UNSUNG HEROES: The Tactical Air Controller Who Laid Waste To The Iraqi Republican Guard

Unsung Heroes
Tech. Sgt. Travis Crosby with Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne.
Air Force photo by Dave Davenport

On April 4, 2003, less than three weeks after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began, Tech. Sgt. Travis Crosby, a tactical air control party specialist (TACP) attached to the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division found himself at the tip of the spear into Baghdad.


Crosby’s unit was responsible for the seizure of Objective Peach, a critical six-lane concrete bridge spanning the Euphrates River that served as the only feasible avenue of approach to the Iraqi capital, which was still under Saddam’s control.

As Crosby approached the bridge, his vehicle came under a barrage of enemy artillery, mortar, small arms fire, as well as anti-tank missiles. The Republican Guard was dug in and ready for a fight.

“At first, the sound of bullets flying and bombs hitting really unnerve a person,” Crosby later told an Air Force reporter. “Then shell shock sets in, and although you know all of those dangers are around, you can work through them and do what needs to get done.”

And work through them he did. As the bombs and bullets continued to rain in, Crosby spotted a group of Iraqi soldiers attempting to detonate demolition charges on the bridge. So he directed an A-10 to strafe their position.

Tech. Sgt. Travis Crosby explains the photos on display in Heritage Hall of the 18th Air Support Operations Group headquarters at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., to Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne.Air Force photo by Dave Davenport

After the A-10 killed the enemy soldiers and saved the bridge, Crosby called for another A-10, directing it to provide life-saving cover for a team of Army engineers in the river, who were then able to cross.

However, it wasn’t until Crosby reached the Baghdad side of the bridge that the real battle began. There, Crosby’s vehicle was ambushed again, but this time at extremely close range, and by an enemy force that included three tanks, numerous vehicles, and dismounted infantry.

Surrounded, Crosby began hammering the enemy with his .50 caliber machine gun, killing over 20 soldiers, while simultaneously directing precision strikes by a flight of A-10s that succeeded in destroying the tanks.

But there was still much more work to be done, beginning with a pair of Republican Guard soldiers who charged Crosby’s vehicle on foot. Drawing his handgun, Crosby leapt from the vehicle and dropped both soldiers from a distance of 10 feet.

“I had to engage two people with small arms,” Crosby told the Air Force reporter. “It was only afterwards that I was told that I had killed three more people. Just knowing there were more people dead in a ditch who were intent on killing me really shocked me.”

The battle for Objective Peach lasted 20 hours and marked a decisive point in the push to gain control of Baghdad. For his actions that day, Crosby received the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for valor in combat.

At the award ceremony, Crosby played down his battlefield heroics, saying that he was simply “real good at getting out of bad situations.”

KABUL (Reuters) - The Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility on Sunday for a suicide blast at a wedding reception in Afghanistan that killed 63 people, underlining the dangers the country faces even if the Taliban agrees a pact with the United States.

The Saturday night attack came as the Taliban and the United States try to negotiate an agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. forces in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and peace talks with Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government.

Islamic State fighters, who first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 and have since made inroads in the east and north, are not involved in the talks. They are battling government and U.S.-led international forces and the Taliban.

The group, in a statement on the messaging website Telegram, claimed responsibility for the attack at a west Kabul wedding hall in a minority Shi'ite neighborhood, saying its bomber had been able to infiltrate the reception and detonate his explosives in the crowd of "infidels".

Read More Show Less
U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Brian Kimball

Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Calling aviation geeks in New York City: The British are coming.

In their first visit to the United States since 2008, the Royal Air Force "Red Arrows" will perform an aerial demonstration next week over the Hudson River, according to an Air Force news release. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels demonstration teams will also be part of the show.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Air National Guard/Staff Sgt. Michelle Y. Alvarez-Rea

Frances and Efrain Santiago, natives of Puerto Rico, wanted to show their support last month for protesters back home seeking to oust the island's governor.

The couple flew the flag of Puerto Rico on the garage of their Kissimmee home. It ticked off the homeowners association.

Someone from the Rolling Hills Estates Homeowners Association left a letter at their home, citing a "flag violation" and warning: "Please rectify the listed violation or you may incur a fine."

Frances Santiago, 38, an Army veteran, demanded to know why.

Read More Show Less
Todd Rosenberg/AP

A West Point graduate received a waiver from the U.S. Army to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, and play in the NFL while serving as an active-duty soldier.

The waiver for 2nd Lt. Brett Toth was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, who said that Toth signed a three-year deal with the Eagles. Toth graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 2018.

Read More Show Less
Indiana National Guard

The Indiana National Guard soldier who was killed on Thursday in a training accident at Fort Hood has been identified as 29-year-old Staff Sgt. Andrew Michael St. John, of Greenwood, Indiana.

Read More Show Less