gulfwarmp.com

by Ken Curcio






2nd MP Co. at GSG-2

( General Support Group 2 )


 
 

GSG-2 ( General Support Group -2 ) in January 1991


GSG-2 was a main supply base for MARCENT located at Mishab. We were staged there initially I believe just sort of in standby mode waiting for CSSD-91 to be activated. We dug in, trained on crew served weapons, poison gas drills and manned perimeter positions. On the 16th were were told to finish digging in because the “ shit was going to hit the fan. “ We spent the first night of the air war in bunkers and perimeter positions with our gas masks on. Iraqi artillery hit Khafji in response. In the morning we could see the plums of smoke rising from Khafji. in the next couple of days we experienced being under enemy fire ( most of us for the first time ) from Iraqi FROG-7 rockets. ( Free Rocket Over Ground ) On the 18th and 19th we received and guarded the first Iraqi EPW’s of the war at GSG-2 and at 1st Med Bn at Mishab. Then between the 20th and the 24th we moved from GSG-2 to CSSD-91.




The First Iraqi Prisoners of the Gulf War, 18-19 January 91.


The very first Iraqi prisoners of the war were taken off of oil platforms in the Persian Gulf. They were brought to us at GSG-2. Well, the ones that were not wounded in the taking of the platform were. The wounded prisoners were taken to the 1st Medical Bn. Hospital across the road at Mishab. We were not supposed to take pictures of the prisoners but you know how that goes. Marines will be Marines. I hadn’t come 7,000 some miles just to dodge Iraqi Frog-7 Rockets. No way was I going to miss the history we were making. This next photo I figured would be harmless as you would not be able to ID anyone and I would still capture the event. It is of 2nd MP Marines unloading the first Iraqi EPW’s at our make shift holding pen. I took it from the entrance to our hooch.























                   2nd MP Marines unload the first Iraqi prisoners of the war at GSG-2

                   19 JANUARY 91. Photo by Ken Curcio

               ( Notice how sneaky I was using that Desert Cammie Blouse as concealment.)


There is official media pictures of this event. There was kind of a tight reign on the media during the Gulf War but the first prisoners of the war did not go unreported. This next photo is from Newsweek Magazine. The photo’s if you notice, are taken so that the prisoners could not be identified.




















               This Photo by Charles Platiau from the AP, appeared in Newsweek Magazine.


The two Marines to the right are Sgt. Steve Antolich ( leaning on “the shelter”) and I want to say that is Lipovich far right but I’m unsure. The Marine in the center was a interpreter and I do not know his unit or identity. They were not interrogating the prisoners as the caption indicates, they were feeding them. They were explaining to them about MRE”S ( meals ready to eat ) and showing them how to open them. Note the box of MRE’s.


This next photo is from the photo journal book, Victory In The Gulf. In it, you can see that Sgt. A was demonstrating opening a MRE food packet.


















                  Photo credit according to the book is Reuters/ Bettmann. ( 89 bottom left )

                   

Rocket Attacks & Guarding the wounded prisoners at Mishab 18-19 January 91


Everyone in 2nd MP was preforming different functions during the FROG-7 attacks and we all could tell a good story about this time. Here is one of mine.


On the 18th, I was assigned with others from 3rd Platoon to guard the wounded EPW’s from the oil platforms over at 1st Medical Bn ( L Co. ) at Mishab. Right after evening chow I hit the rack because we were due over at Mishab at around 2300, I think. Sometime around 2000 or 2030 maybe, I was awakened by exploding FROG-7 Rockets. It was confusing at first. GSG-2’s incoming and gas attack alarms were beginning to sound and some guys were screaming incoming and scrambling for cover, Some guys were saying it was outgoing. Then as I was sitting up in my rack another one came in. When it exploded I seen what happened this time. The flash came first like a split second before. You could feel the concussion and see the tent sort of suck in and back out . When that happens your adrenalin surges and your heart pounds like it’s trying to break out of your chest. That time I headed for cover. ( So fast I didn’t grab my cammies, just my gear ). So now I’m in a bunker basically in my Skivies with my rifle and my boots, gas mask and flack jacket on. After a while things got quiet and I went back to get my Cammies. I recall asking either Lt. McCarthy or SSgt Dugan if I could. It is cold as hell at night in that desert. At the time we didn’t know it but the rockets were landing across the road at Mishab. Also, I had a bit of a head cold at the time. I guess I was not fully acclimated yet, or the “cocktail vaccines” they gave us were messing with me. At any rate, I basically drank a ton of snot for an hour or two till the all clear was given and we could remove our gas masks. This is just a reality of life when there is a threat of poison gas in a combat zone. Drinking snot is better than sucking in any kind of poison. Anytime we received incoming, the gas masks went on till we were given the all clear. That is just the way it was.


Shortly after, and with basically no sleep, the prisoner guard detail boarded a 5 ton and went over to Mishab. I will never forget the look on the Marines face at the gate to Mishab. He had the eyes wide open, “I’ve been dodging incoming all night look.” I guess we all did. When we got to the hospital we were briefed on the situation. The wounded prisoners were in above ground tents on raised beds. The deck over there at Mishab was either concrete or pavement. The only protection for the tents was sandbag walls maybe 4’ high and 2 or 3 sandbags deep all the way around. The prisoner tents had concertina wire around the sandbag walls as well. Only one way in and one way out. We were told that the EPW’s were told to get on the floor and against the wall if we got incoming. They were in separate tents according to their wounds. The ones I was guarding did not have very serious wounds. A Navy Corpsman was with me in the tent. I forget his name but it didn’t take long for us to start talking about things. At some wee hour in the morning maybe 0200 or 0300 we got hit again. This time being at Mishab, I was a lot closer to where they were hitting. The tent sucked in and out again and dust blew into the air filling the tent with a smokey haze. I was sitting on a cot that I put across the middle of the doorway so the only way out was thru me. I had my rifle across my lap and was eating cheese and crackers from an MRE. The Corpsman was sitting to my left and we were BS’ ing. Of course, me and the Corpsman hit the deck and dawned our gas masks. As I was looking up to clear my mask I noticed the prisoner that was in the back left corner was crawling towards us. I stood up and backed him off  moving towards him and screaming muffled  “Get back MF r’s at him thru my gas mask. Needless to say he backed up. He didn’t understand english but I made sure he knew what I was saying for sure. I think he was just scared seeing us put our masks on because they didn’t have any. One thing was for sure, he wasn’t getting mine. We were scared too. If I remember correctly looking back, the Corpsman had my back. We got all the EPW’s where they were supposed to be and took some more incoming. After the all clear we got the EPW’s back in their racks.


In the morning at daylight, after all of that mayhem and my nerves were shot, One of the Navy Doctors came in to check on the EPW’s. He walked in with his pistol holstered but in his hand. We gave him a “Good morning Sir.” He went over to check a prisoner and set that 9 mm right down on the rack with the prisoner. I couldn’t believe my freaking eyes and I about had a spaz fit. I took the pistol. He realized what he did and he proceeded to tell me it wasn’t loaded because as a doctor, he took an oath to save lives not to take them. I said something to the effect, “Thats nice but how does he ( the prisoner ) know that.” I said, “if he picks that gun up, I put so many holes in him, even you can’t fix him.” He said “Ok “ I think and went about doing his job. I remember being sort of worried because I sort of yelled at him and didn’t call him Sir. I gave him his pistol back as he was leaving and he apologized to me and told me he saw my point. I said something like, “no problem Sir, that’s what they put us MP’s here to watch for.” or something like that.


Looking back, I realize we were all just trying to get acclimated to being in a War Zone. At first your a little rattled and shocked. Your getting shot at for real and getting real enemy prisoners and it’s just sort of unreal at first. Amazingly, you just kind of get used to it. Your mind just kind of goes to a state where things just don’t phase you so much and you just sort of react. Also, in the beginning, we did not know what to expect from the captured Iraqi Soldiers. As it turned out, most were forced into service and were just happy to have food, water and be out of the fighting. Everyone handles  stress differently. We did what we did.


Ken Curcio - 2nd MP Co., 3rd Platoon.


Note:

The 1st FSSG CC’s note that the the first Iraqi prisoners  were in the MARCENT area on the 17th and were being held at GSG-2. It also states that the prisoner casualties were taken to 1st Med Bn, L Co. at Mishab on the 18th. The 1st FSSG CC’s also state the 18th as being the first night of FROG-7 impacts. There is no entries for FROG -7 impacts on the 17th.


Now it is my recollection that I guarded those wounded prisoners the first night they arrived at 1st Med Bn. I also recall that as being the first night of the FROG-7 attacks. This coincides with the 1st FSSG report. However I, do not believe GSG-2 actually received the prisoners till the 19th. I recall that after I returned from the hospital at Mishab on the morning of the 19th although exhausted, I stayed up to see the first EPW’s be brought in and that is when I took the picture above. Also it is the date of the pictures from the news media. So, I believe the oil platforms were raided on the 18th and the wounded EPW’s were taken right away to 1st Med at Mishab. And then the other EPW’s were brought to us on the 19th after we got a chance to build the make shift holding pen.


Hopefully when I get the CC’s for GSG-2 it will clear this up.


Iraqi artillery did fire on Khafji on the 17th. They managed to hit a oil refinery tank and set it ablaze. The picture below shows the plumes of smoke rising from Khafji in the back round.



















                             Photo of Sgt. Atkins ( left ) and myself at GSG-2  17 January 91.

                             In the back round, you can see the plumes of smoke rising from

                             Khafji. Photo by Mike River.                                                             


The Last Iraqi EPW of the Gulf War.


The very last Iraqi EPW of the war ( at least in our AO ) was also received by us at GSG-2. This was after the ceasefire, sometime at the end of March 91. The majority of 2nd MP had moved back to to Jubail to begin our next assignment as US Military Customs Advisors. 3rd Platoon stayed behind at GSG-2 to finish up our duties securing the port at Mishab.














                                    

                               

                          

 

2nd MP Co. Marines at GSG-2. This was the make shift holding compound we made to hold the 1st Iraqi prisoners of the war. This picture is looking to the south, maybe a little southwest. In the larger version of this picture. I can make out Capt. Novak I think, standing in the center and facing left and Sgt. Atkins I believe is walking up on the right. 19 January 91.

Photo taken by Ken Curcio.

The very last Iraqi Prisoner of the war from our  AO, at our hooch at GSG-2 in late March 1991.

Photo by Marty Kibel