Oral History Interview
JCIT 086





1LT Christopher Miller
Platoon Leader, Mortar Platoon
Headquarters Company, 2d Battalion, 504th Infantry
82d Airborne Division




Interview Conducted 15 June 1990 in Building C-4422, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Interviewer: Dr. Robert K. Wright, Jr., Historian, XVIII Airborne Corps



20 December 1989 - 12 January 1990

Oral History Interview JCIT 086


DR. WRIGHT: This is an Operation JUST CAUSE interview being conducted in building C-4422, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on 15 June 1990. The interviewing official is Dr. Robert K. Wright, Jr., the XVIII Airborne Corps Historian. And lieutenant, I'd like to ask you to give me your name, rank, and serial number.

1LT MILLER: Okay. My name is Christopher Miller, 1LT, ***-**-****.

DR. WRIGHT: And your duty position at the time of Operation JUST CAUSE?

1LT MILLER: Battalion Mortar Platoon [Leader].

DR. WRIGHT: And the 2d Battalion, 504th Infantry?

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: When did you first receive word that the operation that became JUST CAUSE was going down?

1LT MILLER: It was about 9:20 when we received notification.

DR. WRIGHT: On Monday the 18th [of December, 1989]?

1LT MILLER: Correct.

DR. WRIGHT: How did that word get to the company?

1LT MILLER: I was in the Delta Company1 area at the time, and one of the NCOs2 said that the DRF-13 had been called out. Since we were DRF-2, I assumed we had been as well. And I walked over to the company area and confirmed with--I think with the CQ4--and then went and got my platoon together.

DR. WRIGHT: Okay. How many men did you have in your platoon at that time?

1LT MILLER: At that time, approximately 28.

DR. WRIGHT: And you're equipped with the 81mm mortar?

1LT MILLER: Correct, the M-252.

DR. WRIGHT: And how many tubes do you have?


DR. WRIGHT: Okay. Fire direction equipment?

1LT MILLER: We have two mortar ballistic computers and a plotting board for them.

DR. WRIGHT: You start doing your load out. What are you told in terms of getting your ruck[sack]s together and things like that?

1LT MILLER: Okay. All the rucks are packed according to SOP,5 so that was done the Friday before since we were getting ready to assume DRF-1. The vehicles ... at the N+2 briefing6 at battalion they told us we'd be taking two vehicles with us, and I chose F-30 and 37.

DR. WRIGHT: Which each can handle two of the tubes?

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: So you'd put a section on each vehicle?

1LT MILLER: Basically we put two tubes ... two tubes on one of the vehicles and the FDC7 equipment on them as well.

DR. WRIGHT: Okay. What time do you move out of the company area to get over to the PHA8?

1LT MILLER: Okay. The vehicles were told to get down there almost immediately to the heavy drop rigging site. The move to the PHA, I'd say about three or four o'clock in the afternoon. We were one of the last down there.

DR. WRIGHT: Elements to clear?

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: Did they come over and get you in the cattle cars9?

1LT MILLER: Right. They did.

DR. WRIGHT: As you ... as you get over there, have you been made privy to the N+2 briefing information?

1LT MILLER: No sir, I didn't.

DR. WRIGHT: So as far as you knew, it was still an EDRE,10 or had you ... ?

1LT MILLER: Yes, it was put out at the battalion briefing that it was so far a corps EDRE.

DR. WRIGHT: But you had been watching the situation ... ?

1LT MILLER: Yes sir.

DR. WRIGHT: ... and you ...

1LT MILLER: We pretty much knew.

DR. WRIGHT: ... kind of smelled a rat?

1LT MILLER: What happened was when we put the vehicles on heavy drop and my men came back, they said they've loading live ammo up onto the vehicles, so ...

DR. WRIGHT: It's pretty much the live ammo aspect that ...

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: ... that's the give-away?

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: You get over to PHA, you get settled in, find ... you find the battalion tent row and get settled in there ... ?

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: What happens then while you were over there, the remainder of that day and the first part of the 19th?

1LT MILLER: Okay, the evening of the 18th we moved into our tents and I told my men to start getting some sleep, then I let the battalion TOC11 know where I was. And say about five or six o'clock that evening the company commander12 come in the door of the battalion checking with them again, and basically I sat in there and I just listened in on some of the briefings that were being given to division commander.13

DR. WRIGHT: As you see what the 2d of the '0414 is going to have as its mission, do you assume that you will be able to bring your tubes into one of the LZs15?

1LT MILLER: Yes sir.

DR. WRIGHT: ... and provide covering fire then for the taking down?

1LT MILLER: Right. In fact, we had practiced loading up on helicopters the week before, and I presumed that was what it was for.

DR. WRIGHT: Seats-out loading?

1LT MILLER: I'm sorry?

DR. WRIGHT: Was it seats-out loading?

1LT MILLER: Seats out, yes.

DR. WRIGHT: So that was done on the ground? You couldn't take off with them?

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: What are you allowed to take in the way of ammo?

1LT MILLER: When we flew out of the airport into Panama City, we took basically every rout we could find which was on the vehicles and it's about 21 HE16 and a similar number of illumination rounds.

DR. WRIGHT: Did you take any Willie Pete17?

1LT MILLER: No, we didn't have any Willie Pete at the time.

DR. WRIGHT: What were you told about ROE, the rules of engagement, for the use of mortars?

1LT MILLER: Mortars ... all indirect fires had to be cleared by an 0-518 or higher, and white phosphorus had to be cleared by the general or higher.

DR. WRIGHT: You go through the draw of the special items and your air equipment items about what time?

1LT MILLER: I can tell you according to SOP. We didn't draw it until much later than the rest of the battalions went through. I think we drew ours probably on the morning of the 19th or the afternoon of the 19th.

DR. WRIGHT: At which time you were also allowed to draw your individual ammo?

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: That individual ammo being what, a basic load of 210?

1LT MILLER: It was about 210 rounds per rifle.

DR. WRIGHT: 180 and 30, a mix of ...

1LT MILLER: It was 180 ...

DR. WRIGHT: ... what, ball and tracer? What about pistols? Do your people carry pistols?

1LT MILLER: Right. I believe each pistol got about 50 rounds ... one box.

DR. WRIGHT: 9mm [Baretta] pistols?

1LT MILLER: Right, 9mm.

DR. WRIGHT: What's the attitude of your people while you were over there? Can you come up with sort of a thumbnail description?

1LT MILLER: I'd say they were excited, I guess is the way I'd say it.

DR. WRIGHT: Pretty happy about going, even though it's the holidays?

1LT MILLER: I don't know if happy is the right word. I'd say they were excited about it though, a chance to go. Reactions were mixed on the whole.

DR. WRIGHT: Were you allowed to take the whole platoon, or did you have to start as the number of 'chutes started getting cut?

1LT MILLER: As the number of 'chutes started getting cut I lost about four people, so we actually deployed with about 23 counting myself.

DR. WRIGHT: How did you make the decision on who to cut?

1LT MILLER: Okay, that was really almost made for us. A lot of times at manifesting they'd say 'Hey, sir, I got cut' or something, and since he wasn't a key person I wasn't going to try and switch him. One person we did get a choice to cut and we cut one man because he was on profile.

DR. WRIGHT: So in your case, it was fairly easy to make the cuts?

1LT MILLER: Right. We did have to make one or two switches, because they tried bumping one of my squad leaders and I managed to switch that with somebody else.

DR. WRIGHT: That done basically by you coordinating with somebody else, or did you have to run it up to battalion to get it approved?

1LT MILLER: Actually it was at manifest. One guy came up to me and said 'sir, they're trying to cut me,' and I took him over to where they were making the manifest up and said no, don't take this guy, take the other guy off. And that's basically what we did.

DR. WRIGHT: Did you have any concern at that time about the guys who were getting cut and were going to have to stay back, feeling bad and causing long-term morale problems?

1LT MILLER: Not really. It really wasn't on my mind at the time.

DR. WRIGHT: What's your memory, the one overriding impression of PHA during those two days?

1LT MILLER: It was cold.

DR. WRIGHT: Very, very cold.


DR. WRIGHT: Were you able to use snivel gear19 while you were over there? And then ... ?


DR. WRIGHT: So what, did you take your A-bags20 over with the rucks and then do the switch-out at the last second?

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: What time did you leave PHA to go over to Green Ramp?

1LT MILLER: It was about 1600 or 1700 in the afternoon of the 19th.

DR. WRIGHT: Did your people go over there pretty loaded down?

1LT MILLER: Yes. I think basically everybody was, because of all the ammo and stuff that we were carrying.

DR. WRIGHT: Do you have any automatic weapons--SAWs21 or anything--for defense?

1LT MILLER: The basic weapon we've got is [M]-203.22

DR. WRIGHT: 203 guys carry what, about 40 rounds?

1LT MILLER: I think they actually went in with maybe a dozen rounds each. We had to give some rounds back because they gave us the wrong type of 40mm.

DR. WRIGHT: The Mark-1923?

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: Yes, I've heard that switch-out occurred right up to when you were on the aircraft.

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: You get over there in the long line, you walk over as opposed to getting driven over?

1LT MILLER: We walked over.

DR. WRIGHT: Very slow-moving line--was that your impression of it?

1LT MILLER: No, it wasn't moving very slow. In fact, since it was so cold out everybody was moving trying to keep warm.

DR. WRIGHT: Anything strike you about that movement? Other people have told me they thought it was probably the quietest mass movement they've ever been involved with.

1LT MILLER: Oh yes, yes. It really didn't seem any different from any other operation when we've had to walk over.

DR. WRIGHT: The guys at this point convinced that it is going to be a go as opposed to just simply a show of force?

1LT MILLER: Oh, definitely, definitely it was a go.

DR. WRIGHT: You board up the aircraft. Which aircraft are you on, what chalk24 number?

1LT MILLER: I was on Chalk Number 8, left door, I was about the 10th or 11th jumper back.

DR. WRIGHT: Consistent with the idea that the battalion had the southern-most assembly area?

1LT MILLER: Right, and normally we'd put the mortars up near the front of the people going out, because that's where our heavy equipment drops and we could hook up with that easily.

DR. WRIGHT: You get on the aircraft. Who is the senior guy on your aircraft, do you remember?

1LT MILLER: No, I don't. I don't think we had very many ...

DR. WRIGHT: Senior guys on that one?

1LT MILLER: Not with us that I was aware of.

DR. WRIGHT: What about the number of aircraft you're cross-loaded across? Your platoon kept tight, or ...

1LT MILLER: Four aircraft. I think it was Chalk 7 and 8 and 11, and 12.

DR. WRIGHT: Do you have any internal commo gear?

1LT MILLER: Just wire communications, plus whatever radios are on the vehicle.

DR. WRIGHT: Okay, so you don't jump in with [AN/PRC]-77s or ...

1LT MILLER: Yes, we do. We took two radios and two Vinsons25 off the vehicles that were left behind. I jumped in one and I think it was my section sergeant who jumped in the other one.

DR. WRIGHT: So you could have immediate contact on the DZ26?

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: In terms of getting your equipment together, were you pretty happy with the state of maintenance as you board out?

1LT MILLER: Actually when we deployed, I had two bipods down at 782d Maintenance [Battalion], and I had go to down there and pull them out so we could load them up on the vehicles. I guess what we should have done was gone through the DRF-9 to get two replacement bipods, but really there almost wasn't any time for that since they wanted the vehicles down for rigging immediately.

DR. WRIGHT: You're sitting in the aircraft. Do you rig before you get on the aircraft on your chalk, or ... ?

1LT MILLER: Our chalk, what they did was they had everybody go on board the aircraft and leave the rucksacks and the rifles, then get off then they cut the aircraft in half to load in half. The people towards the front of the aircraft went on and rigged while everybody else waited outside, and after that first group was rigged and JMPI'd27 they brought the others inside the aircraft and rigged.

DR. WRIGHT: During the rigging process, the walking over and rigging process, has it started sleeting yet?

1LT MILLER: Yes, it was sleeting when we got up to Green Ramp.

DR. WRIGHT: Were you nervous about getting everything wet, or was that not an issue?

1LT MILLER: I was just nervous about the chutes getting wet, but they were covered. Then there was concern about people, because everybody took off ... most of their snivel gear off, since we were going to jump into a hot climate, and meanwhile you're freezing at Green Ramp there, basically the same thing happened when we went to Honduras.

DR. WRIGHT: Had you gone down on [1988's Operation] GOLDEN PHEASANT as well?

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: To digress a moment, did the GOLDEN PHEASANT experience help you in getting ready for Panama?

1LT MILLER: Yes, I think it did.

DR. WRIGHT: Did the same notion of the cold to the hot climate ... did you start trying to hydrate your people before they got on the aircraft?

1LT MILLER: I don't think so.

DR. WRIGHT: Get on the airplane, get rigged, no safety wires?

1LT MILLER: There were no safety wires, the waistband ... no, not the waistband ... there were no safety wires, and the snap hooks on the reserve [parachute]s.

DR. WRIGHT: Can you give me an estimate of about how many pounds you were jumping?

1LT MILLER: Counting the parachute?

DR. WRIGHT: Counting the parachute.

1LT MILLER: I'd say about 150.

DR. WRIGHT: So about as heavy as you've ever jumped?

1LT MILLER: Yes, definitely, definitely.

DR. WRIGHT: And they told you what, 500 feet that you would jump?

1LT MILLER: Five hundred feet.

DR. WRIGHT: At that point did you place any great faith in your reserve being able to do you any good?

1LT MILLER: Not really, but it turns out a lot of people needed them anyway to get out of the trees, so ... .

DR. WRIGHT: Aircraft starts running up its engines, you sit on the ground a long time, or do you get up in the air fairly quick?

1LT MILLER: To tell you the truth I fell asleep. I hadn't slept the whole night before, so I just went to sleep until about twenty minutes out ... oh, I'm sorry, when we did rigging on the aircraft, it was.

DR. WRIGHT: Which was at what, about two hours out?

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: Do you have a chance to check your watch at any point during the flight to get a time hack? Do you remember?

1LT MILLER: I remember at about the one-minute warning I looked at my watch and it was 3:36 in the morning.

DR. WRIGHT: At that point, has anybody told you that you don't have a 20-aircraft formation?

1LT MILLER: No, in fact I even remember jumping out and looking and I saw only two or three aircraft at the time and I was thinking well, I wonder where all the other aircraft are. I was still under the impression that all the aircraft are going in as one big group, 45 minutes later we're going to fly out to Panama City.

DR. WRIGHT: Are you told anything about the LZ being hot ...

1LT MILLER: Not on the aircraft, no.

DR. WRIGHT: ... or the DZ being hot?

1LT MILLER: Not on the aircraft.

DR. WRIGHT: Go out the door, what do you see? Is there much light?

1LT MILLER: Yes, it was pretty bright out. I remember after my 'chute opened up I looked around. I could see the airfield down there. I looked down and see a couple heavy drop platforms.

DR. WRIGHT: Could you see any lights on at the airfield?

1LT MILLER: Not that I recall, no.

DR. WRIGHT: What about any firing going on?

1LT MILLER: I talked to other people in my chalk. I personally didn't hear any firing, but some other people told me that there was still some shooting going on at Tocumen who came out later closer towards the military end of the airstrip.

DR. WRIGHT: Could you see anything burning up at the northern end at the military airstrip?

1LT MILLER: I really wasn't looking at the airstrip.

DR. WRIGHT: Your 'chute opens okay? Any twists,28 any thing ... ?

1LT MILLER: One twist and it came right out.

DR. WRIGHT: You looked down at the ground then ...

1LT MILLER: Um hmm.

DR. WRIGHT: ... and see what?

1LT MILLER: Okay, basically I looked down. Like I said, all I could see was the airfield itself. I could see a lot of the heavy drop platforms. I figured well great, I'm going right down in heavy drop and should be able to get right to my vehicle, except when we landed, we landed in about eight feet of elephant grass and all of the sudden I couldn't see anything. And so I just derigged and started walking towards the airstrip to go to our alternate assembly point, which was the very southern tip of the airfield in case I couldn't find the vehicle. That's when I started linking up with a few of my men and we started looking for our vehicle.

DR. WRIGHT: How long did it take you to find the vehicle?

1LT MILLER: Okay. Initially once when I walked on the airfield, I found one of my drivers. He was driving the vehicle. Unfortunately, it wasn't his. It turned out to be one of the Air Force's vehicles. So we drove up and down the airstrip looking for our vehicle, and also started picking up some of our people taking them to the assembly point and sending out groups to try and find our vehicle. The first time I saw our vehicle was after dawn. It was probably right after dawn--I'm not sure what time that was, and I wasn't the one that found it. I drove back to our alternate assembly point and there it was. I said okay, great, grab the mortars, grab the ammo, and lets get into LZ posture.

DR. WRIGHT: Had you been in radio contact with battalion at any point up until then?

1LT MILLER: No. In fact, that was one of the problems I had. Three times in the PHA I had my Vinsons keyed up, and still when we jumped in it didn't work. So I found a commo sergeant on the LZ before we flew out and had it keyed up again and still couldn't get commo. I was starting to think it was maybe our Vinsons, but later that day, after we were in Panama Viejo, I got keyed up again and it finally worked. I think the problem was we kept getting on variable frequency, kept changing it.

DR. WRIGHT: As you assemble in the PZ, what are they telling you about the delay in launching out the flight?

1LT MILLER: Nobody told me anything. I just ...

DR. WRIGHT: You took a look and saw everybody still here, so ...

1LT MILLER: Yes, I saw people get in the LZ posture and I thought well, still might be a chance, so ... my concern was finding the vehicle and mortars in time to get on the assault.

DR. WRIGHT: And then the plan was you were going to load your rounds and load your tubes and then let the vehicle come with Delta's ground convoy later?

1LT MILLER: Right. We only found one of the vehicles and two of the tubes on the first day, which wasn't too bad, because we were only planning on taking two of the tubes on the air assault.

DR. WRIGHT: You load up, I guess the aircraft come in, the helicopters come in and touch down about what time? Do you have any idea?

1LT MILLER: I'd say about seven or 7:30 in the morning, I think is what it was ... our lift.

DR. WRIGHT: And is that the first lift or the second?

1LT MILLER: The second.

DR. WRIGHT: When the second lift comes in, have you heard anything about the LZ being hot?

1LT MILLER: After we had got onto the helicopters ... nobody told me that the LZ was going to be hot. I talked to some people later and they said the pilots were saying it was hot. In fact, they didn't land exactly where LZ was supposed to be. We were supposed to land at Bobcat--Bravo Company. Instead we landed I think 100, 150 meters south of Bobcat in the tall grass.

DR. WRIGHT: You go in ... well, take me through the flight. Which chalk were you on in your lift, do you remember?

1LT MILLER: I have no idea. I don't ... Bravo Company XO29 was loading that. I was talking to him afterwards that basically it was lump the chalks together and just basically get on an airplane.

DR. WRIGHT: Telephone booth stuffing?

1LT MILLER: Yes, basically.

DR. WRIGHT: Have you got any idea of about how many guys were on your aircraft?

1LT MILLER: I think it came out to about 19.

DR. WRIGHT: Plus the weight of the tubes and the ammo?

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: Were both tubes on your aircraft, or did you cross load?

1LT MILLER: I had one tube and half the FDC with me, then the helicopter behind me had the other tube ...

DR. WRIGHT: How many ...

1LT MILLER: -- rest of the FDC.

DR. WRIGHT: How many rounds were you able to get on the helicopters?

1LT MILLER: I think we brought in about 21 HE, and I'd say roughly 18 illumination.

DR. WRIGHT: Lift takes off, you swing out over the water?

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: And then do they ... on the second lift, do they go past the objective and swing back inland or do they pull inland before they get to it?

1LT MILLER: Okay, I think I brought my map with me. It's in the office. After taking off from Torrijos we flew back over the [Pacific] Ocean. We went around ... I think it was about the west side of Panama Viejo, just to the west of it and came back over land.

DR. WRIGHT: Okay, so you did the same route ...

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: ... that they had flown at the beginning. Could you see the objective?


DR. WRIGHT: Were you positioned where you could look out that door, the correct door, the right door to see it?

1LT MILLER: I was on the left door, but I could tell by looking ahead when we came over Panama Viejo because I knew the flight path at that point.

DR. WRIGHT: You touched down. How long does it take you to clear the helicopter?

1LT MILLER: I was the first one off. It seemed to take a long time. It was probably only about a minute, a minute-and-a-half, but it still seemed a long time to get everybody off the helicopter.

DR. WRIGHT: Any fire coming in on the LZ at that point?

1LT MILLER: Yes. There was a little bit of firing. You could hear a couple rifle shots going off over at the far end. Then when we landed in the tall grass, at least they couldn't see us anymore. The helicopters took off, then Bravo Company started to move out and that started drawing a lot of fire.

DR. WRIGHT: Did you move out with them or did you set up on the LZ?

1LT MILLER: No, I set up right where I got off the helicopter.

DR. WRIGHT: You had your two tubes and about how many of your people, all of them or all except drivers?

1LT MILLER: I had ... we flew in 13 people, okay, it was five people per gun squad, a computer, section sergeant, and myself. When we landed, I was with one gun and the other bird ... they were supposed to link up with me on the LZ but instead they followed Charlie Company. The original plan was to link up with me and we'd follow Bravo Company. So they ended up going off with Charlie Company and I ended up setting up with just one tube.

DR. WRIGHT: So you only had one of your tubes then?

1LT MILLER: One of the tubes with me.

DR. WRIGHT: Did you have any of the rifle company 60[mm mortar]s with you?

1LT MILLER: Right, Bravo Company's 60s set up maybe 20 meters from us.

DR. WRIGHT: Two tubes?

1LT MILLER: Two tubes.

DR. WRIGHT: How long does it take you to get ready to fire?

1LT MILLER: A minute, minute-and-a-half.

DR. WRIGHT: Then you establish commo at that point with the FSO30?

1LT MILLER: We had commo with Bravo Company, and every now and then I could get commo with the other mortar tube. I didn't get any commo with the FO. I think our Vinson was still out at that time.

DR. WRIGHT: Did you get any call for fire?

1LT MILLER: On the first day, no.

DR. WRIGHT: Do you hear any enemy mortar fire?

1LT MILLER: I didn't hear any, but I was talking to the Alpha Company XO.31 He said they took at least two mortar rounds, I think.

DR. WRIGHT: Were you briefed that you would have to do counter battery at all?


DR. WRIGHT: Just ...

1LT MILLER: They did believe that there were mortars out there.

DR. WRIGHT: The day rolls on. When do you get told to move off the LZ and come on into the cuartel?

1LT MILLER: Okay. Bravo Company mission was to block that north road that came into Panama Viejo. About an hour, maybe an hour-and-a-half after on the landing zone they moved out to that. That's when I picked up and followed them, went with them. They set up a road block and we set up in a little courtyard by the Ministry of Health that they had there, which was maybe 300 meters north of Panama Viejo. We sat up there until about three or four in the afternoon, and MAJ [Jonathan P.] Chase,32 the S-3 told us you're moving into Panama Viejo. Bravo Company road marched down and we followed right behind them, stopped just ...

DR. WRIGHT: Humping the plate and the tube and all the rounds?

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: Did anybody help you hump?

1LT MILLER: No ...

DR. WRIGHT: Were you able to cross-load some of the rounds out?

1LT MILLER: No. We had to end up carrying all the ammunition. When we moved off the LZ, the top was trying to get some of the other platoon sergeants from the rifle companies to take some of the rounds. He said no, they've already got too much ammo. I was in a hurry to move I wasn't about to argue the point. We just loaded up, moved it by ourselves, which caused a lot of trouble for some of our guys that the heat was really getting to.

DR. WRIGHT: Yes, I was going to say that strain is going to start wearing on you even though it's only a short move.

1LT MILLER: Um hmm.

DR. WRIGHT: You get into the cuartel area where the battalion is consolidating its position.

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: Where do you set up?

1LT MILLER: Okay. We're back at the Ministry of Health building. That's when we linked up with the other mortar tube. I finally got them on the radio, told them where to go. They went down with two squads of Charlie Company to that place. When we got into the cuartel area, I stopped the platoon, I took the squad leaders up. We set up in the old church, actually inside the church ...

DR. WRIGHT: Inside the ruins itself?

1LT MILLER: Inside the ruins.

DR. WRIGHT: Then you subsequently heaved out when the brigade TOC comes in and takes that over?

1LT MILLER: Actually the whole time they were there nobody really even bothered us, because they're basically on top on top of the hill and we couldn't be seen. We're pretty much out of the way of everybody.

DR. WRIGHT: As you closed down that first night, are you inside the perimeter or are you given a sector of perimeter you have to cover as well?

1LT MILLER: We were inside the perimeter. What it is, is I form my own perimeter inside of the battalion perimeter. The battalion perimeter really wasn't as consolidated as it should have been, I didn't think, at that time.

DR. WRIGHT: At this point the battalion has been taking drive-by shooting and stuff like that. Does the ...

1LT MILLER: Not so much in our area, I think. During the day I could hear a lot of firing a block away or so, every now and then a couple rounds come flying in at us.

DR. WRIGHT: Nothing ...

1LT MILLER: Nothing really ...

DR. WRIGHT: ... aimed at you?

1LT MILLER: Nothing directly at us.

DR. WRIGHT: Is the [S]-2 able to give you any briefing that first day about status and prepare for follow-on missions?

1LT MILLER: No. Like I said, I was with MAJ Chase by the Ministry of Health building. I got a lot of word about what was going on from him.

DR. WRIGHT: How did he appear to be? Pretty happy with the way things were going, or was he upset about the speed ... ?

1LT MILLER: No, he wasn't upset or anything, just calm.

DR. WRIGHT: Did you get a chance to see the colonel33 at all during that?

1LT MILLER: I think I may have seen him the first night, I'm not sure. It's when Bravo Company is getting the follow-on mission.

DR. WRIGHT: As that mission comes down, are you given any part of that? Are you prepared to support them with fire?

1LT MILLER: We were told to be prepared to support them with fire. We got a target list.

DR. WRIGHT: And that's what, about four k[ilometer]s down the road they had to go?

1LT MILLER: I think it's a lot farther than that, because I remember thinking that's out of illumination range and that's about three kilometers, is the max[imum] range for an illum round.

DR. WRIGHT: But you could reach with HE all the way out?

1LT MILLER: I believe we could, yes.

DR. WRIGHT: You prep--do you prep rounds then, get them ready, you know, some ready reserve rounds?

1LT MILLER: We have--as SOP, rounds are kept in reserve. We didn't have them broken down for charge yet.

DR. WRIGHT: Okay. The target list you got, what was that developed from, do you have any idea?

1LT MILLER: Un-uh.

DR. WRIGHT: It was just mostly so you could march fire with them? As they moved, you could keep adjusting?

1LT MILLER: Actually, I think it was just a consolidation of the previous lists that we had had, basically the bridges that were in the area. It wasn't a very comprehensive list.

DR. WRIGHT: The column moves out and immediately runs into an ambush. Do you get any alert to ... could you have supported that one by fire had it turned out to be more than just that one vehicle, or were they too close in for you?

1LT MILLER: Probably. Like I said, we had only so many rounds of HE and so many rounds of illum. We hadn't been resupplied yet. We probably could have done maybe three or four missions altogether, before we would have been running out of ammo.

DR. WRIGHT: Were you at this point trying to scream at somebody to get me more ammo?

1LT MILLER: Right. I was talking to various people about getting ammo, about getting through to us. 'You have to wait', so ...

DR. WRIGHT: Had you had your resupply ammo? Had that gone in on the CDS34 drop, or ...

1LT MILLER: Right, it did.

DR. WRIGHT: So therefore God only knows where that went, right?

1LT MILLER: Right. My platoon sergeant was still back with half the platoon at the airport. They were supposed to have gone--linked up with us that day, but ...

DR. WRIGHT: But Delta couldn't get through, yes.

1LT MILLER: Right, and they'd already picked up some of the ammo, and they came in on the second day, I believe it was.

DR. WRIGHT: Yes, the morning of the second day.

1LT MILLER: And they brought in some ammo with them at that time that they recovered from the CDS.

DR. WRIGHT: In terms of getting them in ... I guess let's finish up with the move down to the Marriott [Hotel]. They push on after that first ambush. Are you given any commo, or did they go out of commo?

1LT MILLER: Okay, after they left, that's really the last I saw of them until I heard the next day that they had gotten the Marriott.

DR. WRIGHT: Delta comes in with its convoy early morning of the second day, the 21st.

1LT MILLER: Right, the 21st.

DR. WRIGHT: You get all of your remaining people, or was there anyone still left at ... ?

1LT MILLER: Okay. On the first day, the platoon sergeant left SGT Cox behind to try and find our other vehicle which still hadn't been recovered yet, then they had to go back. Then they left on the second day to come down, they just took everybody. So we had all our people, all our vehicles ... I'm sorry, we only had one vehicle. We hadn't recovered F-37 yet. It was still out in the swamp.

DR. WRIGHT: It was in the swamp. It hadn't been appropriated by anybody else?

1LT MILLER: No, it was still out in the swamp. It was out on DZ somewhere. We couldn't find it. We were thinking maybe it had been appropriated, but it turned up later. We got it the following Sunday.

DR. WRIGHT: Which would have been 21, 21, 23, 24--about the 24th?

1LT MILLER: The 24th.

DR. WRIGHT: On Christmas Eve, yes. At that point ... well, the Delta convoy comes in. They drop off your remaining people, your remaining tubes, and then they get the hurry-up-and-go mission to go down with the ground relief to the Marriott.

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: Same target list to cover their movement down?

1LT MILLER: Okay, that time I don't think I'd gotten an updated target list, not that I recall.

DR. WRIGHT: So you were still basically working off the old one.

1LT MILLER: The same target list.

DR. WRIGHT: Okay. Are you able to maintain commo with that relief column as it goes down?

1LT MILLER: We should have been able to. I know our commo was working at that time 'cause we'd gotten the Vinsons up, so we had full commo with anybody we tried to contact.

DR. WRIGHT: What's the FSO feeding you or the FIST35 team? Are they giving you any missions, since they have no tube artillery of their own to control?

1LT MILLER: No, not really. I'd been making contact off and on with the FSO at the TOC ... .

DR. WRIGHT: Oh, who was your FSO?

1LT MILLER: It was CPT Goldman.


1LT MILLER: It still is.

DR. WRIGHT: That column goes through, comes back with the 'hostages' that had been rescued. What are you then told is your next follow-on mission?

1LT MILLER: We really weren't given any follow-on mission at that point.

DR. WRIGHT: It was just hang loose in case something happens?

1LT MILLER: Yes, in case of calls for fire so we can drop some rounds.

DR. WRIGHT: When do you get a fire mission?

1LT MILLER: Okay. We did three fire missions total. The first one came on the night, the second night ... it was just basically an illumination mission. The scouts called for fire--not for fire, but for illumination.

DR. WRIGHT: The night of the 21st?

1LT MILLER: Right. It was one round of illum. We fired it, I believe it was just west of the scouts' western position. They were watching a bridge on a road that came in from the west to Panama Viejo.

DR. WRIGHT: Uh-huh.

1LT MILLER: ... fired a round towards the ... an illumination round. I don't think they saw what they were trying to illuminate, and that was the end of it.

DR. WRIGHT: Round went off okay, though, no problems with that?

1LT MILLER: Right. The wind kind of blew it back over ...

DR. WRIGHT: Drifted?

1LT MILLER: ... Panama Viejo. That was about it.

DR. WRIGHT: What's your second fire mission?

1LT MILLER: The second one came on Friday. Some snipers ... there's a little bay just east of Panama Viejo and the opposite side of that is a large open grassy area, a few scattered trees.

DR. WRIGHT: Okay, and this is the guys in the Ghillie ...

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: ... camouflage that started trying to infiltrate in?

1LT MILLER: Initially I think some Marine helicopters36 started flying overhead and firing door guns and dropping grenades. Apparently that didn't do any good. Charlie Company and Delta Company were firing at them. I remember Charlie Company's 60mm mortars shooting at them as well with no real effect. At that point the battalion snipers came up to us. They started trying to engage and their scopes weren't zeroed or something and they weren't really getting any results either.

1LT Johnson,37 the scout platoon leader, came up and said well, why don't we just go ahead and fire up the ridge. I said okay, we'll try that. Go ahead and clear. You call the battalion commander and clear it and I'll go do the fire mission, and I got the computer over to us and we did it as a polar mission. From the gun, you could probably see the target location. We decided to do it as a polar mission because you get more accurate data rather than trying to guesstimate the range.

I called an initial mission and fired one round of HE with the delay fuse, which is in case there are civilians to make sure we know where our rounds are going. It turned out to be a dud because it landed in the mud. We fired a repeat, a spotting round. That one went off. We fired another spotting round, and another one, and the fifth spotting round landed just about right on top of them. We fired two more rounds for effect, and that was it. So we fired seven HE on that.

DR. WRIGHT: Okay. Who's spotting for you?

1LT MILLER: I did the initial spotting, then one of the FOs38 for Charlie Company. I want to say his name was SGT--it starts with a D, his last name. I said okay, go ahead and adjust the rest of the rounds and he's the one who adjusted them.

DR. WRIGHT: The adjustments, what, in 50-meter increments?

1LT MILLER: It was ...

DR. WRIGHT: That was really, really small distance to ...

1LT MILLER: Yes. We guesstimated the range at 500 with the computer. When we finally figured out it said 529 meters or something.

DR. WRIGHT: So it was pretty accurate ...

1LT MILLER: It was right on.

DR. WRIGHT: The mortar rounds pretty much end whatever it was that they were trying to do?

1LT MILLER: Yes, no more ... I don't even remember getting any fire from the snipers out there. The scouts, when they were watching through the scopes, said they spotted them carrying what looked like SBDs.

DR. WRIGHT: Pretty much ... in retrospect as you've gone through your hot washes and what not, you think that was U.E.S.A.T.39 guys trying to come in?

1LT MILLER: Yes. And later on that afternoon, some more fire, just to the north of that last position, kept coming into Charlie Company and they were firing at them, CPT [Gary] Ramsdell saying he fired an AT-4 at them. Finally they gave us a TRP which is a crane which they were climbing up to shoot at us from. We went out there about two or three days later and found an old boonie cap. It had a cavalry insignia on it. Somebody from the cavalry unit40 doing it.

DR. WRIGHT: In terms of that second firing incident, the second small arms firing incident, did you fire any rounds at that or did you stand by to do it?

1LT MILLER: We just stood by.

DR. WRIGHT: Did you fire any more missions during the operation?

1LT MILLER: During that night we also got another fire mission. I don't recall who called it in. Whoever called it in said there's some kind of movement going on out in the city. They thought it was like civilians looting or something, so they had us fire some rounds. We fired all illumination--a total of six illumination rounds. There was an adjustment on each illum round, so it was like he was getting lateral spread over that area.

DR. WRIGHT: And it was pretty much just what would have been the eastern suburbs of Panama City?

1LT MILLER: Western.

DR. WRIGHT: Or the western ...

1LT MILLER: The western end.

DR. WRIGHT: ... suburbs of Viejo.

1LT MILLER: Yes, it was west of Panama Viejo. I think it was about a click out.

DR. WRIGHT: No problem with any of those rounds?

1LT MILLER: They all went off.

DR. WRIGHT: And was that the last of your fire missions?

1LT MILLER: Yes, that was the last--those illum rounds we fired.

DR. WRIGHT: Overall, LIC in MOUT,41 81[mm] mortars. As you think about it for the future, would you assume you'd be primarily firing illum?

1LT MILLER: Illumination.

DR. WRIGHT: Simply because collateral damage and danger to civilians ...

1LT MILLER: I think we would have fired a lot more missions than we did if it hadn't been for the danger to any civilians.

DR. WRIGHT: Will you adjust your loads then maybe to take down more illum than you normally would have, or will you still keep ...

1LT MILLER: I think we had about the right ...

DR. WRIGHT: ... the HE just in case ...

1LT MILLER: I think we had about the right mix.

DR. WRIGHT: Your people feel good that they got to fire?

1LT MILLER: Oh yes, yes.

DR. WRIGHT: Because a lot of the other battalion mortars never got to fire. Pretty happy with the way your people performed ...

1LT MILLER: Oh yes.

DR. WRIGHT: ... during the fire missions?

1LT MILLER: Oh yes.

DR. WRIGHT: How'd the computers work?

1LT MILLER: They worked great.

DR. WRIGHT: And the commo after that first day, once you got the ...

1LT MILLER: Yes, once I finally got the ...

DR. WRIGHT: ... once you got phased everything worked?

1LT MILLER: Yes, once I got the correct variable commo I never had any problems with the Vinson.

DR. WRIGHT: You like the new mortar?

1LT MILLER: Yes, I do. It seems there's a lot of problems with the bipod, the traverse--the traverse rod seems to be bent or something and will stick after use.

DR. WRIGHT: But more reach than the old ones had?

1LT MILLER: Right, that's special. It's more reach if you use the new round, which we didn't in Panama, which I was kind of surprised about. We got ...

DR. WRIGHT: Yes, I'm kind of surprised about that too.

1LT MILLER: I think if we got the new round with the new fuse and had the computers updated to take that ...

DR. WRIGHT: That data.

1LT MILLER: ... I think we would have had better results.

DR. WRIGHT: In terms of the operations after the night of Friday the 22d, that's your last firing mission, how did they start employing you at that point?

1LT MILLER: Okay. Afterwards when the infantry were running patrols out in Panama Viejo, we did gate-guard for about two or three days and the Alpha Company XO and I talked to the battalion commander and I managed to get about half of my platoon to go out on dismounted patrols.

DR. WRIGHT: Just cross training?

1LT MILLER: Right, and they used our HMMWVs to ...

DR. WRIGHT: To mount?

1LT MILLER: To move mounted in the city.

DR. WRIGHT: How did your people react to doing that kind of a mission?

1LT MILLER: Actually they liked it because it alleviated the boredom, you know, sitting gate guard. I had one guy who spoke Spanish and spent a lot of time down at the gate, talking to the civilians.

DR. WRIGHT: You start getting involved then in processing the reports as people came up, to try to turn in weapons or report ...

1LT MILLER: Basically all our mission was to watch the gate, and whenever people did come in and had information to give to whatever warrant officer was doing the interrogating, we just ...

DR. WRIGHT: The guy from the 313th [Military Intelligence Battalion]?

1LT MILLER: Right. We just escorted them right down there.

DR. WRIGHT: Did you get involved at all in the muskets for money, doing any of that, hauling the stuff in your HMMWVs?

1LT MILLER: [No answer].

DR. WRIGHT: As we drag on, week two, starting into week three, go past the rumor mill of Christmas Eve, there was going to be the human wave attack ...


DR. WRIGHT: ... New Year's Eve there was going to be the human wave attack. Those two occasions--do you stand by, do you assume that there might be fire mission, or at that point are you pretty convinced they're not going to let you bang away?

1LT MILLER: I was convinced we'd fire illumination rounds in support, probably not HE because the nature of the threat was a little more that the infantry should take care of.

DR. WRIGHT: In terms of ... like I said, we get into week two, week three. How are you keeping the morale of your people up, because boredom starts becoming a major threat?

1LT MILLER: The number one thing everybody wanted to do was go out on patrols in Panama Viejo, because ... well, for one thing, people would stop at McDonald's. They really weren't supposed to but did anyway. I'll admit I did it once. They got to go out into the city and take a look around, and the people out in the city were really, really great. Most of them were enthusiastic about us being there. Soldiers like going out, you know, just getting out of garrison.

DR. WRIGHT: Were you able to put your people under any kind of cover for quarters, or do you have to bunk it next to your tubes in the ruins?

1LT MILLER: Basically we bunked out in the ruins. I don't think the soldiers really minded that so much. They didn't have a roof over their heads, but all they had to do was just walk and in a hundred meters they could take a shower, or use the latrine there. Then they didn't end up having to do the police details, because people in barracks, after a while were getting hassled by the sergeant major and the NCOs to sweep and mop ...

DR. WRIGHT: Paint the walls.

1LT MILLER: Yes, that sort of stuff.

DR. WRIGHT: And you were able to break people loose to go down and watch the TV set and make phone calls?

1LT MILLER: Yes, I think phone calls. But the TV set--you know, nobody was really allowed to go watch it, so--basically we just kept two tubes in action the whole time, the other two squads that weren't on the tubes ...

DR. WRIGHT: Were down? You get mail?

1LT MILLER: Yes, yes.

DR. WRIGHT: How does it take about before that starts arriving?

1LT MILLER: I was just talking to some of my soldiers, and some of it--I'd say probably like the second week.

DR. WRIGHT: Sundry packs start coming in too, so that ...

1LT MILLER: Sundry packs came in I think about a week or a week-and-a-half after we were down there.

DR. WRIGHT: And the MREs42 are supplemented almost immediately by the food that was found in the garrison there?

1LT MILLER: Yes. The food that was found in the garrison, our guys really didn't get first dibs on that so we got mostly ... it was a few cans of tuna and some other stuff that nobody really wanted. The first day we got in there, though, we--us and Charlie Company--kind of liberated about 500 bottles of Pepsi that we found in the refrigerator. We kind of passed those around. Plus the civilians every now and again would come in and give us food, Cokes ...

DR. WRIGHT: Fresh fruit, stuff like that?

1LT MILLER: When we were DZ clean-up at the drop zone we got some fresh fruit, but they'd bring up cooked rice. We had one lady who was in charge of the horses there which we were watching come up. She took up a collection of people in the city and they bought four cases of Coke, a couple cartons of cigarettes, potato chips, that sort of stuff for us.

DR. WRIGHT: You said you were watching the horses? Did you get stuck with that detail?

1LT MILLER: Yes, but it didn't turn out to be as bad as I figured because I didn't know the first thing about horses but a lot of my soldiers did. Plus, getting them fed and watered and exercised is no problem, since a lot of solders in Charlie and Delta plus mortars were riding around just to ...

DR. WRIGHT: Just to have something to do?

1LT MILLER: Just to take care of the horses. The horses were never really in any danger of dying or anything.

DR. WRIGHT: About how many horses were there?

1LT MILLER: Oh geez, probably two dozen.

DR. WRIGHT: And all riding horses, or were ...

1LT MILLER: Riding horses.

DR. WRIGHT: Did you have all the saddlery and all the tack and everything was there ...


DR. WRIGHT: ... so you just used that stuff, you didn't have to worry about that?

1LT MILLER: Plus the lady who took care of the horses normally would come in like every day. She'd check them out and make sure they got fed, and rehearsed that with us also. So ...

DR. WRIGHT: Did the division vet go down?

1LT MILLER: I couldn't say. I never ...

DR. WRIGHT: You don't recall him coming in. I understand one horse did get shot on the first day?

1LT MILLER: Actually I think it was about the second or third day that he got shot.

DR. WRIGHT: How did that happen, do you have any idea?

1LT MILLER: It was a very, very sick horse, apparently.

DR. WRIGHT: Then you had to remove the horse? You had to provide the detail to do that?

1LT MILLER: No, what they did ... they just left it there and the buzzards had a field day with it for about a day or two. Then the smell got really bad, so Delta Company just burned it.

DR. WRIGHT: Just put some fuel on it and set it off?


DR. WRIGHT: Your guys seem to enjoy that idea of taking care of the horses?

1LT MILLER: Yes. In fact, I asked okay, who wants to take care of the horses? They all answered well, at least we've got something to do.

DR. WRIGHT: Did you get a chance to go swimming at all or do anything like that to let your guys just sort of stretch out and get some exercise?

1LT MILLER: The last week we were assigned to the drop zone clean up. The Tocumen River ran to the west of there, and there's a bridge about a foot under water. We'd go over there maybe an hour during the day to take a break and get some swimming.

DR. WRIGHT: So they were getting some exercise then?

1LT MILLER: Oh yes, some relaxation.

DR. WRIGHT: Did you get a chance to play ball or anything like that, basketball, volleyball, anything like that?

1LT MILLER: We didn't. I remember some of the soldiers were starting to do that, battalion commander was ...

DR. WRIGHT: Kind of antsy about that?

1LT MILLER: ... antsy about that, it just didn't seem the thing to do, he said, so don't go playing football or soccer or anything. After about the second week we were there, the platoon sergeant and I started doing some light PT in the morning before it got hot, nothing really extensive, just some calisthenics and things.

DR. WRIGHT: About how long did it take your people to adjust to the heat?

1LT MILLER: The second or third day--well, probably about the third or fourth day, it seemed. By then we were in Panama Viejo, so we weren't ...

DR. WRIGHT: So you weren't humping ...

1LT MILLER: Right, it wasn't a lot of strenuous ...

DR. WRIGHT: Did you have to use any IVs on that first day to bring your people up, or ...

1LT MILLER: Not for my soldiers, but came close, including myself.

DR. WRIGHT: Yes, that's a tough transition to make. You alluded to the fact you had one Spanish speaker. Was there only one in the platoon?

1LT MILLER: Actually there were two. One was a SPC Gill. He's from New York and he speaks Spanish. That's the neighborhood he's from. Another one was PVT Nosha. He's from the Philippines and he studied Spanish when he was over there.

DR. WRIGHT: So you felt fairly confident ...


DR. WRIGHT: ... that you always had somebody you could rely on if things started happening and you were alone.

1LT MILLER: Oh yes. Plus I can speak a little Spanish myself too, so ...

DR. WRIGHT: Redeployment--when do you get the word? Understanding that it was to be three days ...

1LT MILLER: Final word?


1LT MILLER: The final word? Probably the week we left, but then we heard so many things it was like yes, okay, I'll believe it when the battalion shows up at the airfield.

DR. WRIGHT: When it happens?

1LT MILLER: Because I think we spent like the last week-and-a-half there at Tocumen-Torrijos doing all the details.

DR. WRIGHT: And you just go over there and what, clean up, policing up air items, stuff like that?

1LT MILLER: Right. Basically what we did was we went through the swamps and started pulling in all the 'chutes. Primary mission is to look for some equipment that had been lost, all [AN]/PVS-7s that were missing, some weapons that were gone. Then after a while it kind of got to where it almost wasn't even worth the effort to police up the 'chutes because by then they'd all rotted, so ...

DR. WRIGHT: What are you told about the jump back into Bragg?

1LT MILLER: Basically what was going to happen: that there were twenty aircraft, it would be a daylight jump, there'd be a lot of people there. Then there was a rumor that the President would be there.

DR. WRIGHT: How do your people initially react?

1LT MILLER: They're glad to be going home.

DR. WRIGHT: They're glad to be going home but upset about having to jump as opposed to just air landing and getting to see Mom quick?

1LT MILLER: Not really. I know some people were complaining that yes, they're keeping us here so they can do a Hollywood showboat jump back in, you know, to impress everybody.

DR. WRIGHT: But that ...

1LT MILLER: People were just glad to be going home, yes.

DR. WRIGHT: That sort of went away then as soon as they got a chance to see the aircraft load up and everything, and then everybody's morale picks up?

1LT MILLER: Oh yes. Everybody was glad to be going home. Probably the day before when they started doing manifest call, customs ...

DR. WRIGHT: Yes, the customs. Do you want to talk to me a little bit about the customs procedures, what your people had to go through?

1LT MILLER: Yes. What they did ... it wasn't as extensive as I thought they'd done it, because they did a pretty thorough ...


DR. WRIGHT: Okay, resuming on Side Two, 1LT Miller. You said they just went through and did a pretty quick--just looked to check to see that nobody was taking back anything bad?

1LT MILLER: Right. They had out-briefed us, no souvenirs, make sure you guys don't have any ammunition, obviously no drugs. They just like went through the BD shirts that we had laid there and they went through ... they did a fairly ... if anything had been hidden in there they probably would have found it, but people could have gotten stuff back if they had wanted to.

DR. WRIGHT: Who was doing the sweep, Customs guys or was it MPs?

1LT MILLER: It was Customs, I believe. I think there might have been a few MPs, but I remember Customs being there with their dogs. Then they had an MP watching us, making sure we didn't sneak anything in after they checked it.

DR. WRIGHT: You get ... did you guys have a chance, or would you have had an opportunity to have collected souvenirs if it had been permissible? Was there stuff around?

1LT MILLER: Oh yes. When we got in there, a lot of people grabbed the T-shirts and a couple bayonets, a couple of propaganda books and Noriega, things like that. What we did with our stuff was we collected it all ... because we were told we could do this ... is collect it in one bag, put your name on the bag, and Customs go through it, okay, yes, you're not taking any national treasures or anything, and we'd get it distributed back to us when we got back to Bragg, and that did happen.

DR. WRIGHT: It did happen?

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: Jump back in to Sicily [Drop Zone] that morning, the morning of what, the 12th, I guess?

1LT MILLER: Right.

DR. WRIGHT: Tell me your impressions as you come out the door.

1LT MILLER: I remember jumping. They were telling us it was like 30 degrees out or something. I was expecting to freeze, because everybody ...

DR. WRIGHT: There was no snivel gear ...

1LT MILLER: Most of the people got rid of just about all the snivel gear they had when we deployed and put it their A-bag, so I was expecting to freeze. We jumped out ... it wasn't very cold at all. I remember somebody ran into my 'chute twice, so I wasn't having a very good time. Then I remember landing, the battalion commander landing nearby, and we just headed right to the assembly area.

DR. WRIGHT: As you were coming down, could you hear the crowd? Could you hear the band?

1LT MILLER: No, no.

DR. WRIGHT: Were you aware of the size of the crowd, or were you too busy trying to make sure that nobody collapsed your 'chute on you?

1LT MILLER: I was too busy with that. I remember glancing towards the bleachers and seeing a bunch of people there.

DR. WRIGHT: What did it feel like as you formed up and then come up over the crest of the hill?

1LT MILLER: Everybody was cheering. It felt good.

DR. WRIGHT: Could you see all the signs and everything?


DR. WRIGHT: In retrospect, have you learned anything from this one, maybe any new ideas on things that aren't in doctrine that you think are important for mortar platoons?

1LT MILLER: One thing that's a little bit different than what division puts out for us would be for dropping mortars. The way they like to do it is drop mortars with the artillery platforms. Fortunately we didn't have to do that. We could put ours right on our vehicles. That we if we find the vehicle, okay, we've got them.

DR. WRIGHT: You're good to go.

1LT MILLER: Yes, instantly we've got commo, we've got a vehicle, we've got two mortars, we've got ammo, we've got an FDC with it, whereas if they rig it up to the artillery you've got to go to four different pallets instead of two and then get them all together in one spot. I think we should go with leaving the mortar tubes on the vehicles.

DR. WRIGHT: It speeds things up?

1LT MILLER: Yes. It speeds assembly up.

DR. WRIGHT: In terms of procedures, pretty much all the SOPs and stuff good?

1LT MILLER: Yes, I'd say so.

DR. WRIGHT: Did you pick up anything, any ideas I haven't thought to ask you about?

1LT MILLER: Nothing that comes to mind. That's about it.

DR. WRIGHT: Let me hit you then with one last question. What is the funniest or strangest or most unusual thing that happened to you--that memory that you're going to have forever?

1LT MILLER: I guess it was when we were cleaning up the DZ. You almost had to be there, but we were walking through some trees there after looking at one of the heavy drop 'chutes, and somebody yelled bees, run. I thought yes, right. Then one of my computers ran right by me, the speed of light or something. I didn't even look, I just took off. And everybody was running just to get out of there.

DR. WRIGHT: And these were like those killer bees that ...

1LT MILLER: Yes. My platoon sergeant got stung up, probably about eleven times. I don't think they were killer bees, probably just hornets.

DR. WRIGHT: And so you took more injuries from the bees than you did from the PDF?


DR. WRIGHT: Anything else, lieutenant?

1LT MILLER: No sir.

DR. WRIGHT: I appreciate you taking the time.




1. Company D in an airborne infantry battalion is the anti-armor company equipped primarily with heavy TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-guided anti-tank Weapons) antitank missiles mounted on M-998-series High Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs).

2. Noncommissioned officers.

3. Division Ready Force, a battalion-sized task force. The 82d Airborne Division uses a system by which nine such task forces are identified with the numeral indicating their order of deployment. These are formed into three Division Ready Brigades (DRBs). On December 18, 1989, 1st Brigade was DRB-1 and the 1st Battalion, 504th Infantry, was DRF-1.

4. Charge of Quarters.

5. Standing operating procedure.

6. In 82d Airborne Division usage, N-hour marks the time when the units are notified of a mission. Two hours later (N+2) the first key leader briefing takes place.

7. Fire Direction Center.

8. Personnel Holding Area, a secure cantonment section at Fort Bragg near "Green Ramp," the loading area at adjacent Pope Air Force Base.

9. Trailers pulled by 5-ton tractors used to transport large groups of personnel.

10. Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise.

11. Tactical operations center.

12. CPT Robert Kruger.

13. MG James H. Johnson, Jr.; Commanding General, 82d Airborne Division.

14. 2d Battalion, 504th Infantry.

15. Landing Zones.

16. High explosive.

17. White phosphorus.

18. Lieutenant colonel.

19. Special wet- or cold-weather clothing.

20. A duffel bag used for extra items that is supposed to deploy in a follow-on flight and catch up with the soldier in theater.

21. 5.56mm M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon.

22. 40mm grenade launcher mounted under an M-16 5.56mm rifle.

23. A new weapons system just entering the inventory at this time, the Mk-19 is an automatic 40mm grenade launcher, but the ammunition for the two systems is not interchangeable.

24. Chalk numbering is the system of numbering air frames uses in an assault.

25. Secure encription devices.

26. Drop Zone.

27. Jumpmaster Pre-flight Inspection.

28. Tangle in the risers attached to the parachute canopy.

29. Executive Officer; 1LT Byron K. Echols. See JCIT-087.

30. Fire Support Officer.

31. 1LT Thomas J. Goss; see JCIT-085.

32. See JCIT-080.

33. LTC Harry B. Axson, Jr., the battalion commander.

34. Containerized Delivery System.

35. Fire Support Team.

36. Actually there were no Marine Corps helicopters in JUST CAUSE. These were AH-64 Apaches.

37. 1LT James H. Johnson, III. See JCIT-081.

38. Forward Observers.

39. Unidad Especial de Seguridad Antiterror, the Panamanian Defense Force's special operations element.

40. Escuadron de Caballeria 'General Jose A. Remon C.' was a largely ceremonial horse cavalry unit based at the Panama Viejo cuartel.

41. Low Intensity Conflict in Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain.

42. Meals, Ready-to-Eat.