June 25, 2004
Saddam Hussein's capture on December 13, 2003 came as a surprise to the 600 soldiers of the 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, who carried out the mission. The unit and others had gone after Saddam dozens of times before. This time, they had good intelligence and were accompanied by a special operations unit. The troops swept into a farm compound near the village of Ad Dawr on the banks of the Tigris River outside Tikrit, but found nothing at first. Then, outside a hovel, the soldiers saw a rug on the ground that turned out to be lying over an 8-inch thick piece of Styrofoam, covering a narrow hole, 6 to 8 feet deep. They heard noises from below and were about to fire into the hole or drop a grenade into it, when someone saw upraised hands belonging to a bearded, bedraggled man emerging from the depths. The man was Saddam Hussein.
COL James B. Hickey, USA, is commander of the 1st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division. He is a graduate of Virginia Military Institute and has a master's degree in international policy from the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies. He also graduated from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and attended Georgetown University as an Army Senior Service College Fellow. Col. Hickey directed operations in the Tikrit area of Iraq after taking command of the 1st Brigade in June 2003. He was the tactical commander of Operation Red Dawn, the operation that captured Saddam Hussein from the bottom of a camouflaged hole near Tikrit, Iraq.