Can anyone guess what country's flag this is? Well, look at the post title, its Grenada.
I know, Thanksgiving isn't for another month up in, but down in the tiny Caribbean Isle of Grenada, its celebrated as a national holiday today. Thankgiving for what? Well, wait a minute and I'll tell you...
Grenada is a beautiful island that is part of the British Commonwealth in the South of the Caribbean just off the coast of Venezuela. Its chief economic export are spices and its main economic driver is tourism. Its a beautiful place to visit, just ask my friend Otto.
I've talked aout my friend Otto before. He was one of the "older guys" when I got in the guard. He was one of the guys that I could talk and joke with in the field and at the armory. Otto does march to his own beat though...I bet to this day he still has quite a large collection of Hawaiian shirts that he wears whether in style or not and has more personal knowledge about C&R rifles and bayonets than anyone I have ever met. He once paid for a trip to Israel to jump with the Israeli Airborne and then came back and wore this garish full color jump wing thing on his BDU's until he was forced to remove it. I remember once he cashed in an entire paycheck at annual training for Susan B. Anthony dollar coins...I shit you not. That was the same day he and I were riding with our friend Bob up the Michigan peninsula in Bob's Pinto-of-death and Otto made a remark about how durable Zippo lighters were....and then flicked his top open only to come off, bounce off the dash and out the open window.
|Go to Otto's for lunch and this is whats on the grill....not bad at all actually.|
On being able to simply go out on his porch and take a deer at his leisure on his property..."I'm not a hunter, I'm an eater"
On his vacations to the Caribbean island of Grenada..."If you liked the invasion you'll love the vacation!"
Otto is an 82nd Airborne veteran of the invasion of Grenada which happened 29 years ago today (October 25, 1983). Elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, USMC 22nd MAU and a sprinkling of SOCOM units (160th SOAR, SFOD-D ("Delta"), SEAL Teams 4 & 6, various other attached SF Guys) invaded the island to secure and rescue US citizens at St. George's Medical School on the island after a coup turned bloody within the island's government.
|St. Geroge's campus...hmmm..tropical location, plenty of "Ganja" I'm sure...I wonder why these students didn't got to school in the state to become doctors...|
To much of the public this little "day trip" the military took down South is largely forgotten. At the time it was a big deal.
This was the first major military operation that we had undertaken since Vietnam (to include the failed Iranian rescue mission which paled in size and scope to this) and it went well....as well as any operation that pits one of the worlds largest military forces (us) against one of the smallest (theirs)...hell, we even went against some Cubans as well for a bit of international pizzaz...
|"Hey Cuban comrades...mind if we "drop in" for a bit?...."|
The biggest victory in the conflict was it showed American resolve in the region during a time that the communists were looking to expand their socialist reach in the hemisphere. It also provided a "feel good moment" for the American people who had only seen the military in recent memory as a force leaving Vietnam under less than favorable conditions, rocked internally by the remnants of a draftee Army that did not want to be there, and most recently had been seen being taken hostage by Iranian revolutionaries (Marine embassy guards..not saying they weren't motivated volunteers...they did dole out a heap of pain before they were overwhelmed I have been told...that last line was for elements of the military as a whole that were left after the end of the draftee army in the 70's) which resulted in an aborted rescue mission that left American helicopters and charred corpses in the deserts of Iran. Hell, on October 24th 1983 a large portion of the American public actually thought what they saw in the Movie Stripes was an actual representation of the Army at the time.
"Operation Urgent Fury" changed all of that...
The American public and the world saw a US Military capable of projecting its power over the horizon, yes we went up against a numerically inferior force, but a force that was entrenched and did resist. Sure, we pissed off a few allies by doing this action, the Brits were "not amused" at us on one of their commonwealth properties, but hey, wasn't like they were in control and we helped them out in their Falklands Islands war a year earlier. There were some shortcomings revealed as a result of the operation and lessons learned that were addressed and rectified by the time we went into Panama to oust strongman Noriega 6 years later (Operation Just Cause). It showed we would not allow another Cold War bomber base withing striking distance of the US mainland. It showed that an all volunteer force was viable for the military and that our overall capacity to provide protection to the country was solid.
***10/26 Update thanks to Otto! "I do note that the last pic you show of the guys with the PRC77 are actually 82ND from the 2/505 and not Rangers as attributed. The dead giveaway is the Kevlar helmet one guy is wearing. Only the 82nd had them at the time and the Batt is identified by the rag head gear on the helmets. 2/505 was the only one doing that. Their Bn. XO was a British major on an exchange program and it was Brit policy to do that." He should know! Thanks Buddy!
What most people remember about the invasion unfortunately is a 1986 Clint Eastwood film called Heartbreak Ridge. Its about an old grizzled marine gunnery sergeant who takes over a platoon of so called "recon" marines and whips them into shape just in time for Urgent Fury. I think it way overemphasizes the role of the marines in the invasion, but whatever...go devil dogs. Its got about every military cliche in it to include Eastwood as a tough as nails NCO with a heart of gold for his marines, the 2nd Lieutenant that can't do anything right, the screw up that comes around, the supply systems mired in bureaucratic red tape and the overall theme that a maverick is someone looked up to in the military. Ironically, the name of the movie is based on a battle in Korea that Eastwood's character was supposed to be in...that the Army fought. The screenwriters found this out and had to change the script to describe how Eastwood and his Sergeant Major buddy had been in the Army first and then gone over to the Marines...LOL. Overall, its a fairly enjoyable movie it you turn your brain off a bit and forget some of the stupid stuff they do (one recon marine is afraid to jump out of a helo like its his first time), but hey that's Hollyweird for you. The saddest part of the movie is that I bet if I show it to the average under 30 adult in this country right now, they will have no idea that the invasion was a real event.