Col. Terry K. Lindsey's story

Houston, TX

I attended the University of Houston in 1980 where I was contracted into the Army ROTC program for one year. The following year I transferred to Prairie View A&M University where i received my commission as a second lieutenant. I trained to be an aviation pilot during the school years, but when it was time to go to Officers Basic Course(OBC) in August 1986, the Army advised me that I was scheduled to go to the signal basic course at Fort Gordon and not aviations. What a big disappointment in life. I completed OBC and Ranger preparatory training at the same time and was later enrolled into the Army Master's TOC computer program. I was later dis-enrolled by Bn Cmdr in Panama because they were short on signal officers. En route I attended Airborne school. I arrived in Panama and was assigned with my platoon. About 30 days later that same Bn Cmdr sent me to an light Airborne infantry battalion. I was screwed by this prejudiced officer who had sent all African-Americans assigned to that unit down range. So if they survived, they could come back. Why on earth he pulled me from my master's course to be jerked around. I was alieutenant in a captain's position on the battalion staff as the Bn S-6. It worked out fine and I learned a lot as a supervisor, leader and soldier. During this assignment Gen. Noriega had used Cuban soldiers to infiltrate U.S. bases, where we were alerted and prepared for battle. Several Marines were killed in the skirmish at the fuel depot they guarding. And on Howard AFB, a group of militants (Cubans) were pinned downed with Apache helicopters. The Pentagon directed traffic from Washington over ruling Garison Cmdr Gen. Loeffkee who was on the ground and had eyes on the target. He was told that there might be friendlies in the area at 3 a.m. in the middle of a coonnie grass area along the beach side; go figure. More to this another time. Later I transferred to a strategic communication signal brigade unit that dealt with information technology for all the forces stationed in Panama. During this assignment, Mr, Bush senior decided to go to war with Noriega. Panama already had about 30,000 soldiers, airmen, Marines and Navy folks there. So why on earth did they need to deploy the rest of the armed forces to this little country about the size of New Jersey? (101st, 82nd, special forces, navy seals, airforce, 10th mountain, 1st AD,Cav, etc...) I could have picked up the general. He lived around the corner from me in a San Francisco neighborhood. They knew his every movement up until it was time to execute the mission; how odd. During the buildup of troops there were two coup attempts on Noriega within his command that could have been successful if the U.S. had acted timely. The CINC was relieved and replaced with Gen. Mad Max. The restriction level was PML Delta, meaning no hanging out downtown, especially restricted areas, and curfew was in force. It just so happened that some new Navy sailors who were newly deployed were in the French Quarters (disco, gambling, prostitution, etc...), a very restricted area, at 3-4 a.m. They got lost on the way back to the base and ended up facing a Panamanian checkpoint and decided to turn around and escape and disregard the directives from the police defense forces. Their rules of engagement were to fire at any subject fleeing from the scene. They did not know they were American militants. So, Mr. Bush senior had the ammunition to go to the American people to say Noriega is shooting and killing Americans. The war is on...Operation Just Cause. My first war. Part 1.

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