5-73 CAV and Their Fight for Iraq's Diyala River Valley

Peter C Svoboda

The story of the 15-month deployment of 5/73 Cav to Iraq in 2006-07, in the soldiers' own words.
Date Published :
June 2023
Publisher :
Contributor(s) :
Lt. General William B. Caldwell (Ret)
Illustration :
24 photographs
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612009278
Pages : 228
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781636243214
Pages : 228
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order
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The story of the 15-month deployment of 5/73 Cav to Iraq in 2006-07, in the soldiers' own words.

Finalist, 2020 Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Awards

Selected in 2005 by the Army to be the first airborne reconnaissance squadron, 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, better known as 5-73 CAV, was formed from 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The members of the squadron were hand-selected by the squadron command team, Lieutenant Colonel Poppas and Command Sergeant Major Edgar. With just more than 400 paratroopers, they were half the size of a full-strength battalion and the smallest unit in the Panther Brigade.

The squadron deployed to eastern Diyala in August, 2006. Despite their size, they were tasked with an enormous mission and were given the largest area of operations within the brigade. Appropriately for a unit known by the call sign of its CO—Headhunter—5-73 would go on to pursue various terrorist factions including Al Qaeda in Iraq. They got results, and 5-73 was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for launching the Turki Bowl campaign from November 2006 to January 2007 against insurgent groups in Diyala Province. However the toll would be heavy—the squadron lost twenty-two paratroopers during the deployment.

Headhunter is a unique account of the War on Terror. It’s a soldier’s story, told by those very paratroopers who gallantly fought to tame Diyala. Based on dozens of interviews conducted by the author, the narrative describes the danger of combat, the loss of comrades and the struggles of returning from a deployment. The voice of the families left behind are also included, describing the challenges they faced, including the ultimate challenge—grappling with the death of a loved one. This book explores the human dimensions of loss and struggle and illustrates the sacrifices our service members and their loved ones make.

About The Author

Peter C. Svoboda divides his time between writing and working as a healthcare emergency management planner. He was previously a firefighter for twenty-five years. He volunteers as a museum docent at the National Museum of the United States Army. Pete Svoboda’s dad is the reason he wrote Headhunter. He was inspired by his dad’s World War II service in the airborne forces along with a desire to tell the story of this current generation of paratroopers. Pete is married, has three children, a granddaughter and another expected in July 2020. He and his wife live in Richmond, Virginia.


Chapter 1 Push Forward
Chapter 2 Alpha Troop and Patrol Base Otis
Chapter 3 AO Headhunter
Chapter 4 Turki Bowl I
Chapter 5 November 15, 2006
Chapter 6 November 16, 2006
Chapter 7 Stairway to Heaven
Chapter 8 The Lost Boys of Alpha Mortars
Chapter 9 Turki Shaping Operations
Chapter 10 Turki Bowl II
Chapter 11 Tightening the Noose
Chapter 12 Hot Chow
Chapter 13 Clear, Hold, Build
Chapter 14 Operation 300
Chapter 15 Marathon
Chapter 16 Troy
Chapter 17 As Sadah—March 17, 2007
Chapter 18 Minotaur
Chapter 19 Qubbah
Chapter 20 Hardship of Loss
Chapter 21 Long Shots & Landslide
Chapter 22 April 7, 2007
Chapter 23 As Sadah—April 23, 2007
Chapter 24 We Regret to Inform You
Chapter 25 Tim Cole
Chapter 26 Olympus, Hoplite and Pericles
Chapter 27 Church, Duran and Home


"Headhunter is a gut punch that pulls out the raw emotion of combat and the feelings of losing those closest to you. If one is unfamiliar with war, Headhunter will shock the senses."

- ARMY Magazine

"...a highly interesting and detailed account..."

- Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International

"...tells the stories of the brave paratroopers with clarity and grit. Those looking to get insight into the lives of American soldiers as they served in Iraq will enjoy this compassionately written book."

- Army History Magazine

“Svoboda chronicles the little-known saga of Task Force 300, a group of four hundred 82nd Airborne paratroopers who punched far above their weight in the battle for Iraq’s Diyala River Valley. Based on copious interviews and in-depth research, the narrative dives into the experiences of the entire unit: from the staff planning the complexities of combined arms support, to squads with their boots on the ground engaged in desperate firefights against a determined and merciless enemy. This is a story of brotherhood, tragedy and valor.”

- James M. Fenelon, Author of "Four Hours of Fury: The Untold Story of WWII’s Largest Airborne Invasion"

"Well researched and comprehensive..."

- SirReadaLot.org

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