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Tuesday, March 25

Iraqis destroy 2 Abrams tanks; loss is first in its 20-year history

By Sean D. Naylor | Army Times

EAST BANK OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER, Iraq - Two American M1A1 Abrams tanks were destroyed Tuesday by fire from what officers believe was an Iraqi truck-mounted anti-tank gun. It was the first time an Abrams has been destroyed by enemy fire in its 20-year history.

But the Abrams preserved one important record: All eight crewmen survived without serious injury. No crew member has ever died in an Abrams because of enemy action.

The two tanks were lost as the 3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment pushed to within 80 miles of Baghdad Tuesday night. The squadron had been in a running, 24-hour battle, crashing through repeated ambushes as it raced north. Along the way, another Abrams rolled into a ditch and was lost.

The two tanks saw tracers from behind them and were maneuvering to return fire when, within seconds of one another, each took hits from their rear and burst into flames. As ammunition exploded, the crewmen of Troop B scrambled to safety.

Officers at the scene described the tanks as ``catastrophic losses.''

During the first Persian Gulf War, nine Abrams tanks were damaged by mines but were repaired. Charles Lemons of the Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor at Fort Knox, Ky., said that two or three Abrams were "put out of action" by friendly fire during that war.