TAB E - Chronology of Events

The events surrounding the March 2, 1991, medical diagnosis of Private First Class (PFC) Fisher’s blisters as an exposure to liquid mustard chemical warfare agent began on March 1, 1991. On that day, elements of PFC Fisher’s unit (4th Battalion, 8th Cavalry [4-8th Cav], 2nd Brigade, 3rd Armored Division) conducted a search-and-destroy mission in Iraq near the Kuwait border. The mission was to identify and mark enemy ordnance so demolitions personnel could later destroy it.[118] The mission ended at 5:00 PM and the unit returned to the platoon area.[119]

At 1:00 AM, March 2, 1991, PFC Fisher awakened for guard duty and radio watch. He noticed redness on his upper left arm and believed it may have been a spider bite. From 3:00 AM to 4:00 AM, PFC Fisher slept, awakening for "stand-to"[120] at 4:00 AM. He now had blisters on his upper left arm. He went to sick call at 8:00 AM; the medic diagnosed the blister as a possible heater burn and told Fisher to return to sick call in the afternoon.[121]

By 4:00 PM, when PFC Fisher returned to sick call, he had additional blisters on his upper left arm. The medics examined his arm and suspected a chemical warfare injury.[122]

Between 5:18 and 7:41 PM, Fox vehicle chemical personnel tested PFC Fisher’s coveralls. The MM-1 mobile mass spectrometer alarmed while testing the coveralls for phosgene oxime, thiophosgene, lewisite and sulfur mustard.[123,124] Since Iraq’s chemical warfare inventory did not contain these agents, the MM-1 operator did not obtain a spectrum for any of them.

Acting on the medics’ suspicions that a chemical warfare exposure caused PFC Fisher’s injury and the alarms for chemical warfare agents on his coveralls (albeit without a positive spectrum since these agents were not in Iraq’s inventory), the 3rd Armored Division reported a suspected chemical casualty to VII Corps headquarters at 2:45 AM, March 3, 1991.[125]

Between 7:30 AM and noon, two Fox vehicles searched an area 7 by 10 kilometers around Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinates PU 995 047, the area where it was believed PFC Fisher had been exposed during the previous day’s search-and-destroy mission.[126] The intent was to locate and test the bunker in which they believed PFC Fisher had encountered mustard chemical warfare agent. PFC Fisher did not accompany this mission to assist in locating the suspected bunker because ARCENT directed him to wait for a special chemical medical casualty team to examine him.[127] At 9:15 AM, one Fox vehicle alarmed for sulfur mustard (HD) and mustard-T mixture (HT) blister agent at a bunker located in the area where PFC Fisher’s unit had operated on March 1, 1991.[128, 129] The second Fox failed to detect the presence of any chemical warfare agent.[130]

At 11:00 AM, March 3, 1991, Colonel Michael Dunn, a doctor and medical expert in chemical warfare injuries, examined PFC Fisher. Colonel Dunn concurred with the diagnosis of Major DeClue, a doctor with the 45th Support Battalion, who concluded PFC Fisher’s injury had resulted from exposure to chemical warfare agent. At this time, both Major DeClue and Colonel Dunn photographed PFC Fisher’s blisters. PFC Fisher provided a urine sample to Colonel Dunn for later analysis. Colonel Dunn concluded PFC Fisher’s injury was caused by an exposure to liquid mustard chemical warfare agent.[131]

At 8:30 AM, March 4, 1991, two Fox vehicles tested PFC Fisher’s flak jacket. One Fox vehicle’s test produced alarms for lewisite, sesqui-mustard, and thiophosgene.[132] Iraq’s chemical warfare inventory did not contain these agents; consequently, the MM-1 operator did not generate a spectrum to add confidence in the presence of any of these chemical warfare agents. The second Fox alarmed for similar chemical warfare agents and sulfur mustard. The second Fox’s MM-1 operator apparently produced a spectrum for sulfur mustard. The MM-1 printout tape of this test is unavailable; however, a crewmember videotaped this activity.[133]

The 3rdArmored Division had planned to return to the suspect bunker on March 4, 1991.[134] The Fox vehicle platoon leader intended to enter the suspect bunker in full protective gear and scrape samples from the bunker walls for testing. Twenty minutes before this operation was to start, the division’s commanding general canceled it. With hostilities over, the general did not believe the return to the bunker was worth the risk to his soldiers.[135]

Following convalescent leave, PFC Fisher returned to his unit in Germany.[136] He received a Purple Heart for his injury on March 28, 1991.[137]

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