Editor's note: This story is based on a pool report submitted to military security review.DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia (AP) - The call came just after 3:30 a.m., breaking the silence of the chilly desert night.
"We've got inbounds!" yelled Sgt. William Salmon, radioman for Bravo company, 7th Air Defense Artillery. "We have inbounds!"Seven minutes later, a sonic boom split the night, from the other side of a major air base in eastern Saudi Arabia. An instant after that blast, Bravo company joined the fray.
"We launched," Capt. Joe DeAntoa said.
Two Patriot missiles hurtled into the sky, one from Bravo company, the other from Alpha company across the base. After the telltale booms, there was a brief silence before a thump in the distance.
Salmon delivered the verdict. "We got it," he said, declaring another victory for the U.S. Army's Patriot anti-missile system against the Scud rockets of Saddam Hussein.
Alpha would get primary credit for this Scud kill, making it Alpha 6, Bravo 4 in the battle to keep the Iraqi missiles from landing in Saudi Arabia.
Ten days into the war with Iraq, the Patriot has emerged as a hero of the allied arsenal, knocking out incoming Scuds in all but a few cases.
One death in Saudi Arabia is attributed to a Scud warhead that fell to the ground and exploded after a Patriot intercepted the missile, and one death in Israel has been attributed directly to a Scud attack.
Before the successful intercept early Saturday, the 7th Air Defense's Patriot crews were alerted three times. The first time, Iraq launched a barrage of Scuds at Israel. The second alert, two hours later, was a false alarm.
Another alert came at 10:30 p.m., but the Scuds were headed for Riyadh, the Saudi capital. Tension eased and bantering resumed.
"Gee chief," DeAntona said to Chief Warrant Officer Gerald Roberts, "if this hadn't happened, we wouldn't have gotten our quality time together.
The next Scud alert, at 3:30 a.m., left little doubt the missiles were coming Bravo's way.
"It's in this direction!" Salmon shouted. "We've got inbounds!"