01 Mar 2004
David Bull Gurfein: Bronze Star citationTopics:
Summary Action: Major David Gurfein, while serving as Officer-in-Charge, Task Force Bold Eagle Bravo, I Marine Expeditionary Force, 20 March 2003, performed his duties in a professional and heroic manner.
Task Force Bold Eagle Bravo was responsible for coordinating and confirming that all obstacles were reduced in those designated lanes that were to be used in I MEFs two-division assault into Iraq. The reinforced obstacles included two 4m x 4m berms, two 4m x 4m tank ditches, two chainlink fences 2m high, and a six strand electrified (7000 volt, 7 amp) concertina wire fence that spanned I MEFs entire 56 mile frontage. These obstacles were positioned at distances from between 20-meters to 5-kilometers from the Kuwait/Iraq Border. The area where this action took place was the vicinity of Safwan town and where the distance from the berm to Iraqi territory was less than 500 meters.
After supervising and confirming the successful breaching of a preponderance of the obstacles, Major Gurfein was directed to drastically modify the systematic schedule of obstacle reduction in order to support I MEFs accelerated time line for crossing the line of departure. I MEFs timeline for attack had been moved forward by 48 hours. As such, Major Gurfein was tasked to support Regimental Combat Team (RCT) 7s rapid assault north by immediately ensuring that the final obstacles, along the Iraqi border, in the lanes that 7th Marines were to use, F23 (38 R QU 624327) and F24 (38 R QU 627324) were reduced.
Major Gurfein maneuvered to the breach sites in a soft-skin command HMMWV and as soon as his Task Force commenced work, he came under sustained indirect 82mm mortar fire and sporadic direct small arms fire. As daylight was quickly fading and the fire on his position intensified Major Gurfein rapidly made the decision to pull back to the south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to regroup his task force and try to find additional forces to increase his fire power and make another attempt at breaching under the cover of darkness.
Earlier, Major Gurfein received intelligence reports that there were potentially dozens of T-72 tanks and associated forces just north of the berm that his task force was trying to breach. These reports fit the scenario from the previous days that had elements of an Iraqi Division unlocated and possibly moving south towards the Al Faw peninsula. After assessing the situation, Major Gurfein quickly used superb initiative and coordinated with Regimental Combat Team (RCT) 7 to attach a tank platoon from 1st Tank Battalion in order to take advantage of both their firepower and their night optics. Major Gurfein quickly coordinated a link-up with the tank platoon, issued a quick five paragraph order and then re-attacked at the breach site as the sun was setting. Overcoming the friction of the battlefield with all the changing variables of the approaching darkness and new elements attached to his task force, Major Gurfein efficiently lead his new team back through the DMZ to the two key breach sites.
As Major Gurfein lead the Task Force toward the final objective, he again received indirect fire from Iraqi 82mm mortars and direct fire from Iraqi small arms. Once his Task Force reached the berm, Major Gurfein, exited the vehicle under limited visibility, exposing himself to enemy fire, while calmly directing the placement of breach markers, coordinated the over watch of an attached M1A1 tank platoon, and directed the establishment of a hasty perimeter on the berm to protect the Kuwati civilian bulldozer while it cut the final breach lanes breach lanes.
Major Gurfein continued to personally direct the breaching actions as enemy activity markedly increased to his front. As enemy indirect fire was being walked down the berm towards his position, the enemy then came under both rocket and 20mm machinegun fire from a sortie of Cobras. The Cobras were working from a position to the southwest of where Major Gurfein was directing the breaching effort. This breach site was directly in front of the Iraqi town of Safwan, key to I MEFs rapid advance into Iraq, and the key oil infrastructure located in the south Rumaliyah oil fields. The Cobras engaged the enemy north of the berm for several minutes until one of the aircraft mistakenly fired a HELLFIRE missile that hit one of the M1A1 tanks located only seventy meters from Major Gurfein. The civilian bulldozer operator seeing the explosion and burning tank, leapt from his dozer and began running away. Major Gurfein, realizing his mission of breaching the berm would fail without the dozer operator, sprang to his feet, chased down the shaken operator and physically brought him back to his bulldozer. Major Gurfein then convinced the operator to continue breaching operations by climbing onto the vehicle and placing himself in front of the dozer operator and thus protecting the operator with his own life until the breach was complete.
Major Gurfeins bold and decisive actions directly lead to the successful breaching of key lanes in the border obstacles that were critical to the successful attack of I MEF into Iraq and the seizure of the key South Rumaliyah oil fields. His actions reflected great credit upon himself and were keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Recommended Citation: For heroic achievement in connection with combat operations against the enemy as Officer-in- Charge, Task Force Bold Eagle Bravo, I Marine Expeditionary Force on 20 March 2003. While under sustained indirect mortar fire and sporadic small arms fire, in conditions of limited visibility, Major Gurfein led his Task Force toward the final breaching sites in support of I Marine Expeditionary Forces two division attack north against Saddam Husseins regime, ensuring the final berm on the Iraq border was breached during the critical pre-attack hours. Upon reaching the last breach sites, with disregard for his own personal safety, Major Gurfein exposed himself to enemy fire where he calmly directed the placement of breach markers, coordinated the over watch of an attached M1A1 tank platoon, and directed the establishment of a hasty perimeter to protect the civilian Kuwati bulldozer while it cut the last breaches. During this time enemy activity markedly increased to Major Gurfeins front while at the same time enemy mortar fire was being walked down the berm towards his position. Without warning, the enemy opposite Major Gurfein came under fire from a sortie of Marine Cobra helicopters. The aircraft engaged the enemy north of the berm and launched a missile. The missile impacted, at which time a civilian bulldozer operator leapt from his vehicle and began running away. Major Gurfein, realizing his mission of breaching the berm was in jeopardy, sprang to his feet, chased down the shaken operator and physically brought him back. Major Gurfein then convinced the operator to continue breaching operations by climbing onto the bulldozer and placing himself in front of the dozer operator thus protecting the operator with his own life until the breach was complete.
Class of MBA 2000, Section D