Quick-thinking NCOs rescue soldiers from burning tank

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Quick-thinking NCOs rescue soldiers from burning tank

Post by MKSheppard » 2003-04-03 09:03am

http://www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=1- ... 717992.php

CENTRAL IRAQ — For a few long, terrifying minutes, Pfc. Adam Small faced every armor soldier’s nightmare: the prospect of burning to death while trapped in his own disabled tank.

He was saved, like so many soldiers before him, by a couple of squared-away, quick-thinking NCOs.

Small’s ordeal began just after 5 p.m. March 25, on an evening when a sandstorm at sunset had suffused the air with an unearthly red glow.

As the sky darkened rapidly and rain began to fall, a column of Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles from B, or “Bonecrusher,” Troop, of 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), was pushing forward toward a bridge they were supposed to seize.

The column was still two miles from the bridge, and bunched up more tightly than doctrine would usually call for, when incoming tracer rounds heralded the start of another in a series of ambushes the unit had endured. The troopers shrugged it off — they were getting used to being fired at.

But then something happened that none of them had experienced — something, in fact, that no American soldier had ever experienced. And it happened twice in the space of a few seconds.

A projectile, now thought to be a rocket-propelled grenade, hurtled with the force of a freight train into the back of the tank commanded by Sgt. 1st Class Curtis Anderson, 38, of Sacramento, Calif

Almost simultaneously, a similar jolt rocked Small’s tank, 35 yards behind Anderson’s.

“It felt like the tank bounced,” said tank driver Small, 19, of Greensboro, N.C.

The force of the blast knocked out the tank’s loader, Spc. Brian French, 23, of Billings, Mont., who was climbing down into his seat from his turret hatch at the moment of impact.

“We got hit! We’re getting hit! We’re getting hit!” yelled Staff Sgt. Charles Kilgore, the tank commander.

Small, seated in the driver’s compartment in front of the turret, tried to push his hatch up to escape. But it was jammed, and only opened a few inches. He could see flames, and let it slam shut.

The other three crewmembers were getting themselves together, and getting out. But because of the angle the turret was at when it was hit, Small couldn’t escape through the turret either. He was trapped by fire and the jammed hatch above him, and by the jammed turret behind him. The tank’s 120mm ammunition started to cook off, exploding in the flames.

Tears of fear ran down his cheeks.

Sgt. 1st. Class Javier Camacho, 35, of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, the platoon sergeant for B Troop’s 4th Platoon, was commanding a tank half a mile behind Small’s at the time the two tanks were knocked out. “Somebody got hit,” said his gunner, Sgt. Jeremiah Gallegos.

Within a couple of minutes, Camacho’s tank came to the scene. Anderson’s tank was knocked out, but its engine was still running. Its crew had abandoned it and jumped into a Bradley. Small’s tank was burning fiercely.

The three soldiers who had escaped asked for Camacho’s help in rescuing Small. “When they told me he was still there, my heart stopped,” Camacho said. “He’s not one of my soldiers, but I could just imagine burning to death in a tank. I wouldn’t leave nobody like that.”

Camacho, the squadron’s master gunner and a veteran of the 1991 Gulf War, leaped into action. With help from Gallegos and Sgt. 1st Class Steven Newby, he doused the propellant that was burning on top of Small’s hatch, then set about dislodging the jammed hatch.

Meanwhile, fighting continued around them. It was hard to tell which bullets were fired by the enemy, and which were the .50-caliber rounds cooking off.

Finally, the hatch popped open, and they pulled Small out.

“When he came out of the tank he was hyperventilating,” Camacho said.

Camacho and Newby brought Small to a ditch next to the road, and then to the relative safety of a Bradley. As the column pulled away, all thoughts of the securing the bridge shelved for the time being, another RPG bounced off the road in front of Camacho’s tank.

“All you could hear was the sound of bullets going by,” Camacho said. “It was an exciting night.”

Looking back, Camacho said he didn’t assess the danger inherent in what he did. “I didn’t think about being afraid,” he said. “I just wanted to get that kid out.”

The two tanks were total losses — the first Abrams tanks ever destroyed in their 20 years of service by enemy fire.
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Re: Quick-thinking NCOs rescue soldiers from burning tank

Post by Vympel » 2003-04-03 09:09am

MKSheppard wrote:The two tanks were total losses — the first Abrams tanks ever destroyed in their 20 years of service by enemy fire.
I can't believe the Army Times doesn't even know their own damn history. Two M1s were destroyed in 1991 by T-62 fire to the flanks.
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Re: Quick-thinking NCOs rescue soldiers from burning tank

Post by MKSheppard » 2003-04-03 09:15am

Vympel wrote: I can't believe the Army Times doesn't even know their own damn history. Two M1s were destroyed in 1991 by T-62 fire to the flanks.
Erm...

*points out difference between deadlined and total loss*
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Re: Quick-thinking NCOs rescue soldiers from burning tank

Post by Vympel » 2003-04-03 09:16am

MKSheppard wrote:
Erm...

*points out difference between deadlined and total loss*
Oh come on talk about splitting pubic hair :twisted:

Knocked out is knocked out.
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Re: Quick-thinking NCOs rescue soldiers from burning tank

Post by MKSheppard » 2003-04-03 09:20am

Vympel wrote: Knocked out is knocked out.
*points to T-34s that were quickly repaired and sent back into battle
with their crews guts still splattered all over the insides - the US at
least had the courtesy to hose you out*
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Re: Quick-thinking NCOs rescue soldiers from burning tank

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2003-04-03 01:43pm

Vympel wrote:
MKSheppard wrote:
Erm...

*points out difference between deadlined and total loss*
Oh come on talk about splitting pubic hair :twisted:

Knocked out is knocked out.
If a tank is knocked out of action that doesn’t mean its been destroyed. Blowing a track off will knock a tank out of action, does that mean its destroyed and must be scrapped? :roll:
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Re: Quick-thinking NCOs rescue soldiers from burning tank

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2003-04-03 01:46pm

MKSheppard wrote:
Vympel wrote: Knocked out is knocked out.
*points to T-34s that were quickly repaired and sent back into battle
with their crews guts still splattered all over the insides - the US at
least had the courtesy to hose you out*
Now now, lets give him a chance to explain why the US Army deploys swarms of M88’s and mobile armor repair shops if any tank that's knocked out of action is a total loss :roll:
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Post by Coyote » 2003-04-03 01:51pm

Vympel, you let me down. You should know the difference between K-Kill and M-Kill? Mobility Kill? I know you disagree politically with the war and all that but lets not go distorting facts to suit political desires-- that's what you accuse us of! :wink: :P
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Post by Nathan F » 2003-04-03 02:11pm

Tisk Tisk, and this is the Russian armor expert of the HAB...

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Post by Sea Skimmer » 2003-04-03 03:47pm

Nathan F wrote:Tisk Tisk, and this is the Russian armor expert of the HAB...
Actually it makes some sense, Russian tanks are better known for there crew/turret fiery death based ejection systems then survivability or ease of repair.

One of the reasons why the M1 had flat sloped armor on the turret front rather then curved plating was so that it was easy to cut it open and swap out Cobham plating, which allowed for very quick battle damage repairs.
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Post by Darth PhysBod » 2003-04-03 04:02pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:
Nathan F wrote:Tisk Tisk, and this is the Russian armor expert of the HAB...
Actually it makes some sense, Russian tanks are better known for there crew/turret fiery death based ejection systems then survivability or ease of repair.

One of the reasons why the M1 had flat sloped armor on the turret front rather then curved plating was so that it was easy to cut it open and swap out Cobham plating, which allowed for very quick battle damage repairs.
I was under the impression it was because Chobham-type armour can only be manufactured in flat plates :?

I take it form that article the turret was pointing rearwards?, otherwise how would an ammo cookoff cover the drivers hatch in flames when it vents out of the rear?
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Re: Quick-thinking NCOs rescue soldiers from burning tank

Post by Vympel » 2003-04-04 07:18am

NO NO NO NO NO NO.

The M1A1s knocked out in 1991 were not a mobility kill. They were holed. That is knocked out- total loss and knocked out are not the same thing.

When you get a track hit, that is a mobility kill. The tank is disabled, not knocked out.

Jeez, talk about semantics whoring. :evil:
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Re: Quick-thinking NCOs rescue soldiers from burning tank

Post by MKSheppard » 2003-04-04 01:26pm

Vympel wrote: Jeez, talk about semantics whoring. :evil:
Vympel wrote: Jeez, talk about semantics whoring. :evil:
Then what about the M1 that got stuck in a mudpit and
the US tried to destroy it pointblank with 120mm rounds?

The first few didn't penetrate, but the final one did, and
it penetrated into the ammo compartment and KABOOOM.

Then they managed to get a recovery vehicle, and when
they pulled the M1 out of the place, they opened it up
and the turret was OK, the blow out panels had worked,
and the only real problem was there was no longer a place
to store their ammo and the sights were now out of whack.

That tank IIRC recieved a new turret and was put back
into service.

I think the Army is using the term of "total complete loss"
when they refer to "lost tanks", such as a Sherman so badly
gutted by fire it's just worthless (fire destroys the protective
qualities of armor)
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"The present air situation in the Pacific is entirely the result of fighting a fifth rate air power." - U.S. Navy Memo - 24 July 1944

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