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In Memory Of "Spirit 03" Jan 31, 1991

Centermass

Ranger
Verified SOF
Joined
Oct 19, 2006
Messages
2,593
Location
Whoville
#1
0635 hrs. marked the 23rd anniversary of the shooting-down of a 16th Special Operations Squadron AC-130H Spectre gunship, with the call-sign “Spirit 03.” It happened twelve days into Operation Desert Storm during the Battle of Khafji, a battle to stop Iraqi mechanized and armored divisions from moving south from Kuwait to cross the border into Saudi Arabia near a Saudi town named Khafji.

As part of a decisive demonstration of air power over ground forces, three AC-130 Spectre gunships joined the battle to provide air-to-ground fire and close air support. As the last of the three AC-130s still on station early on the morning of January 31, and about to end its mission, Spirit 03 “received a call from the Marines – they needed an enemy missile battery destroyed.

Despite the risk of anti-aircraft artillery fire, and the greater danger of the morning sun casting light on the circling gunship, the crew of ‘Spirit 03’ chose to remain and destroy the position requested.” “Spirit 03” did what it had been asked to do, it destroyed the target designated by the Marines who were under fire, but that action came at a heavy cost. An SA-7 “Grail” man-portable surface-to-air missile was fired by the Iraqis at the now in-the-early-morning-light-visible AC-130 in the sky over Khafji.

“The missile found its target and at 0635 hours the aircraft sent out a “mayday” distress call and then crashed into the waters of the Persian Gulf,” according to SpecialOperations.com. All 14 crewmembers were killed. The loss of the crew of “Spirit 03” was the largest single loss by any Air Force unit during Operation Desert Storm.

The bravery and dedication of Spectre resulted in the destruction of 21 enemy fuel trucks, 10 armored personnel carriers, and 2 antiaircraft artillery sites during the Battle of Khafji. The crew of Spirit 03 was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart medals. The actions of the aircrews played a decisive role in the retaking of Khafji and its subsequent control for the duration of hostilities.

Overall, the 16 SOS was credited for destroying 21 fuel trucks, 10 armored personnel carriers, 9 23mm AAA sites, 6 electronic equipment vans, 3 Squat Eye/Flat Face radar facilities, 2 communication sites, and a command post complex. Numerous other targets, including large numbers of enemy personnel, were engaged but not confirmed destroyed. During the retreat of the Iraqi Army from Kuwait, one AC- I30H gunship provided air cover over the Kuwait International Airport. The remainder of DESERT STORM saw the 16 SOS flying airborne alert. On 27 May 1991, the remaining gunships in Saudi Arabia returned to home station at Hurlburt Field.

“We will never forget this mission and the sacrifice that they made.”

The crew members of Spirit 03, killed in action Jan. 31, 1991:

Maj. Paul Weaver
Capt. Thomas Bland
Capt. Arthur Galvan
Capt. William Grimm
Capt. Dixon Walters
Senior Master Sgt. Paul Buege
Senior Master Sgt. Jim May
Tech. Sgt. Robert Hodges
Tech. Sgt. John Oelschlager
Staff Sgt. John Blessinger
Staff Sgt. Tim Harrison
Staff Sgt. Damon Kanuha
Staff Sgt. Mark Schmauss
Sergeant Barry Clark

Blue skies always Warriors.

 

DA SWO

SOWT
Verified SOF
Joined
Aug 18, 2007
Messages
8,410
Location
San Antonio Texas
#4
Remember reading the daily sitrep and instantly knowing it was a SOF bird based on the number of crewmwmbers.

They found the wreckage after the war in shallow water.

RIP Brothers

Blue skies and tailwinds.
 

JedisonsDad

SOF Support
Joined
Jun 8, 2014
Messages
38
Location
Hurlburt Field
#9
We've got tributes to these guys every where. Every single plane has a "remember Spirit 03" written somewhere on it, not to mention pictures and plaques hanging everywhere in our building.

Some truly selfless men.
 

Jeff S.

Unverified
Joined
Jan 30, 2016
Messages
2
#11
I served on the Eglin Honor Guard during this time and had the special privilege of being able to provide military honors to several of these brothers in arms. Something I'll never forget. Spirit 03 - You're still remembered!

Maj. Paul Weaver
Capt. Thomas Bland
Capt. Arthur Galvan
Capt. William Grimm
Capt. Dixon Walters
Senior Master Sgt. Paul Buege
Senior Master Sgt. Jim May
Tech. Sgt. Robert Hodges
Tech. Sgt. John Oelschlager
Staff Sgt. John Blessinger
Staff Sgt. Tim Harrison
Staff Sgt. Damon Kanuha
Staff Sgt. Mark Schmauss
Sergeant Barry Clark


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