What is the Truth about Camp Doha?

By: Todd Lightfoot

I walk forward into the past, to do what it is I can, to right the wrongs that we unknowingly committed in the pursuit of the mission.  I will, to the best of my abilities... bring forward the truths which have yet not been spoken, to subordinate myself to this cause without regret, nor give up hope under the shadow of masses that stand before us.   This is a quest for the truth that is cloaked behind the doors of the very same freedom that we've pledged allegiance to all of our lives.  This is the freedom that we swore oaths to and freely walked forward to defend.   

THE FIRE

The date was July 11, 1991.  The weather that day was typical for July in Kuwait.  The mid morning heat building towards what most Americans would consider unbearable.  Soldier's from the 11th ACR, 21st EVAC Hospital (FWD), 912th MASH, 519th MASH, 593d FASCO, and British soldiers, all combined for a troop total of more than 4000(1)  These soldiers were all going about their assigned duties at Camp Doha.   Surely, no one was worried about a wiring defect in a heating unit located inside of one the many Field Artillery Ammunition Support Vehicles, (FAASV) located on the North Compound of the camp.  Who would think that there was a smoldering fire growing larger and hotter in a combat support vehicle that had on board its full combat load of ammunition.(2)  The shooting war was over, they were there as follow on securty foces, there to protect Kuwait from another Iraqi incursion.  Regardless of what they were thinking... their focus shifted to personal survival around 10:20 a.m. local time.(1)  

Most of America was asleep.   The familiar sound of the jingle that played before the latest CNN Gulf War update was something for television documentaries to come.  For most of America; the worries of Iraq were now for the United Nations. As for the fire that was raging at Camp Doha.... most American's wouldn't know about it for hours to come, and when the story would break, it would be without that jingle we were all so familiar with..  But the fire, raging heat and explosions filling the air with shards of jagged metal and soldiers running for cover was extreamly real.  

The following numbered text entries are extracts from the Central Command, (CENTCOM) log.(3)   Each entry starts with the time that the communication was received and logged.  

8)  1200 hrs- 15 FASCO personnel utilizing hand held radios huddling down reported the continuing ammo fire.

9)  1200 hrs- Supcom LOC called CPT Coleman (EOD CO).  Informed a 5 man EOD team was in Kuwait.  Supcom LOC reported this info to Task Force G-3.

(CG CARD #3-DTG:  11 1200C JUL)                                                                             ENTIRE 2 SQUADRON MOTOR POOL HAS BEEN AFFECTED BY THE FIRE.  35-40 VEHICLES ON FIRE, TO INCLUDE ENTIRE HOW BATTERY.  HOW BATTERY HAS 155 AMMO UPLOADED.  DEPLETED URANIUM ROUNDS ARE GOING OFF.  4 INJURIES 1 SERIOUS, 3 NOT SERIOUS.  ORIGINAL REPORT THEY HAD NOT EVAC'D THE SOUTHERN COMPOUND.  1111211C  LTC WARE ESTABLISHED RADIO CONTACT WITH THE REGT'AL S-3, AND THEY ARE EVACUATING THE SOUTHERN COMPOUND.  111220C  EVAC'D ALL BUT THE REGT'AL OPERATIONS CENTER.  MG BACK HAS BEEN APPOINTED AS THE 15-6 OFFICER       

10)  1206 hrs-  Supcom LOC confirmed MEDEVEC C-130 on ground in Kuwait.  Told the C-130 to hold in place in case their were any causalities.  Informed in 2 hours (1400hrs) we would exceed the crew rest limits.

11)  1208 hrs-  Task Force G-3 (MSG Wiggins) notified Supcom LOC no MEDEVAC aircraft.  Reported 1 casualty evac'd to 912th Hospital; 2 wounded and treated on site.

12)  1213 hrs-  Supcom LOC notified NOTAM thru LTC Kersley.

13)  1213 hrs-  G-3 notified and tasked CEGSWA to be prepared to provide Squadron's worth of equipment and ammo.

14)  1213 hrs-  FASCO notified Supcom LOC that 2nd Squadron, 11th ACR had lost: 1 Howitzer Battery (8) guns) with all FASV's with it; 1 Tank Company (14); and all of it's wheeled vehicles.  Fire reported to be moving into 111th area.  FASCO operations were on fire.  1 soldier evac'd to Kuwait hospital by wheeled vehicle.  Many soldiers had superficial injuries.  Informed "Depleted Uranium" rounds were beginning to cook off.

15)  1220 hrs-  Supcom LOC lost communications with FASCO.

16)  1222 hrs-  MAJ Buhes, 6th SIG BN, reported to Supcom LOC the satellite dish was down in Doha due to rounds going off.

17)  1224 hrs-  MEDEVAC C-130 picked-up patients in KKMC.  Told we needed an update every two hrs.  No problems with C-130 crew rest.

NOTE:  G-3 Instructions to Supcom LOC:  Stay open, receive input, & LOG it in.  All external reports dealing with fire will go through COL Burnette to include 3x5's.  Refer all outside queries to COL Burnette.  Keep C-130 on alert.  Get EOD CDR & 1SGT up there on a helicopter.

(Log entries 18-31 unavaliable)

(CG CARD #9, DTG:  11 1430 C JUL)                                                                         11ACR WILL TRANSPORT EOD TEAM VIA UH-60 FROM DHAHRAN TO KUWAIT CITY INT'L AIRPORT.  FASCO REPORTS THAT AS OF 1427C THE SITUATION IS BEING BROUGHT UNDER CONTROL AS EXPLOSIONS APPEAR TO HAVE STOPPED.  FIRES ARE STILL BURNING.  THE UNITS ARE CURRENTLY DETERMINING STATUS OF PERSONNEL.  FASCO HAS 100% PERSONNEL ACCCOUNTABILITY.

(DCG CARD #10,  DTG:  11 1430 C JUL)                                                                     EOD POC STATES THAT BURNING DEPLETED URANIUM PUTS OFF ALPHA RADIATION.  URANIUM PARTICLES WHEN BREATHED CAN BE HAZARDOUS.  11ACR HAS BEEN NOTIFIED TO TREAT THE AREA AS THOUGH IT WERE A CHEMICAL HAZARD;  i.e. STAY UPWIND AND WEAR PROTECTIVE MASK IN THE VICINITY.

32)  1450 hrs- ARCENT G-3 called for Chemical Officer to do Downwind Predictions because of DU rounds.  Message past to CPT Jenkins, FASCO.

33)  1455 hrs-  Supcom LOC fonecon with American Embassy:  - No confirmation on aircraft but suspect it is luxary.  Fuel standing by at airport.   MOI has offered 2 schools in case we need to evacuate the area, coordinating with COL Burnette. 17 injured; 5 MEDEVAC as of 1315 hrs. Class I Vehicles on north side of  South Compound Wall are trying to be moved to get parishables (ICE) out of the area.  EOD in South Compound trying to salvage.  Place to eat and sleep are priority.   Last explosion took place at 1435 hrs.

34)  1456 hrs- G-3 notified LTC Smith, FASCO, to start an "Alpha" Damage Assessment, and figure out out total complacent area to be cordoned off.  Additional, G-3 queried Airforce on "What if the lift capability of the MEDEVAC C-130?" (Airforce's reply is: 24 littere, 40 ambulatory, which equates to 64 personnel.)

35)  1508 hrs- Supcom office informed LOC no reason to hold aircraft from a Medical perspective.

36)  1511 hrs- NLOC called and reported that CEGSEW has 11 M1's and 20 M2's available for replacement at this time.  Additional info will follow.

37)  1512 hrs- G-3 called LTC Smith, NLOC, advised "We are ready to release aircraft.  Any reason not too?"

38)  1513 hrs- Received report from CDR of 593rd (COL Ritter) 50 patients in the hospital.  He received info from DRAO.

39)  1520 hrs-  FASCO (CPT Taylor) told Supcom LOC to release the C-130.

40)  1520 hrs- Regiment reports 17 injuries (of those 17, 5 Evac'd, 3 critical). Unconfirmed reports from DRAO 50 hospitalized.  Supcom LOC passed this info to Supcom Surgeon Office and told them to confirm these numbers.

(DCG CARD#11, DTG: 11 1532c JUL)                                                                           INMARSAT COMMUNICATION EQUIPMENT DEPARTED WITH EOD TEAM ON UH-60.  11161  11 ACR S-3 REPORTED THAT 50 PERSONNEL WITH INJURIES WERE SENT TO HOSPITALS. 2 ARE SERIOUS.

41)  1535 hrs-  MAJ Sumner, Supcom Surgeon Office, called reporting that 21st EVAC called 85th on number of injuries;  40 injured & 2 hospitalized at 1230 hrs.  Will check with 85th on DRAO number.

42)  1548 hrs-  Regiment reports they have no capability to do "Airborne" monitoring.  Will check to see if they have any ANPDR-27's.  Supcom LOC initiating actions to locate "Airborne" capability.

43)  1550 hrs- Received word from MAJ Sumnor, Supcom Surgeon Office, injury status: 49 injured total; 45 are minimum to intermidate, 4 are immediate (1 head injury, 1 multi-injury).  Doha hospital equipment at C4 rating (operating room, x-ray, lab all damaged).  Hospital inoperable.  Warehouse with air condition & power will be used.  100% of hospital personnel accounted for.  AL SHULA & AL RASHI (civilian hospitals) have physcians.

44)  1630 hrs- Supcom LOC received report from COL Martiney; Has a team with equipment to conduct downwind monitoring for "Alpha" radiation.  Will report to LOC for transportation.

-AMC CMD has DU recovery capability.  May want to call them if we have tanks that have burned w/rounds.  Clean-up crews will give them a heads-up.

45) 1635 hrs-  LTC Harrold coordinated with Supcom Surgeon for 400 Surgical gloves, to be dropped off at the LOC and be given to MAJ King, ACSLOG.  Gloves to be used for protection while doing follow-up investigations at Doha.

46)  1635 hrs-  Received report from MAJ Sumner, Out of 49 injuries, have 34 admissions (4 critical/seriously injured).  Will probably have more admissions.  Update every 2 hours.

-  Supcom LOC notified of the designated ivestigation staff which will depart at 1900 hrs on a C-12(#133).  Staff consists of 2 AMC personnel, 1 ENG officer, 1 Ammo officer, 1 TRANS officer, 1 JAG officer, and 2 clerks.

47)  1645 hrs- Notified by FASCO CG wants Class IV push 2ea S&P's of 2x4's, 4x4's, and plywood also cold soda's, watermelons in reefer vans.  Supcom LOC notified ACSSVS & coordination with ACSMAT & 1st ASG.

(Log entries 48-53 unavaliable)

54)  1823 hrs- Supcom LOC received word a 20ft Reefer Van with cold soda's will arrive at Doha by 0700 hrs, 12 July 91.  All out of watermelons.

55)  1850 hrs- ACSMAT notofied Supcom LOC that safety team from the safety center at Ft. Rucker will leave CONUS in 24 hrs to help with Safety Issues.

56)  1930 hrs-  Bill Shirley (Supcom Safety Officer) came into LOC wanted to know who is conducting Safety Investigation.  Wanted to keep news of "Radiation" out of press.

57)  1950 hrs-  LT O'Neal (VII CORPS) called and reported available equipment. Wanted to know who is inquiring.  Equipments #'s are: Out of 44 M109's, 38 are available Out of 26 FASV's, 20 are available - 577's and remaining equipment no good #'s as of 1930 hrs.

58)  1950 hrs-  G-3 informed Supcom LOC that BG Goodbary is calling COL Burnette every hour to pass on the latest SITREP on the Doha fire.

59)  1950 hrs-  LT Diaz, Host Nation Suport, called Supcom LOC stated the SODA Truck with watermelons will be put on the road in 2 hours.

60)  2015 hrs-  LOC contacted LTC Palmer, Supcom Safety Officer concerning safety team from Ft. Rucker.  Safety Team is already enroute to Dhahran International Airport with an ETA of tomorrow afternoon.  LTC Palmer will call the Safety Center and get specific information to coordinate the reception and onward movement of the team to Doha.

61)  2020 hrs- 85 evac reports nothing significant to report.  Medical group all accounted for, no change in casualty figure, no report until 120600JUL91.

62)  2020 hrs-  KKMC got a positive report that all AMC personnel are accounted for.

63)  2025 hrs-  KKMC reports that CEGSWA can provide 19 M1's and 20 Bradleys immediately, ,and 8 109's and 8 FASVs by 13 JUL.

64)  2030 hrs-  MAJ Kern reported that approximately 1915C hrs 1 M1A1 tank expolded.  Source of information was BG Goodbary's Aide.

65)  2035 hrs-  MAJ Kern reported as of 1900C accountability is as follows:  2/11 ACR 100% accounted for, TF Victory HQ 100% accounted for, FASCO all accounted for less two soldiers; SGT Bradford- PAO last known to be going to DRAO, SGT Wilson- health inspector probably off DOHA compound at the time of the explosion.

Soldier's running for cover from the fire and explosions at Camp Doha on July 11, 1991.  Photographer Unknown 

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Notes (!) (2) (3) DEPLETED URANIUM CASE NARRATIVE 3rd Edition; A JOINT PROJECT OF STP,NGWRC, AND MTP printed page. 137 (5. paragraphs 2-4) Please note; viewing requires Adobe Acrobat Reader

Note (4) Gulf Link Web Site End Notes (22d SUPCOM Logs; Camp Doha Fire)

*Entries 19 - 31 **Entries 48 - 53 along with all of the available 22 SUPCOM LOG's can be found by following this Link: 22nd SUPCOM Logs on Camp Doha Fire Please note; viewing requires Adobe Acrobat Reader