Jason D. Brown
U.S. Army / Silver Star
With his Green Berets in a kill zone, he fired Javelin missiles that took out an Iraqi column
During an early April morning in 2003, not long after the start of the invasion of Iraq, the 22 Green Berets of the 3rd Special Forces and their Peshmerga (Kurdish) allies were surprised by the appearance of an Iraqi armored column.
A B-52 strike on the area the night before had caused most of the Iraqi soldiers to defect, a captured officer had told them. And as the sun rose the following day, the Army unit had taken control of a critical crossroads, without a fight, on the highway linking Kurdistan’s northern oilfields to the important city of Mosul.
The Green Berets had spotted the Iraqi armored column — six T-55 tanks, Soviet-style armored personnel carriers and trucks carrying soldiers — in the distance, but initially there had been no cause for alarm. The tanks had their turrets turned around, with their main guns pointing aft, in surrender mode.
Suddenly, though, the tanks swung their turrets around, opened fire and began racing toward them. Artillery fire was landing increasingly close to their position.
Staff Sgt. Jason Brown and his fellow Green Berets were in a kill zone. Their heavily modified Humvees were stuffed with ammunition and either a .50-caliber heavy machine gun or a Mark-19 rocket grenade launcher in the ring mount. That, however, was no match for the advancing force.
Brown, a weapons expert, quickly fired his Javelin, a shoulder-fired anti-tank missile, and hit one of the trucks. But the Iraqi column kept coming, and mortar shells and fire from a ZSU anti-aircraft gun burst overhead.
Brown was unable to reset his Javelin to quickly fire another, and the Iraqis were now less than a mile away. The Green Berets pulled back about 1,000 meters to a position known as Press Hill.
“We’d decided that we wouldn’t be driven off the hill,” Brown recalled.
As the battle intensified, Brown and his fellow operators started filling the morning air with Javelins.
Aiming for the troop carriers, Brown was quickly three-for-three, and “as we’d hit the trucks and their troops would spill out, our .50-cals and Mark-19s were just ripping them up.”
But the Iraqi artillery and airbursts continued. They were firing from miles away, and the Green Berets had no forward observers out to call in their own firepower.
Still, the Javelin onslaught and non-stop .50-caliber and Mark-19 fire finally halted the Iraqi advance.
“The Iraqis could see their trucks being taken out all around them,” Brown explained, “but they couldn’t find us to win it.”
The Iraqi tanks pulled off the road some 800 yards away from Press Hill and began firing from behind embankments where the Javelins couldn’t reach them.
It no longer mattered. Brown, the Army’s first Javelin “ace,” and his Green Berets had scored 19 hits with 22 missiles. And they’d torn the heart out of the Iraqi armored advance in what came to be known as the Battle of Debecka Pass.
Andrew Lubin is a freelance writer from Pennsylvania who has embedded with the Marine Corps in Iraq; Afghanistan; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Beirut, Lebanon. He is the author of “Charlie Battery: A Marine Artillery Unit in Iraq.”
Jason D. Brown
U.S. Army / Silver Star
Born June 9, 1973, in Bartlesville, Okla.
Divorced, father of Dylan and Kayla
Signed his enlistment papers in April 1991. Was deployed to Iraq in February 2003.
Was a staff sergeant at the time of the citation, now is a master sergeant.
Was assigned to, and remains in, 3rd Special Forces.
Since his 2003 tour in Iraq, he has done two tours in Afghanistan and another in Iraq, primarily in a training mode.
WHAT HE DID
With uncanny accuracy, he fired off Javelin anti-tank missiles to stop the advance of a heavily armored Iraqi column during a key battle in the early days of the war.
WHERE HE IS NOW
A career soldier, he is stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., in the 3rd Special Forces.
WHY HE JOINED THE ARMY
“I wanted to see the world outside of Oklahoma.”
Iraq / Debecka