Most of you have been privy to the events that have taken place over the 18 months I have been deployed. Yes, it was 18 months. Six of those months were spent at Ft. Hood “training” to go to war. The events that are described here took place about two weeks prior to my previous engagement with the enemy in which I promptly left the country. I have adapted this from a detailed narrative that was written by one of my senior Warrant Officers. This should be one of the last installments of the Iraqi Saga. Maybe one more blog about how I’m adjusting to life back home. We’ll see.
One more round, please.
One warm Iraqi morning…isn’t that the way it always begins. I had just crawled out of bed and was still covering the first up mission. I slid my boots on just in case. Sure enough the radio went off as obnoxiously as possible. I sprang towards the door and trotted towards the operations shack. I knew my copilot was already at the aircraft getting started. It just so happened that Mr. G, from my previous story, was my copilot. I raced to don my gear and listened to the 9-Line mission request as it came in. I plotted the landing zone on the map, got my bearings, grabbed the mission request sheet and trotted towards the aircraft.
Naturally, the mission request stated that there were enemy in the area so we had to get approval for launch. While waiting for launch approval I monitored the primary radio frequency of the soldiers on the ground to get an idea of what was going on where they were. We received a call that we were authorized departure at the Pilot in Commands discretion. I made the call to launch and immediately made contact with the ground unit to check the status of the landing zone (LZ). They were very close so we proceeded direct to their location right at tree top level. Our sister ship headed out to a safer place to loiter just in case.
Just prior to our arrival the ground unit declared the LZ clear of enemy so we made our approach. I accepted a tailwind approach because the LZ was an improved road and this would place the aircraft that much closer to the injured soldiers. There was quite a bit of dust but we touched down without incident. We were now sitting between a Bradley Armored Fighting Vehicle and one of the new Explosive Ordinance Disposal Vehicles.
I dispatched my medic and crew chief. Both of which were female. I had previously mixed these two up for fear they would find themselves in a bind if they had to lift a heavy patient without support from any ground soldiers. Ok, bring on the sexist comments and the discrimination comments. No really, please do…nothing? That’s what I thought. These two soldiers are actually two of my favorite and are two of my most capable, which is why I decided to place them together on this crew. I discussed this with them at length and they both agreed on my previous decisions and the current crew configuration.
SPC Summer, my medic, headed to the first injured soldier while SGT Red stood watch near the aircraft. My copilot and I watched the surrounding area taking everything in. I looked at security risks on my side and directed SGT Red to keep her eyes on a specific area. I made contact with the gunships just above us to make sure they were on scene and were looking after us.
We received a call over the radio from the gunships above. They had spotted enemy moving into the area. About that time SPC Summer moved alongside the JERRV (the forward-most armored vehicle used by the Explosive Ordinance folks) assessing and packaging the first wounded trooper when the litter team and security elements came under a low volume of small arms fire. She and the soldiers around her took cover behind the JERRV while the security elements returned fire. While the incoming fire was being suppressed SPC Summer grabbed the nearest soldier and told him that she needed to get to the second patient at the damaged Bradley.
The infantry soldier warned SPC Summer that the firefight was not over, but at her insistence, he led her across 10 meters of open road to the damaged Bradley. She said “I’ve got to get to that patient! Cover me!” During the sprint to the second wounded trooper, the enemy opened up on the entire LZ with a high volume of small arms fire. Summer’s ground soldier laid down suppressive fire while she followed close behind him grasping his person as they moved. At this time the operational Bradley at 6 o’clock began engaging the enemy positions with its machine gun mowing down trees and telephone poles in the process. After assessing and packaging the second patient, Summer and the litter team bore the litter across 60 meters of open road, to get back to the aircraft.
As the incoming fire intensified I instructed SGT Red to get in the aircraft. Once she was inside the enemy fire continued to increase. I gave the order to return fire at will. Red spotted muzzle flashes coming in from the 5 O’clock position and began returning fire from her seat on the right side of the aircraft while the litter loading progressed on the left side of the aircraft.
As the incoming fire continued, Summer remained at the aircraft with the second patient and sent the litter team back to get the first patient. A call came over the radio as Mr. G and I were hurrying the ground soldiers as best we could with insane hand gestures. The radio informed us of a third patient with a possible concussion. The incoming fire continued to increase. Once the first two patients were loaded I made the call that the LZ was too hot to wait for the third patient who was not yet packaged. SGT Red continued firing, changing magazines once during the engagement.
With the patients finally loaded, I pulled in power and lifted off the LZ under fire. We joined up with our sister ship and headed for the nearest hospital. I pulled in as much power as I could without drooping the rotor too much. She would only give me 140 knots at 100 feet. Summer and Red cared for the injured troops in the back.
We arrived at the hospital and off loaded the two soldiers as quickly as possible knowing we had to return to the LZ to pick up the last injured soldier. On our way back we received another medevac request which we figured out was actually the 3rd patient so we headed back to the original LZ. When we arrived the ground troops reported the LZ as being clear once more. It was considerably more quiet this round.
Back to the hospital and back to home.
If you think that women are never placed in combat situations then you obviously think I am exaggerating. Honestly though, their sex makes no difference in this matter or any other. They are my soldiers and they perform, as do all the others, to the very best of their ability and their ability is by far the best. I am very proud of them both.
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