507th Maintenance Company
The 507th Maintenance Company provides maintenance support to the 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery at Fort Bliss, Texas.
The 507th Maintenance Company deployed to Kuwait as part of tbe buildup for Operation Iraqi Freedom on 20 February 2003 and after the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom subsequently became involved in an engagement that recieved significant media attention. The deployed element consisted of 82 individuals and its assigned vehicles and was part of Combined Joint Task Force 7, led by V Corps and located at Camp Virignia Kuwait. From 22 February 2003 until 20 March 2003, the Company prepared to perform its mission of repairing and maintaining the vehicles and equipment of the 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery, which had also deployed and was to support the US Central Command (CENTCOM) battle plan.
The initial movement plan for the 507th Maintenance Company into Iraq was to have the unit convoy from Camp Virignia to Objective Rams via Route Blue (Highway 8) and Route Jackson (Highway 1). During the movement the unit would be under the tactical control of the 3rd Forward Support Battalion, and element of the 3rd Infantry Division and would move through 3 intermediate attack positions. A manned tactical control point would direct the convoy elements with the 507th Maintenance Company onto Route Jackson at the point where it diverged from Route Blue.
On 20 March 2003, 64 members of the 507th Maintenance Company, loaded onto 33 vehicles departed Camp Virignia for Objective Rams. The remaining members of the Company, to include contact maintenance teams and medics were attached to other units. On 20 March 2003, the bulk of the Company arrived at Attack Position Dawson, the first intermediate attack position, where they refueled and serviced their vehicles, recieved a meal, and a planned rest. On 21 March 2003, the Company arrived at Attack Position Bull, having crossed the line of departure into Iraq and linked up with the 3rd Forward Support Battalion. Both of the first 2 movements were off-road.
Late on 21 March 2003, the 3rd Forward Support Battalion and attached units, such as the 507th Maintenance Company departed Attack Position Bulls for Attack Position Lizard, the last of the intermediate attack positions prior to arriving at Objective Rams. As the convoy progressed to Attack Position Lizard off-road, many heavy vehicles were immobilized. In addition, in the darkness, many units, including the 507th Maintenance Company became separated from their assigned march columns. The 507th Maintenance Company itself fragmented into 2 separate groups. The first group consisted of vehicles and personnel that had experienced no mechanical issues and had not otherwise become immobilized. The second group consisted of vehicles that had become immobilized or had been diverted to assist other vehicles that had. The second group arrived at Attack Position Lizard on 22 March 2003 after the first group had arrived and departed.
The remnants of the 507th Maintenance Company and the elements of 3rd Forward Support Battalion they had assisted were subsequently formed into a new march unit at Attack Position Lizard and departed later on 22 March 2003 intend on catching up with the main column. The element was unable to establish radio contact with 3rd Forward Support Battalion and during the movement to Route Blue vehicles again became bogged down. Delayed and having not rested since the planned rest at Attack Position Dawson, confusion arose when the element reached the intersection of Route Blue with Route Jackson. No formal tactical control point remained at the intersection and the leader of the element believed he was to continue on Route Blue and was thusly directed by remaining personnel on scene.
Continuing on Route Blue, the element missed a critical turn and moved off Route Blue onto Highway 7/8 leading the element across the Euphrates River and towards the outskirts of An Nasiriyah. Despite being still under the nominal control of the Iraqi government, the convoy was waved through checkpoints and passed through An Nasiriyah without incident. Continuing on Route 7/8, the element hit intersections with Highway 16 and then Highway 7, finally realizing that they had deviated from the assigned route. As no direct route could be established back to Route Blue, the decision was made to backtrack to the intersection with Route Blue that had initially been missed. The element was by the time running low on fuel.
Returning to the intersection with Highway 16, the element began to recieve hostile fire. Vehicles were ordered to speed up to avoid potential ambushes. However, the vehicles in the element were of dissimilar capabilities and caused large gaps in the element. The resulting speed and confusion caused the element to miss the turn back onto Highway 7/8. In the attempt to move back to the intersection, a vehicle became disabled and the element again came under hostile fire. A soldier from the 507th Maintenance Company was subsequently killed in action as other vehicles attempted to retreive the personnel from the disabled vehicle. Another vehicle, which was in fact towing a third vehicle, was subsequently disabled and its personnel retrieved.
Equipment issues, hostile fire, and other confusion led to the disintegration of the element into 3 groups. The first group disengaged and linked up with the Marine Corps' Task Force Tarawa on Route Blue, who immediately dispatched forces to attempt to rescue the remaining elements. The Marines subsequently rescued 10 soldiers from the second group, some of who had sustained injuries. The third group remained heavily engaged and suffered casualties. Some of its members, including Private First Class Jessica Lynch, who became the name most associated with the incident, were captured.
Twelve US soldiers from the 507th Maintenance Company were subsequently declared missing around Nasiriyah by CENTCOM officials. Four US soldiers were said to have been wounded during the engagement and some of the 12 were later shown on al Jazeera TV. In the end, the official report was that of the 33 soldiers who had entered An Nasiriyah on 23 March 2003, 11 were killed, seven were captured, and nine were wounded (including some of those captured). Sixteen soldiers emerged from the attack.
The Marine Corps' Task Force Tarawa secured An Nasiriyah on 31 March 2003. Private First Class Lynch remained at the Saddam Hospital in the city. On 1 April 2003, a rescue operation was initiated to retrieve Private First Class Lynch. During that mission 11 bodies were found at the location Lynch was being held. Those individuals were later identified as having been of the 507th Maintenance Company. The exact details of her detainment by Iraqi forces and the nature of the raid remain controversial.
The 507th Maintenance Company subsequently returned from its deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as the threat of ballistic missile attacks waned.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|