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June 17, 2005

"Think that's good shooting? You should see their jump shot."

They're celebrating in Kentucky tonight.

Why? Because Raven 42 has received some hard earned and well deserved recognition.

More below...

For those of you who don't follow these things "Raven 42" was the callsign for a squad of 10 MP's from the 617th Military Police Company of the Kentucky National Guard that were ambushed on March 20th. The 10 man squad, in three Humvees, were escorting a convoy of about 30 trucks about 20 miles Southeast of Baghdad. What follows are excerpts from an after action report. I've tried to edit it a bit for the more gentle among you.

"When the insurgents attacked, one of the Hummers was in their kill zone and the three soldiers aboard were immediately wounded, and the platform taken under heavy machinegun and RPG fire."

"After three minutes of sustained fire, a squad of enemy moved forward toward the disabled and suppressed trucks. Each of the enemy had hand-cuffs and were looking to take hostages for ransom or worse, to take those three wounded US soldiers for more internet beheadings."

"About this time, three armored Hummers that formed the MP Squad under call sign Raven 42, 617th MP Co, Kentucky National Guard, assigned to the 503rd MP Bn (Fort Bragg), 18th MP Bde, arrived on the scene like the cavalry. The squad had been shadowing the convoy from a distance behind the last vehicle, and when the convoy trucks stopped and became backed up from the initial attack, the squad sped up, paralleled the convoy up the shoulder of the road, and moved to the sound of gunfire."

?They arrived on the scene just as a squad of about ten enemy had moved forward across the farmer's field and were about 20 meters from the road. The MP squad opened fire with .50 cal machineguns and Mk19 grenade launchers and drove across the front of the enemy's kill zone, between the enemy and the trucks, drawing fire off of the tractor trailers.?

?The MP's crossed the kill zone and then turned up an access road at a right angle to the ASR and next to the field full of enemy fighters. The three vehicles, carrying nine MPs and one medic, stopped in a line on the dirt access road and flanked the enemy positions with plunging fire from the .50 cal and the SAW machinegun (Squad Automatic Weapon). In front of them, was a line of seven sedans, with all their doors and trunk lids open, the getaway cars and the lone two story house off on their left.?

?Immediately the middle vehicle was hit by an RPG knocking the gunner unconscious from his turret and down into the vehicle. The Vehicle Commander, the squad's leader, thought the gunner was dead, but tried to treat him from inside the vehicle. Simultaneously, the rear vehicle's driver and TC, section leader two, open their doors and dismount to fight, while their gunner continued firing from his position in the gun platform on top of the Hummer. Immediately, all three fall under heavy return machinegun fire, wounded. The driver of the middle vehicle saw them fall out the rearview mirror, dismounts and sprints to get into the third vehicle and take up the SAW on top the vehicle. The Squad's medic dismounts from that third vehicle, and joined by the first vehicle's driver who sprinted back to join him, begins combat life-saving techniques to treat the three wounded MPs. The gunner on the floor of the second vehicle is revived by his TC, the squad leader, and he climbs back into the .50 cal and opens fire. The Squad leader dismounted with his M4 carbine, and 2 hand grenades, grabbed the section leader out of the first vehicle who had rendered radio reports of their first contact. The two of them, squad leader Staff Sergeant and team leader Sergeant with her M4 and M203 grenade launcher, rush the nearest ditch about 20 meters away to start clearing the natural trenchline. The enemy has gone into the ditches and is hiding behind several small trees in the back of the lot.?

?Meanwhile, the two treating the three wounded on the ground at the rear vehicle come under sniper fire from the farmer's house. Each of them, remember one is a medic, pull out AT-4 rocket launchers from the HMMWV and nearly-simultaneously fire the rockets into the house to neutralize the shooter. The two sergeants work their way up the trenchline, throwing grenades, firing grenades from the launcher, and firing their M4s.?

?The sergeant runs low on ammo and runs back to a vehicle to reload. She moves to her squad leader's vehicle, and because this squad is led so well, she knows exactly where to reach her arm blindly into a different vehicle to find ammo-because each vehicle is packed exactly the same, with discipline.?

?As she turns to move back to the trenchline, Gunner in two sees an [enemy] jump from behind one of the cars and start firing on the Sergeant. He pulls his 9mm, because the .50 cal is pointed in the other direction, and shoots five rounds wounding him.****** The sergeant moves back to the trenchline under fire from the back of the field, with fresh mags, two more grenades, and three more M203 rounds. The Mk 19 gunner suppresses the rear of the field.?

?Now, rejoined with the squad leader, the two sergeants continue clearing the enemy from the trenchline, until they see no more movement.?

?The team leader sergeant--she claims four killed by aimed M4 shots.?

?The Squad Leader--he threw four grenades taking out at least two AIF, and attributes one other to her aimed M203 fire.?

?The gunner on platform two, previously knocked out from a hit by the RPG, has now swung his .50 cal around and, realizing that the line of vehicles represents a hazard and possible getaway for the bad guys, starts shooting the .50 cal into the engine blocks until his field of fire is limited. He realizes that his vehicle is still running despite the RPG hit, and drops down from his weapon, into the drivers seat and moves the vehicle forward on two flat tires about 100 meters into a better firing position. Just then, the vehicle dies, oil spraying everywhere. He remounts his .50 cal and continues shooting the remaining of the seven cars lined up and ready for a get-away that wasn't to happen. The fire dies down about then, and a second squad arrives on the scene, dismounts and helps the two giving first aid to the wounded at platform three. Two minutes later three other squads from the 617th arrive, along with the CO, and the field is secured, consolidation begins.?

?Those seven Americans (with the three wounded) killed in total 24 heavily armed enemy, wounded 6 (two later died), and captured one unwounded, who feigned injury to escape the fight. They seized 22 AK-47s, 6x RPG launchers w/ 16 rockets, 13x RPK machineguns, 3x PKM machineguns, 40 hand grenades, 123 fully loaded 30-rd AK magazines, 52 empty mags, and 10 belts of 2500 rds of PK ammo.?

The cause for celebration in Kentucky today? The U.S. Army handed out commendations to the members of Raven 42 today:

?Staff Sgt. Timothy Nein, Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester and Spc. Jason Mike of the 617th Military Police Company received Silver Stars for their actions. Spc. Casey Cooper, Spc. William Haynes II and Spc. Ashley Pullen each received a Bronze Star with valor device. Four other members of the Kentucky National Guard unit, Sgt. Dustin Morris, Sgt. Joseph Rivera, Spc. Jesse Ordunez and PFC Bryan M. Mack, received an Army Commendation Medal with valor device.?

Sgt Leigh Ann Hester is the first woman to receive the Silver Star since World War II. Here?s a picture of her after the ambush with some of the weapons collected after support arrived:


W. Thomas Smith has an article on Raven 42 that is worth reading. (You can find it here.) Here's a quote:

"The insurgents, on the other hand ? all wearing handcuffs in hopes of capturing some of the truck drivers or perhaps a few American soldiers for God knows what ? had no idea who they were exchanging shots with; even after they saw the Americans charging toward them. But they quickly realized they had bitten off a bit more than they could chew. After all, a clash between fifty, armed bad-guys and ten, armed Kentuckians has never been ? and will never be ? a fair fight."

My Dad was expecting some celebrating tonight at his pool hall / bar / tavern tonight. Sgt. Hester and some of the others are from towns nearby.

Special thanks to www.blackfive.net for the action report.

P.S. I was going to title this one "Kentucky Girls kick ass AND shoot straight!" but the basketball joke was too easy. Go Big Blue!

Posted by Jim at June 17, 2005 12:36 AM

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