1 of 40:

October 17, 2005 – FOB MacKenzie: 1915 local time, 12:15 pm EST

The 3 Bradley convoy is set to leave the wire.
2 of 40:

Leon Matthias, leading the patrol, heads to the fire pit to test fire his weapon. Alwyn’s Bradley (#2 in the order of march) drives around Leon’s. After a brief exchange, Alwyn convinces Leon that he, the PSG, will lead out on Leon’s first night back out of the gate.
3 of 40:

1920: SP (the platoon ALWAYS met SP)

SP = Start Point [the time for the convoy to depart]
4 of 40:

Just as the patrol is departing FOB MacKenzie, Alwyn’s vehicle breaks down [lost in hazy memories of that night is the specific mechanical problem].
5 of 40:

The show must go on: a quick decision is made to swap out Alwyn’s entire crew with the crew of the 3rd Bradley. The 3rd Bradley, with Alwyn in the Vehicle Commander seat, is now in the lead. We’ve now got a 2-vehicle convoy rather than the scheduled 3.
6 of 40:

Now the platoon is ~ 7 minutes late. No matter: there is no sequencing with other elements or patrols. We’re back on track.
7 of 40:

The patrol quickly uncoils out of the single road leading out of FOB MacKenzie. The convoy is in sector.
8 of 40:

Nothing unusual. Darkish, hazy skies, but all clear. The patrol should be back in the wire before ----
9 of 40:

No one in the convoy describes the explosion in the same way, a point that speaks to the elasticity of memory, the uncertainty of history, the measures the mind will go to compartmentalize trauma. It’s ~1950.
10 of 40:

Some soldiers on that patrol remember receiving small arms fire after the IED struck. Others remember only the bomb blast. What’s clear is that the first vehicle rolled over an IED, triggering an enormous explosion.
11 of 40:

Darren Howe, the first vehicle driver, struggles to move the disabled vehicle out of the kill zone. He gets it about 150 meters down the road.
12 of 40:

Because the vehicle lost all comms in the blast, Leon and his crew, 300 meters behind Alwyn’s Bradley, are unable to determine the nature of the injuries. His dismounts exit the Bradley.
13 of 40:

Leon calls Captain Jimmy Hathaway, Alpha Company commander, back on FOB MacKenzie, and describes the situation as he understands it. His message: We need the QRF.
14 of 40:

The pressure plate bomb penetrated the hull. It also punctured the Bradley’s plastic fuel cell. The front of the Bradley is on fire. The fire is spreading. So is the jet fuel splashing throughout the vehicle.
15 of 40:

Alwyn is rattled and burned, his clothes are torn, but he’s conscious. He’s also covered – covered – in fuel. Drenched.

He jumps out of the top of the vehicle and immediately pulls Darren out.

Now for the 6 Soldiers and 1 Iraqi interpreter in the back.
16 of 40:

The lever that releases the lock to the Bradley personnel hatch is severed by the blast. Alwyn has to manually pull open the hatch.
17 of 40:

The first person Alwyn sees once he opens the door is Sergeant Douglas Dodge. Douglas is concussed and doesn’t know where he is. Alwyn moves him to the side of the road.
18 of 40:

Douglas extinguishes his uniform. Still dazed, he starts to realize where he is, what’s happening. His mind registers danger.
19 of 40:

Alwyn sees that Douglas’ uniform is covered in fuel and that the fire inside the Bradley is growing. “We have to get the boys out” he tells Douglas.
20 of 40:

Alwyn and Douglas go back to the vehicle. The fire is growing. Flames are now devouring the vehicle. Leon: “It looked like a movie set. It did not look real to me.”
21 of 40:

Alwyn pulled out Staff Sergeant George Alexander. George is completely on fire. Alwyn takes him to the side of the road and instructs Leon’s crew to roll him on the ground to put out the fire.

Meanwhile, Alwyn pays no attention to the fire eating his own body.
22 of 40:

Alwyn goes back.

His torso and legs are in flames. He keeps exposes himself to the fire. He pulls out another Soldier.
23 of 40:

Alwyn goes back.

He’s on fire. He pulls out another Soldier.
24 of 40:

Alwyn goes back.

He pulls out Baka, the Iraqi interpreter and places him by the side of the road. Baka is already dead.
25 of 40:

Alwyn goes back.

More of him catching fire. His clothes are mostly burned off, exposing charred skin. Much of his uniform has melted into his flesh, now a part of him. 72% of his body is burned.
26 of 40:

Alwyn goes back.

There’s one last man in there. Doc Rob is wedged in at the back end of the Bradley. Alwyn goes all the way inside the fire and pulls him out.
27 of 40:

Alwyn rescued six Soldiers and pulled out Baka. He made 7 trips to the fire.
28 of 40:

By now White Platoon, the Quick Response Force, is on scene. It’s dark. The platoon moves by ground back to FOB MacKenzie.
29 of 40:

~ 2200: An air medical evacuation arrives at the FOB. Alwyn, still conscious, is in unbearable pain, gravely injured, is to be loaded first on the aircraft. He refuses. He’s not going out until the boys are all evacuated.
30 of 40:

At this moment, all Soldiers are still alive.
32 of 40:

Had Alwyn stayed in Iraq, he would have died of wounds the next day. No hospital in Iraq had the resources to treat such severe burns. The doctors work for hours to stabilize him for air movement to Germany and then the US.
33 of 40:

Early morning on October 18, 2005: Alwyn is loaded onto a plane for a 6-hour flight to Germany.
34 of 40:

From Germany, all the wounded Soldiers are flown to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
35 of 40:

In the days and weeks to come, doctors will try to save Alwyn, to save all of them.
36 of 40:

Let’s spread this story across the Nation. Far and wide.
37 of 40:

On October 22nd, 2005: Alexandria, Virginia’s George Alexander dies in the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas at age 34. George was the 2,000th American Soldier killed in combat in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.
38 of 40:

Four days later Michael Robertson succumbs to his wounds in that same hospital. Houston’s Doc Rob was 28.
39 of 40:

November 3rd. Darren Dean Howe made it out of the vehicle. He didn’t make it out of Brooke Army. The 21-year-old Beatrice, Nebraska native enlisted in the Army on September 10, 2001.
FINAL:

On November 8th, the final Soldier from 1st Platoon dies.

His Name Is Alwyn Cashe.

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More from @18airbornecorps

16 Oct
The Story Continues

1 of 7: It was a Sunday. There also happened to be no mission today.

15 years ago today, 1st Platoon, A Company, 1-15 Infantry, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division cleaned weapons and checked fluids on the 4 Bradleys and 4 up-armored HMMWVs.
2 of 7: Today was a rare day in which all vehicles would stay inside the wire. No patrols.

The patrols were exhausting. And constant. Most were hours long. Many were tedious.

1-15 Infantry's focus was to always have a presence in sector: give the insurgency no quarter.
3 of 7: Tomorrow a a route recon the next day. This was a clearance mission: clear the route ahead of a resupply convoy. The patrol would take the platoon to Diyala province.
Read 7 tweets
15 Oct
1 of 11:

15 years ago today from FOB McKenzie, near Samarra, he was looking ahead. The end of a 12-month deployment to Iraq – his second of OIF – was 3 months away.

His Name Is #AlwynCashe. Over the coming days we'll tell his story.
2 of 11:

Alwyn’s platoon had a short route clearance mission scheduled for the October 15, 2005. Then a day off. Or, rather, maintenance of the vehicles and clean weapons. But nothing outside the wire on the 16th.
3 of 11:

Then, another mission on October 17th. This one was longer. A circuitous route that led through Diyala.
Read 11 tweets
9 Oct
1 of 11: Operation Market Garden lesson 20 of 20: Character matters, particularly at the senior level.  Let’s take a look the two main actors in Market Garden -- Eisenhower and Montgomery – and how their individual characters manifest in this tragedy
2 of 11: Ike missed WWI. After the Great War, he spent operational time in the Philippines as MacArthur's chief of staff & assistant adviser to the Philippine govt on military matters. This was an unstable period wherein the dangers of guerilla warfare loomed large in his memory.
3 of 11: Partly as a result of this experience, Ike favored a coordinated offensive along a broad front, where Allied mass, logistical expertise, & unrelenting pressure would not only push back the Germans but leave few pockets of resistance to disrupt the Allied comms zone.
Read 11 tweets
9 Oct
1 of 5: We're on the final day of our Tragic Ambition series. Before we close out, we'll unveil the final 5 lessons for @USArmy leaders from Operation Market Garden.
2 of 5: Lesson 1⃣6⃣ [this one is not going to be popular with everyone] Don't be afraid to fire subordinates who either can't meet your intent or willfully refuse to.
3 of 5: Montgomery [who always thought he was the smartest guy in the room] openly disregarded and disrespected his senior British and American commander's since North Africa.
Read 5 tweets
8 Oct
Lesson 9

1 of 5:

Op Market Garden Lesson 9⃣of 20: Airborne & @usairforce must be SINGULARLY controlled by a joint commander and staff.
2 of 5:

By way of example, one of the best Airborne operations ever conducted in history was Operation Just Cause in 1989. XVIII Corps and supporting Air Force units under Lieutenant General Carl Stiner, corps commander, as the Joint Task Force Headquarters Commander.
3 of 5:

Stiner understood the limitations of the airborne forces was inserted. He also thought through the impact of resupply from the air on the operation.
Read 5 tweets
8 Oct
1 of 12:

Since tomorrow is our final day of Tragic Ambition, our commemoration of Operation #MarketGarden, we figured we'd give a bibliography of sorts. Let's go through some of the books we used throughout the series in the hopes that you'll let us know what you think of them.
2 of 12: Let's start here. This one was published 2 years ago to great reviews in the US. It's thorough (perhaps too detailed in its account of tactics) & makes a layered case of blame against Monty. The book has many critics & we'll let them voice their concerns in the replies.
3 of 12: This focuses on the US airborne units, giving life to the men of the @82ndABNDiv and the @101stAASLTDIV. In the US, A Bridge Too Far ( book & the movie) dominates the OMG landscape, but McManus offers new voices [& extends the story out through November].
Read 8 tweets

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