Michael's Dispatches

Peanut Butter is Good

15 Comments

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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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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike · 7 years ago
    Thanks for giving some love to the aircrews. 7-101 AVN were my people in past deployments and it's great to see faces I know in your dispatches. I look forward to seeing them all come back safe and sound soon as their tough work is complete.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    josi · 7 years ago
    Wow who knew those dust devils could carry away small kids!!
    I pray with my mom and we will pray that the dust wont bother the helicopters. :lol: When i grow up i am going to be a pilot! just like lacey! :lol:
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Daniel Gower · 7 years ago
    Mike - it's eery - but one of the crewmembers on this blog looks a lot like one of the pilots who flew chase ship with the DUSTOFF crews I was "embedded" with in June out of Camp Dwyer - was good to have "guns" along covering our approaches to pick up the wounded - and, yes, the bad guys would love to shoot down a DUSTOFF bird. God love the Marines and Soldiers who DAILY walk through minefields doing our nation's bidding.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Karen · 7 years ago
    Loved the part about Lacey Smith and her sisters! Would love to read a dispatch about her and her sisters (and other vets in their family) sometime. Also look forward to your next book about helicopter missions in Iraq and Afghanistan! Thanks for the photo showing FOB Posab so I can envision where my adopted soldier is. Thanks once again to you and all who serve, or have served, over there for those of us here at home.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Pete K · 7 years ago
    Those are really great photos! What kind of camera setup did you use???
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ken · 7 years ago
    I have read a story about the Smith sisters before... Link ->

    http://northshorejournal.org/sisters-pilot-afghan-skies
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Sara Johnson · 7 years ago
    Excellent dispatch. Our blessings to all those brave men and women. Untold gratitude for your service. OK. I had to look it up, but only wikipedia seemed to have the answer: STIGMERGY: "A mechanism of indirect coordination between agents or actions. The principle is that the trace left in the environment by an action stimulates the performance of a next action, by the same or a different agent. A form of self-organization. It produces complex, seemingly intelligent structures, without need for any planning, control, or even direct communication between the agents". I know, can't always count on Wikipedia being the final say, but it got me closer to understanding the word! Thanks for the dispatch, Michael!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Leyla Najma · 7 years ago
    This is my favorite post so far! I know I say that with a lot of them but it was great to see team effort and a gal behind the scenes. I'm impressed with everyone and grateful!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Orion · 7 years ago
    Yes, sir, our gear is expensive - and it requires maintenance, and it breaks.

    But you get what you pay for - Our stuff is accurate, incredibly effective, and lethal. Their stuff is occasionally lethal. I'll take OUR gear over THEIR gear any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

    I felt VERY secure with my M4, ACH, IBA, and IFAK. You couldn't trade any single piece of my equipment for their version and have me feel good about it.

    Orion
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Orion · 7 years ago
    Yes, sir, our gear is expensive - and it requires maintenance, and it breaks.

    But you get what you pay for - Our stuff is accurate, incredibly effective, and lethal. Their stuff is occasionally lethal. I'll take OUR gear over THEIR gear any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

    I felt VERY secure with my M4, ACH, IBA, and IFAK. You couldn't trade any single piece of my equipment for their version and have me feel good about it.

    Orion
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike · 7 years ago
    Daniel,

    A medevac company is attached to the same battalion as these guys and these particular guys very often provide med chase. I don't doubt you've seen either of these pilots a few times.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Wayne Philpot · 7 years ago
    Mr. Yon, I've always had great respect and admiration for the pilots that take on the difficult jobs and take care of the warriors on the ground. Not to sound too old fashioned (which I am), but I never thought I would be tempted to put the words "beautiful" and "helicopter pilot" in the same sentence!! The young lady pictured here in the article should be an inspiration to all American ladies... I would guess that there's steel and rawhide in this young lady and her sisters. Keep your head down, sir, and awesome reporting once again.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    joe enricio · 7 years ago
    thanks for bringing home your experiences and those of our soldiers in the hellholes of Iraq and Afganistan. Its eye-opening and causes much self reflection of how little my problems actually are.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Matthew · 7 years ago
    I fly out of KAF and am at Pasab and around the AO quite often as an aeroscout and often security for the aircraft and those guys on the ground. They have my complete and utter respect for what they do. I love to read your take on the action and get more perspective on their daily lives than I usually get from the air during my mission window and over the radio when it's "all business". Thanks for the dispatches, though I'm not that far away you've brought me closer to my brothers in arms.
  • This commment is unpublished.
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