October 18, 2012

Ranger History: The Persian Gulf War

The history of the modern Ranger Regiment is a very colorful one; we who join the 75th are expected to study and memorize our heritage from the days of Francis Marion in the American Revolution to the Battle of Takur Ghar in Afghanistan and to more recent times. We jumped into Grenada in ’83, we jumped into Panama in ’89, and we fought thousands of Somalis in the streets of Mogadishu in ’93. These are conflicts ingrained in our memories forever and can be read about (or watched) in countless mediums from books, documentaries, and Hollywood blockbusters. But most Rangers and even less civilians have absolutely no clue about 75th operations during the Persian Gulf War in ’90 – ’91. If memory serves me correctly there is no mention of it at all in our Ranger History booklet we all received in RIP/RASP. So I decided to do some research over the last couple of days and I found out some really great history of our time in the Gulf that I want to share with our fine readers here at SOFREP.

What I found most interesting is that the Rangers (specifically the beach boys of the 1st Ranger Battalion) actually deployed three separate times to the Gulf throughout 1990 to 1991.

1st Deployment:

Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on August 2nd, 1990 which was followed by the first deployment of coalition forces about a week later. Operation Desert Shield as it was dubbed saw the deployment of hundreds of thousands of allied forces to Saudi Arabia in order to protect the nation from Saddam’s military machine if he ever decided to leave Kuwait and make his way towards Riyadh. Much of Desert Shield consisted of sitting and waiting around waiting for the war to actually start. Which didn’t happen until January of ’91, almost five months later. In late 1990, Saddam took almost 1000 Western, Japanese, and Kuwaiti nationals as hostages and placed them throughout strategic locations in Iraq and Kuwait acting as human shields in order to deter an attack by the coalition. He also refused to allow thousands of other foreign nationals, women and children included, to leave and threatened to use them as leverage as well. This provocation saw the first deployment of men from the 1st Ranger Battalion. Their mission was to secure the many strategic facilities that held the human shields both in Kuwait and in Iraq. From the information I gather, it looks like there were just too many targets for the JSOC forces currently on the ground to secure (who are trained in hostage rescue). Fortunately (“Unfortunately” if you ask a Ranger), Saddam Hussein released all the hostages and the 1/75 element was sent home sometime in December 1990.


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  • YankeeZulu

    I was in Ranger School when they sent some of the Bn over. All I remember about this is when everyone came back all they would do is go on about "Its classified, can't talk about it."

  • Aco1stPltWpnSqd

    Just wanted to say hi to those fellows who remember that jump into Camel DZ. I was one of the cherry Rangers who just got to 1st Batt in time for that jump. I remember the jump master blowing 10 knots while shaking his head NO. Ha, I knew it was going to hurt. Made it through the march and live fire although I herniated a disk. I was happy as crap to see those birds coming in to take us to Daho. We took a platoon picture in camp and I have lost mine. I would love to get a copy and show my kids. If you got a copy can you scan me one over to my email [email protected] Rangers Lead the Way!

  • TO1389

    Just a slight correction/addition to the Ranger assault on the communications facility (called "Ranger Run I"): 160th SOAR birds were there and provided C2 and CAS, but the actual raid platoon was infilled and exfilled by MH-53J Pave Lows from the Air Force's 20th Special Operations Squadron.    20th SOS Pave Lows were also the first aircraft to cross into Iraq (a distinction usually given to the Apache crews, who were led in by the Paves), and performed much of the CSAR for that war (and most of the SOF CSAR throughout the '90s and '00s; in fact, MH-53s were the dedicated QRF/CSAR platform for OCF-I for much of OIF, not the 160th).    You guys might be surprised how many SOF missions have been performed where the 160th was credited for the air mission, but it was actually AFSOC crews that flew the mission - exclusively, or along side their Army counterparts.

  • poncholebo

    @kmonger  @Iassen Donov  So funny to hear someone who remembers this.  I was the RRD commo guy at the time and did the static line jump with ya'll.  I remember having the same thoughts.. "30 knots" my but.  Would love to see that video.  I do remember one stud recieved a medal for completing the movement with a broken leg.  I forget his name.  He was with the Reg HQ.

  • RgrDan

    @kmonger  @Iassen Donov Thanks Iassen for remembering a small little piece of Ranger history.  I was on that jump into Kuwait and was one of the 40 that Karl mentioned being medevaced off the DZ.  I was one of eight or so more seriously injured who ended up in a Kuwati hospital.  After three days in the hospital a Kuwati doctor diagnosed me with a "bruised hip".  After returning to Hunter, Doc Donovan had a different diagnosis.  A fractured pelvis!  Apparently the xray machines at the Kuwati hospital were old and of low quality, missing the two cracks in my pelvis.  I'll never forget the sinking feeling in my gut  when I heard that first wind call.  We all had a feeling it didn't matter, we were jumping regardless of how high the winds were.  We had loaded up a whole Ranger Battalion on several C141s and flown halfway across the world for a "show of force" and air land wasn't going to be an option.  As I was standing up waiting for the go command, I remember looking out of those tiny windows at the dark clouds of an approaching storm, which were causing the high winds, thinking THIS IS GOING TO SUCK.  It was a long cold wet night for the boys who made it off the DZ uninjured, which made me feel even worse than the injury, because I wasn't with my squad humping my share of the gear.  Also, I don't remember the first deployment you wrote about happening.