Michael's Dispatches

Mosquitoes

12 Comments

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Kiowa Warrior helicopter swoops low over the battlefield on this dark night.  The pilots are wearing extremely sensitive night vision goggles and will have no problems seeing us.  To avoid being shot down, they fly blacked out using only infrared lights to avoid collisions.   When there is little illumination they might be seen only in silhouette, or not at all.

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My specially modified camera gear can capture their IR signatures, but the Kiowa Warriors fly fast and low, and are difficult to frame in the dark.

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Persistence pays.

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Iraqi insurgents often called these Kiowa Warrior helicopters “Mosquitoes.”  The Taliban curse them.

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A fire burns in a next-door compound.  The source had been an enemy tracer bullet many hours earlier which ignited hay during a firefight.  The fire is described with more images in my dispatch Tracer Burnout.

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The bright spot is invisible to the naked eye.  Still far away, a CH-47 helicopter is approaching during the night to deliver a resupply to our location.  Soldiers on this Afghan rooftop who are wearing PVS-14 night vision gear suddenly say that the helicopter is lasing us with the IR laser.  They joke that they have gone blind.

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While the laser-wielding helicopter flies toward us, another aircraft leaves a trace.  Soon, the CH-47 is hovering just outside our compound, making a faint Kopp-Etchells glow as the rotors beat dust.  The satcomm antenna beside me is blown down while the helicopter drops the sling load and disappears into the night.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rich · 10 years ago
    Love the KW pics, and the focus on the crews. I think you are the only journalist who does. They do amazing work and deserve to have their stories told. Keep up the good work.

    Air Cav!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter · 10 years ago
    Michael, what is the blue flame in front of the Kiowa helicopters? As always, thank you for doing this. I am sure there are many military people who are very grateful for you on scene reporting. I am very glad you are there, in a "safe spot", relatively, but I sure wish you could give us up front news from Libya!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gerald Steward · 10 years ago
    Mike, I have been reading your dispatches for several years now and I always enjoy what you have to say in your dispatches.
    My son is finally back in the states after having served 9 months as a blackhawk pilot over there in Afghanistan. If it were not for your dispatches telling all of us the truth about what goes on there, it would have been VERY difficult to weather the time that my son was there, knowing that he was potentially in harms way. The main stream media are such fear mongers and you "tell it like it is" and that is very comforting to us parents of our troops. If we had to rely on JUST the MSM for info, I think most of us would be hard pressed to rest at night.

    Thanks for everything that you do Micheal and keep up the good work!

    BTW: I really like all the photos that you post as that is stuff that the MSM isn't showing us either....
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cary Baumgartner · 10 years ago
    Mike:

    Just receved your book yesterday. It's better than expected, GREAT job. The IR pics are really great.

    Keep up the great work, and keep you head down.

    S/F, CB
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Wayne Philpot · 10 years ago
    Mr. Yon, thank you for sweating the smallest of details in your reporting. The nuggets you expose - lack of ladders, pants that won't stay together, the gumption of the Kiowa crews - would never be made known by anyone else or any other organization. Great job, sir.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Keith Stone · 10 years ago
    Very good writing and pics. Best friend's son injured today, don't know details yet but he's alive.

    Stay safe and return home all!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Violette · 10 years ago
    make GREAT "underwater" Mosquitoes photos.
    Taliban BE CURSED ! !
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tom Braund · 10 years ago
    I want to donate a recurring amount but have no guidelines and it doesn't say how often the deduction will be made. What can you tell me?
    Tom
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Matthew · 10 years ago
    So the first time I saw your flash I was a bit surprised, but it only took a second to realize it was from a friendly position we had already marked and then that it was a camera. It was pretty quiet during that block so I had no problem coming around often for you to try to get a good shot while fulfilling the area recon requests. I thought it was a Soldier trying to shoot through NVGs though...Death Rides!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Matthew · 10 years ago
    Well, maybe it was a Soldier on one of those nights after reading about your gear..and looking at my logbook.. either way, keep those stories coming and we'll keep on doing what we do.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Marcus · 10 years ago
    I hope the Taliban curse everything we've got- it means it's working. Excellent pictures! Stay safe!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dick Sherman · 10 years ago
    Great photos, Michael: thanks for your continued coverage of the war. I've written to your publisher about the book I ordered and paid for last year. I have not heard back from him. How can I follow up on my order?

    Stay safe,
    Dick

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