Michael's Dispatches

Peanut Butter is Good

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14 September 2011
FOB Pasab, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan

Nobody will have fought a full tour in Southern Afghanistan without bearing witness to a thousand helicopter flights.

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Before this flight, the pilots and crew check the two Black Hawks from tires to tail to rotors.

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Afghanistan and rough flying are tough on helicopters.

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The enemy constantly tries to shoot down our helicopters and sometimes succeeds.  During a recent Air Assault, a couple of A-10 Warthogs strafed some enemy positions near 4-4 Cav.  After the strafing, the A-10s rolled lower and flew over our heads.  Just as an A-10 zoomed over, we heard a gunshot, apparently from an enemy firing at the Warthog.  The shooter was close to us.

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When an aircraft goes down, it’s called a “Fallen Angel.”  Hearing the words “Fallen Angel” crackle over the radio leaves a very bad feeling inside.

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Our angels shoot back.

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Maintenance is the primary cause of crashes in Afghanistan.  The environment and op tempo are brutal on machines.  Recently, during a dangerous mission as we walked through bomb country, a young Soldier said it’s not really so much Afghans who beat invaders who bring machines, but Afghanistan itself that beats down the machines.  “Good point,” I said.  The young Soldier continued, “Look at the Taliban machines,” he said.  “AKs.  RPGs.  IEDs.  Simple stuff that hardly breaks.  Our stuff breaks and it’s expensive.”

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