Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Rangers Given Award for Valor

Outfit honored with Valorous Unit Award for performance in 2003 Battle of Hadithah Dam

From staff reports

Mention the 2003 Battle of Hadithah Dam to any Ranger and watch him swell with pride.

With good reason.

The Army thinks so highly of the performance by the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment that it recently honored the outfit with the Valorous Unit Award, second in unit awards only to the Presidential Unit Citation.

According to the award citation, the Fort Benning-based Rangers, then part of a joint task force engaged in an intense battle during the opening days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, displayed extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy from March 30 through April 9, 2003.

Their mission: Seize the enemy-occupied Hadithah Dam in Iraq to obtain a communication line across the Euphrates River and to prevent the enemy from destroying the dam.

"It was very dangerous, against a numerically superior enemy, deep into the heart of the country behind enemy lines, with expectations of heavy enemy resistance and the dam itself thought to be rigged to blow," said battalion commander Lt. Col. John G. Castles.

The Hadithah Dam was, and still is, a vital line of communication from Western Iraq leading into Baghdad, he said. "The importance of this site was that, if destroyed, the waters would flood the Euphrates River basin all the way into Baghdad and either destroy or limit the maneuverability of coalition forces moving up into this critical area."

Originally tasked to be there for 24 hours, the force was required to remain at the critical position for several days. "Despite continued contact with the enemy, the force held firm, continuing to take the fight to and destroy the enemy, resulting in coalition forces continued movement north into Iraq," Castles said.

Maj. David S. Doyle, who commanded the Rangers during the mission, recalled the operation from beginning to end. "We infiltrated into the western desert with one plan, and then the circumstances changed during our movement. We received the Hadithah Dam mission and had less than 12 hours to plan and get moving. We planned on the hood of a vehicle in the desert and went through our troop leading procedures just like we were at Ranger School."

The battle damage assessment included 230 enemies killed, and the destruction of 29 tanks, nine S-60 anti-aircraft artillery, 14 anti-aircraft artillery pieces, 28 155mm artillery, 22 82mm mortars, six 60mm mortars, eight ammunition caches, 18 buildings, three heavy cargo trucks, two motorcycles, 10 boats and one kayak.

Previously, four Rangers received the Silver Star, 11 received the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, five received the Purple Heart, 20 received Army Commendation Medals for Valor, 15 received the Bronze Star Medal and 71 received the Army Commendation Medal for this mission.

The Valorous Unit Award is awarded to units of the Armed Forces for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy of the United States while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing armed force. The unit must have performed with marked distinction under difficult and hazardous conditions to accomplish the mission, separating it from other units involved in the conflict.

The 3rd Battalion last received the Valorous Unit Award for actions while deployed to Somalia in 1993

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