Baghdad Mission - 19 January 1991

January 19th, 2006  

Topic: Baghdad Mission - 19 January 1991

Today is the 15th Anniversary of the largest strike package of the war. Made up of 56 F-16's from the 388TFW and the 401TFW - and additional support aircraft (F-15s, F-4Gs, and EF-111s) - it may have been the largest operational F-16 strike ever. The mission was directed to strike the Iraqi nuclear research facility and associated sites just to the south of the city - one of the most heavily defended places in Iraq.

Sadly my unit the 401TFW(P) / 614TFS Lucky Devils lost two aircraft to SAMs that day with both of the pilots, 'Cujo' Roberts flying 87-0228 ( and 'Tico' Tice in 87-0257 ( being captured and held as POW's.

From the VTR tape of that day:
"Okay, SAM launch! Nose 5 low!"
(Air controller interruptions)
"Bank right! Bank right!"
"Okay, missed him."
"Stroke One's a hit! Stroke One's a hit!"
"Stroke One took a hit! Stroke One took a hit!"
"Okay, I've got a fire! I'm ah-stand by. Um, just south of steerpoint number seven. Still flyin'. And I'm headin' south."
"Okay, it we took a pretty good hit. I've got no engine."

In a speach at the AF Acadamy, General Welsh ( said:

"I want to tell you about two things I heard that I'll never forget. The first one was during one of our missions in the Baghdad area. An F-16 from another unit was hit by a surface-to-air missile. Over the radio, we listened to the pilot and his flight lead talk as he tried to make it to the border so rescue forces could get to him. He'd come on every now and then and talk about how the oil pressure was dropping and vibrations were increasing. Then his flight lead would encourage him to stick with it.

This went on for about 15 minutes. Finally the pilot said, "Oil pressure just went to zero." And then, "My engine quit." Finally he said, "That's all I got. I'm outta here." The silence was deafening. I'll never forget those 15 minutes."

Col. Jerry Nelson, 401st TFW (P) commander, said wing pilots knew they might get shot down in combat. "But when it happens, there's really no way to prepare for it," he said. "When our pilots got shot down, it hit us hard. With everything we did, we remembered those two guys."

A ritual quickly developed. Before every mission, pilots stepping out of the operations building would slap the top of the door, above which is painted, "God bless Tico and MR." Fellow pilots called Captain Roberts "MR."

The two pilot's tactical call signs became the names for squadron flights. "Tico and Cujo flights flew every day," Colonel Nelson said. "They were with us all the time."

As maintenance troops that Saturday in January was the day that the war really hit us, it followed the jets and came right back to our base. We'd been in and out of chem gear during SCUD warnings, but this made it personal. Bill Hinchey was the dedicated crew chief on the aircraft Tico flew on his last mission. "Just before the jets landed, they told me that it was my jet that went down..." It was definatly our roughest day in Qatar.

Come and visit the Lucky Devils in the Gulf War at:

Mike Kopack
January 19th, 2006  
Really sad
January 20th, 2006  
Iraq had mainatined the deadliest SAM defenses of the world in 1980s and early 90s
January 21st, 2006