Two soldiers wounded during the invasion of Grenada said today that they were surprised at the heavy resistance they met from enemy troops on the tiny island.
"They were waiting for us," said 1st Lt. Michael A. Menu, 34, from Portland, Maine. "These were highly armed people with armored personnel carriers--BTR60s--that were jammed full of ammunition. I saw one three-quarters full of ammunition: very heavy rounds, 20mm rounds, 14.5 rounds," Menu said.
Menu and Sgt. Gerald Bannon, 29, of Fayetteville, volunteered to speak to the press for 10 minutes at Womack Army Hospital on the Fort Bragg Military Reservation. They were among 25 soldiers wounded during the invasion who were flown here late Wednesday night.
Lt. Col. Patrick F. Cannon, hospital spokesman, said two of the wounded were Marines, the other 23 soldiers. All were listed in stable condition. Their names were being withheld until notification of their families.
Bannon, who appeared at the news conference with an intravenous tube in his arm and who suffered a gunshot wound to the left shoulder during fighting Wednesday morning, said he couldn't tell whether the enemy were Cubans or Grenadans.
Menu, who had shrapnel in the arm from a grenade blast, said the hostile troops were dressed in military uniforms, but he didn't identify the uniform.
Menu said the air transport he was in came under heavy fire after landing at one of Grenada's two airstrips. "There was heavy fighting coming from 300 to 400 meters off the airstrip. Lots of smoke, lots of action," he said.
Menu said the enemy had 120mm mortars but the U.S. troops put them out of commission before they could be used.
Although fighting was intense, Menu said, some enemy soldiers immediately surrendered. "Large numbers of the enemy personnel put down their weapons," he said. "Large numbers fought very hard, but I'd say the majority threw down their guns when we arrived."
Menu said the U.S. soldiers in his unit viewed the invasion as an "absolute necessity." Morale was always very high, he said. "These people on the island were soldiers, they all were heavily armed and were in uniforms and they had no respect for the people down there. They took them hostage."
Menu said he was injured by a grenade during a house-to-house search. Bannon said he was shot in the arm after landing at one of the airports.
Menu said he received no warning and had little time to think when his unit was put on alert Monday night.
"We were called up suddenly and told to report immediately," Menu said. "When we got to the base we were briefed. We went to the airport, loaded up and flew down."
Meanwhile, reinforcements continued to leave today for Grenada.