Stories of Honor: Helena’s Andrew Person Served as a Paratrooper in Iraq and Afghanistan | Local

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Badge of the 173rd Airborne Brigade


“On March 26, 2003, Person and about 1,000 other paratroopers flew over northern Iraq and jumped from planes in an attempt to capture Bashur airfield,” according to an Independent Record article in 2005. .

The mission was twofold – not only to secure the northern region, but to show Turkish officials that the United States did not need to use this country to launch attacks and could just, almost magically, have troops in the field overnight.

“Nobody knew we were going to jump, or expected it, and then all of a sudden a thousand soldiers were on the ground,” Person told the IR.

Unlike the desert conditions of southern Iraq, Bashur is made up of rolling hills and farmland.

“One person said the plan was for the dispersed paratroopers to meet at a pre-designated site near a river,” the article said.

He and a handful of others walked for hours, through knee-deep mud in the fields, to get to the river to learn that everyone understood earlier that they should just stay close to the ‘aerodrome.

“So it’s 3 am and I have to turn around and go all the way back,” Person said. “It was a pretty sad story.”

Their next operations were artillery raids and attempted to push the enemy back out of the trench lines, so that the army could make what Person calls “a mad rush” to the key oil town of Kirkuk. By that time, less than two weeks after the start of the Iraqi invasion, 36 American soldiers and 23 British soldiers had been killed in the war.

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