the crossroads secured, the Green Berets crossed to Kirkuk to secure oil facilities and to prevent their destruction by Iraqi forces.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: battle; courage; greenberets; gutsandglory; iraq; kirkuk; specialforces
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I figgered you Freepers would like to read this story.

Note: the picture did not come from the Times; the pictures that accompanied the print article were not posted online, so I improvised.

1 posted on 09/22/2003 9:10:39 PM PDT by Pharmboy
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To: Pharmboy; snippy_about_it; PhilDragoo
Thanks Pharmboy
2 posted on 09/22/2003 9:13:42 PM PDT by SAMWolf (Click...click...click...damn, out of taglines!)
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To: Sparta; thefactor
Lemme see here: check those coordinates and KA-PING!
3 posted on 09/22/2003 9:16:11 PM PDT by Pharmboy (Dems lie 'cause they have to...)
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To: Pharmboy
bump
4 posted on 09/22/2003 9:17:42 PM PDT by jrawk
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To: SAMWolf
My pleasure, Sam.

Amazing story by itself, but for the Times to publish a piece like this is DOUBLY amazing...

5 posted on 09/22/2003 9:21:13 PM PDT by Pharmboy (Dems lie 'cause they have to...)
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To: Pharmboy
There can't be too many "Javelin Aces" in the US military!
6 posted on 09/22/2003 9:26:33 PM PDT by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
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To: Pharmboy
Sadly too true. To see stories like these in any paper seems to be a small miracle,
7 posted on 09/22/2003 9:28:09 PM PDT by SAMWolf (Click...click...click...damn, out of taglines!)
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To: Bear_in_RoseBear
Pingpingping!
8 posted on 09/22/2003 9:34:46 PM PDT by Rose in RoseBear (HHD [ ... great story! ...])
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To: Pharmboy
bump
9 posted on 09/22/2003 9:35:41 PM PDT by RippleFire
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To: Pharmboy
Proud to say I know, or used to at least, quite a few folks who worked on the developement of the Javelin. Back when it was a Texas Instruments built weapon. Now its Raytheon, AKA RatCo. The Targeting Pod that the F-18 carries for targeting laser guided (and other) bombs is also a TI/RatCo product.


10 posted on 09/22/2003 10:02:10 PM PDT by El Gato (Federal Judges can twist the Constitution into anything.. Or so they think.)
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To: SAMWolf; Pharmboy; snippy_about_it; El Gato; Travis McGee


11 posted on 09/22/2003 10:34:04 PM PDT by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: Pharmboy
Green Berets serving in the highest traditions of the Army. I'm proud of them.
12 posted on 09/22/2003 10:37:35 PM PDT by OldCorps
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To: Pharmboy
bump for later reading.
13 posted on 09/22/2003 10:48:54 PM PDT by TheErnFormerlyKnownAsBig ("I've got a feeling you've got a heart like mine. Let's stomp some rat ba!!$, you can let it shine.")
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To: OldCorps
Bump for bravery.
14 posted on 09/22/2003 11:09:02 PM PDT by MEG33
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To: Pharmboy
Did I miss something re: the Alamo?

I thought the good guys all died there. February 23 to March 6, 1836.
Oh well, I guess my education must pale in comparison to a 'journalist' who works at the NY Times.

Great story though.
15 posted on 09/22/2003 11:49:14 PM PDT by FormerlyAnotherLurker
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To: Pharmboy
BRING 'EM ON!
16 posted on 09/22/2003 11:50:57 PM PDT by Fledermaus (Democrats have stunted brain development!)
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To: Pharmboy
Hey ma, I know what I want for Christmas...
17 posted on 09/23/2003 12:27:19 AM PDT by Free Vulcan
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To: Pharmboy
Yup. The makings of a quagmire.

Enforcers. Flowing white robes. Flowing black robes... sounds familiar. Enforcers. Federal judges, enforcers.

Now our politicians are debating our ultimate retreat so Mecca's islamfascists can remain safe and rich while our Constitutional Republic fails from home grown fascist 5th columnists fragging our own Judeo-Christian heritage of liberty in our sovereign nation.

Thank God, Viet Nam and subsequent missions have given our three generations of citizen soldiers the insight to help prepare us in this global and neighborhood total war.
18 posted on 09/23/2003 12:50:34 AM PDT by SevenDaysInMay (Federal judges and justices serve for periods of good behavior, not life. Article III sec. 1)
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To: Pharmboy; MJY1288; Calpernia; Grampa Dave; anniegetyourgun; Ernest_at_the_Beach; BOBTHENAILER; ...
Great post. Thanks, Pharmboy.

"We all made a mental promise," Staff Sgt. Jeffrey M. Adamec recalled of that battle on Day 18 of the war. "Nobody had to yell out commands. Everybody just knew. We were not going to move back from that point. We were not going to give up that ground. We called that spot `the Alamo' "

Brave American heroes, mega-ping!

If you want on or off my PRO-coalition ping list, please Freepmail me. Warning: it is a high volume ping list on good days. (Most days are good days). All links are added to my homepage, link above.

19 posted on 09/23/2003 5:22:38 AM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl ("I was taught to love America." ~ Freeper 'Bullish', '60s LA public school.)
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To: PhilDragoo
Wonderful. I love it and I love our Troops!!!
20 posted on 09/23/2003 5:27:40 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: SAMWolf
This is great isn't it!

Thanks for the ping.
21 posted on 09/23/2003 5:31:35 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: Free Vulcan
Hey ma, I know what I want for Christmas...

I ALMOST had my coffee to my lips when I read this--luckily I didn't. It's my company's laptop and they would've been mad.

22 posted on 09/23/2003 5:33:10 AM PDT by Pharmboy (Dems lie 'cause they have to...)
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To: Pharmboy
The battle is reconstructed here from interviews with five participants: three sergeants, a captain and a major, all far removed from efforts in Washington to recapture the glory of the military victory in this current much-debated period of postwar reconstruction.

While this paragraph gives much-needed background on the story, the ob(li)vious bias of the reporter is still galling, IMHO.

23 posted on 09/23/2003 5:39:14 AM PDT by MortMan (Tag - Does this mean "I'm it"?)
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To: Pharmboy; Ragtime Cowgirl
Rangers review Javelin 'flawless' effectiveness during OIF
24 posted on 09/23/2003 5:56:35 AM PDT by optimistically_conservative (assonance and consonance have nothing on alliteration)
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To: Pharmboy; Sparta
Great find.

Sparta-Ping.

"It was like a magic show. You know, now you see 'em, now you don't. The S.U.V.'s, the guys in the white robes — they simply vanished."

Made my day.

25 posted on 09/23/2003 6:07:44 AM PDT by MattinNJ (There can be only one.)
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To: Travis McGee
Don't miss this one!
26 posted on 09/23/2003 6:09:38 AM PDT by maica (Mainstream American)
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To: FormerlyAnotherLurker
Did I miss something re: the Alamo?

I believe the young SF Sergeant coined the term for the engagement. It belies their intent to hold ground at all costs. Fortunately, due primarily to their superb killing skills, dieing in place was reserved for the Iraqis.


27 posted on 09/23/2003 6:17:09 AM PDT by TADSLOS (Right Wing Infidel since 1954)
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To: Pharmboy
In a prescient decision early in the mission, Captain Wright had ordered his team to gather Iraqi land mines by hand and blast a breach in an Iraqi defensive berm,


28 posted on 09/23/2003 6:22:26 AM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Bump!
29 posted on 09/23/2003 6:46:20 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: MortMan
Yes...I had the same reaction to that. I had to read it several times to figure out what he was saying. It very well could have been something an editor inserted and was not originally in the author's text.
30 posted on 09/23/2003 6:51:10 AM PDT by Pharmboy (Dems lie 'cause they have to...)
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To: Pharmboy
Thanks for the post, Pharmboy - and the pix!! Very cool.

Cheers, CC :)
31 posted on 09/23/2003 6:52:53 AM PDT by CheneyChick ("I VILL KLEAN HAUS" -Gov. Schwarzenegger)
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To: Pharmboy
Bump for later. Thanks for the post...
32 posted on 09/23/2003 6:53:49 AM PDT by eureka! (Rats and Presstitutes lie--they have to in order to survive.....)
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To: Pharmboy
Under fire from artillery, tank shells, mortars and antiaircraft artillery bursts fired in a low arc toward them, Sergeant Brown squatted and fired shoulder-launched Javelin antitank missiles to take out two armored personnel carriers and ignite a troop truck full of Iraqi infantrymen. An hour before, Sergeant Brown had fired his very first Javelin at an Iraqi troop truck in the distance.

Do I understand correctly that SGT Brown had never fired a Javelin prior to this engagement? Wow! Good shooting!

33 posted on 09/23/2003 7:00:17 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard
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To: SevenDaysInMay
""Enforcers. Flowing white robes. Flowing black robes... sounds familiar. Enforcers. Federal judges, enforcers"

Good grief.
34 posted on 09/23/2003 7:07:10 AM PDT by Rebelbase
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To: ArrogantBustard
I think the article to mean that he fired his first Javelin OF THE ENGAGEMENT. I'm sure he was trained on the missile before he got there. That, of course, takes nothing away from his superb marksmanship. Just he and one other marksman wiped out the whole formation.

Michael

35 posted on 09/23/2003 7:08:12 AM PDT by Wright is right! (Have a profitable day!)
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To: sphinx; Toirdhealbheach Beucail; curmudgeonII; roderick; Notforprophet; river rat; csvset; ...
If you want on or off the Western Civilization Military History ping list, let me know.
36 posted on 09/23/2003 7:12:59 AM PDT by Sparta (CLARK 2004: Psychotic, perfumed prince, globalist, Clintonista, Saddam lover. What's not to love.)
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To: Sparta
Thanks for the ping. :)
37 posted on 09/23/2003 7:16:02 AM PDT by MistyCA (For some...it's always going to be "A Nam Thing!")
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To: Pharmboy
Bless our military! They are truly awesome!
38 posted on 09/23/2003 7:17:43 AM PDT by MistyCA (For some...it's always going to be "A Nam Thing!")
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To: Pharmboy
"In a prescient decision early in the mission, Captain Wright had ordered his team to gather Iraqi land mines by hand and blast a breach in an Iraqi defensive berm, and that gap now provided a route for needed supplies , including more Javelins."

Now that is way cool.

Sure beats digging with a shovel!

39 posted on 09/23/2003 7:23:12 AM PDT by Dr._Joseph_Warren
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To: Pharmboy
You have to wonder if this wasn't published because of the Jim Marshall (D-GA) AJC article and the press conference the Dems held saying that Iraq coverage is biased.


40 posted on 09/23/2003 7:48:34 AM PDT by FreedomPoster (this space intentionally blank)
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To: Free Vulcan
You'll put your eye out...
41 posted on 09/23/2003 8:00:37 AM PDT by in the Arena (James Wayne Herrick - MIA Laos - 27 Oct 69)
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"We could see Highway 2, with a roundabout and a tall statue in the middle," said Sgt. First Class Frank R. Antenori, a Green Beret team sergeant. "We could see vehicles driving along as if nothing was happening. We couldn't just sit two kilometers away and watch the Iraqi Army drive back and forth all day long. We were already way beyond our objective, but we decided to occupy that next junction. We figured we could stay all day and shoot up anything that came through."

BTTT...

42 posted on 09/23/2003 8:07:18 AM PDT by in the Arena (James Wayne Herrick - MIA Laos - 27 Oct 69)
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To: Pharmboy
The courage of these men and the ingenuity is what makes the U.S forces the best in the world!

It took a gutsy team and leader with intelligence to win this battle. Fortunately, they are on our side.

Intelligence, training, guts,

simply the best.
43 posted on 09/23/2003 9:10:39 AM PDT by Only1choice____Freedom (If everything you experienced, believed, lived was a lie, would you want to know the truth?)
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To: Pharmboy
I have a question....do we know how many Iraqis we killed in this war?
44 posted on 09/23/2003 9:24:21 AM PDT by irish guard
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To: TADSLOS
Thanks, obviously I did miss it. 3 or 4 times? I needed coffee.

(FYI: some of the image links on your homepage seem to have been moved since you set them. Maybe. http://www.army-technology.com/projects/apache/images/apache13.jpg is one. I fully intend on swiping some of your quotes. Look for them in future tags.)
45 posted on 09/23/2003 10:13:28 AM PDT by FormerlyAnotherLurker
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Bravery on display!
46 posted on 09/23/2003 10:44:51 AM PDT by blackie
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To: FormerlyAnotherLurker
OK, thanks. Yeah, I need to spend some time updating my page. So many comments, so little time ;~) The quotes are there for the taking, so be my guest.
47 posted on 09/23/2003 11:06:02 AM PDT by TADSLOS (Right Wing Infidel since 1954)
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To: Pharmboy
Kinda like the old saying "one riot, one ranger." One enemy company, one special forces team.
48 posted on 09/23/2003 11:30:10 AM PDT by colorado tanker (USA - taking out the world's trash since 1776)
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To: Pharmboy
"We called in an F-18 to drop a 750-pound bomb on those S.U.V.'s," Captain Wright said. "It was like a magic show. You know, now you see 'em, now you don't. The S.U.V.'s, the guys in the white robes — they simply vanished."

They should film this story and show it every Christmas.

49 posted on 09/23/2003 3:25:11 PM PDT by denydenydeny
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Bump!
50 posted on 09/23/2003 5:13:42 PM PDT by windchime
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