Operations of the 2d Marine Division

The 2d Marine Division attacked approximately 25 kilometers to the northwest of the 1st Marine Division (Figure 4). Under the original concept of operations, the 2d Marine Division intended to follow the 1st Marine Division through their breaching lanes. However, early analysis and walk-throughs convinced everyone that this plan would not allow the speed required for the operation nor would it minimize the exposure to enemy fire. Consequently, the 2d Marine Division’s orders were changed to allow it to attack at this separate location to breach the minefield more rapidly and to generate the maximum offensive operational momentum. In this way, the 2d Marine Division could apply concentrated forces at the decisive point of attack, and "to continue rapidly forward to seize division and MEF [Marine Expeditionary Force] objectives."[32]

NBC guidance for the 2d Marine Division was given to the commanders in various operation plans and written orders: it warned of the possibility of a chemical attack. For example, the 2d Marine Division Operation Plan for the breaching operations directed all subordinate units to "[a]ssume all Iraqi mines, missiles, artillery and aircraft attacks to be chemical until proven otherwise."[33] The Fox crews were well aware of their need to detect possible chemical agents from such an attack and warn the forces, but they were still under direction to maintain the tactical momentum through the minefields. As a result, "it was obvious ... from the very beginning ... that it would not be possible for any Fox under fire to stop and complete the entire testing/sampling process necessary to confirm any agent findings."[34]


Figure 4. 2d Marine Division Minefield Breaching


The Commanding General’s guidance to the 2d Marine Division, as reiterated in the 6th Marines Fragmentary Order, was:


The enemy has and will use chemical weapons. Unit commanders should expect to encounter the use of chemical weapons, but should not become consumed with chemical survival and ignore other important tasks, missions, etc. Expect a fair share of chemical casualties along with other conventional casualties. Remember, mission accomplishment is paramount, and risks must be taken if MOPP posture will prevent mission accomplishment. Let us not win the chemical survival battle and lose the tactical battle.[35]


The Marines of the 2d Division were briefed to expect chemical mines interspersed with regular mines. Company "B", 1st Armored Assault Battalion was attached to the 2d Assault Amphibian Battalion. The Commanding Officer of Company "B" recalled, "We were prepared to go to MOPP4"[36] (full mission protective posture that included wearing the protective mask, gloves, boots, and over-garment). As a result, the Marines in the 2d Marine Division, like their counterparts in the 1st, were primed to expect chemical attacks and well-trained to respond and fight through that eventuality.


Lane Red 1 Chemical Alert

A chemical agent alert was recounted in "U.S. Marines in the Persian Gulf, 1990-1991, With the Second Marine Division in Desert Shield and Desert Storm," published by the History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, and herein referred as "Second Division Monograph." This document is often referenced as proof of chemical agent use during the war. It mentions a chemical detection by a Fox reconnaissance vehicle on the first day of the ground war: "a Fox chemical reconnaissance vehicle at lane Red 1, detected a ‘trace’ of mustard gas, originally thought to be from a chemical mine."[37]


Corroborating Information

The 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment (1/6) was one of the maneuver elements of the 2d Marine Division and was the source for this report of chemical agents encountered during breaching operations.[38] The 1/6 was reinforced by Company "C", 8th Tank Battalion and Company "B" which was attached to the 1st Armored Assault Battalion, 2d Assault Amphibian Battalion. The reinforced battalion was assigned the far west flank with lane Red 1[39] as its breach lane through the Iraqi minefields. Additionally, there were to be two return lanes to enable equipment and personnel to be evacuated to the rear without interfering with the advance -- one lane to the left and one to the right of the six assault lanes.

As in the 1st Marine Division, personnel in the 2d Marine Division began breaching operations outfitted in MOPP2. The morning started with a light mist but cleared as the day progressed.[40] It was cold (cold enough that "nobody complained"[41] about traveling in MOPP2). The sun was obscured through most of the day by burning oil smoke. In fact, the burning oil wells were close enough to lane Red 1 that when navigation hardware failed, the 1/6 "B" Company Commanding Officer directed the driver to align on and steer toward the burning oil well that was only about 100 meters from the exit point of the breach lane.[42]

The 1/6 had a Fox vehicle assigned in direct support. This Fox reconnaissance vehicle joined the 1/6 on February 17, 1991, just one week prior to the actual attack.[43] As the 1/6 Fox reconnaissance vehicle crossed the first minefield, its MM-1 operator was observing little activity on his screen. About halfway across the minefield, the MM-1 alerted to the possible presence of chemicals, so the Fox reconnaissance vehicle Commander, MSgt (then GySgt) Michael Bradford, announced "gas, gas, gas" over the battalion communications net and filed an NBC-4 report for suspected contamination. The 6th Marines Regimental listing of significant events reflects an initial report at 0631 hours followed at 0635 hours with identification of the suspected chemical agents as "Sarin nerve agent and Lewisite mustard [sic] gas."[44] The 1st Platoon Commanding Officer of "B" company, 1st Assault Amphibian Battalion placed the time at approximately 0630 hours and remembered the Fox reported traces of both non-persistent nerve agents and persistent blister agents.[45] The 1/6 NBC officer recorded the event at 0634[46] hours while the 2d Marine Division NBC platoon at the combat operations center recorded the report as an NBC-1 (thus changing the reconnaissance report to an attack report) at 0658 hours.

At 1150 hours, 2d Marine Division sent NBC-1 messages to I MEF.[47] This report was relayed by many units. For example, the 7th Marines in the 1st Marine Division recorded the event at 0714 hours[48] and even the XVIII Airborne (ABN) Corps Main far west of the Marines was informed of the incident by the XVIII ABN Corps Rear at 0955 hours.[49] Based on the warning from the 1/6 Fox vehicle, personnel of the 1/6 in lane Red 1 donned their chemical protective masks and gloves (MOPP 4). Although these reports are well-documented, the possible source of the suspected chemical agent is not established. NBC officers in other breach lanes evaluated the wind (blowing away from their breach lanes) and recommended that increasing MOPP level for their personnel was not warranted.[50]


Possible Chemical Land Mine

MSgt Bradford stated that because there were both nerve and blister chemical alerts (without any enemy activity), he deduced that the agents were released by two land mines detonated by the line charges[51] and he reported it that way in his NBC-4[52] report. However, the Fox reconnaissance vehicle was not the first vehicle through breach lane Red 1. MSgt Bradford remembered that his vehicle was about the fifth one through the breach.[53] After combat engineers exploded a path through the minefield, the plows proofed the lane (standard procedure before the Fox or any other vehicle would enter the lane) and were followed by security personnel of "B" Company, 1st Armored Assault Battalion, who traversed the lane ahead of the Fox. According to testimony of a corporal of the 1st Platoon of "B" Company[54] (and corroborated by a personal audio tape recorded at the time), his unit had almost reached the area between the minefields near the above-ground pipeline before the "gas" warning was sounded. During their crossing, this corporal recounted that his vehicle was open, many personnel were standing up (only in MOPP2) looking out the open hatches, and no one experienced any symptoms of contact with a chemical agent. Also, none of the M9 chemical detector paper that they had strapped to their arms and legs recorded any contact with a liquid chemical.

MSgt Bradford said that the Fox reconnaissance vehicle itself did not hit a mine. According to him, there were no other explosions (no artillery attack) except for the explosions that occurred when the minefield was initially breached. (The Marines did receive artillery fire while breaching the second minefield which was more heavily defended, but that was hours later.) He stated that they were sampling with the chemical sampling wheels down, moving fast, and that the area was dirty with oil and residue. There were pools of oil and dirty sand all around.[55] This is significant because the Fox reconnaissance vehicle may incorrectly alert to a chemical warfare agent in an environment of heavy concentrations of petroleum-based hydrocarbons.[56]

In the evening of the first day when the offensive paused, the Fox was sampling the air but receiving no indications of chemical warfare agent vapors. The crew left the vehicle and used a Chemical Agent Monitor to check their vehicle for residual agents but found none,[57] despite the fact that both mustard and Lewisite chemical warfare agents to which their Fox alerted are persistent. The crew also checked other vehicles that had passed through their breach and none showed any signs of mustard or Lewisite. One shrapnel hole did register a 2-bar reading for a G-series nerve agent. In the morning, the hole did not register anything.

In another report of a possible chemical mine, the 2d Assault Amphibian Battalion Command Chronology states that a 2d Assault Amphibian Battalion vehicle hit two anti-tank mines and a chemical mine.[58] The Commanding Officer of Company "B", 1st Armored Assault Battalion, which was attached to the 2d Assault Amphibian Battalion, confirmed that he had lost an Amtrac vehicle because of damage caused by running over a landmine, but he did not believe they were chemical mines, and he does not remember how or why the entry was made in the Command Chronology.[59] In addition, he and his personnel in the Amtrac dismounted and walked out of the minefield breach in MOPP2 with no effects that would imply contact with chemical warfare agents.

In the ensuing investigation of this incident, available operational reports and interviews with Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) experts disclosed that they found no chemical mines. In fact, no chemical mines have been recovered from this or any other minefield of the war. One EOD expert, who cleared minefields in Kuwait both during the war and after the war as a contractor for the Kuwait government, reported that he never encountered a chemical mine and that he knew of no chemical mines being found in this area of operations.[60]

Mine-clearing operations after the war cleared over 341,064[61] mines without encountering any chemical mines. The process for identifying and clearing ordnance from Kuwait Theater of Operations (KTO) was both rigorous and detailed, unlike the more rushed destructions at Khamisiyah. It started with subdividing the area into 36 sections of about 80 square kilometers each. Within each section, skilled EOD teams, using global positioning equipment and computers, identified the location and type of explosive ordnance. Using this inventory, disposal teams then moved through each sector, collected the ordnance into large berm-enclosed pits, and implosion-detonated the contents. These pits were reused repeatedly by EOD experts who wore no special protective clothing and who suffered no effects of contact with chemical warfare agents. Throughout these clearance operations in the U.S. sector, chemical warfare agents were never detected.[62] CMS, Inc. is one company that cleared munitions and unexploded ordnance from the U.S. sector of the KTO after the war. The president of the company’s division responsible for these efforts stated that in the 3 years that they cleared munitions, they never found any chemical mines in Kuwait. They also met regularly with the Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense and the contractors clearing the other areas of the KTO. No one in any of those meetings reported discovering a chemical mine in Kuwait.[63] Finally, Iraq has not turned over any chemical mines nor declared research on chemical mines to UNSCOM.


Fox Alert Analysis

The 1/6 Fox reconnaissance vehicle Commander, MSgt Bradford, was alerted by the MM-1 operator to the possible chemical presence in the first minefield. The printout tape[64] from this Fox’s operation documents alerts for Sarin, HQ Mustard, and Lewisite[65] chemical warfare agents. Responding to these alerts, the Fox crew took the correct proactive action and warned the 1/6 of the possible presence of chemical warfare agents. However, a detailed examination of each alert tape shows "Fat, Oil, Wax" at higher intensities than each chemical warfare agent. "Fat, Oil, Wax" is an indication of a false alarm due to battlefield contaminants. (Figure 5.)

The first alarm occurred at 0621 hours when the MM-1 alerted to "Fat, Oil, Wax." A minute later,

a second alert occurred for "Fat, Oil, Wax" but this time the MM-1 indicated that there might have been Lewisite present. Because the Fox reconnaissance vehicle makes its initial detection using only four ions of the entire spectrum of a chemical warfare agent, it can sound a false alarm due to similar ion patterns from interferring chemicals. Only the second step of the Fox two-step confirmation process can evaluate the entire spectrum and compare it to the library of known chemical warfare agents.

Following their procedures, the Fox crew took a spectrum with its MM-1, although they did not change the method of detection to a lower temperature to discriminate better among the substances detected, nor did they stop since they were in the middle of a combat operation. The spectrum showed only "Fat, Oil, Wax," which means the sample was contaminated with hydrocarbons. More alerts followed from 0623 hours to 0626 hours, again primarily for "Fat, Oil, Wax," but with the possibility of Sarin or HQ-Mustard. Again the crew ran a spectrum and again the spectrum showed only "Fat, Oil, Wax." Spectrums run at 0627 hours and 0632 hours also showed only "Fat, Oil, Wax." From 0635 hours to 0637 hours, the MM-1 printed "HQ-Mustard," but showed that no spectrum was run during these times.

The tape that recorded the Fox’s MM-1 results was provided to the US Army’s Chemical and Biological Defense Command (CBDCOM) for analysis.[66] CBDCOM determined that although the procedures used by the Fox may have been appropriate for the operational situation, they were incomplete to confirm the presence of chemical warfare agents. First, the sample was obtained using vapor sampling. Although the Fox was using the wheel method, the tape clearly shows that it was an air sample that generated the alarm, not a liquid substance vaporized off a sampler wheel. Using the vapor sampling method, the MM-1 is far less sensitive than other detectors.[67]


Second, the MM-1 detected "Fat, Oil, Wax" throughout the time of the alerts and always in higher relative intensities than any suspected chemical agent. This response indicates a high level of interfering hydrocarbons was present at that time, which is consistent with eyewitness reports of smoke and oil in the air from the oilwell fires. "Under circumstances of high interferent concentrations, the MM-1 is prone to responding with incorrect initial alarms for other compounds being monitored."[68]

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) also evaluated the Fox tape and concluded that the "high relative concentrations of ‘Fat, Oil, Wax’ probably led to a false identification."[69] Similarly, Bruker Daltonics, a nationally renown expert on the Fox reconnaissance vehicle, analyzed the tape and concluded that the "information in the tapes is consistent with the background information of driving through an area with large amounts of oil in the background."[70] To determine if chemical agents were present as well as the "Fat, Oil, Wax," the MM-1 operator would have had to perform special additional spectrum analyses following the normal spectrum. However, U.S. military personnel were not taught to perform these special spectrum techniques[71] during their training courses.

Although the detections were printed to the Fox tape, the results of the spectrum were not. Apparently, the Fox was not operating with the "auto print" feature engaged and the operator did not depress the print button to print the ion pattern of the spectrum onto the Fox tape. Consequently, it is not possible to determine what the operators saw on the screen. As a result, the actual ion pattern that could have provided details of the chemicals detected does not exist. The CBDCOM Fox experts concluded that "because of the presence of high concentrations of interferents and the short time span between these responses, we conclude that the presence of the three chemical warfare compounds is highly unlikely."[72] NIST also pointed out that the "detection of three quite different agents ... is consistent with false indications from a high, variable, and complex background signal."[73] Bruker states the same conclusions somewhat differently: "it is typical that as you drive through a contaminated area, the intensity of the alarm goes up, reaches a maximum, and then goes down as you leave the area. A single alarm for an agent is not consistent with driving through an area of contamination."[74] Due to the priorities of war, the Fox did not stop to take samples, perform any M256 tests, or identify contaminated areas. The absence of these actions precludes other possible sources of confirmation of the presence of chemical warfare agents.

The commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, stated that the detection, as reported to him in the NBC report, was a trace amount, and he understood that the Fox did not get a full-spectrum readout.[75] He stated that all personnel in the possibly-affected units went to MOPP4 when the alarm sounded and the NBC officer alerted other units that lane Red 1 may have been contaminated for the first 300 meters. 2d Marine Division units were directed to continue to monitor the condition of lane Red 1 for the next several hours.[76] Since there were only trace alerts for vapor, no secondary indications of chemical attack, no reports from other nearby units, and no injuries or anything else that would substantiate a chemical incident, he considered the event a false alarm.[77]

The "Second Division Monograph" also states that "a second Fox vehicle was dispatched to the area and confirmed the presence of an agent which had probably been there a long time."[78] Although the "Second Division Monograph" is a widely referenced text, the author begins with a warning:

This history is intended to be a first effort ... and [researchers will need] to balance what is written here against those more complete records which will be available to them, and they will be able to correct any errors of fact, which may have been made.[79]


More to the point is whether a second Fox reconnaissance vehicle was sent to the site of the chemical alert and "confirmed" the presence of a chemical agent. The author credits this account of the second Fox to the 2d Marine Division NBC officer. The 2d Marine Division NBC officer was an experienced NBC specialist (5702 MOS) and was situated in the command post as the Commanding General’s staff officer for NBC operations. He was considered knowledgeable about chemical attack defenses, detection and reporting procedures, and would have been aware of the employment of the Fox reconnaissance vehicles in his division.

This 2d Marine Division NBC officer denied the report in the monograph.[80] He remembered that the Fox vehicles were dispersed throughout the I MEF, with vehicles assigned to each division. Each of the vehicles assigned to the 2d Marine Division was further assigned to support a maneuver unit passing through the minefield breaches.[81] Each vehicle maintained its pre-assigned lane within its maneuver unit and pressed on with the attack through the minefields. He stated that no other Fox reconnaissance vehicle was dispatched to lane Red 1 to "confirm" the alert. His statement is supported by the 1/6 NBC officer who reiterated that a second Fox vehicle was never sent to follow-up the initial lane Red 1 alert.[82] Also, if there had been another Fox alert at the location, there should have been another NBC report. In this case, however, there is no record of a second report of the presence or absence of the suspected agents. The I MEF NBC officer who was in a position to know of all NBC events in the Marine divisions stated that "during my whole time over there, I never knew of any confirmed NBC-1 report."[83]

There was, however, an individual who claimed that the 8th Marines picked up readings of nerve agents when they passed through the breach lanes on the second day of the ground war (G+1).[84] The 8th Marines breached through lane Red 2. However, the Command Chronology for the 8th Marines does not mention any chemical warfare agent detection in the breach lanes on G+1.[85]


Possible Chemical Injury

The "Second Division Monograph" also says the chemical agent was "sufficiently strong to cause the blistering on the exposed arms of two AAV [Assault Amphibian Vehicle] crewmen."[86] This has been a point of particular interest and investigation, but only one Marine has claimed to have been injured by chemical warfare agents during breaching operations.[87]

The day started cool and misty and the Marines were wearing their protective over-garments (MOPP2). Consequently, it is unlikely that anyone would have had "exposed arms," but hands would have been exposed at MOPP2. The 2d Marine Division NBC Officer would have been one of the first people to become aware of any NBC injuries, and he stated no such injuries were reported up to the Division level.[88] Further, he stated that every service member was aware of the potential for Iraqi use of chemical weapons and trained how to respond, continue fighting, and report. Any suspected chemical injuries should have surfaced.

Personnel records of 1/6, including the supporting reinforcements, show only two wounded in action for 24-25 February 1991--both gunshot wounds.[89] Additionally, Marine Corps casualty records show no chemical wounds were reported. There were no chemical-related deaths and no purple hearts awarded by the Marine Corps during Operation Desert Shield or Desert Storm for any chemical injuries.[90]

In a written statement, the 1/6 Commanding Officer said,


There were no indications from Marines that the alert was in fact positive. I aggressively pursued any potential medical problems associated with the attack and saw absolutely no evidence of any.... I feel confident that any chemical attack in our sector would have surfaced. I can categorically state that no one came forward and stated/claimed any evidence of medical problems resulting from chemical and /or biological weapons.[91]


After hearing rumors of the injury, the 1/6 Battalion Commanding Officer tried to find a member of his battalion who showed any signs of chemical injury. He searched throughout his battalion, including those reinforcements that were assigned to him for the breaching operation and units that remained with him for a month after the cease-fire in Kuwait. He found no one.[92]

However, a platoon Commanding Officer did recommend a Purple Heart for a Marine after the cease-fire. This Marine was a member of the 1st Platoon, Company B, 1st Armored Assault Battalion, attached to the 2d Amphibian Assault Battalion. He was in a vehicle that followed the Fox vehicle through the lane Red 1 breach. In a written statement, the Marine reported that immediately after the breaching charge, the tactical network reported "gas," so he put on his mask (but not his gloves), closed up the vehicle, and in doing so, exposed his hands to the outside air. He reported that immediately he felt a strong burning sensation and blisters began forming.[93] Immediate pain is consistent with contact with the blister agent Lewisite, but no evidence of Lewisite was ever found in the KTO, nor has any significant evidence surfaced that the Iraqis had Lewisite in their inventory. Neither Lewisite or HQ Mustard would produce immediate blisters.[94] UNSCOM does not list Lewisite or HQ Mustard as part of Iraq’s inventory even after 6 years of investigations.

Although all Marines in the vehicle were in MOPP2 before the warning, no one else reported any of these symptoms. Also, this Marine was in an Amtrac that was following the Fox reconnaissance vehicle. His vehicle had not yet entered the minefield breach lanes when he heard the Fox report gas. The injured Marine indicated that his vehicle was about tenth in line to pass through the breach with 50 meters of separation between vehicles;[95] the Fox was fifth, and the 1/6 Company Commander stated the breach was only about 70 meters deep.[96]

In an earlier interview,[97] this Marine stated that after closing up the vehicle, he felt a burning sensation on the back of his right hand under his glove. He removed the glove, decontaminated the back of his hand with materials from his M258 kit, and put the glove back on. When his unit arrived at the end of the first breach lane, they were informed that they could return to MOPP2, at which time he noticed small eraser-sized blisters on both hands. Again, he decontaminated. He stated that later the Fox Commander checked his hands and attributed the blisters to a low-level blister agent, but it was not Lewisite. The Fox reconnaissance vehicle Commander remembers looking at the man’s hands, seeing that they were red, but without blisters, and commenting that if it were a chemical reaction, it must have been from a minute quantity,[98] but he did not interpret the condition as a chemical injury on the basis of his quick viewing.

Other Marines who saw the Marine’s injuries gave differing observations. His platoon sergeant saw his hands a day or so after the event and remembers only redness, no blisters.[99] The company Commanding Officer remembers meeting the Marine several days after the event and seeing only one hand, the back of which was reddish with three small pea-sized blisters.[100] Another eyewitness who accompanied the Marine to the battalion aid station about 12 hours after the event, stated that he saw what may have been a burn-like area on the back of the individual’s right hand. There were no blisters, just reddening, complicated by black charcoal powder from the MOPP suit. The red area was about the size of a silver dollar and it appeared to have been scratched.[101] The Fox reconnaissance vehicle Commander, who checked the Marine’s injury, said "I wouldn’t even really call it an injury as much as the fact that it was still red, irritated, and he had been scratching it."[102] However, the injured Marine’s platoon Commanding Officer stated that at the end of the day, he saw blisters on the Marine’s left hand.[103] The senior corpsman of the 1/6 saw the Marine the next morning but he could not examine the Marine’s hands because they were bandaged, although he reported that he saw what may have been the "signs of blisters" a week later.[104] Although the observations differ, they seem to agree that the possible injured area was limited to small areas on the backs of the hands. He wore no gloves, but there were apparently no blisters on the palms of his hands, on the fingers, or between the fingers.

The Marine did visit the battalion aid station in the evening after the completion of the breaching operations. One eyewitness remembers the corpsmen and the doctors discussing the possibilities of the cause of the visit to be chemical contamination. One corpsman who examined the Marine’s hand stated that he saw an area about the size of a quarter that appeared to be blistered, but it didn’t appear to be a chemical injury.[105] The medical officer who examined the Marine remembers him well as the only person who complained of any kind of a chemical injury,[106] but he doubted the hand was injured by chemical warfare agents. His official evaluation was more explicit:


I found no blistering. I returned the [individual] to full duty without any treatment necessary....[107]


Two weeks after the cease fire, an I MEF Battle Assessment Team NBC Officer interviewed the Marine and observed two blisters on the injured hand,[108] which he described as "classic mustard/Lewisite blister agent wounds," but this officer never reported a chemical injury. Finally, the Assault Amphibian Battalion Commanding Officer who convened a preliminary Purple Heart investigation, concluded that the injuries were not considered appropriate for a Purple Heart award[109] because the injury did not require treatment by a medical officer. Due to the conflicting observations, this investigation is still pursuing expert medical evaluations of the injury to the Marine.



This investigation is not complete, but based on the information available so far, the presence of a chemical warfare agent in the 2d Marine Division’s area of the minefield is judged to be "Unlikely." The alert to the possible contamination was certain, well-documented, and reported throughout the theater. The Marines in the Fox reconnaissance vehicle followed established operating procedures to get the word out to members of the 1/6 quickly, so they could change to MOPP4 for maximum protection in case the chemical detection was valid. The review of the tape produced by the Fox shows that nerve agent, and mustard and Lewisite blister agents were reported by the MM-1 during the initial scan, but in combination with "Fat, Oil, Wax"--which indicates an interferent. In fact, the area through which the Fox was traveling was thick with oil and smoke, which are known interferents to the Fox’s spectrometer. Expert analyses of the tape by three independent agencies state that the Fox presented false indications. Also, despite the persistent nature of mustard and Lewisite, neither was present on any equipment or vehicles when the Marines paused after passing through the breaches. Because the troops were moving fast, the Fox reconnaissance vehicle did not stop to take a sample of the suspected contamination, so no physical evidence other than the tape exists.

The investigation has not been able to find a delivery mechanism for the suspected chemical contamination. There was no artillery or mortar fire and the assumption of chemical mines is not proven. No chemical mines were ever found during or after the war in the Kuwait theater of operations, which casts doubt on the report of chemical mines as the source. Even the commander in the Amtrac that hit a mine reported that he and his men left the vehicle in MOPP2 and none suffered from encountering a chemical warfare agent.

Several vehicles carrying Marines in MOPP2 passed through the 2d Marine Division minefields ahead of the Fox reconnaissance vehicle. Although their hands and faces were exposed, none reported any chemical injuries. The only possible chemical injury was reported by a Marine in a vehicle the followed the Fox. The eyewitnesses who saw this Marine over the next several days reported contradictory observations, with many reporting that he had a couple of blisters, but several stating they saw no such injuries. No one has been able to confirm that these possible blisters were caused by chemical agents rather than many other possible causes for blisters. The doctor who saw him the first night stated that there were no blisters and no treatment was required. This investigation is still pursuing expert medical evaluations of the Marine’s injury.



This case is still being investigated. As additional information becomes available, it will be incorporated. If you have records, photographs, recollections, or find errors in the details reported, please contact the DOD Persian Gulf Task Force Hot Line at



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