Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Some Interesting Pictures from Iraq..

Not much work on the hobby front but since tomorrow is Thursday, I figured I'd post some "throw-back" pictures from spring of 2003.  These are some "light hearted" pictures of some of my time in Iraq during Iraqi Freedom and also mein bester kamerad, David F .  I figured some of you would like seeing some of these.
The gentleman with his hands on his hips and the perculiar look on his face is David F, best man at my wedding and Godfather to my daughter!  The odd looking fellow in the foreground is yours-truly - when I had hair!  This was during our Brigade consolidation at Balad Airbase, about 80 km's north of Baghdad.
 I'll never forget one morning some buddies came and woke me up after I was up on the night shift and said "you'll want to lose sleep for this" well they took me out to this completely intact T-72 and said "here you go, sir.  have at it" and knew I'd want to crawl all over this and I think we all spent about an hour playing around on this thing.  This was all on Taji inside our Forward Operating Base.  Taji was like a military or wargamer's amusement park.

Captured T-72 - intact and no sabot holes through it!!

Me in the TC hatch.

David F's promotion to Sergeant!

M109A6 "Paladin" Howitzers and their "Cats" from 4th Infantry Division DIVARTY

nice sign welcoming us to Baghdad and "Route Sword"

Yours truly mounting a captured T-72 tank with a captured helicopter pilot's helmet because I couldn't find a tanker's helmet!

yours truly on the right, eating some beef jerky while still in Kuwait.  Note our luxurious accommodations!

I cried until the tears wouldn't come.  Row upon row of bull-dozed MI-24 Hinds from the Republican Guard.  I still have a stamp-plate from the cockpit of one!

captured enemy equipment yard.  T-62s, T-55s, T-72s, in fact just about any Cold War export you could think of here.

Some knocked out Iraqi armor that we didn't dare go near.  The dust from the DU penetration rounds is radioactive.

Chinese or Russian IFVs and APCs 

Second Lieutenant me on the right

me and Dave F!

This pic went into the battalion newspaper.....

Paul F, this one is for you.  I'd like to see you kit-bash this baby!  BTR with an AA turret on the top.  twin auto-cannons!  I wonder if it would work though?

Battalion Fire Direction Center in Kuwait.

Some Bradleys going out on patrol.

me in all my glory headed into a T-72 for the first time.


  1. Great set of photos thank you for posting these. The T-72 photos are excellent reference. The BTR-50 is very interesting. A quick search on Wikipedia is telling me Iraq had two different AA conversions for this machine. Maybe tempted to have ago at building one myself in 1/72.

    1. Thank you Mark! I have many, MANY good photos of captured iraqi equipment to include BMP 1s, 2s, artillery, BRDMs, etc. I found these pictures by sheerest coincidence on facebook.

      On the FOB I was posted to, they had at least 30 of these BTR conversions.

    2. I would love to see one if you build it by the way!

  2. Great post Steven! I can only imagine how many memories (hope only good ones but I guess war is war) these photos could raise in you.Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ciao Marco!
      Many, many good memories of my experiences there. More than the bad. Glad you liked the pictures!

  3. Great pics Steven, thanks for sharing. I know there must have been low points on the tour as well, but good to see you guys smiling.

    I can only imagine that the inside of a T72 is ...somewhat cramped and a little uncomfortable??? Would not like to be stuck in one of those things being hunted by the business end of an M1 gunsight...

    (So many many!!!)

    1. Darren,
      That picture didn't even do it justice. At least 9 Hinds were bull-dozed over by US engineers which was really sad.
      As you said there were highs and lows. Most of the low points of the tour were definitely within the first 6 months. Things seemed to go better after that. (stopped eating rations every day and getting a "proper" PX on the FOB was a big plus, a unit change of mission, and I guess a light at the end of the tunnel that our year was almost over. I remember the summer of 2003 being very difficult for me personally.)

      Now, the T-72 is REALLY cramped. Even for me and I'm very short and at the time I was also pretty skinny and all I was thinking was that I had almost no good situation awareness unless I popped my head out of the turret to look around...

      It's a tough tank to fight in I think. The layout of where everything is inside is awkward. The T-62 and T-55 actually had more room in my opinion. I have some pictures of me inside a T-55 trainer and that was downright spacious compared to the T-72.

  4. Excellent stuff Steven. The AA BTR is classic! I would say the suspension on these would be shattered after a while, even if they were 30mm jobs.

    I have seen quite a few with the ZPU 23-2, but not these Czech guns. Alas I have no base vehicle to start a bodge here...Lucky for me.

    Great insight mate, and no more jokes about hair! Been there, got the LZ!

    Model on mate.

    1. Paul,
      It never occurred to me that the mounts and guns would be too heavy for the suspensions but that's a really good point. Could be why they were never used and were sitting in a vehicle yard untouched. (even the American forces moving through didn't bother to destroy any of them).

      Alright Paul, you're off the hook for now with the bodge :) But if I ever find the auto cannons and the BTR model, I'm sending them your way!

      Glad you enjoyed the pictures. okay okay, Paul *hands up* no more jokes about hair sir!

    2. When the Aussies replaced their M113 FSV (Saladin Turret) with the M113 MRV (Scorpion Turret) they sold them to us across the ditch.

      The fitters had to do quite a lot of work to fix the suspension from the 76 mm L5A1 gun damage. After fixing up that, they just removed the turret and welded up a steel plate to go over the hull. Then used for log work and as ambo's.

      I said to the wife yesterday "Look I got a haircut" and she said "Was it long? I have not seen you without your beanie on all Winter"


    3. Sounds like some conversations I've had around this place!!

      I gotta check out the Aussie M113 FSV. Sounds interesting. Same with the MRV.

  5. Now I know what you're pointing at in that pic that got into the battalion newspaper...

    "Look! It's a copy of GDW's 'Team Yankee' in an UNDAMAGED box. FORWARD!"

    1. It's a trap! There's no such thing as an undamaged Team Yankee box! :)

  6. Awesome pics mate - fantastic! Funny how we remember these fun times more readily than the less comforting aspects of deployments like this.

    As for me, my Iraq experience was far more maritime in nature so not too many pics of ex Iraqi units. I'll see if I can can dig out my pics from climbing over the Oil Platforms that had a significant amount of battle damage - some dating back to the tanker war

    1. Glad you liked the pics, Paul! I have many, many others but found these pictures on facebook posted by a former Public Affairs Soldier from my battalion who took tons of pictures and finally got around to posting them.
      I would love to see pictures from down in the Gulf and the Umm Qasr region! Closest I ever got to a "Challie" was down that way on a leader's recon up to the border crossing and Safwan. (also got to climb on an FV432 on Safwan Hill before the Brits turned it over to us). Interesting memories of southern Iraq and Kuwait.