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Posted: 2/23/2002 7:11:19 AM EDT
Online at: [url]http://www.dallasnews.com/texasliving/stories/specialforces_24liv.Zone1.Edition1.bedec.html[url] Former Green Beret remembers action, brotherhood 02/24/2002 By DAVID TARRANT / The Dallas Morning News The Green Berets huddle in a dry irrigation ditch deep behind enemy lines in Iraq. They are monitoring Iraqi army troop movements and feeding the information back to military commanders. It is Feb. 21, 1991. In two days, a massive ground assault will be launched in the ultimate phase of the Persian Gulf War. In an incredible stroke of bad luck, a rifle-toting Bedouin shepherd and his herd cross through their position. The shepherd stares a moment at the Green Berets and then sprints away. Sgt. 1st Class Gary Seideman watches the retreating figure of the Bedouin, who he believes is part of the Iraqi National Guard, disappear over the sand dunes. He declares the mission compromised. GARY SEIDEMAN / Courtesy Gary Seideman shown during a 1996 operation in the Middle East. [img]http://a1416.g.akamai.net/f/1416/744/1d/www.dallasnews.com/texasliving/stories/M_IMAGE.ec2f02eb25.93.88.fa.7c.b6c604.jpg[/img] But their escape is quickly foiled. Within minutes, Iraqi soldiers attack. For the next six hours, the nine soldiers fight desperately to hold off a larger enemy force while waiting for a rescue. Eleven years later, Mr. Seideman stands in his Dallas office looking at a photo he took minutes before the Iraqi attack. The photo shows the tension on the faces of the soldiers. "It didn't look good. We didn't want to surrender. It would have been ugly," he says. He is 40 now - a civilian, a co-worker, a noncombatant. But there is an edgy preoccupation in his ice-blue eyes, as if he is listening for a call that would spring him from his chair and spirit him out of his office in a moment. A mustachioed minuteman awaiting his mission. He looks away from the photo and speaks with the bedrock resolve ingrained in his psyche after a career in the Special Forces. "So we made a decision not to surrender." Now in the spotlight They operate in stealth mode. Yet it is as if America has suddenly discovered them. The Special Forces - which include the Army's Green Berets and Delta Force, Navy SEALs and Air Force Special Operations - have taken the leading role in the U.S. war against terrorism that began last fall. The film Black Hawk Down about Army Rangers and Green Berets in a 1993 battle in Somalia is a huge draw at movie theaters. This month, a new Tom Clancy book, Shadow Warriors: Inside the Special Forces (Putnam: $29.95) is being released. The attention could help dispel worn-out myths about the Special Forces as a gang of incorrigible, one-man armies, says retired Gen. Carl Stiner, former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., and co-author of Shadow Warriors with Mr. Clancy. "This fable that they're all Rambos is the furthest from the truth. We do not accept Rambos nor accept anyone that is not absolutely stable in every respect," Mr. Stiner says.
Link Posted: 2/23/2002 7:17:15 AM EDT
The former commando, who would airdrop into problem areas without a second thought, now routinely crisscrosses the country as part of his job as a security consultant. One day, he calls from San Francisco, the next day from Washington, D.C. Sitting still for several hours to talk about his past is not his idea of a good time. But he acknowledges that many of the traits that helped him become a Green Beret were there in childhood. The middle of three children, he had a "difficult relationship" with his father, a man whom he described as "extremely overbearing and angry." But that relationship also gave him "an immunity to stress" - an adaptive trait suited to Special Forces, he said. Growing up in Utah, he had always relished high-risk challenges. From an early age, he was a mountaineer, hiking, rock climbing and ice climbing. He also skied, both cross-country and downhill. His favorite show was Mission: Impossible. "I was always imagining I was on missions when I was a boy." He attended the University of Utah but was bored by the traditional classroom environment. He enrolled in the Marines Platoon Leader Corps. Before long, he started a personal campaign to join Special Forces. After applying numerous times, he was invited to apply in 1981. He was just 20. Longtime friend and fellow Green Beret Mike Flick, who was with Mr. Seideman during the aborted mission in Iraq, says the mystique of the Green Berets was a very strong attraction to many candidates. "That's John Wayne. That's way out there. And there was something different," Mr. Flick says. "You were part of a team. You had that camaraderie. Once you get into that team mode and go through trials and tribulations with other guys, you make lasting friendships." At graduation ceremonies at Fort Bragg, N.C., the headquarters for the Green Berets, his family was not there to share the moment. "My mother was scared to death that I was in Special Forces. My father and I were not on the best of terms." It didn't matter. He felt "total elation that I actually had made it." Action in Iraq Army Black Hawk helicopters took Sgt. 1st Class Seideman and eight other Green Berets inside the Iraqi border during the Persian Gulf War. They had marched for a day with their 100-pound rucksacks north of the Euphrates River. The troops had been in place a few days when the Bedouin shepherd discovered them. Sgt. 1st Class Seideman knew the mission had to be aborted. A radio call brought F-16s, which dropped cluster bombs around their perimeter to form a protection zone. However, a daylight rescue with Black Hawk helicopters was considered too risky. They would have to wait for the cover of night. But it was only 8 a.m. "We made every shot count," Mr. Seideman says. "We were doing well. Special Forces guys are taught to carry on." After just six hours, help arrived in the form of two Black Hawks. "The prettiest thing in the world was seeing those Black Hawks coming right at ground level over the sand dunes," he says. The soldiers threw themselves into the helicopters as gunfire popped around them; they took off for an air base in Saudi Arabia. "We're looking at each other. Our shirts are sweated. There are bullet holes in the helicopter. But nobody's hurt, nobody's shot," Mr. Seideman recalls. "So then we said, 'Let's go eat.' " -- continued --
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