08 June 2008

Gunfighter Diary Desert Storm 26 Feb 91

26 FEB 91
Secretary of the Navy Washington
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the NAVY CROSS to Lieutenant Colonel Michael M. Kurth United States Marine Corps for services set forth in the following citation: For extraordinary heroism as Commanding Officer of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 during Operation Desert Storm on 26 February 1991. As the 1st Marine Division attacked north to prevent Iraqui forces from escaping, Lieutenant Colonel Kurth's repeated acts of bravery in providing Close In Fire Support to embattled Marines helped collapse the Iraqui defenses. With visibility nearly impossible due to hundreds of burning oil field fires, and with total disregard for his own safety, he flew under and perilously close to high voltage power lines. Placing himself at grave personal risk to intermittent Iraqui ground and anti-aircraft fire, Lieutenant Colonel Kurth flew continuously for ten hours during the most intense periods of combat, twice having to control crash his aircraft. Employing a commercially borrowed Forward Looking Infrared Radar and LASER designator, he flew through the Al Burquan oil field fires, between the AH-1W holding pattern and task Force Ripper's forward lines, leading flight after flight of rearmed gunships to requesting units and then remaining dangerously exposed forward of friendly lines as he designated Iraqui armored vehicles for engagement. Lieutenant Colonel Kurth's courage and fearless dedication rallied fellow Marines and resulted in the destruction of as many as 70 Iraqui armored vehicles destroyed that day. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Lieutenant Colonel Kurth reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. For the President Secretary of the Navy

What also needs to be placed here is a Distinguished Flying Cross citation for Captain Carl "Mooch" Reynoso. Mooch was actually the Aircraft Commander on this mission. Spot jumped in last minute in the left seat where Nasty was due to fly. Spot and Mooch took their FLIR operator, Crew Chief and Gunner through the hellish conditions and prevented the 1st Marine Division CP from being overrun, among other cited acts. On the ground a LAV commander deployed a screening force during a heated tank battle and was also awarded the Navy Cross. Mooch's recommendation died on SecNavs desk in late 1991, when SecNav refused to approve any awards for Naval Aviators due to the 1991 Tailhook scandal. This made no sense at all, seeing as Mooch is one of the finest marines ever to serve, a Mustang who previously served with distinction in Force Recon. He traded boots for wings and is a natural stick, most at home in the Huey. A helo guy who never went to Tailhook. Maybe someday the award recommendation will resurface and be awarded late, due to "administrative oversight".

1 comment:

skittles said...

I stumbled on your page while trying to track down Mooch. He was my AMO at 369 about 10 years ago. I just thought I'd throw my two cents in... LtCol Reynoso (last I heard anyway) was without a doubt one of the finest officers I ever worked for. He went to bat for me on more than one occasion and didn't let anyone mess with his enlisted Marines. I last heard from him a few years ago and he said he was getting ready to retire after 32 years. I was proud to have been able to serve with a Marine and person of his caliber.