Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Follow Up

Those of you who regularly follow this page might remember this story about CW5 David Cooper of the 160th SOAR.

The Army Times found more info, some of which can be seen below.

‘Neither of us expected to get out ... alive’

Pilot earns Distinguished Service Cross after fighting off surprise attack
By Sean D. Naylor - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Jul 20, 2008 11:47:16 EDT

In the clear skies north of Baghdad, a single word — “Mayday!” — turned a special operations mission on its head, diverting some of America’s most elite forces from their mission to kill or capture a known terrorist to a desperate fight for their lives, pinned down, outnumbered and outgunned.

In the brutal hours that followed that Mayday transmission on Nov. 27, 2006, Chief Warrant Officer 5 David Cooper of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment — the “Night Stalkers” — would earn a Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic actions to relieve his beleaguered colleagues, while an Air Force F-16 pilot would lose his life.

Cooper received his award — the highest ever for a Night Stalker — from Adm. Eric Olson, head of U.S. Special Operations Command, July 11 at the 160th’s home post of Fort Campbell, Ky.

In the early afternoon of Nov. 27, 2006, Cooper was the pilot in command of an AH-6 Little Bird attack helicopter, flying lead pilot in a flight of six helicopters: two AH-6s, two MH-6 troop-carrying Little Birds and two MH-60 Black Hawks, also with special ops ground troops aboard. Their mission was to kill or capture a “foreign fighter facilitator,” according to a summary of the action released by the 160th...

...The weather was perfect — “Clear, blue and 22,” in aviator-speak. But as the six helicopters flew between “logger” sites about 50 kilometers northwest of Baghdad, Cooper’s wingman suddenly transmitted “Mayday!”...

...Cooper’s wingman had to land the aircraft quickly, while simultaneously keeping its speed up so that the wind would keep the helicopter straight. Fortunately, the landscape below was mostly flat, open desert...

...Cooper and his co-pilot stayed airborne for several minutes to make sure the position was safe, then, seeing no enemy forces, he landed.

After about 40 minutes, several trucks with anti-aircraft machine guns approached their location. Unsure whether these belonged to Iraqi police, a local militia or enemy fighters, the senior ground force non-commissioned officer asked Cooper to get airborne and check them out. The question was answered when the gun trucks opened fire on the small special ops force.

Cooper took off and quickly realized the full extent of the threat: there were six to eight gun trucks mounted with double-barreled ZPU-2 14.5mm anti-aircraft machine guns about 1,400 to 1,600 meters away. Each gun truck was crewed by four or five men, “so there were probably about 40 fighters out there,” he said.

Meanwhile, another two trucks had appeared and disgorged at least 20 enemy fighters. They occupied a house about 800 meters from the grounded helicopter and took the U.S. force under fire with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, RPK machine guns and AK-series assault rifles.

The U.S. troops were armed with infantry weapons that could reach the enemy fighters in the house, but not those in the gun trucks.

To make matters worse, the desert offered no cover to escape the gun trucks’ murderous fire. “It was flat like a tabletop, so we really had no defilade to get to,” Cooper said. “The ground forces were pinned down immediately … It was kind of a one-sided deal.”

For the entire story please go the the Army Times website

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