Sep. 16, 1961 to Jan. 31, 1991
SSgt Mark J Schmauss was part “of a 16th Special Operations Squadron AC-130H Spectre gunship, with the call-sign ‘Spirit 03.'”
During the Battle of Khafji, a battle to stop Iraqi mechanized and armored divisions from moving south from Kuwait to cross the border into Saudi Arabia near a Saudi town named Khafji, three AC-130 Spectre gunships joined the battle to provide air-to-ground fire and close air support.
“As the last of the three AC-130s still on station early on the morning of January 31, and about to end its mission, Spirit 03 “received a call from the Marines – they needed an enemy missile battery destroyed. Despite the risk of anti-aircraft artillery fire, and the greater danger of the morning sun casting light on the circling gunship, the crew of ‘Spirit 03’ chose to remain and destroy the position requested.”
“Spirit 03” did what it had been asked to do, it destroyed the target designated by the Marines who were under fire, but that action came at a heavy cost.
An SA-7 “Grail” man-portable surface-to-air missile was fired by the Iraqis at the now […] visible AC-130 in the sky over Khafji.
“The missile found its target and at 0635 hours the aircraft sent out a “mayday” distress call and then crashed into the waters of the Persian Gulf,” according to SpecialOperations.com.
All 14 crewmembers were killed.
The loss of the crew of “Spirit 03″ was the largest single loss by any Air Force unit during Operation Desert Storm.”
Burial: Body lost at sea
Is remembered at: Row 9 Block 4 on The Gulf War Veterans Memorial
Schmauss was awarded the Silver Star