The Kopp-Etchells Effect

A CH-47 helicopter whirls in with a “sling load” of resupplies from Camp Bastion to FOB Jackson in Sangin.

The pilot comes in fast, to the dark landing zone, lighted only by “Cyalumes,” which Americans call “Chemlights.” The sensitive camera and finely engineered glass make the dark landing zone appear far lighter.  The apparent brightness of the small Cyalumes provides reference.

A show begins as the helicopter descends under its halo.

The charged helicopter descends into its own dust storm.

Gently releasing the sling load.

The pilot hovers away from the load, pivots and begins to land.

The dust storm ripples and flaps over the medical tents.

Heat causes the engines to glow orange.

Dust begins to clear even before landing.  The helicopter, under its own halo, casts a moon shadow.


 

The halo often disappears when the helicopter ramp touches the ground.  Again, the conditions are quite dark, but the excellent camera gear has tiger vision.

The British medical staff treats many wounded Afghans who often show up at the gate.  In the photo above, Dr. Rhiannon Dart (right) observes as an Afghan patient is medically evacuated to the trauma center at Camp Bastion.  The medics and Dr. Dart are especially respected for the risks they equally share here.  The medical staff walks into combat just like the other soldiers—frequently side by side in close combat.  Numerous times per week, their battlefield work, often under intense pressure in hot and filthy conditions, is the deciding factor on whether soldiers or civilians survive or die.  I asked Dr. Dart if Afghan men have any reservations when being treated by a woman.  She answered that when men are seriously wounded—which is about the only time she sees Afghans as patients—they don’t care if she is a man or a woman.  During a mission last week, I saw an Afghan soldier walk by with a bandage on his hand.  Dr. Dart stopped the soldier, asking him to remove the bandage.  Contrary to harboring reservations, the soldier appeared relieved that she wanted—actually sort of politely demanded—to examine his injury.

The ramp lifts in preparation for takeoff and the halo begins to rematerialize before the helicopter lifts into the darkness and disappears.  Soldiers call the medevac flights to Camp Bastion, “Nightingales” or “Nightingale flights.”  Shortly after sunrise on the morning of 13 August, an element from this unit was ambushed nearby, killing three and wounding two others.   Despite the immediate danger, the helicopter came straight onto the battlefield.  After the initial ambush, and another successful ambush during the evacuation, the British soldiers did not return to base but continued with the mission.  Later that evening they were twice ambushed again, sustaining more fatalities as two interpreters were killed.  Soldiers asked me to go on that mission but I was busy assembling this dispatch.  One of the killed soldiers, shortly before the mission, had looked over my shoulder as I selected the photos.   Captain Mark Hale was killed while aiding a wounded soldier.  Mark had particularly liked the next three images:

Night after night, helicopters keep coming.  Last month a civilian resupply helicopter had tried to land at this exact spot but was shot down on final approach.  Two children on the ground and all persons aboard were killed.  The helicopter crews earn much respect.

Sometimes the halos appear like distant galaxies.

In motion, the halos spark, glitter and veritably crackle, but in still photos the halos appear more like intricate orbital bands.

Perhaps like the rings of Saturn.

The halos usually disappear as the rotors change pitch, dust diminishes and the ramp touches the ground.  On some nights, on this very same landing zone, no halos form.

Note: By request of the British Army, a handful of these photos were slightly altered to obscure base security measures.  The alterations are limited to minimal parts of several photos.

On another night, the helicopters return.  The camera is jostled, accidentally creating a double image.

Note: Most photos, such as this one, are unaltered other than normal 'black room' processing.

They keep coming.

What is this halo phenomenon called?  None of the American or British helicopter pilots seemed to have a name for the effect.  They provide only descriptions and circumscriptions.  I asked many people, and finally reached out to Command Sergeant Major Jeff Mellinger (one of my “break glass only if” sources whom I ask when other means have failed).  Jeff asked pilots, and came back with an excellent description from one pilot:

"Basically it is a result of static electricity created by friction as materials of dissimilar material strike against each other. In this case titanium/nickel blades moving through the air and dust. It occurs on the ground as well, but you don't usually see it as much unless the aircraft is landing or taking off. The most common time is when fuel is being pumped. When large tankers are being fueled they must be grounded to prevent static electricity from discharging and creating explosions."

But still no name.  How can the helicopter halos, so majestic and indeed dangerous at times, be devoid of a fitting name?


 

A phenomenon in need of a name.  Mark Hale had liked this image and the next.

I spent two weeks searching for a fitting handle but all attempts came to naught.

The halos are different every night.  Some nights they are intense, other nights dim, but often there are no halos.

There are explosions and fighting every day and night.

Under the moon.

This time exposure shows where the pilot briefly hovered before dropping in.

Our casualties in this war reached an all-time peak in July 2009 and the heaviest fighting was here in Helmand Province.  On 10 July, elsewhere in Helmand, some of America’s finest soldiers were hunting down Taliban.

Members of the U.S. 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment closed space with the enemy, apparently killing at least ten.  Corporal Benjamin Kopp was shot and evacuated to Germany, then back to the United States, where he died just over a week later on 18 July.  Benjamin was 21 years old and at the very tip of the spear.  If not for such men, we would be at the mercy of every demon.

Benjamin Kopp and his comrades were delivering the latest bad news to the sort of people who harbored the terrorists who attack innocent people around the world every day, and who attacked us at home on 9/11.  Ranger Kopp was a veteran with three combat tours.  He knew the risks, yet continued to fight.

Benjamin was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.  Secretary of Defense Robert Gates quietly attended the funeral, as did my good friend, Colonel Erik Kurilla, the new commander of Ranger Regiment, where Kopp served until America lost one of its finest Sons.

Yet the effect of Corporal Kopp did not end on the battlefields of Afghanistan; he only regrouped and continued to serve.  Corporal Kopp had volunteered as an organ donor and his heart was transplanted.  Two days after most people would have died, Benjamin Kopp’s heart was transplanted into Judy Meikle.  According to the Washington Post, Meikle said, "How can you have a better heart?" said a grateful Judy Meikle, 57, of Winnetka, Ill., who is still recovering from the surgery. "I have the heart of a 21-year-old Army Ranger war hero beating in me."

Other organs were also donated for other recipients.

Benjamin Kopp’s case is reminiscent of so many others whose names are and faces will forever remain unfamiliar to most of us.  The Angels Among Us are nearly always invisible to our eyes until it’s too late to say “thank you,” and “farewell.”

On August 11, I attended a small ceremony for a British soldier from this base in Helmand who was killed in combat the day after Benjamin passed.  His name was Joseph Etchells.  I was told how Joseph died in a bomb ambush, and that his last request was to be cremated, loaded into a firework, and launched over the park where he used to play as a kid.  When Joseph’s last request was explained, I burst out laughing and the British soldier who told me also was laughing.  The absurd humor of Joseph’s request was familiar, and it was as though Joseph were standing there with us, laughing away.

Joseph Etchells from 3 Plt, 2 Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was attached to 1 Plt, 2 Rifles

Lieutenant Alan Williamson was “Joey’s” platoon commander here in Sangin.  LT Williams said that the other soldiers called him “Etch,” or Joey, and that Etch was born in 1987.  He joined the army at age 16, though he could not deploy for combat until he was 18.  Etch did a tour in Northern Ireland and three tours in Afghanistan, including 2006 in Now Zad where he endured 107 days of straight combat wherein they fought literally every day.  In 2007 Etch deployed to Kabul and then performed “Public Duty” by guarding the Queen outside the palaces.

Lt Williams said that Etch was a, “Young and very keen Section Commander.  Most Section Commanders like to be a few men back so they can command without being in immediate danger, but “Etch” refused to be that far back, and was always right behind the [“point man.]  He was an outstanding runner.  He left his fiancé behind.  He would have been a very young sergeant.  He was an outstanding, outstanding soldier.”

Joseph Etchells and Benjamin Kopp were both Corporals in different armies.  Both had served three combat tours.  Ben was 21, Etch was 22, and they both fought their last battles in Helmand Province.  The names of these British and American warriors are listed consecutively in a roster chronicling our sacrifices in Afghanistan.

Last month there had been a large service here for Etch, but I witnessed a much smaller service where those closer to him came together to pay final respects.  This service in Sangin occurred on the same day that a final ceremony was being held back in the United Kingdom.  About twenty soldiers attended.  The event was quiet and respectful and I wanted to be back in the United Kingdom to salute the rocket launch as it carried away the payload of Joey’s ashes, and exploded over the park.  Here in Sangin, the bugler played and his buddies tossed their cap feathers into the Helmand River.  The red and white feathers drifted away in the same waters where Etch used to swim after missions, down into the desert.  Here they call it the “Dashti Margo,” the Desert of Death.

And so a fitting name had arrived to describe the halo glow we sometimes see in Helmand Province: Kopp-Etchells Effect, for two veteran warriors who died here in Helmand, Ben on the 18th, Joe on the 19th of July in the year 2009.  It’s not hard to imagine the two Corporals have already linked up and regrouped, and in sense they have.  Knowing combat soldiers, it’s easy to imagine them laughing away at the idea.

The Kopp-Etchells eponym can be seen as a cynosure for the many who have gone before the Corporals, and those who will follow.  I had talked to Captain Mark Hale nearly every day for two weeks.  Mark liked the name.  And then Mark himself was lost on Thursday along with Daniel Wild as they were aiding a wounded Matthew Hatton.  I heard very good things about Daniel Wild.  They say he was a good and tough soldier.  I’d seen Matthew Hatton on the battlefield and felt more confident by his presence.  Hatton was a well-respected man.  As for Mark Hale, I only knew him for two weeks.  Mark will be missed by many people, myself included.

The war goes on and all the fallen soldiers know what we must do.  We must keep moving.  There will be time in the future to pay proper respects, and to reflect upon their honor.  Now is not that time.

While waiting for a helicopter to land, there was activity on the perimeter, and then an unseen hand fired a flare so that we could see who was out there.


Epilogue:

The following men and women sacrificed their lives in Afghanistan since the time that Benjamin Kopp and Joseph Etchells passed on.  I am told that more names will soon be added to the list:

 

8/13/09

Cahir, William J.

Sergeant

40

US

8/13/09

Hale, Mark

Captain

 

UK

8/13/09

Wild, Daniel

Rifleman

19

UK

8/13/09

Hatton, Matthew

Lance Bombardier

23

UK

8/12/09

Tinsley, John

Captain

28

US

8/10/09

Ferrell, Bruce E.

Lance Corporal

21

US

8/10/09

Ambrozinski, Daniel

Captain

32

Poland

8/9/09

Schimmel, Patrick W.

Lance Corporal

21

US

8/8/09

Smith, Tara J.

Staff Sergeant

33

US

8/8/09

Olvera, Javier

Lance Corporal

20

US

8/8/09

Swanson, Matthew K.S.

Specialist

20

US

8/8/09

Williams, Jason

Private

23

UK

8/7/09

Burrow, Dennis J.

Lance Corporal

23

US

8/7/09

Evans Jr., Jerry R.

Sergeant

23

US

8/7/09

Freeman, Matthew C.

Captain

29

US

8/6/09

Adams, Kyle

Private

21

UK

8/6/09

Hopkins, Dale Thomas

Lance Corporal

23

UK

8/6/09

Mulligan, Kevin

Corporal

26

UK

8/6/09

Argentine, James D.

Lance Corporal

22

US

8/6/09

Babine, Travis T.

Lance Corporal

20

US

8/6/09

Rivera, Christian A. Guzman

Corporal

21

US

8/6/09

Hoskins, Jay M.

Sergeant

24

US

8/5/09

Garcia, Anthony C.

Petty Officer 3rd Class

21

US

8/4/09

Lombardi, Anthony

Craftsman

21

UK

8/2/09

Granado III, Alejandro

Sergeant 1st Class

43

US

8/2/09

Summers III, Severin W.

Sergeant 1st Class

43

US

8/2/09

Luce Jr., Ronald G.

Captain

27

US

8/1/09

Walls, Jonathan M.

Corporal

27

US

8/1/09

Fitzgibbon, Patrick S.

Private

19

US

8/1/09

Jones, Richard K.

Private 1st Class

19

US

8/1/09

Allard, Matthieu

Sapper

21

Canada

8/1/09

Bobbitt, Christian

Corporal

23

Canada

8/1/09

Bodin, Anthony

Caporal (corporal)

22

France

7/31/09

Miller, Alexander J.

Specialist

21

US

7/30/09

Posey, Gregory A.

Lance Corporal

22

US

7/30/09

Stroud, Jonathan F.

Lance Corporal

20

US

7/29/09

Vose III, Douglas M.

Chief Warrant Officer

38

US

7/29/09

Smith, Gerrick D.

Sergeant

19

US

7/27/09

Upton, Sean

Warrant Officer Class 2

35

UK

7/27/09

Lawrence, Phillip

Trooper

22

UK

7/25/09

Vincent, Donald W.

Private 1st Class

26

US

7/25/09

Hopson, Craig

Bombardier

24

UK

7/24/09

Coleman, Justin D.

Specialist

21

US

7/24/09

Xiarhos, Nicholas G.

Corporal

21

US

7/24/09

Lasher, Jeremy S.

Lance Corporal

27

US

7/23/09

Charpentier, Andrew Scott

Aviation Electronics Technician Airman

21

US

7/23/09

Lane, Ryan H.

Sergeant

25

US

7/22/09

King, Christopher

Guardian

20

UK

7/22/09

Rimer, Joshua J.

Sergeant

24

US

7/22/09

Neff, Jr., Randy L.J.

Specialist

22

US

7/21/09

Morales, Raymundo P.

Specialist

34

US

7/20/09

Shepherd, Daniel

Captain

28

UK

7/20/09

Owens Jr., Gregory

Sergeant

24

US

7/20/09

Lightfoot, Anthony M.

Specialist

20

US

7/20/09

Roughton, Andrew J.

Specialist

21

US

7/20/09

Pratt, Dennis J.

Private 1st Class

34

US

7/19/09

Etchells, Joseph

Corporal

22

UK

7/18/09

Kopp, Benjamin S.

Corporal

21

US

http://icasualties.org/OEF/Afghanistan.aspx

*Note: some photos were slightly altered to obscure base defenses.

 

Comments   

 
+1 # RWHannaway 2009-08-16 19:57
Hey Michael,

I was curious if you had a chance to read this http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=118227974092&h=7I-cM&u=msoAM and if so, what you think of the article... it's pretty benign but I was curious as to it's accuracy.
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+4 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectJeff 2009-08-16 19:58
Since 9/11/01 I knew this. I'm convinced this is a Good fight fought by Good people against an Enemy that is fighting an Eternal struggle to control the World (given the reality of todays' World, this is en ever-expanding definition). The common West doesn't get this, instead focusing on political expediency and trivial temporal concerns. I say perplexed because we (the West) are losing the best we have and the initiative while being too preoccupied with BS (bullsh*t), political or otherwise. Men like Joe Etchells are gone while the rest of the World will never give a flying leap. It's going to take a lot more before the West masses wake up. Meanwhile, more guys like Etchells will disappear. It makes me sick that these great people sacrifice for a populace that is so ungrateful/igno rant.
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+2 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectPaul S. 2009-08-16 20:17
The loss of these warriors is heartbreaking. Their resolve is inspiring.
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+3 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectDavid 2009-08-16 20:21
In an effort to get the name of the effect more wel known:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopp-Etchells_effect

Well done and a great idea for memorialising these guys.

Keep up the good work.
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+2 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectRWHannaway 2009-08-16 20:58
Michael,

Thank you for another heartfelt post. Your writing enables us to be right there with you (almost) as our emotions build while your words tear through our eyes. Your compassion for your fellow brothers in arms is inspiring and your reporting is spot on. Again, many thanks for your strong work. Be safe.

Randall
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+4 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectSingadick 2009-08-16 21:06
Well-written. You are obviously deeply touched by the losses, but keep it in check for accurate reporting.

Please keep in mind that, should you ever make that list, many hundreds who depend on your eyes, ears, and camera will have no way of knowing what is really going on there.

There are some cold ones waiting ... make sure you collect, please.
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells Effecta father 2009-08-16 21:45
So far this year it seems that losses will be double those of last year. For the UK the increase in losses since it entered Helmand in 2006 has been staggering, with 5 lost from 2001 to 2005 and then 199 lost since 2006, 67 so far this year. When losses reach these levels it is easy for individual names to be forgotten, and we must never forget the stories of heroism and family tragedy. Your idea to remember two individuals is a way of ensuring that at least two of the post 2001 heroes and heroines will not be forgotten. As an aside I have heard Mark Hale described as a legend not just by his CO but by others who had the honour to meet him and work alongside him, an individual who acted as a role model for many, and in whom in even a brief meeting others could sense the strength, and inspiration he gave, it will be a long time before many come to accept he is no longer with us.

Today though coalition soldiers will continue to walk or drive out of the gates and show determination to ensure that the fallen did not fall in vain.
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectDavid 2009-08-16 21:55
Thanks for the continued updates. Great stories of brave men. Make sure to tell the Britts we are impressed by their courage and very saddened for the loss of their brothers. I wish I could be there to meet them. Thanks for being our eyes and make sure to thank them for us!!

David
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# Joanie 2009-08-16 21:55
And thank you for bringing their stories to us.
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+2 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectP.K. Fields 2009-08-16 22:17
Great pictures, thank you..my son is in the 2/8.

I will be attending Lance Corporal Javier Olvera's funeral tomorrow.
Stay safe...God Speed.

P.K. Fields
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells Effectvicki 2009-08-16 22:32
micheal,
ive only been getting your posts for about 2 wks. i dont even know where i got the link. this post was quite sobering and im writing through tears for the men and women who have given their lives selflessly. may God be with their families in their loss. thanks for doing what you do.
god bless you too.
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# Jez 2009-08-16 23:14
Further to @david with an effort to get the name of the effect more well known - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopp-Etchells_effect

Michael, anychance you can place just ONE picture of the effect in the public domain? We need to add a picture to Wikipedia, and can't if you copyright it?
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+2 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectDebra Burlingame 2009-08-17 00:18
My profound gratitude to the fallen warriors whose names and stories are enscribed in this post. Reading about Corporals Kopp and Etchells, I am filled with love for two men I never knew. I wonder, what are the stories of the other names on that list? Last night I had dinner in New York City, at a busy restaurant a stone's throw from Ground Zero. There is no sense that we are at war. Michael Yon, thank you for persevering in dangerous places. I respectfully ask all readers to give what they can so that his intrepid reporting can continue. God bless the international coalition forces of Operation Enduring Freedom.

From the sister of Capt. Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame, III, pilot of American Airlines flt 77, Pentagon attack, Sept. 1, 2001
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# Ed 2009-08-17 00:27
re: the helicopter blades, "rotorndra" seemed good to me. Tragic about Etchells. Thanks.
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# alex nelon 2009-08-17 00:48
J.D. Argentine (killed 8/6) was the son of good friends ... he was, himself, a fine young man. We are seeing the best of this generation volunteering to serve at great peril to themselves. They know this and they volunteer to serve anyway. God bless them all.
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# WCOG 2009-08-17 01:08
I'm pretty sure this is an example of the Triboelectric Effect, but honestly I like your name better.
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectRobert 2009-08-17 02:22
Thank you M. Yon for all you do. Reading about the Ranger who donated his heart, his life to protect us from radicalism, I felt profound sorrow..damn these are fine men. When will the West really wake up to this threat? Its like A-stan is on another planet, we here at home are untouched. If/when another attack happens, [God forbid] maybe then? Godspeed Michael and to all the warriors there. They must know there are many, many that care and shed tears for them. This is very sad, but Etch's last request made me smile. Keep ur head down Mike, pls be careful. Tell the guys there are people who love them, and for all the sacrifice.
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# Marc 2009-08-17 02:36
Here's to us, and those like us. Damned few left. God bless 'em.
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectBarry Sheridan. Hampshire. England 2009-08-17 03:34
Michael,
Thank you for this sympathetic treatment of the lives and deaths of so many brave service personnel (and the excellent photographs).

It is heartening in a way to know that even in this world there are still those with the courage to step forwards and tackle a most difficult job on behalf of nations whose populations often cannot be bothered to give them a thought.

Your conribution remains a vital component of getting some perspective of what it going and how we are doing.Certainly if I relied on the UK MOD I would remain in the dark. It is also important that our guys realise that many of us care very deeply about their fate, even if all we can do is write irate letters to disinterested parliamentarian s (with the notable exception of Lady Anne Winterton).

Keep your head down, regards Barry Sheridan
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# Jerry Dyben 2009-08-17 03:50
Saint El·mo's fire (lmz)
n.
A visible electric discharge accompanied by ionization of surronding atmosphere on a pointed object, such as the mast of a ship or the wing of an airplane or helicopter.
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+2 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectJohn Lawson 2009-08-17 04:42
I lost my BEST friend and brother in Sagnin May 8th 2007. Not only was he a SF solider he was also a FireFighter Paramedic with skills and courage UNMATCHED by others. Micheal Yon you are an amazing man. Your courage and determination to tell and photograph these wonderful soiders from the US and the UK is a gift from GOD. I pray each and every day for all the soilders serving and for you Micheal. Thank you..
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# David M 2009-08-17 04:54
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 08/17/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

http://www.thunderrun.us/2009/08/from-front-08172009.html
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# KimH 2009-08-17 05:08
Fantastic photos and low light performance. Could you share what camera you're using these days?
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# Jimmy H 2009-08-17 05:12
I shed a tear today.

Thank you all for your service and sacrifice.
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# Steve Pratico 2009-08-17 05:16
Michael, thanks for bringing the lives of these brave soldiers to us. The mainstream media seems to just broadcast body-counts, seemingly nameless and anonymous body-counts.

Thank you for the telling the stories of these heroes and photographing their work. It really puts a face on a war that if too often forgotten here at home.

May God bless you and all of our brave soldiers.
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells Effectmaddy 2009-08-17 05:27
A very sweet story in rememberance of all that have fallen, including the naming of the "Nightingale" aura, the Kopp-Etchells Effect. I thought at first you had named it in passing, calling the copters "Nightingales!" However, naming the effect after two of the many gallant soldiers that have fallen, must give the living all the more drive and commttment to continue the job at hand and defeat the evil forces in that region.

You seem to be living a life that was meant to endure and report the news from the battle front. Otherwise, you could have been on tht fateful mission, when so many were lost. Some posts have said that the west doesn't care what's going on in Afghan, but Ican tell you, the silent majority in the USA DOES INDEED CARE, more than they will ever know. Americans know that freedom is never free and our fighting men and women and their coalition of brave soldiers will never let that be taken from us.

It's true that politicians at home have done their best to obscure what's going on in Afghan, with the health care debacle, home foreclosures, bank and auto industry bailouts, but we know our young men and women of our country and the coalition countries are fighting for their VERY LIVES and could care less about those things, but will fight to their deaths to preserve the right of those at home to dworry about those things!

Tell the Brits and other coalition partners that we shed our tears for their losses, just like they were our own, as they give their lives along side our troops. All for one and One for ALL! Save travels Michael!
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-1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectAndre 2009-08-17 06:15
Thanks so much for honoring our fallen warriors. You and these brave men and women are the sort that have built and defended the greatest civlizations mankind has ever known. May God protect you all and bring you home safe and sound. Please send send my condolences to our British comrades. Though I think they talk funny :-), I have no doubt of their courage and commitment. Best regards.
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# Scott Dudley 2009-08-17 06:18
TARAKAI, Afghanistan — A group of Taliban fighters made their announcement in the bazaar of a nearby village a few days ago, and the word spread fast: anyone caught voting in the presidential election will have his finger — the one inked for the ballot — cut off.

So in this hamlet in southern Afghanistan, a village of adobe homes surrounded by fields of corn, the local people will stay home when much of the rest of the country goes to the polls on Thursday to choose a president.

"We can't vote. Everybody knows it," said Hakmatullah, a farmer who, like many Afghans, has only one name. "We are farmers, and we cannot do a thing against the Taliban."
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# Rob Root 2009-08-17 06:27
Remembrance
by Rob Root

Throughout their lives they tried,
To fight for the way of the cause.
In honorable ways they died,
Yet we could not give pause.
Now that the fight is done,
Those that we cherish are safe.
Our friends are gone...
Did they seal their fate,
So that we may endure,
The things they held so dear?
After all this time,
We must try and make amends.
Now is the time,
To honor our fallen friends.
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# OldSoldier54 2009-08-17 06:29
Great post, Mike. Never forget. Ever.
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# Bob Shannon 2009-08-17 06:39
Jeez, a CH-46. They were old when I joined the Marine Corps nearly 40 years ago. Talk about q flying antique.
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# Dimitris 2009-08-17 07:03
The helli in the pictures is the CH-47 not the CH-46..
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# Paul Donal 2009-08-17 07:07
Prosaically, what you saw was electroluminesc ence. Sometimes known as the von Guericke effect, after the first man deliberately to produce it. Your title is better.
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# ErikZ 2009-08-17 07:20
These are great photos, but they're pretty small. I'd love to see you publish these in a book someday.
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# conrad wells 2009-08-17 07:40
Thanks michael ,Im sorry to see people I used to know stilll there.But am glad that their story is being reported, and the guys I knew are still the blokes i used to know , still taking the urine out of each other while doing the job. I have no idea what they are going through, ( I left in 2002). If you see anybody who was in c.o.p, millenium tour or mortar platoon in blackpool say hi from machine.
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectEd Beimfohr 2009-08-17 08:59
God bless you, Brother Yon, accept our thanks for your fine work and be brave. I am an old warrior, an ex-Marine Viet Nam combat vet, and know well the tortuous path trod by you and the courageous men and women whose stories you commemorate. My soul salutes them - Yank, Brit, and NATO alike - and you, and all those honorable enough to have gone before and who will go again.
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# Sam Perkins 2009-08-17 09:21
A moving and inspiring piece. Thanks Mr. Yoh
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# Paul Quade 2009-08-17 09:34
The static discharge already has a name; "Saint Elmo's Fire." It's been called that for centuries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Elmo's_Fire
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectMike H 2009-08-17 09:40
Michael,

I was struck by your dispatch; the very first name that appears on your list, Sgt Bill Cahir, fell last week in Afghanistan. He was a member of 4th CAG and a 40 year old Marine Sgt. His brother was a classmate of mine at State College High School and Bill and I are alumni of Penn State University. Bill is the third soldier of the sea from PSU to die in combat since 9/11; the first two were Lt. Michael Murphy USN/SEAL and Captain Todd Seibert, USMC.

Bill left journalism after 9/11 to enlist in the Marine Corps at 34. He deployed to Iraq, fought in Fallujah and ran unsucessfully in the most recent PA Democrat primary in Pennsylvania. He was on his 3rd combat tour and left behind a wife pregnant with twins. He will be laid to rest at Arlington sometime next week.

Thanks for everything that you do.

Semper Fidelis.
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# P. Ross 2009-08-17 10:12
Michael, please consider adding some of these photos to your online store. I would love to buy a print.
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# C.G.B. 2009-08-17 10:44
Michael,

Re: Helicopter Halo - you could call it the Hale Effect?
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# Jim Rotramel 2009-08-17 10:58
Michael,

You might also want to post a couple of the clearer shots of the Chinook on Airliners.net, an aviation photography site that is widely viewed by aviation enthusiasts and a great way to help get the name into common usage.

Stay safe.
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+1 # PhilMB 2009-08-17 11:03
St. Elmo's Fire runs actinic-white to blue; whereas these exhibit the typical heating paradigm of a meteor, going red-orange-yell ow-white. I suspect it is more that the high-speed boundary layer of air on the rotors is creating dust particle meteor swarms as the particles are instantly heated to vaporization. I like Michael's name for it - the Kopp-Etchells Effect.

And thank you Michael, for your travels in harm's way to provide us with a truthful and sobering view of this current conflagration. Please convey my thanks and prayers to them all, and that they safely return in glory.
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# Papa Ray 2009-08-17 11:06
Michael's chosen path to not only tell our Warrior's stories but to chronicle the battles and try and inform the world is something that few men in the history of the world have done and few have done as well as Michael Yon.

Everyone who reads this needs to spread the word by email and by telling of Michael's Quest and Chronicles.

Also everyone needs to remember that no one except his readers are supporting him. Everyone needs to encourage donations to Michael. I have not been able to give much through the years to Michael, but I have always considered it money well spent.

I have two grandsons now in the Military, and one more chomping at the bit to become a United States Marine. So far my two who are serving are serving out of actual combat but that can change at any time and they stand ready to go.

As previously stated, the vast majority of the world doesn't care about the wars or those that fight in them, even though without these men and women, sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters the world would be a very terrible place for all of them...and us.

So, make it your personal responsibility to get the word out and help Michael tell his stories and present his pictures to the world.

You know it is the right thing to do.

Papa Ray
West Texas
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# Chuck Cooksey 2009-08-17 11:14
Michael,
I have gotten your notes from a friend for a long time. I just wanted to tell you how much an old marine and Army guy respects your efforts. I will do what I can to continue to support our troops and our country and your efforts.
Thanks
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# Ron Heffield 2009-08-17 11:20
Michael, another dispatch that puts us on the dusty LZs of a country a world away, and moves us to carry the sadness of seeing fine men and women ground away by war. Thank you, friend, for connecting our hearts to them and helping us pause to embrace them across the miles, and into eternity.

I bet your posts and pictures short out A LOT of keyboards.

The copter pics are truly amazing, and the second to last especially so. You can almost see the cap and flowers left behind by the warrior heros.

Maybe that's why they call them halo-copters.

Stay safe, and keep shooting and posting.
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells Effectjjm 2009-08-17 12:21
Michael,
Kim and I spent time with Ben's family in the days before his mother made the decision to give him away. You will travel a very long distance and time to find another human being so full of love, life and grace as Jill. I was unable to attend the funeral at Arlington (was in Saudi Arabia), but Kim was there. Thanks for acknowedging CPL Kopp in the same way oyu do so many others.
Jeff
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# sagman44 2009-08-17 14:29
Thank God there are such men. Thank God there are people like Yon to tell us about them.

"Catherine wheel--a kind of firework supported on a pin which, when ignited, revolves rapidly and gives a dazzling display of light."
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# Chase Kenyon 2009-08-17 15:39
I sent the link to my brother Craig who was the team leader of the refueling ops for build up for Desert Storm along with many other missions. The extremely rare lead taknker driver who was also a qualified fighter pilot and stunt plane instructor with his own Pitts 6. He now drives MD-11s for FedEx.

Our Father was a founding member of the American Heliicopter society and was instrumental in founding the first two attack helicopter squadrons in Korea. he worked for Sikorski, then NASA(when it was NACA) handling the initial research on rotor tips going supersonic in a dive. He then worked with Frank Piaseki as military liiason (Frank was my godfather) then for many years with Charles Kaman. When he finally retired from active reserves his mobilization billet was to take over as pres of the Naval War College. He passed on in June of 2008.

"Dad would have appreciated the way this correspondent/P hotographer handled this.


http://www.michaelyon-online.com/the-kopp-etchells-effect.htm

"

Thank you for your dediication.
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# Chase Kenyon 2009-08-17 15:50
Yep First it was a Piaseki , Then a Chinook and they are still flying as the heavy load carriers of our soldiers.

Proud to have it's original designer as my Godfather.

CHase
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+2 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectChase Kenyon 2009-08-17 16:00
"Sgt Bill Cahir, USMC
Michael,

I was struck by your dispatch; the very first name that appears on your list, Sgt Bill Cahir, fell last week in Afghanistan. He was a member of 4th CAG and a 40 year old Marine Sgt. His brother was a classmate of mine at State College High School and Bill and I are alumni of Penn State University. Bill is the third soldier of the sea from PSU to die in combat since 9/11; the first two were Lt. Michael Murphy USN/SEAL and Captain Todd Seibert, USMC.

Bill left journalism after 9/11 to enlist in the Marine Corps at 34. He deployed to Iraq, fought in Fallujah and ran unsucessfully in the most recent PA Democrat primary in Pennsylvania. He was on his 3rd combat tour and left behind a wife pregnant with twins. He will be laid to rest at Arlington sometime next week.

Thanks for everything that you do.

Semper Fidelis.


Thank you for pointing out that when it comes to the dirty work for country, for NATO , where ever we are sent Often Marines and Navy are the closest of brothers. I owe my life to a couple of marines and a couple of them owe me but we neveer look at it that way. We just find a way no matter what to bring our own home. I can't carry two Boston phone books very far anymore but I can still swim deep and far.

Thanks for the rememberance of our unity.

CHase
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectJBD 2009-08-17 18:15
Aurora sikorskialis
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# Dave Anderson 2009-08-17 19:46
"Kopp-Etchells Halo" could be an enduring extension of the Triboelectric effect which is noted in the embrionic Wikipedia listing for Kopp-Etchells Effect. Does it occur with single rotor choppers also or is it only apparent with twin rotor craft ? Your prose is a powerful tribute to the warriors and an inspiration for each of us -- thank you.
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# casstx 2009-08-17 20:12
Thank you for your reports. These pictures are beautiful and this tribute is terribly touching. Excellent work, both photography and writing. I know you're headed for the Marines, and I hope you get a chance to head out sometime in the northeast with some SOF units. My man is there and your reports keep me closer to him. Thank you!
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectDaniel 2009-08-17 20:17
Thank you for the great photos- but more importantly, thank you for the heartfelt story, thank you for your service, and thank you for your tribute to the fallen.
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+2 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectHuddy04 2009-08-17 20:29
I have had nephews fight in Irag, and another three have completed tours in Afghanistan. I found out tonight after reading your article that a fourth is there now in harm's way. I regret that many people might see a cable headline or very small article about "4 soldiers killed in Helmand Province" and not realize these are real men and women. They are sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers, each one leaves a gapping hole in the hearts of dozens of people. The same thing occurs as we too often give a fleeting curiosity to a local story about a tragic automobile accident. We forget that these are real people. You have a gift for helping the rest of us to understand that they are our neighbors, our family, and friends that are out there protecting not just those of us at home, but helping the innocent souls who live these war torn countires. When I read your posts such as this one, I come away with a better understanding of what "honor" truly means. Thank you for your work.

I will be starting a new job soon, my first since being unemployed for the past 23 months. I promise you a cut from my first paycheck. Thank you again.
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# Rob Castellano 2009-08-17 22:02
Amazing pictures and If this effect already has a name like some say I would say change it to honor these brave soldiers. Keep up the good work and stay safe. Thanks!
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectGordoun Flint 2009-08-18 01:58
My step son is serving in the "embeded team" you write about in "no young soldiers". We worry constantly about him, but your conversations with him, reported by name and deed by you, were enlightening. We can only hope he comes home safe, but we know he works to keep you and his comrads safe at all times. You do an important and dangerous job, thank you.
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+2 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectWill Nichols 2009-08-18 05:45
As I sat here and read this article its really amazing to think of this effect that many have called St. Elmo's Fire for years being named something different based on what you have seen and experienced with the MEN that you are surrounded by each day. It is great to see a journalist/repo rter talking about the human side of these soldiers. I thank each one of them not for me but for the willingness that each of them has to defend their friends in battle and their families as well. If not for this generation of heroes our children would have no one to look up to like I did with my grandfather and father from WW2 and Viet Nam.

Stay safe Mr. Yon and keep up the good work.
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# Tim Brownlee 2009-08-18 07:03
I am so humbled and grateful for the sacrifices made by true British and American heros. Thank you Michael for your continued patriotic efforts to provide the truth to us who crave it. Stay safe, and keep your wits about you.
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+2 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectJoe Marquez 2009-08-18 07:09
Michael, I was forwarded this e-mail by a friend. I was touched by the poignant way in which you spoke of our warriors. Some of us maintain a brotherhood which transcends national boundaries. It is a solemn duty to go into battle with the objective of taking another man's life. Yet at times it must be done in order to stop the wanton destruction of those whose only crime perhaps, is being in the way. Evil is not contained by words alone. Men of action and determination have to stand against the monstrous attempts of men without conscience who use terror deliberately in order to achieve their ends. Early on in human history God gave men the responsibility to restrain, by force if necessary, the actions of the few that threaten the safety of the many. In every conflict against oppression, the contest becomes this. Will force used for evil intent prevail, or will it be overcome by force used for good. Having been a warrior, I understand what happens in deadly clashes between armed men on the battlefield. Bloodshed is ugly. I have keenly felt the anguish at the loss of friends, and a brother in Vietnam. My son, the Marine, follows in my steps, three tours in Iraq, now soon to Afghanistan. Will I mourn him as we now mourn those who gave their lives so far in this present conflict? I do not know. But I will not weaken his resolve by selfish attempts to deter him from doing his duty to his country, to humanity and yes, to his God. Those who desire peace at any price are naive at best and cowardly at worst. I honor those brave souls who refuse to sit on the sidelines with those who pretend that all's well with the world as long as it doesn't touch them. I raised my son, with his siblings on the mission field of Paraguay, in order to let him see the crying needs of a weary world. And to inspire him not only to see it but to do something about it. I am proud of him, and of those like him. Thank you for your efforts to give balance to the one sided reporting. Thank you for your willingness to stand in harm's way to give us a much needed perspective. May He who loves the brave watch over you.
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# Matthew 2009-08-18 10:53
Thanks for putting the list of names up Michael. I am glad to see Captain Freeman's name there (Aug 7, 2009). He was a Marine. I went to his funeral, in Georgia, despite two airliners breaking down on my family and myself on our way there.
Stay safe Michael.
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# Rick 2009-08-18 17:56
Caught up in my own struggles it is easy to forget the sacrafices these young men make. It spite of the negative press we are very blessed to have dedicated warriors looking out for us, taking the fight to the enemy.
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# Peggy Miller 2009-08-19 04:03
I pray for the troops every day. Thank you for the awesome pictures and story.
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectKathie Green 2009-08-19 05:45
Michael, I paused to read your story on the fight in Afghanistan. Found the pics of our soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division and then later the list of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice through their lives for our Country. My cousin, Alex J. Miller, is listed as he gave his life on July 31, 2009. God bless what you are doing in keeping us informed. May the Lord protect you.
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# Thomas Abella 2009-08-19 09:09
Michael - thank you for all your work and sacrifice. Might I respectfully ask if anyone has thought to have some sort of tarp placed on the ground before a helo comes in; this would reduce the dust considerably. In fact, in one of your photos a tarp is draped over other supplies. One of these could removed and placed in the landing zone to reduce dust-ups. Again, thanks very much for your continued bravery and thanks to the bravery of our fighting forces in Afghanistan.
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# in_awe 2009-08-19 16:44
They are remembered by more than you might think.

I live in Irvine, California where a grass roots group of citizens spontaneously crafted handmade memorial crosses in 2003 to honor the fallen Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq. For six years the number of crosses each bearing photographs, names, ranks, age, hometown and cause of death of the fallen heroes has increased. Each year my family and I attended the Memorial Day service to pay our respects; this year we decided to participate in the daily services from Memorial Day through July 5th.

Each night a different group of people stopped by and helped replace and light 150 candles, one for each memorial. We had local citizens, but others came from several states and a handful of countries to pay their respects. It was common to see a veteran of the war on terror stop and quietly sit in front of a memorial and then leave. I can honestly say that it was among the most moving experiences of my life, to see the faces of all the fallen and hear their stories and honor them with the pledge of allegiance, a prayer and taps.

The group of citizens is now working to create a permanent memorial on the same site that will have all the names etched in granite panels displayed in a beautiful setting. We hope to have it completed by next May. To read more about this effort go to www.northwoodmemorial.com and view the video about how it all started.

If you wish to honor the fallen in your town, just do it. It doesn't require the government's permission or money, just gather a group of like minded neighbors and do it. Trust me you'll meet new friends and feel better for the effort. The testimonies of gratitude from the local Gold Star Families for remembering their children/siblin gs/parents will move you to tears.
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# Jason 2009-08-19 17:42
Michael, I have family members that have fought in almost every major conflict, war, excursion, or whatever you want to call it, from Vietnam on back to the Revolution. I confess that even with such a family tree, I find myself on again and off again following the war, and remembering our service members. Even typing the word "war" it has a tiresome feel to it, and this concerns me. God be praised for brave young lads such as these, and their sacrifices, too numerous to record, all on our behalf. We homebound citizens must be fierce to remember them, and fierce to honor them when we see them at home. God help us.
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectJohn Tinsley 2009-08-20 12:24
A friend and shipmate send me this article, my son John is listed on the 12th of August. He died doing what he knew to be the right for our country and family. I received the honor of reading his commisioning paperwork in 2002, and of him reading me my retirement orders in 2006, the first was in person, the last via speaker phone from Baghdad during his 2nd tour in support of the war on terror. To the survivors of all the father's,mother s, husbands, wifes, son's, daughters, brother's and sisters, I feel your loss, and do not believe it to be in vain.
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# Georgia Barbin 2009-08-20 16:35
A friend whose son is an Army Ranger (he has served several tours in Afghanistan and elsewhere) sent me the funeral notice of Sgt. Alejandro Granado of Tatum, Texas. I think she tries to make sure that, while she knows she can't keep up with them all, the fallen heroes from our great state do not go unnoticed and their families and friends are not left feeling no one else mourns with them. We both signed his online memorial book; we both prayed for his family, as we do ALL our troops (joined by many others here in Galveston) and those of our allies. God protect and preserve you all; many blessings for your courage and dedication to duty. To you, Michael, thanks for keeping it immediate and real for us so that WE do not slack in our daily prayers. We help one another with reminders by email and such, but your reports bring home the urgency and necessity of undergirding our military men and women with the knowledge that they are constantly in the thoughts of many, and that they ARE appreciated. I linked to your blog from that of J.R. Rawles (www.survivalblog.com), a former soldier who also keeps many aware of what is going on underneath the distractions of politics and the economy. Best wishes and prayers are coming your way, too.
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# Bear 2009-08-20 18:35
Only the best we have to offer serve to remove the tyrants. I appreciate all our young freedom fighting soldiers more than words alone can describe. The Kopp-Etchelles halo is a fitting name as these two and your story helped me to get back up and start fighting again. Apathy is not allowed ! We need our Veterans to return home safely and run for the House and Senate to displace the morons. You all are the real leaders so please return safely home to us . We will help you continue the fight asking people to vote for the men and women that understand. God Bless you all!
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# Richard John Purvis 2009-08-21 11:20
This is one Canadian who is neither ungrateful nor ignorant. I honour the men and women from all Western nations who have taken up arms to defend civilization from Islam.
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells Effectcapt bill 2009-08-22 16:08
for Thomas Abella: I flew helos in Viet Nam for the Marine Corps. The idea of putting a tarp on the ground would never work. The downdraft under a landing Chinook is hurricane force winds. What you would get would be a disasterous crash as the tarp blows off the ground into the rotors. Better the halo effect and eroded rotor blades, which can be replaced.
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectJohn Karlsruher 2009-08-25 11:24
This takes me back to my time in Viet Nam as a Huey Crew Chief. Thanks for the dispatch Michael. God Bless our fighting forces who make the workd a better and safer place.
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# SFC K 2009-08-26 01:58
Thanks for telling the story and adding honor to those that fought.
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# Cathi L. 2009-08-26 10:42
My brother teaches physics at a science & technology high school in the Washington, DC, area, and has received numerous awards for his work on science journals and teaching physics. I wrote to him about the Kopp-Etchells Effect and he agreed I could post his response: "Sure, you can quote me. One cannot know for sure without further testing and verification, but what I wrote would be my hypothesis (educated guess). I will ask my students this year if anyone wants to take this on as a research investigation."

Here is his hypothesis:

Hi Cathi,
While it's useful to add additional nomenclature for a specific effect (e.g., Kopp-Etchells Effect for rotating helicopter blades in dust), it doesn't lead us to a complete explanation. These are amazing pictures, but I thought about a different effect given the nature of the sand crystals in the dust.

Airplanes often accumulate electrostatic charge due to friction (triboelectric effect) as they move through the air or even due to static charge separated and accumulated by the air itself from rapid movement of wind (consider the spark that set off the fire in the Hindenburg disaster). This charge is usually dissipated at the sharpest points of the object where the electric fields are naturally highest (this is one reason we use lightning rods - sharp points to spray excess charge into the air). Most aircraft have such electrostatic charge dissipators built into their designs. If there were a buildup of charge beyond what the charge dissipation devices could handle then we would see sparks occurring from the tips of wings (or helicopter blades) as a coronal discharge or even a complete spark. It would look like miniature lightning or electrostatic glowing at the sharpest tips, but on the helicopter blade edges and tips.

But these pictures seem to show a different effect. If you look closely, the glowing is not coming from the metal blades but from the dust itself. It exists in the dust AFTER the blade has passed. This would seem to suggest more of a piezo-electric effect. The piezo-electric effect occurs because crystals such as quartz (e.g., as found in sand and sand dust) are compressed from some kind of rapid impact (like being hit by a rapidly rotating helicopter blade) and cause excess electrostatic fields on the surface of each crystal, often thousands of volts, that can discharge right on the crystal. Piezo-electric crystals are today used in charcoal grill lighters and on most gas stove lighters. When you use a charcoal grill lighter you pull a trigger that slams an internal hammer against a crystal at the end of the lighter where a spark is generated to light the fumes coming from charcoal lighter fluid.

From a blog in 2003:
"Those aircraft are hovering, and those flashes of light are the sand particles emitting bright glows as they are disturbed. It is the piezoelectric effect, where a crystal makes a big energy shift when its crystal lattice is mechanically disturbed. This is the way a diamond record needle drives the sound into the amplifier. The goggles amplify about 40,000 times, so these very dim glows look like sparks. As an experiment, get fully dark adapted, then smash a sugar cube with a hammer. The glow is a shocking green!" (NickLappos, 27th April 2003, 05:25)

The blog continued with one person suggesting that the effect may be caused by burning bits of metal being emitted by the helicopter blades like grinding metal from a high speed sander. But I think that those bits of metal would be thrown off the wings outward. These glowing particles seem to stay in place as the blade passes.

Bob


If you are interested, I'll let you know if a student does take him up on this and what the results are.

Thank you for all you do, Michael!
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# R.E Smith 2009-08-26 15:53
Outstanding photos without question & something none of us have seen in life.

Mind you the loss of lives of Western World people seems to sensless considiering it will go back to Talibin, War Lords to Tribes.

Regarding the CH-46 to CH-47 in Canada we call them Schnook choppers & have been the best ever. Fact is we have a lot more Ch-47 with some modifications on order here in Canada.
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectIan Wendt 2009-08-26 18:45
Mr. Yon,

I've read your blogs on and off for several years now. Your reporting has without a doubt been some of the most interesting and worthwhile coming out of the middle east. Thank you for the work you do. It's amazing and I'm sure, quite thankless.
I just enlisted with the US Army as an 11X. I'll be shipping to BCT at the end of october. Ideally, my name will never show on the list of deceased, but if it does, I'd want you to report it. Nobody else comes even close to doing justice to those that have made the ultimate sacrifice.
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# Paula 2009-08-26 19:58
A thousand times over I thank you for your dispatches and all that you do to bring the news on the front to us. Would be even better if your dispatches were picked up by any national/world network for a weekly brief. Hmm, wonder how I could get Refdesk to include your dispatches.
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# Peter Troedson 2009-08-27 02:14
Michael,
Benjamin was from right here in Minnesota, I believe Rosemount, south of St. Paul. His funeral was huge. He had it at the same funeral home my wife had hers at, about 2 weeks later. I had no idea about the transplant though, it was not mentioned in the papers. My own son has volunteered to donate his organs upon death. It sort of shocked me. Heroes!!
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# Mark Sales 2009-08-27 08:40
I had your article forwarded to me and am very glad I took the time to read it. I flew UH-60's for years in the U.S. Army and have experienced the halo effect many times when doing night operations. It is particularly vivid when using a night vision device but can also be seen with the naked eye. I would often gaze at it with wonder when a number of aircraft were in line in front of me and there were numerous glowing rings. It is quite a sight. To answer an earlier post, yes, it also happens with single rotor helicopters.

I remember hearing it called St. Elmo's Fire and also the piezoelectric effect but am fully behind the fitting name change proposed by you. To suggest a respectful and memorializing name to a building, a park, or in this case a common yet largely unknown effect is honorable. Thank you. And to all those who are spending many days of their lives fighting, and sometimes dying for the freedoms, dignity and lives of others, THANK YOU.
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# Adolf Hitler 2009-08-27 20:27
JEBAĆ CWKS
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-2 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectRadical 2009-08-27 21:16
They sacrefice their lifes... By in the name of what... Freedom? Or maybe money and corrupted politics? I'm really sorry for all those soldires who died in those stupid wars, but hey what do you expect when you assult someones country?
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectPete Rivenburg 2009-08-28 11:19
After waiting for the tears to stop, I wanted to add a bit.
The effect seen is very probably from little bits of quartz crystals in the dust getting hit by the rotor blades. When piezoelectric crystals deform they release very high voltage jolts of electricity. Piezoelectric quartz is very common.

Michael yon is an incredible human being. I wish I had the nads to go where he goes. Keep the picture sharp on our boys & girls Michael, we are buoyed up by your reports, even as we grieve for the losses.
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# Debbie Alexander 2009-08-29 06:17
Thank you for bringing the heroes into out homes via the internet. This certainly is information that major networks don't or won't report. Keep up the great work.
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectJulie Davies, Jennie Etchells 2009-08-29 07:47
Micheal
We just want to thank you for this wonderful halo effect that has been created and named after Joey, we miss him so much, when we are on a low we look at this page and it puts a smile on our face.
Joey will be missed everyday forever.
Thank you
Love
Julie (Joey Fiance) and Jennie (Joey Sister) xxx
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectBill Stafford 2009-08-29 09:06
Michael Yon is a retro-reporter. What I mean by that is that he is a patriotic reporter/photog rapher the likes of which we have not seen since the Korean war. 'Modern' reporters seem to think it is a pre-requisite of the job to find fault with Americans, Brits, Canadians, et al. This is the first dispatch of Michael's that I have seen. I will subscribe, to be sure.

Perhaps some business owners who read his posts would sponsor his efforts for a Public TV type plug i.e. "This post made possible by support from: Acme Widget & Gadgets, Smalltown, Anystate. Any takers? We need more Michael Yons and fewer NY Times reporters.

Kudos to you, Michael, and to the patriots you write about and photograph.
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectRichard and Elizabeth 2009-08-30 13:07
Thanks Michael. You are indeed a true patriot when there are so few in this global struggle. My wife and I are both American veterans of the 91 Persian Gulf War, and I returned from western Iraq just a couple of years ago. The Brits were hard and heavy in both wars and we will always remember their bravery and professionalism . Those fine traits are common among all the Coalition Forces in all fronts of the Global War on Terror. We won't be going to Afghanistan but we support our troops, and yours, and we support their efforts. God bless you in your efforts to bring home the truth when the media in both our countries bang their drums in support of their own agenda. God bless our warriors and grant them victory.
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# kiwi 2009-08-31 18:26
Piezoelectric effect for sure.Check for quatrz in the dust - or ask helo mechs how the turbine blades are wearing.
Keep safe.
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# Peter Russell-Blackburn Gt Britain 2009-08-31 22:43
Our yougest son has been told he is to go the the Afghan theatre within the next few months, he is the apple of his mothers eye, and a hero to his sisters, we are all petrified,. not just for him, but for all the fine and brave soldiers who are out fighting what we are told is the most major fight by the so called civillised West against terrorism, we that is the NATO led countrys have lost men in a pointless conflict to help get a vote for an already confirmed corrupt regime.

Whenever I see a TV report of returning Soldiers who are carried with great ceremony through the village of Wotton Bassett, I am reduced to tears at the thought of the trauma the families of those Soldiers are being put through

1000000 votes are not worth the life of one Soldier, from whatever Country, thank you Michael for your accurate and unbiased reports and stories and pictures regarding ALL the brave young Soldiers from all countries out there in the Afghan conflict.
Peter Russell-Blackbu rn
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-2 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectViktor 2009-09-01 22:14
I'm reading this , and can't help my self but I have to ask for what reason do you send your children to these God forsaken lands to fight and lose lives ? You can't establish democracy there , and they are no threat to your homes . I understand situation with Iraq ( i don't agree ) , but Afganistan ? They don't have oil, gold or something like that , only product from there is heroin , and production of that evil doesn't stop with coalition forces placed there .

Anyway , I wish that your sons and daughters return home safe , and to have good lives. That they don't have to shot to anybody , and that nobody have to shot them . War is Hell on Earth , I know that much.

Viktor , Croatia
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# Roger Ek 2009-09-02 01:22
It is St. Elmo's fire as the engineer stated above. I have seen it a few times. It occurs when there is very low humidity and there are particles in the air such as smoke or dust. The light is caused by static electricity discharges. I was a military helicopter pilot.
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# WWW 2009-09-02 09:08
This is a nice story to honor a fallen brother. The pictures are unique, thank you. Most important God Bless the Troops!!!!! The sacrifices that they make on a daily bases are not forgotten, and will always be in our hearts and prayers. I can't say anything else, that hasn't been already said. Ecept Thank You to all the Men and Women, protecting my rights as an American.
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# Tom 2009-09-02 20:57
Hi. Would you consider posting your Kopp-Etchells photos on the PPRuNe Rotorheads helicopter photo thread? They would be a great addition to the biggest collection of helicopters at work photos on the net.
http://www.pprune.org/rotorheads/292051-rotorheads-around-world-incl-views-cockpit.html
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-1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectBen Trapnell / Prior Navy 2009-09-04 12:03
Not to diminish the intent of the story, I believe the "effect" in question is actually known as "St. Elmo's Fire. The name was coined by early sailors.
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# Jeff James 2009-09-04 19:58
The effect can't be completely piezoelectric because it dissipates when the helo's ramp is dropped. The ramp acts as a giant grounding (earthing for you in the UK) rod.

Regardless, from today on, it's the Kopp-Etchells effect. As an aside, you haven't lived until you've seen a baby Second Lieutenant decide things aren't moving fast enough during a sling load operation and grab the hook with a bare hand. A secondary presentation of the Kopp-Etchells effect can be seen when the young officer's eyes go wide, his hair stands up and he makes a sound something like, "SHEEIIIGGGGGUU UBBBBBBUUUUBBBB UUUUUUBBBBB!" It keeps happening and it's never going to get old.

New year is coming up and I'm going to launch a few rockets for Etch and Koop. They and the others on the list have gone into my memorial and get a shot lifted when ever I get a chance.

Thank you, Michael
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# Serge Simard 2009-09-05 18:49
What's wrong with Fire Blades?

Keep it simple. Works for me.

Simplistic? Who cares?

Michael, you have my respect, sir. I'm a civilian, not tested under fire and you hold the job I'd dream of having.

I'm just not worthy.

Cheers.
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# Jerry R Brooks 2009-09-10 08:39
Beautiful pictures but I'm so very sorry they were taken in a place that is not worth a the death of one US (or our allies) service person. I agree with a previous writer that the halo's are most probbaly Saint Elmo's Fire. I have seen it on helicopter blades at night while flying in the Gulf of Mexico for the oil industry. Temperature and humidity affect the display's effects. Sometimes the "fire" will appear to "drip" or jump from around from place to place.
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectPavePilot 2009-09-14 14:56
As a current pilot of one of the Pedros from your "Voter" article, the descriptions from PhilMB and CathiL sound most accurate. They are also correct that this is not St. Elmo's Fire. Although I have not yet been to the desert (departing in the spring), stories of the blade-erosion and resulting "show of sparks" caused by the rocky dust/dirt are well documented in our community. Believe it or not, it can be bright enough to degrade the performance of NVGs under certain conditions. Regardless, I have never heard a specific name for it and I will begin to use the Kopp-Etchells Effect in hopes that it will spread, at least among Air Force helo guys. Best of luck!
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# Lloyd Wilson 2009-09-15 07:08
Thank you for your service and spread that thanks. It is sad that every generation has to loose so many of it's strongest and best. And the ignorant and ungrateful live on and reproduce here at home.

There are a lot of us who ARE grateful to you ALL.
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# Dinah Lord 2009-09-19 06:45
Well, I'm crying now, Michael. Such a beautiful and moving tribute to such brave, magnificent soldiers. Thank you for bringing their stories to us.

Your photos are a strong testament to them.

Stay safe and may God bless you.
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# Gerald L Smith 2009-09-19 07:46
"....For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!..." Rudyard Kipling

I salute all those that serve. GLS, Col USAR Ret.
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# K J Black 2009-09-23 12:44
As a veteran of the the Vietnam war my heart and soul goes out to the all servicemen and women, support staff who are serving, have served or will serve in Afganistan.
I pray that dear God don't let the generals and politicians stuff up another war through lack of resolve and lack of support for these brave people.
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# Peter Moseley 2009-09-28 05:57
The technical name for the effect is the triboelectric effect. It is indeed caused by friction. See wikipedia for full explanations.
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# Kenneth H. Gillis 2009-09-28 14:29
This effect seems to me to be certainly a Triboluminesenc e effect. The term derives from the same root as the word "tribulation", meaning to trouble, abuse or disturb. In this case sand grains suspended in the air are "troubled" by being struck by the whirling rotors, causing the emission of a cloud of photons, which appear as "sparks" on the photos. The photos which show continuous "streaks" probably represent a condition where the "sparkles" exceed the resolution limits of the photosystem. This is not the same nor related to the throwing of sparks from-say-a grinding wheel which is a chemical effect. The effect has been known for a long time--I have seen examples in the 1950's, using the same terminology, although the context was, of course, different.

The photos are extremely good, and could serve as textbook examples.

Someone mentioned Titanium-nickel as a participant in the transaction--"I n my day" the rotors were more likely Sitka spruce.l

Congrats to the photog--and best of luck to those who must fly the aircraft in what must be rather nasty conditions.,

K. Gillis
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-1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells Effectbill 2009-09-28 16:22
I believe this phenomenon is called "St. Elmos's Fire."
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectSAM 2009-10-01 03:09
I've run a literature search on the research publications and there's no work done on the subject, which is remarkable in and of itself - there is some work on fixed wing aircraft and static discharge, but nothing else.

I'd be curious to know what the engine mechanics have to clean out of the hot sections in the turbines, as this stuff often melts to glass there.

The phenomena isn't St. Elmo's fire - that will accumulate at discharge points etc. (pitot tubes and the like) as well as rotor blades. This phenomenon has been noted among helo pilots for some time and speculation has it as some kind of piezoelectric discharge (caused by impact with the quartz sand) that mimics the von Guericke effect by creating static discharge from the quartz structure that's carried into the airframe. The sparkling effect is primarily from the static discharge wicks at the rotor tips. In other operational areas, this has been noted in operations over high-quartz sand and concrete which gives anecdotal support to the piezoelectric theory.

http://www.iop.org/EJ/abstract/0022-3719/12/17/012

Triboluminescence is likely a byproduct of piezoelectricit y, and the differences don't matter here since the article was really about the loss of fine young men set against the fireworks of sand and motion.
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-1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells EffectCarlie 2009-11-25 11:12
Landing lights - MORON
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# Ian C 2009-12-13 04:53
In your list at the bottom of the article it states Guardsman Christopher King (Died 22nd Sept) held the rank of Guardian this should be Guardsman.

Please could you correct this.
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# rotors 2010-01-07 01:02
Thursday 11th February 2010
“Helicopter Rotor Blade Scintillation”
12:30 – 16:30 Centre for Defence Enterprise, Start Electron, Harwell


http://www.ndi.org.uk/events/centre-for-defence-enterprise-seminar-helicopter-rotor/
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+1 # David Campbell 2010-01-10 07:48
""Basically it is a result of static electricity created by friction as materials of dissimilar material strike against each other. In this case titanium/nickel blades moving through the air and dust. It occurs on the ground as well, but you don't usually see it as much unless the aircraft is landing or taking off.

*** The most common time is when fuel is being pumped.***

When large tankers are being fueled they must be grounded to prevent static electricity from discharging and creating explosions.""

Static electricity is not a function of friction, (friction is mechanical) it is a result of proximity of electrical charges in insulators. Static electricity is built up even when there is no friction between bodies, it is an electrostatic effect (Coloumbs experiments). The fact that the effect is seen consistently when the chopper is grounded to the Earth proves the energy for the luminious discharge is from the ground, not the blades. The blades are stirring up relative motion of sand against the ground, separated by several feet of chopper, that motion can generate massive charges. The lower part of the chopper is a giant electrical conductor to bridge the gap between the sand layer and the ground.

A crude electrical analogy is a capacitor, electrical energy stored in an insulator between two conductive plates, except a capacitor stores free electrons in/from conductors, and static is a pheonomenon in electrical insulators.

Light is photon emission when an atom's electron changes state from high to low. The eletrical energy is apparently from the ground, up (or down) through the choppers metal parts, through the blades (Ti is a conductor) and discharging against the sand cloud. The chopper conducts excess charge to the blade tip/edge where it arcs over to the swirling sand, with a light discharge.

Piezoelectric effect would not take into account the fact that the effect is much more pronounced when the craft is grounded. It is purely within the (crystallaine structure) when mechanically distorted.
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# Joe Smith 2010-05-25 20:57
Yes,I find it interesting that I find it Real,,explainab le,repeatable,a nd still so eerie,supernatu ral almost
Joe in Texas
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# ron angel 2010-07-17 18:04
Maybe the effect could be called "St Georges fire" In memory of all the British & other personal who have lost their lives for England & the free world.
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# Paul G 2010-08-27 04:26
Wonderful article Michael. Really moving.

On a much lighter note, when I served in the 2/505PIR, we used to sling load HMMWV's with Chinooks. It was a ritual of sorts to have the new guy (myself included) hook the sling to the helicopter while a more veteran soldier was supposed to ground it first.... supposed to. Looking back, I can't believe we'd send that kind of voltage through a kid as a joke - although it still makes me chuckle to see a guy get thrown from the top of a HMMWV because his "buddy" didn't ground the hook.
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# Rudolph Smith 2011-01-30 14:42
Don't underestimate the resolve of the American patriot/citizen -soldier and don't 'fear' that the best have given their lives in vain and that there is none to take their place.. you would be mistaken, sir.
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# B_Kohanloo, PhD 2011-02-13 20:47
Triboluminescen ce here, nice pics, hence the erosion, a type of cavitation damage. Polyamide coatings should be cavitation resistant, they're made from castor oil which is cavitation resistant, hence no more sand issues, sand (quartz) or microquartz, it's a piezoelectric. http://www.rockhoundingar.com/quartz/experiments.html
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+3 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells Effectmancsphil 2011-02-21 02:32
to name this effect after two fine young men is admirable & honourable, God bless you all. We will be safe due to you doing what you do.

Philip Graham Etchells
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# shotgunner 2011-08-11 20:22
The name is fitting. Great piece Michael. I think the reason you don't see it on some nights is the air is more humid on those evenings. Static electricity works better in a dry environment.

The reason it is not seen on the ground is the craft is "grounded" better than when in the sky.

Keep up the good work!
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+1 # RE: The Kopp-Etchells Effectjetdrvr 2011-09-27 22:10
Michael, you are performing a great and compassionate service to the men and women of all nations in theater who are fighting and dying, mostly unheralded. Thanks for ensuring that they are not forgotten. You have earned a laudable position in the halls of combat journalism.
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-1 # Don 2011-10-11 23:41
Titanium is used as a firestarter because it creates hot sparks when struck against dissimilar metals, as can be found in dust. I can imagine, without testing, that the high velocity friction creates a residual electro magnetic field effect.
The only viable solution is to coat the titanium.
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+1 # Outstanding TributeBobby Wingate 2013-07-28 11:04
Michael Outstanding Tribute to both these Warriors and all who have served before them and after them.
You truly are the word man. Thank You for sharing. GBU ALL THE WAY SIR AND THEN SOME
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+1 # You and JillLarry 2013-07-28 12:35
Just saw the clip on Fox and Friends. Was hoping to see you but hearing you was just as good. Mothers like Jill are an inspiration to all of us. Kopp and Etchells did what they wanted and will always be heroes. Thanks Michael for your never ending work for bringing so many issues to the forefront.
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# How young...Reacher 2013-07-31 20:26
So many so young....keep our resolve so they did not die in vain. Help make your country a better place holding to the principles that they fought to preserve and the freedoms that are ever more close to a chopping block.
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# Good Service for the needy & of right service to praise !!sridhar.C 2013-09-21 14:46
:roll::roll:
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# Can you get a picture with a spectrograph?Nanoalchemist 2014-01-03 03:54
Should be pretty easy to distinguish between triboluminescen ce, thermal emission/ sparks, or static if you could get a picture breaking the light down into its component wavelengths.

Rainbow lens/ starburst filter might be sufficient.
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