Thursday, October 25, 2007

15 Minutes That Lasted An Hour

From the 1st CAV Newspaper, The Crossed Sabers

By SGT 1st Class Rick Emert
1ACB, 1CD Public Affairs

CAMP TAJI, Iraq – For the past year, Apache pilots from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade have conducted countless reconnaissance missions in search of roadside bombs and mortar systems aimed toward forward operating bases or Iraqi neighborhoods.

Four pilots from 1st “Attack” Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB, 1st Cavalry Division, were flying just such a mission when they happened upon up to 20 insurgents armed with rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers and manning four anti-aircraft gun trucks Sept. 29.

Three short seconds after the pilots spotted the gun trucks, they were under fire.

“From the time that I first saw them first and could get (a visual) on them was probably three seconds until we were passing by. It was a pretty quick amount of time until we got into the actual getting engaged,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Terry Eldridge, pilot in command for the lead aircraft, who calls Killeen, Texas, home. “As soon as we passed, I kind of veered off to one side, and they started tracking us with the guns from the back of the trucks. As soon as they got where we were inside their range, effectively for their shots, they started shooting – so, about the time it takes to swing a turret, in this case a gun on a tripod mount.”

...Although they fled the open area at (a) four-way intersection, the insurgents continued to fire on the two Apaches once they found cover in nearby buildings. “Pretty much every person out there had a weapon of varying degrees,” Eldridge said. “For the first seven to ten minutes, somebody was shooting at us the whole time. We established a pretty on-the-fly dynamic plan. We put together the best attack angles that we could at the time to keep each other covered. That was … the primary intent –to keep their heads down, get effective fires on the enemy
and keep each other protected.” The four continued to engage the insurgents while the sister Apache team that had arrived a few minutes into the fight remained at a higher altitude to prevent having too many aircraft in the area. “We were trying to get them into the fight, but, from what they said, we were kind of all over the place looking like angry bees. They didn’t want to get into the area and cause a mid-air (collision) while we were trying to engage the enemy.”

By the time the Apache team was out of ammo, up to 15 of the insurgents were dead and the gun trucks were disabled. They handed off the targets to their sister Apache team to further engage the vehicles and destroy them...

The entire engagement lasted less than 15 minutes...

If you'd like to read the entire article it's on page 10, on the PDF file at this Website. You'll find this article and a lot of other stuff I bet you didn't know about from Iraq.