Saturday, November 17, 2007

Limited Service Ahead

As part of the process of packing up and leaving this wonderful place, we will soon be moving to temporary quarters so the "new guys" can come in and get settled. As a result my ability to post on this wonderful blog will be limited. So don't expect too many "Girl Friday's" or anything else till I get back to the land of the big PX.

For those who have been reading my blog over the past 13 months or so, I would like to apologize. There are many things I've seen and done over this time that I would have liked to share with you, but haven't. Not from any concern of "the man" coming to shut me down and throw me under the jail. But out of concern for my fellow soldiers. Because OPSEC does mean something to me. So maybe after this is all said and done, I will regale you with tales of daring do performed by people you don't know in the best attack helicopter battalion in the United States Army that no one has ever heard of...and then again maybe not.

Hopefully someday someone will tell everyone about the great folks I serve with and the great things we do every single day.

See ya soon.



Christmas Show Rehearsals Begin

Rehearsals for the annual Pflugerville, TX Christmas pageant have begun...and by all appearances things are shaping up nicely. This year's theme; HO, HO, Hoe.

Actually it's some show put on by Victoria's Secret, where they try to sell really expensive underwear to women who for the most part don't look anything like the ones pictured above.

Too bad it's not the springtime, I could have said this was for the Lampasas Spring Ho! Festival. Which by the way, really does exist.

This post in no way means to imply that the women pictured above are in anyway hoes, associate with known hoes or participate in hoe-like least as far as I know of.


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Thursday, November 15, 2007

With A Few More Reflective Belts and Some Safety Glasses We Might Just Win This Thing

To hell with statistics and polls. Data about caches and IEDs found are useless. The real clue that we are about to win this war in Iraq is the fact that MP's are now riding around FOBs in brand new SUVs, setting up speed traps and giving tickets. CSMs care more about soldiers wearing their reflective belts and safety glasses while riding their bikes than if a soldier's weapons is clean.

If these are the priorities, then the war must be won...RIGHT?

Just sayin...



Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Army Aviator Receives the DSC

We all knew this award was coming, but me being somewhat out of the information loop didn't get the word on this till I found it HERE

Distinguished Service Cross
CW4 Keith Yoakum,
Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment
1st Air Cavalry Brigade, Multi-National Division (Baghdad)

CW4 Keith Yoakum distinguished himself by gallantry and courage at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty as an AH-64D Longbow Apache Pilot-in Command while providing cover for his wingman on 2 February 2007 during aerial combat against a deliberate helicopter ambush site.
The previous two weeks in the Baghdad area of operations witnessed four separate attacks on coalition aircraft, resulting in the loss of 19 lives and the destruction of one AH-64D Longbow Apache, one UH-60 Blackhawk, and two Department of Defense contracted helicopters. CW4 Yoakum was the first responder to the UH-60 crash site and was intimately familiar with the enemy’s helicopter ambush tactics.

CW4 Yoakum was the Pilot-in-Command of the trail aircraft in a flight of two AH-64D Longbow Apache helicopters as they departed on a reconnaissance mission in support of four separate ground brigades on the morning of 2 February 2007. Just when the Apache team began reconnaissance of a test fire area, waves of red tracers and heavy machine gun fire burst into the sky from multiple directions and raked the Apaches. The tracer fire immediately engulfed CW4 Yoakum’s aircraft and riddled his fuselage. The enemy had established a deadly kill zone comprised of multiple heavy machine gun and anti-aircraft gun positions. With its interlocking fields of heavy anti-aircraft fire, the enemy ambush site was similar to the earlier ambush site that had downed a UH-60—the same UH-60 that CW4 Yoakum had responded to 13 days earlier, thus familiarizing him with the lethality of the enemy’s tactics.
CW4 Yoakum immediately radioed his lead aircraft to maneuver it away from the direction of fire. As the lead aircraft broke hard to the right, the enemy responded, shifting its fire away from CW4 Yoakum’s aircraft and toward the lead aircraft. CW4 Yoakum warned the lead helicopter announcing “now you’re taking fire!” and the two aircraft broke left to escape the deadly kill zone.

Despite the damage to his aircraft, CW4 Yoakum took personal charge of the team amid the melee of bullets, calmed his lead aircraft, and steered the team out of the kill zone. The team raced to the north to separate from the enemy force and to acquire standoff range to assess the situation. Immediately after their turn to the north, CW4 Yoakum announced that he had “lost utility hydraulics,” a condition that requires the pilot to land the aircraft immediately at the nearest clear landing area. As the senior maintenance test pilot in the company, a prior instructor to other maintenance test pilots, and a Master Army Aviator with almost 5000 flight hours, CW4 Yoakum instantly understood the gravity of his Apache’s emergency condition. Furthermore, CW4 Yoakum recognized that the loss of hydraulic pressure prevented him from employing his aircraft’s main gun. As a result, he would have to use the aircraft’s 2.75 inch rockets from a fixed position, requiring him to skillfully maneuver his crippled aircraft to accurately employ the rockets against the enemy.

The team continued northbound and after approximately two minutes no longer had tracers whipping by their windscreens. Once clear of the immediate threat, CW4 Yoakum had the opportunity to fly his critically damaged aircraft back to the airfield or land in the open desert to conduct an emergency extraction of his crew on his wingman’s aircraft. He again announced “we’ve got no utility hydraulics left.” Still, despite the cockpit warnings and CW4 Yoakum’s own recognition of his grave situation, he never considered leaving his wingman and knew this enemy would kill again if left on the battlefield. The enemy had a distinct advantage as a result of their concealed position among the numerous canals and irrigation ditches in the surrounding countryside. Despite the fierce danger inherent in pressing the attack, CW4 Yoakum radioed his wingman that “I can put rockets in” and continued to plan the route back into the withering fire of the enemy’s ambush site to destroy the enemy’s anti-aircraft positions.

CW4 Yoakum’s instructions to his lead aircraft were simple: “you find them, we’ve got you covered.” CW4 Yoakum knew that his Apache team had a sliver of an opportunity to engage and destroy the enemy before they blended into the Iraqi countryside. The team decided to search the ambush area in a cloverleaf pattern, thereby performing a sweep of the area from all directions until they were able to locate the anti-aircraft guns. Despite his aircraft’s crippled condition and the knowledge of the volume of fire that would again rake his aircraft at the ambush site, CW4 Yoakum was determined to cover his wingman as they searched for targets and eliminated the enemy position which was certain to be set up again at a different time and place to destroy coalition aircraft.

Approximately two minutes after the initial ambush had crippled CW4 Yoakum’s Apache, the lead aircraft, acting on CW4 Yoakum’s instructions, turned south to begin their search for the enemy ambush site. Despite the deteriorating condition of his own aircraft, CW4 Yoakum announced “I’m going to climb up and cover you from high and we’re gonna work on rockets.” As he continued losing critical hydraulic pressure, CW4 Yoakum determined that his degraded weapons systems necessitated that he climb to altitude and then dive his damaged aircraft directly at the enemy to provide effective rocket fire. Only by diving from a higher altitude directly toward the enemy position could he provide precise rocket fire for his wingman while focusing his fires solely on the enemy and away from the surrounding villages and homes in the Iraqi countryside. With unmatched skill and extraordinary courage, CW4 Yoakum began his climb to posture his crippled aircraft in a diving position, knowing full well that his climb would give the enemy gunners a clearer line of sight and more time with which to engage his aircraft as he maneuvered back towards the ambush site.

CW4 Yoakum’s focus on the destruction of the enemy’s anti-aircraft guns caused him to demand as much from his aircraft as he did from himself, but his dying Apache was not able to sustain its altitude. As the Apache team made a second inbound run to the ambush area utilizing their cloverleaf pattern, the lead Apache radioed to CW4 Yoakum to ensure that he was still with them. After transmitting several radio calls and receiving no response, the lead aircraft began a left turn and acquired CW4 Yoakum’s aircraft. After flying for almost four minutes in a critical state, CW4 Yoakum’s Apache had succumbed to its battle damage and was engulfed in a blazing fire on the ground following a crash that had instantly killed CW4 Yoakum and his copilot.

CW4 Yoakum acted to protect his wingman and destroy an enemy anti-aircraft position designed to produce the continued loss of coalition aircraft. His decision to knowingly risk his life to cover his lead aircraft, despite having the opportunity to land or return to the airfield, put the accomplishment of his mission and the protection of his comrades over his own personal safety. His personal bravery and uncommon valor at the risk of his own life reflects great credit upon himself, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, the First Cavalry Division and the Multinational Division-Baghdad, and the United States Army.

Keith and his front seater Jason DeFrenn would be the first to tell you that they weren't heroes they were just trying to do their job.

But they are heroes and they set the standard we all try to hold every day: protect your wingman, the guys on the ground and to find and kill the enemy.

I am proud to say that I served with them. Till Fiddler's Green, gentelmen.

Check The Army Times for its story as well.

Also see the words at Castle Argghhh!

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A Different Kind of Support

Meet Jim Morrison, artist and friend of mine.
Some people show their support of the troops by sending cookies, candy, DVDs or books. Jim shows it by painting pictures.
This story appears in the Flat Rock, NC newspaper...

On Veteran's Day, former Air Force pilot James "Jim" Scott Morrison will support our troops in Iraq in a unique way. Morrison, 77, expects to spend part of his day putting the finishing touches on a special watercolor painting of military helicopters in Iraq that he's been working on for the past three months. Then he'll get to sit back and reflect on his third military-themed painting created for U.S. Army troops in Iraq.

Because of his own military experience, Morrison identifies with the brave young service pilots flying for the United States today. After graduating with an economics degree from the University of Nevada at Reno in 1951, he served in the Air Force flying F-86 fighters for four years and RB-66 reconnaissance aircraft for five years.

"I may have a few more rings in the tree, but I still feel like we're all one," Morrison says.

He's enjoyed his contact with several soldiers over the last couple of years while working on the paintings. "In a way, I just kind of bond with them," Morrison says. "It's an intangible feeling, really, it just gives me a feeling like I'm part of what they are. ... It's kind of like family."

He recognizes that our involvement in the Iraq war is controversial. But for Morrison and his painting, any opinions are simply irrelevant.

"To me, it doesn't have anything to do with the war," Morrison says. "It has to do with some kids that are giving 110 percent, and that's all."

Read the rest HERE

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans Day

Take a moment and remember our veterans who paid the ultimate price.

Please view the slide show featuring the FACES OF FREEDOM, you won't be sorry.

Happy Veterans Day!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The LUH is HOT

In this AP Story appearing in the Detroit Daily News, an internal report on the testing of the Light Utility Helicopter, the UH-72 Lakota has revealed that helicopters with little or no ventilation on even 80 degree days get hot inside. In other news it's been revealed that fire burns and water is wet.

What this will mean eventually is any one's guess. One congressman, wants to scrap the entire thing and just buy more UH-60s.

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Girl Friday, 9 NOV 07

In honor of Veteran's Day (Sunday the 11th) this week's Girl Friday features some military themed ladies...

Have a great weekend, and remember those who gave everything so you can have a great life.

Happy Veteran's Day!

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

#1 With A Bullitt

Being the owner and sometimes driver of a Mustang, I find this news to be REALLY cool...

The 2008 Mustang Bullitt embodies the true spirit of the 1968 movie car,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. “Like the original Bullitt, this car dials the driving dynamics up a notch for Mustang enthusiasts who love the performance, handling and the sweet sound of Ford power that only Mustang can deliver.”

The 2008 Bullitt arrives in dealers early next year, with a starting MSRP of $31,075 (including destination and delivery) and limited production of 7,700 units for the U.S. and Canada.

The launch of the limited edition 2008 Mustang Bullitt coincides with the 40th anniversary of the release of the Warner pos. Pictures film that gave the original car its name. In the movie, legendary actor Steve McQueen drove a Dark Highland Green 1968 Mustang GT that gained cult status among Mustang enthusiasts, thanks to a seven-minute scene that film and car buffs believe defined the modern movie car chase.

Speaking of Steve McQueen, this commercial is the coolest evah.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Girl Friday, 2 NOV 2007

It's Friday, I we begin our last full month here at this wonderful place...I'd like to say we'd miss it, but I'd be lying.

To get November off to a clean start, Teri Harrison, Miss October, 2002 shows up to welcome the weekend.

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

This is your State Department...

Whiney chickenshit little turds.

"Incoming is coming in every day, rockets are hitting the Green Zone," said Jack Croddy, a senior foreign service office, referring to the highly fortified area of Baghdad where the embassy is located.

"It's one thing if someone believes in what's going on over there and volunteers, but it's another thing to send someone over there on a forced assignment," Croddy said. "I'm sorry, but basically that's a potential death sentence and you know it. ... Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?"

Ok for me but not for Mr. Croddy?

And no rockets aren't incoming every day...ya f*#%ing weasel.

For the rest of this sad display, see the entire US News and World Report Story

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Airman Awarded the Mackay Trophy and other stories of interest

If found this on the web this morning...

A-10 pilot awarded Mackay Trophy
by Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

10/30/2007 - ARLINGTON, Va. (AFPN) -- Capt. Scott Markle received the Clarence Mackay Trophy during a ceremony here Oct. 29 for his actions while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom last year.

Captain Markle, an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot from the 81st Fighter Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, directly engaged a group of Taliban fighters June 16, 2006, who were in combat with a 15-person special forces team.

"The presentation of this award to Captain Scott Markle underscores the very essence of what we believe about air power and the vital role America's Air Force plays in our nation's defense," said Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, who presented the trophy to Captain Markle.

Captain Markle was leading a two-ship flight to support a mission in southern Afghanistan when his flight was re-tasked on takeoff to support special forces troops along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in contact with Taliban forces.

When he arrived just before dawn, heavy gunfire and tracers were going in many directions and visibility made it difficult to find the team's location. Captain Markle, unable to employ weapons due to the enemy's close proximity to the team, flew a dangerously low pass over the area while releasing self-protection flares.

For the rest of this article please go HERE

Congratulations to Capt Markle for an outstanding job. You bring great credit to yourself and the USAF.

It is interesting to see sometimes what some people call the flight of the year and what others call, "just doing you job". I write that not as a slap against the USAF but in reference to the things I've seen with my own eyes during 1000 hours of combat flying in 24 months here in Iraq. It is interesting how little credit my brother Army aviators receive, how few accolades, when there are many acts of valor equal to or greater than that described above. Rarely do you hear about them and rarely still are they rewarded like they should be.

I know of a team of Apaches that were in support of an operation near Sadr City. They received a call that a convoy had been hit by an IED and there were wounded. The RTO asked them if they were MEDIVAC capable. They said no and tried to find if anyone was immediately available...seeing as it was 0200 in the AM there weren't any aircraft immediately available. After asking some questions about the condition of the wounded operator, they agreed to try and evacuate him. They landed at a Combat Outpost in a confined area barely big enough for one aircraft, to pick up a gravely wounded Special Operator and fly him to the hospital 5 minutes away with the Co-Pilot Gunner strapped to the outside of the aircraft on a "spur ride". By several accounts they saved his life. They did this on a pitch black night, in brown out conditions on the LZ. This happened several months ago and they haven't received any recognition or award.

I know of a team of Black Hawks that spotted an IED go off on a road. After circling the site and seeing the wreckage and the wounded needing assistance they landed, picked up a mortally wounded soldier and flew him to the CSH. For their trouble the Air Mission Commander was threatened with having various administrative actions taken against him because he wasn't flying a MEDIVAC aircraft and should have waited for the MEDIVAC to awards for them yet either.

I could go on. Believe me, I could tell a lot more of them.

At first it really made me upset that these acts of courage and sacrifice were going un-noticed and un-recognized. I do realize however, that last statement isn't entirely true...these acts are recognized by the people we work for...the soldier on the ground. When they hear our callsigns on the radio they know that we will be there for them no matter what. But it is disturbing that our own chain of command doesn't seem to value the things that we do to the same extent as some other organizations. Would it be too much to ask that in an organization that doesn't give out bonuses or raises based on a job well done, that they could at least give a few awards to the people that have more than earned them? Is that too much to expect? I guess around here it is.