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Break In Weather Allows Troops, Equipment To Land Sixteen Of 27 Flights Touch Down At Tuzla Air Field In Bosnia

Tue., Dec. 19, 1995

The sea of fog parted Monday and 16 U.S. Air Force cargo planes descended from the mist, bringing jeeps, armored cars and a few dozen soldiers into Tuzla’s abandoned military air field and doubling the deployment of U.S. combat troops in Bosnia.

“We haven’t put a plane in here for five days, and we’ve got some catching up to do,” said U.S. Army spokesman Maj. Garrie Dornan, of Ypsilanti, Mich.

Elsewhere, a couple hundred U.S. Army troops moved by train from Hungary into Croatia, carrying four Abrams M-1 tanks and armored fighting vehicles. The troops will provide security while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers builds a pontoon bridge across the Sava River, bridging Croatia and Bosnia. The bridge will be a major entry point for U.S. troops into Bosnia.

Also on Monday, the U.S. general leading the initial deployment of some 20,000 troops into Bosnia met with military representatives of all three warring factions, securing promises that U.S. troop movements will not be hindered… Everybody was more than agreeable.”

U.S. troops will deploy along a confrontation line hundreds of miles long in northeastern Bosnia, one of three sections of the country NATO troops will patrol. They will push Bosnian government forces and the rebel Serb army 2.5 miles apart for at least one year.

The soldiers who will patrol combat lines are still on military bases in Germany and Italy, awaiting transport. But when about 60 soldiers of the 325th Infantry division, an airborne combat team based in Aviano, Italy, arrived late Monday, the combat mission got a symbolic start.

Some 27 flights were scheduled for Monday, but heavy fog persisted. At 4 p.m. - complete darkness in northern Bosnia - only 16 flights had landed. Still, it marked the end of several days of frustration for dozens of planes that had flown some 2-1/2 hours from Germany to the Tuzla air field, only to be turned back by snow and dense fog.

“When we descended and saw roads and houses, I knew we were in today,” said Maj. Robert Williams, who flew in from Ramstein, Germany. “It was hard to say goodbye to my kids every morning, come back home and then do it all over again the next day.”

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