Major Paul “Goose” Gosden, U.S. Marine Corps, piloted his UH-1 Huey close air support helicopter across the Kuwait-Iraq border through the night's oily blackness. His aircraft was first to cross into Iraqi airspace in the second Gulf War, in support of Cobra attack helicopters tasked to destroy observation posts on Safwan Hill, near the infamous Highway of Death. Their mission was the opening salvo of Operation Iraqi Freedom, designed to kick in the door for the U.S. Army's Third Infantry Division, which would follow in a ground assault from Kuwait into Iraq. The Iraqi forces, however, anticipated the aerial sortie and had begun to destroy oil fields, filling the night air with oil smoke and haze so thick that it blinded the marines.