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The Umm Hajul Controversy was one of many cases of fratricide committed during the Persian Gulf War. After U.S. forces accidentally opened fire on their own men, a cover-up was attempted. A plot element of the movie Courage Under Fire was based on this particular incident.



In the predawn hours of February 27, 1991, an armored personnel carrier of the 1st Armored Division broke down near the airfield of Umm Hajul. The five operators of the vehicle found themselves stranded in the desert when M1A1 tank and Bradley Fighting Vehicle units of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment approached from the north. Specialist Craig Walker tried signaling to the approaching forces by switching his night vision goggles on and off. The vehicles suddenly fired on the engineers with high explosive rounds, mistaking their vehicle for an enemy position. The result of the high explosive rounds set off demolition charges within the engineers' armored personnel carrier. For seven minutes, the tanks and armored personnel carriers bombarded the engineers with fire. When the shooting was over, one engineer was wounded and another, Corporal Lance Fielder of Tennessee, was dead from coaxial machinegun fire.


Shortly after the incident, false reports were filed, stating that the 3rd Cavalry took an estimated 50 Iraqi prisoners in the assault. Three Bronze Stars were awarded on the basis of misleading statements and representations, as well.[1]


U.S. Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee initiated a Congressional investigation into this incident, in which Lance Fielder of Nashville, Tennessee had died. The investigation resulted in the forced retirement of the commanding officer of the unit that fired shots at Fielder and others, as well as revocation of medals.[2]


  1. ^ United States Government Accountability Office Report, page 92 [1]
  2. ^ Lawrimore, Erin. "Biography/History", University of Tennessee Special Collections Library (2005).


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