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Impearls: When did they attack us?

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Earthdate 2004-03-17

When did they attack us?

Eleven months ago, after the successful conquest of Iraq by U.S.-led coalition forces and the collapse of Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime, Impearls published this piece on “When did they attack us?”  Today is the 17th anniversary of that murderous attack by an Iraqi jet on the American destroyer the U.S.S. Stark, as well as essentially the first anniversary of the start of the second Iraq war, and we commemorate these by republishing this story from 2003-04-30.

1987-03-17: USS Stark after strike by two Iraqi Exocet missiles

People anti the recent war in Iraq often voice the question “When did Iraq (or more personally, Saddam Hussein) ever attack us?” — clearly expecting that the answer is never.  Of course, American prisoners of war that Iraqis under Saddam Hussein mistreated during Gulf War I certainly ought to qualify in this regard (especially as there was never a peace accord at the end of that conflict), as should count all the allied aircraft who've been shot at ever since the first Gulf War while patrolling the (recently defunct) no-fly zones over Iraq.  Antiwar activists never seem to accept these cases, however, perhaps because they appear to believe the U.S. “provoked” Saddam in Gulf War I and ever since in the no-fly zones.

While cataloging all Iraq's attacks on America, however, one must not forget the strike by one of Saddam Hussein's Iraqi Mirage F-1 jet fighters (a product of France) on the destroyer the U.S.S. Stark on 1987-03-17 (March 17, 1987: 16 years almost to the day before the opening attack against Hussein by coalition forces in this latest war) which put two French-made Exocet missiles into the Stark, killing 35 American sailors along with two lost at sea.  See this site (search for “USS Stark”, select article 58, “The USS Stark Incident”) for a full description.

It's remarkable that between a quarter and a third as many Americans were killed in that one attack as in the whole recent Iraq war (Gulf War II).  I've never believed that Iraq's strike on the Stark was an accident.  Thus, when antiwar activists demand “When did they attack us?”, here's an answer.

It's worth noting, too, the response of Saudi Arabian ground controllers when requested by an observing U.S. AWACS radar plane to vector patrolling Saudi F-15s to intercept the maurauding Iraqi jet.  As the pointed-to article put it, “ground controllers at Dhahran airbase said they lacked the authority to embark on such a mission, and the Mirage was safely back in Iraqi airspace before approval could be obtained.”  Some things don't change.
 
 

UPDATE:  2003-05-13 00:07 UT:  Sgt. Stryker's CPO Sparkey e-mails:

I had a friend I met at college that was on the Stark, the fires go so hot that it melted the nylon underwear some to the bodies of some men who were wearing it.  Back then guys would wear nylon skivvies instead of cotton because it would last longer, and stay white (good for inspections).  The Navy banned nylon after the Stark.

UPDATE:  2004-03-17 12:44 UT:  After a second attempt failed to correct (and keep corrected) the link to the source article at The Eighties Club (they keep changing their article URLs), we're now just pointing to their home page and saying search for it.



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