18 Apr 1969 to 1 Mar 1991
Tony Kidd “talked his best friend, Dave Creps, into signing up to join the Army with him after their graduation from Lima Senior in 1988. The recruiter told the two they’d be in a program in which they could go through basic training together and be stationed together. “But that never happened,” says Creps. Tony was sent to basic at Fort Benning, Ga., and Creps to Fort Dix, N.J. It was an early lesson in Army promises.
Once in, Tony hoped to train for the Army Special Forces, spurred by the exciting images from recruiting videos: roping down from helicopters and jumping out of planes. But at 6-foot-2, he was rejected as being too tall for the helicopters. He next turned his sights on the Army airborne, but a sergeant talked him out of it, telling him that the shock of repeated landings tended to compress paratroopers’ spines.
“So then that’s when he decided to go into Bradleys,” his mother recalls.
Tony trained as an 11-Mike, the Army designation for an infantryman who rides into action in the back of a Bradley tracked infantry fighting vehicle and then dismounts to clear trenches and bunkers and deal with enemy foot soldiers. The Bradley in which he trained and served normally carries a crew of three — commander, gunner and driver — plus six dismounts. In addition to the dismounts’ personal weapons, the vehicle is armed with a 25mm Bushmaster chain gun that can fire up to 200 rounds per minute, a TOW missile launcher and a 7.62mm machine-gun.
He was stationed with the Forward Brigade of the 2nd Armored Division, based at the Lucius D. Clay Kaserne in “a wide spot in the road” called Garlstedt in northern Germany. Within the brigade, Tony was assigned to B Company in the 1st Battalion of the 41st Infantry Regiment — Bravo 1/41 in Army shorthand. His sister Rebecca was already on the same base as the spouse of Michael Lee Rogers, a sergeant in the 2nd Armored. Mike had helped arrange for Tony to end up in Garlstedt because it was Tony’s first overseas assignment, and having family there would make it easier.
On Aug. 2, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded his southern neighbor, the tiny monarchy of Kuwait.
Months of sanctions and warnings followed, but when they failed to dislodge Iraq, preparations were made for offensive action. On Nov. 8, President George Bush announced the decision to send an additional 140,000 troops, doubling U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia. In Germany, the 2nd Armored Division (Forward) was alerted to prepare for deployment.
Tony had been scheduled to rotate stateside that month to Fort Riley, Kansas. But the deployment order froze everyone at their present assignment and automatically extended their enlistment to cover the duration of hostilities. The 2nd Armored geared up to go to war.
Tony was chosen as one of the troops sent to the German port of Bremerhaven to accompany the unit’s vehicles on the sea journey to the Gulf. The bulk of divisional personnel flew commercial or military airliners into Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
On Feb. 24, that attack was launched. The initial push from the south was so successful that the second phase, the “Hail Mary” maneuver to swing around and strike the Iraqis unexpectedly from the west, was pushed up by 15 hours. 1/41 was part of that left-hook punch. The following days and nights seemed to be nothing but forward movement in their vehicles, halting only for refueling.
The ground war was three days old when a faulty voltage regulator disabled the Bradley belonging to Bravo 1/41 commander Capt. Lee Wilson. The company’s advance ground to a halt. Wilson commandeered Lt. Mickey Williams’ B-26, the Bradley inside which Tony was radioman for the dismount squad.
The American armored wave moving ahead of 1/41 had shot up anything that showed up on their thermal sights. But bypassed Iraqi infantry dismounts and antitank teams with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) began popping up, trying to fire at the vulnerable rear decks of American vehicles. They were mowed down by the machine-guns of the tanks and Bradleys, but not without getting shots off.
The driver of Tony’s Bradley, Pfc. Dennis Skaggs, saw a burning object skip across in front of him, probably an Iraqi RPG round. Then something slammed the vehicle sideways and stopped it dead. In the turret, gunner Sgt. Joe Dienstag looked over to find Capt. Wilson gone, knocked from his seat. The dismounts in back were hollering to be let out. Skaggs, flash-burned, couldn’t get his hands to work the controls for the ramp. He and Dienstag jumped out, ran to the back and battered open the troop hatch in the ramp with a sledgehammer.
Smoke and shouting men poured out. Skaggs and Dienstag found Tony Kidd and pulled him out between them, but when they tried to set him down he began screaming. In the darkness, Dienstag ran his hands along the wounded man’s body until his fingers slid into wet warmth — both Tony’s feet had been sheared off at the shins by a tank round. His combat boots, with his feet still inside, were later discovered inside the wrecked Bradley. Skaggs, a trained combat lifesaver, tore strips from Tony’s uniform to improvise tourniquets.
Tony Kidd was wounded early on the morning of Feb. 27. Thirty hours later, a ceasefire went into effect. Tony died of his wounds March 1 in the KKMC Hospital, six weeks short of his 22nd birthday.”
Burial: Rockport Methodist Cemetery, Rockport, Allen County, Ohio