Join us on the eve of the 25th anniversary of “the last great tank battle of the 20th Century,” as we hear first-hand stories from those who were in the thick of the ground war in Desert Storm in the Battle of 73 Easting. This panel discussion will feature:
- Lt. Gen (Ret) Don Holder as a moderator, who served as Commander of the 2nd Armored Calvary Regiment
- Gen. H. R. McMaster, who served as Captain of the Eagle Troop, 2nd Squadron, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment;
- Lt Col (Ret) Timothy Gauthier, who was 1st Lt and leader of Eagle Troop’s 3rd (Scout) Platoon;
- Command Sgt Major (Ret) Bradley Feltman, who was a Sgt and Bradley gunner;
- Michael Rhodes, who was Pvt 1st class and a Bradley crewman
- Matt Lee, who was Pvt 1st Class, served as Cavalry scout and Bradley driver
The Battle of 73 Easting (so named for the north-south map gridline where it occurred) pitted elements of the U.S. Army’s VII Corps against the Tawakalna Division of the Iraqi Republican Guard during the ground campaign of Operation Desert Storm.
The Second Armored Cavalry Regiment (2d ACR) was in the vanguard of the VII Corps providing reconnaissance in the deserts of southern Iraq on the afternoon of February 26, 1991. Its mission was to fix the enemy in place in order that the main corps attack elements could pass through and join the battle to destroy the enemy—to “hold the Iraqis by the nose and let the corps kick them up the backside” in army parlance. As a fierce sandstorm enveloped the area around them, the 2d ACR’s lead element, Eagle Troop, led by then-Captain H. R. McMaster, made contact with the Iraqi armored force. McMaster found his troop (9 Abrams tanks and 13 Bradley Fighting Vehicles) vastly outnumbered by the Iraqis in dug-in defensive positions along the 73 Easting line.
In a violent clash that lasted just less than half an hour, Eagle Troop and other elements of the 2d ACR virtually annihilated the entire Iraqi brigade, leaving in their wake 30 tanks, several dozen armored personnel carriers and wheeled vehicles, and nearly 1,000 dead or wounded Iraqi soldiers. It was the first ever ground defeat for the Republican Guard.
The Battle of 73 Easting was the decisive engagement in Desert Storm. In addition to destroying a significant fighting force of the Iraqi army, the battle held the enemy troops in southern Iraq in place, allowing larger elements of VII Corps to enter the battle while also preventing those Iraqi forces from joining the fight in Kuwait. The impact of Eagle Troop’s actions has been great. The U.S. Army brought that battle field into the classroom, where the Battle of 73 Easting is still used as a model for training army officers in armor tactics.
The discussion will begin at 6:30, and will be followed by a reception.