2004 Good Friday ambush

The 2004 Good Friday ambush was an attack by Iraqi insurgents on April 9, 2004 during the Iraq War on a convoy of U.S. supply trucks during the Battle of Baghdad International Airport. It happened in the midst of the Iraq spring fighting of 2004, which saw intensified clashes throughout the country.

2004 Good Friday ambush
Part of the Iraq War

Keith Matthew Maupin, a U.S. Army soldier who was captured in the attack and later executed.[1]
DateApril 9, 2004; 19 years ago (2004-04-09)
Result Insurgent & Mahdi Army victory

 United States

Mujahideen Shura
Organization of Monotheism and Jihad
Mahdi Army
Casualties and losses
8 killed
16 wounded
1 missing
2 captured (1 executed)
Unknown if any

History edit

On April 5, 2004, Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for a jihad against coalition forces and Thursday night, April 8, his Mahdi Militia dropped[clarification needed] eight bridges and over-spans around Camp Scania, thus severing the northbound traffic into the Sunni Triangle. He was hoping to starve the 1st Cavalry Division of fuel and ammunition. Consequently, the 724th Transportation Company was tasked to haul fuel to the north gate of Baghdad Airport from Camp Anaconda, 60 miles away the next morning - Good Friday and the first anniversary of the U.S. capture of Baghdad. Unknown to the truck drivers, elements of the 1st Cavalry Division had pushed militants into the suburbs of Abu Graib, through which the convoy had to travel. Up until this time, the convoy ambushes consisted of four or five insurgents firing on passing convoys with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms. The reaction to enemy contact at time was to return fire and clear the area.[2]

That morning, five vehicles of the 724th armed with crew-served weapons escorted a convoy of 17 fuel trucks and two bobtail tractors operated by U.S. defense contractor KBR. Enroute, the convoy ran through a well planned, large scale ambush that included improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms, believed to be from one or more of al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Badr Organization, and the Mahdi Army. Convoy commander Lieutenant Matthew Brown was wounded in the head and blacked out, leaving his driver, Private First Class Jeremy Church, to lead the convoy to safety. The attack damaged or destroyed numerous convoy vehicles and those that made the turn on the overpass drove through the mob of insurgents that had been driven into the neighborhood the day before. Church reached the safety of a dairy factory where a company of tanks waited. He then led a rescue of the stranded trucks and remained in the ambush area when the Humvee he was riding in was full of wounded. Tanks drove the length of the area while scout vehicles recovered Church and Specialist Patrick Pelz. Five civilian contractors and one U.S. Army soldier were killed. PFC Gregory R. Goodrich was killed by small arms fire during an intense firefight for which he received the Bronze Star. Twelve soldiers and four KBR drivers were wounded. Three civilian contractors, Thomas Hamill, Timothy Bell and William Bradley, and U.S. Army soldiers Sergeant Elmer Krause and Private First Class Keith Matthew Maupin, disappeared. Hamill escaped from his captors and was recovered by U.S. forces 27 days later. Bradley's body was recovered in January 2005. Krause's body was recovered on April 23 and Maupin was held captive for an undetermined time before being murdered.[3]

Aftermath edit

On Good Friday, the Iraqi insurgents ambushed every convoy that tried to drive in or out of the Baghdad Airport. The ambush of the 724th Transportation Company was the worst convoy ambush of the entire war. No other transportation company suffered as many casualties in one ambush. That Easter weekend was a turning point in the war in Iraq for convoy ambushes. For the next year the insurgents would spar with the truck drivers for control of the road. As vehicle armor improved along with convoy tactics, the insurgents suffered heavy casualties during the Palm Sunday Ambush on March 20, 2005, which inspired them to resort more to improvised explosive devices as weapon of choice.[4] Maupin's fate remained unknown until 2008, when his remains were found.[5] Timothy Bell remains missing and is presumed dead.[6]

Private First Class Jeremy Church was the first truck driver and Army Reserve soldier to receive the Silver Star Medal since the Vietnam War.[7]

After the ambush, several hundred KBR drivers quit and flew home, forcing the 13th Corps Support Command to find licensed military drivers to drive the tankers. Many of those KBR drivers who remained would continue driving for several more years. KBR then renegotiated its contract with the military standardizing the minimum requirement for convoy escort.[8]

Family members of two of the wounded and one of the killed civilians later sued KBR, charging that the company had knowingly placed its employees in a battle zone in spite of promises not to do so. Six other families of KBR drivers killed in Iraq later joined the suit. In April 2009, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller ruled that the plaintiffs could continue their suit against KBR and allowed KBR to include Iraqi insurgent forces in the case. The court ruled that the U.S. Army was not liable. KBR appealed the ruling.[9] KBR has asked retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez to testify on the company's behalf.[10]

In early 2010, KBR notified the U.S. Army that it would bill the U.S. government for any damages awards or legal expenses it incurred in relation to contract work it did in Iraq. In December 2011, KBR settled out-of-court with one of the injured drivers, Reginald Cecil Lane, for an undisclosed amount.[11]

One of the contractors, Steven Fisher, a native of Brooklyn, New York who lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia, was killed as a result of the attack. He was carried by other contractors he worked with and bled to death in the entrance of the Baghdad International Airport from three gunshot wounds. He was 43 years old and a father of three children.

With fuel transportation operations significantly compromised as a result of this ambush, the 454th Transportation Company was dispatched from FOB Speicher (Tikrit) to sustain the Central Iraq fuel supplies. The unit sustained six days of combat under extremely stressful conditions. After delivering their first fuel load of approximately 300k gallons of JP8 from FOB Speicher to BIAP, the unit was required to load fuel from a retail fuel location requiring 24+ hour load times at CSC Scania. This was repeated over six days until ordered to return home by the 13th COSCOM. Without this emergency fuel mission and the unit's ability to adapt, Central Iraq operations would have ground to a halt and the Mahdi Militia would have accomplished their original mission.

Legacy edit

Staff Sergeant Matt Maupin Memorial Freeway

Maupin was the first U.S. soldier to be missing in action during the Iraq War. After his death was confirmed in 2008, Interstate 275 in his native Clermont County, Ohio was officially renamed Staff Sergeant Matt Maupin Memorial Freeway.

See also edit

Further reading edit

  • Thompson, Mark (2005-02-14). "Where is Matt Maupin". Time. Time Inc. Archived from the original on February 18, 2005.
  • "Kidnapped U.S. contractor found safe". CNN.com. Atlanta, Georgia: CNN. 2004-05-02.
  • Jon T. Hoffman, ed. (2009). Tip of the Spear (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History United States Army. pp. 39–63. ISBN 9781591144984.
  • Donald P. Wright; Timothy R. Reese (2008). The United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom, May 2003-January 2005: On Point II: Transition to the New Campaign. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. pp. 506–508. ISBN 9780160872433.
  • Convoy Ambush Case Studies Volume II, Iraq and Afghanistan, Richard E. Killblane, United States Army Transportation School, 2015

References edit

  2. ^ Richard E. Killblane, Chapter 2, "Good Friday Ambush, Abu Graib - 9 April 2004," Jon Hoffman (editor), Tip of the Spear, Center of Military History, 2009.
  3. ^ Killblane, Richard E. (2015). Convoy Ambush Case Studies, Volume II: Iraq and Afghanistan (PDF) (Second ed.). Fort Lee, Virginia: US Army Transportation School. p. 58. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  4. ^ Richard E. Killblane, Convoy Ambush Case Studies Volume II, Iraq and Afghanistan, Transportation School, 2015.
  5. ^ "Body found of Ohio soldier missing in Iraq". CNN.com. Cable News Network (CNN). March 3, 2008. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  6. ^ Taloney, Jessica (April 8, 2011). "Memorial Service For Contractor Missing In Iraq". wkrg.com. Archived from the original on 2015-05-22. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  7. ^ SPC Jeremy Church, Our Military Heroes.http://ourmilitaryheroes.defense.gov/profiles/churchj.html
  8. ^ Richard E. Killblane, Road Warriors, Transportation School.
  9. ^ Flood, Mary, "KBR Aware Convoy In Harm's Way: Civilian plaintiffs claim e-mail shows firm valued profit above life", Houston Chronicle, November 19, 2009, p. 1.
  10. ^ Flood, Mary, "Ex-Commander In Iraq To Give Deposition In KBR Case", Houston Chronicle, March 4, 2010.
  11. ^ Fisk, Margaret Cronin, and Laurel Brubaker Calkins, Bloomberg L.P., 10 January 2012.

External links edit

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