Airborne Sergeant Kyle White to Receive the M.O.H.
Posted By Blackfive
You might have seen the announcement or even read the citation that will be presented with the Medal to Sergeant White. But you should go here to read about Kyle White's actions from someone who witnessed his uncommon valor under extreme conditions over at From Cow Pastures to Kosovo. Five paratroopers and one Marine lost their lives that day...it's certain that that count would be higher if it had not been for the actions of the platoon RTO.
"No Survivors" - The Twentieth Anniversary of Eagle Flight
Posted By Blackfive
"They came to save us, and to give us dignity. Their sacrifice will remain in the minds of our children for the rest of their lives. We will teach their names to our children, and keep their names in our books of history as heroes who gave their lives for freedom." - Kurd Sheik Ahmet at the April 17th, 1994 memorial service in Zakhu, Iraq.
Today is the 20th anniversary of a dark day in our military history...while the inquiry results were weak, this was one incident in which many lessons were learned that later saved American and allied lives (true IFF came from this), and continued the long trek to freedom for one of the most deserving groups of human beings on this planet.
Let's start at what isn't quite the beginning but as good as any place to start this story...
In April, 1991, as part of U.N. Resolution 688, the National Command Authority commanded the US Armed Forces to conduct Operation Provide Comfort. On the 8th of April 1991, the 1st Battalion (FWD) of the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) from Bad Tolz, Germany, deployed to conduct humanitarian relief operations for over a half million Kurdish refugees. Soon the 2nd and 3rd Battalions arrived from the states.
...Operation PROVIDE COMFORT was one of the largest relief operations in history. During the critical first three weeks, the 10th Special Forces Group directed and executed the overall ground relief and security efforts. In the words of General Galvin, the CINCEUR "...10th Special Forces Group saved half a million Kurds from extinction."
The conditions in the refugee camps shocked the world. Before 10th Group arrived, an average of 450 refugees perished daily, with 70 percent being children. In two weeks time the rate was approximately 15-20 per day and of these, only 28 percent were children. 10th Group had made the difference.
The basic operation was divided into three phases. Phase one provided immediate emergency relief with food, water and shelter. The intent was to make an accurate assessment of the situation and to organize Kurdish leadership. Phase two provided basic services. The ODA and ODB detachments performed many tasks and missions: pipe water from the mountains, organize food distribution and camp sanitation, service drop zones and landing zones, and coordinate with the multinational relief organizations. Additionally, they assisted in rendering medical treatment for the refugees. Phase three prepared and moved the refugees from their mountain camps into resettlement camps in Iraq or straight back to their own homes. Waystations built by 10th SFG(A), provided food, water and fuel, and limited medical help enroute...
As the video below shows, it was really about saving the families and the children:
The mission was a tough one - to provide humanitarian aid to over one million Kurdish Refugees in northern Iraq. The mission began with airdrops (food, clothing, tents, blankets, medicine) and soon launched missions taking supplies directly to the Kurds.
A UH-60A Black Hawk (Blackhawk) helicopter flies over a small village in the Kurdish occupied security zone in northern Iraq. The helicopters and the crews from C Company 6/159th Aviation Regiment, Geibelstadt, Germany, are deployed to Diyarbakir, Turkey, in support of the operation Provide Comfort. (DoD photo by: SSGT. THEODORE J. KONIARES Date Shot: 1993-11-17).
To further stop Saddam from killing the Kurds, a northern No-Fly Zone was placed north of the 36th parallel. Any Iraqi aircraft would be shot down in the No-Fly Zone.
Photo from CIA Factbook
The No-Fly Zone was patrolled and kept "clean" by the USAF with fighters (F-15s) being supported by command and control aircraft (AWACS).
General John Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had this to say about the hard work of the Provide Comfort Soldiers and Airmen:
For over 1,000 days, the pilots and crews assigned to Operation Provide Comfort flew mission after mission, totalling over 50,000 hours...
The mission continued for 3 years until the first Commander was due to reliquish command...
On April 14th, 1994, two Blackhawk helicopters were ready for take-off from Diyarbakir, Turkey. COL Jerry Thompson - one of the most respected officers and commanders in Special Forces - was changing command (or co-command as "command" of Provide Comfort was shared with Turkey). He decided to show his replacement, COL Mulhern, the lay of the land. At 0730, COL Thompson assembled 26 people that comprised important (command group) roles for the mission. He included French, British, and Turkish commanders and liaisons, and also brought along Kurdish para-military personnel and linguists.
The two Blackhawks were designated Eagle-1 and Eagle-2. Their first destination was Irbil, Iraq, but they would have to make a stop in Zakhu, Iraq (where the military part of Provide Comfort operated). There were plans to visit several other areas as well.
At 8:22AM, Eagle Flight departed Diyarbakir. They were headed East-Southeast for a "gate" into the No-Fly Zone. Per Standard Operating Procedure, the command group was split between Eagle-1 and Eagle-2 to ensure continuity of command if one helicopter went down.
At 9:21AM, Eagle Flight called the AWACS (callsign "Cougar"). They requested and were granted permission to enter the "gate" into the the No-Fly Zone.
At 9:24AM, Eagle Flight lands at Zakhu, Iraq.
At 9:35AM, two USAF F-15 fighters launched from Incirlik, Turkey. They were designated Tiger-1 and Tiger-2. Tiger-1 was the lead fighter with Tiger-2 as the wingman. Tiger Flight was headed to patrol the No-Fly Zone.
At 9:54AM, Eagle Flight calls the AWACS to report departure from Zakhu, Iraq, with a destination of Irbil, Iraq.
At 10:12AM, Eagle Flight enters mountainous terrain. It's Identification Friend or Foe system (IFF) failed.
At 10:20AM Tiger Flight passes through "gate" into No-Fly Zone.
At 10:22AM Tiger Flight picks up radar contact at forty nautical miles. No IFF reading occurs. Tiger-1 reports, "Cougar, picked up helicopter tracking northwest bound." AWACS says the area should be "clean".
At 10:25 AWACS responds that there are "hits there" in the No-Fly Zone - confirming Tiger Flight's radar contact.
Tiger Flight makes visual contact with Eagle Flight at five nautical miles.
At 10:28 Tiger-1 conducts a visual identification (VID) pass of the helicopters. "Cougar, tally 2 HINDS."
HINDS are Soviet Helicopters used by the Iraqi Armed Forces.
AWACS replied, "Copy two HINDS".
Tiger-1 then instructed Tiger-2 to make a VID pass.
Thirty seconds later Tiger-2 confirms, "Tally 2."
Tiger-1 to Tiger-2, "Arm hot."
At 10:30AM on April 14, 1994, Tiger-1 fired an AIM 120 (medium range air-to-air missle) at Eagle-2. Tiger-2 fired an AIM 9 (Sidewinder air-to-air missle) at Eagle-1.
The missles hit Eagle Flight with deadly accuracy. Tiger-1 confirmed the hits to AWACS, "Splash two HINDS."
Of the 26 team members of Eagle Flight, there were no survivors...
US Military: SSG Paul Barclay (SF Commo NCO) SPC Cornelius A. Bass (Eagle-1 Door Gunner) SPC Jeffrey C. Colbert (Eagle-1 Crew Chief) SPC Mark A. Ellner (Eagle-2 Door Gunner) CW2 John W. Garrett, Jr. (Eagle-1 Pilot) CW2 Michael A. Hall (Eagle-2 Pilot Command) SFC Benjamin T. Hodge (Linguist) CPT Patrick M. McKenna (Eagle-1 Pilot Command) WO1 Erik S. Mounsey (Eagle-2 Pilot) COL Richard A. Mulhern (Incoming Co-Commander) 1LT Laurie A. Piper (USAF, Intel Officer) SGT Michael S. Robinson (Eagle-2 Crew Chief) SSG Ricky L. Robinson (SF Medic) Ms. Barbara L. Schell (State Dept. Political Advisor) COL Jerald L. Thompson (Outgoing Co-Commander)
British Military: MAJ Harry Shapland (Security/Intel Duty Officer) LTC Jonathan C. Swann (Senior UK Officer)
French Military: LTC Guy Demetz (Senior French Officer)
Turkish Army: COL Hikmet Alp (Co-Commander) LT Ceyhun Civas (Laison Officer) LT Barlas Gultepe (Liason Officer)
Kurdish Partisans: Abdulsatur Arab Ghandi Hussein Bader Mikho Ahmad Mohammed Salid Said (Linguist)
USAF Photo: U.S. Military personnel inspect the wreckage of a Black Hawk helicopter (Eagle 2) in the Northern Iraq No Fly Zone during Operation Provide Comfort, April 16, 1994.
DoD photo MSGT MICHAEL J. HAGGERTY: The remains of 26 people were flown in for transportation to the U.S. Army Mortuary Center, Frankfurt, Germany. The 26 were killed in an accidental downing of two U.S. Army UH-60A Black Hawk (Blackhawk) helicopters by U.S. AIr Force F-15C fighters in the northern Iraq "no fly zone". Standing in review was the Rhein-Main-Air Base color guard, they displayed the flags of the countries that mourn the loss of their citizens, the United States, Britain, France and Turkey.
I took this photo while visiting the Colonel (his story is an interesting one). He's near Mary Todd Lincoln's tomb on a slight rise over looking a beautiful part of Arlington...You can visit him and Barclay, Hodge and Bass at Arlington like I am today.
Please take a minute to pray for their families today and remember that their hard work and sacrifices led to a flourishing Kurdish enclave - a place they would be very, very proud of today. I don't think in our wildest dreams we ever thought that would have been possible.
We're just under 2 weeks away from our Arlington National Cemetery Missing Man Flyover for USMC 1st Lt Bruce Guetzloe. Things are shaping up but we still need help with fuel and operational contributions. Links are below the fold!
The line up will be Jim Tobul in his F4U Corsair, the type aircraft Lt Guetzloe flew in the south Pacific (off the USS Franklin) and in Korea. On either wing will be 2 P-51 Mustangs owned/flown by Andrew McKenna and Scott Yoke. Following will be 4 L-39 jets, with Sean "Flopper" Cushing flying lead, Scott "Buster" Clyburn on the left wing, Geoff "Hak" Hickman flying the pull jet at #3 and Art "Kaos" Nall on the right wing.
Here's a little bit of what it was like last September while waiting to be cleared for the fly-over:
Arlington Nat’l Cemetery Fly Over for MAJs Sizemore and Andre
The Turn In. We’d been in holding for probably 20 minutes or so near the NOTTINGHAM (OTT) VORTAC (a VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) beacon and a tactical air navigation system (TACAN) ) in southern Maryland, along the Patuxent River near the town of Nottingham. Andrews AFB was a bit to our north and the President was supposed to be heading out on AF1 at some point that morning. That had me/us worried that we may end up being an airborne scrub if he was delayed and the Secret Service wanted a sterilized air environment for his helo transit from the White House to Andrews. Flopper (my pilot) had made it known to the other L-29 aircraft during the brief that he had 53 fewer gallons of gas than they did because of the no tip-tank mod his aircraft had, so we had a bit more of a pucker factor than the other aircraft had in terms of holding time.
Tooling around in our holding pattern, 10 mile legs, inbound to the OTT VORTAC, we heard our controller slide our Time on Top (TOT) target from noon to 10 past to 20 past the hour, making the whole evolution a bit dicey in my mind. Not being too familiar with the L-39 fuel system, with its litres of fuel or whatever former communist fuel display system that jet had only added to the entertainment.
Finally though, we received the signal to “Push”, and all the aircraft, at their different holding altitudes, edged their noses to the northwest and began their inbound transit. It was going to work out fine after all.
Please consider contributing to our next Arlington Fly Over at IndieGoGo
Seventy years ago, 200 (plus) Allied airmen made a bid for freedom from a German prisoner of war camp. Seventy-three made it out, and only 3 got away. Seventy were recaptured, and fifty were murdered by the Gestapo. There's a small movie about it , and it is worth seeing though it is a movie and not a documentary. Take a moment today, to honor all those who were part of The Great Escape.
Ladies and gentlemen, officers and enlisted: The Fifty!
This is an annual Someone You Should Know (St. Patrick's Day Edition) post to celebrate an Irish soldier's sacrifice. Below is the story of Ian Malone - a young Irishman who bridged the divide between Ireland and England in life and death.
Ian died during the invasion of Iraq in April of 2003 doing what he wanted to do - Soldiering for his country. Below is his story, told expertly by Philip Watson of the Telegraph:
Lance Corporal Ian Malone died in an ambush on the streets of Basra in April last year. Throughout a long, hot Sunday, he and his armoured brigade had been pushing through the southern suburbs of Iraq's second city, flushing out enemy soldiers. While most of the regular Iraqi Army had fled, the streets and houses contained pockets of determined Fedayeen fighters, paramilitaries who remained loyal to Saddam Hussein.
Having reached the edge of the old city and achieved their objective of securing a university campus, Ian Malone and his colleagues had left their Warrior armoured personnel carrier, and were regrouping. They had scoured the area and, in the dusty shade of dusk, all seemed safe.
In an instant, however, two Fedayeen in civilian clothes broke cover and sprayed the crew with automatic fire. Four soldiers were hit. Ian Malone took two bullets - one through the neck, the other in the head - and died instantly, becoming one of 55 British soldiers killed in Iraq in the past year.
What made the 28-year-old Lance Corporal remarkable, though, apart from the peerless qualities that all who knew him instantly recognised - he was a thinker and philosopher; courteous and religious; a talented chess player and musician; an exceptional soldier; and, as his school chaplain said at his funeral, not macho but manly - was that Ian Malone was an Irishman fighting for the British Army.
Many have found in Ian Malone's life and death something profoundly symbolic: the notion that he represents the continuing spirit of progress and reconciliation between Britain and Ireland...
Photo Essay: French President Pays Respects At Arlington
Posted By Blackfive
Is this really the first time that this has happened?
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel greets French President Francois Hollande at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Feb. 11, 2014, before Hollande lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and presents the World Ward II Unknown with the French Legion of Honor, France's highest military award. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
French President Francois Hollande lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Feb. 11, 2014, as U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, second from right, looks on and Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan salutes. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
French President Francois Hollande presents the World War II Unknown with the French Legion of Honor, France's highest military award, at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Feb. 11, 2014. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who participated in the ceremony, thanked Hollande for the honor. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
Amidst the chaos that is the world, we need to take a moment to reflect on the good and the profound. We need, I need, to call out some of the good even as I call out that which is not.
In the Netherlands, on "Liberation Day" there are memorial services across the country for the Allied troops who died in that liberation. Families still adopt graves of those troops, and maintain them in honor. At these memorial services, since 1965, the service concludes with the playing of "Il Silenzio". Beverly Perlson shared with me this amazing, no, astounding performance by a then 13-year-old Melissa Venema backed by the Royal Orchestra of the Netherlands. As someone who played trumpet in high school, I tell you that what you are about to hear is the voice of an angel rendered through brass. Dust Alert.
A small bit of beauty and good to share with you today.
Photo courtesy of USMC. January 28, 2011 Cpl Gilliam receives Purple Heart from the Commandant of the USMC, GEN James Amos.
A note and a request from the boys of 3/5...please consider sending a card or note.
On January 5, 2011, our 25 year old Farrell stepped on an IED while on a dismounted patrol with his unit, (3/5 Marines, Lima Co.) in the Sangin District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He suffered many catastrophic injuries, including the amputation of both legs above the knee and several open fractures of his right arm including a 6 inch segment that is missing bone and tissue. His worst injury however was to the right side of his chest and abdomen, which took the full impact of the explosion, and left him completely eviscerated as a result of the blast.
With the help of Hospital Corpsman HM3 Brown, HM3 Gojar, Cpl Griff, and Lcpl Gutierrez, lifesaving measures were immediately undertaken to stop his bleeding in the field. He fought for his life in the back of the Marine transport truck which raced him back to camp. He fought for his life as he was Medi-Vac'd from base camp to a hospital in Kandahar where he underwent 9 hours of damage control surgery. He fought for his life as he was medi-vac'd again to Bagram Hospital in Afghanistan, where he underwent further damage control surgery. He fought for his life as he was flown to Landsthul Germany, where he underwent further surgery and again as he was flown to the US, arriving state side, on Janury 9, 2011 at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda Maryland (outside Washington DC), with trips to the OR continuing every other day since then. But Farrell is a fighter! The Doctors have said that to survive an abdominal wound like his is one in ten million - they rarely see them because nobody ever survives them.
We are sad to say that earlier this week Farrell succumbed to further injuries from which he did not recover. We pray for the family and ask for God's peace. We also pray for the brothers and sisters left behind. You know who you are!! Pick up the sword - be the heart, be the love and be the voice. As long as you stick together and remain as one nothing can beat you! You will make a difference!!
LETTERS OF CONDOLENCE TO FARRELL GILLIAMS FAMILY - For anyone who is interested in sending a private letter or card of condolence, peace and well wishes. Please mail them to the following address and we will make sure they get to the family. Semper Fi!
The Farrell Gilliam Family c/o The Honor Group 3555 Taylor Road, Suite C Loomis, Ca. 95650
Godspeed Edward "Babe" Heffron and Earl "One Lung" McClung
Posted By Blackfive
U.S. Army and World War II Veteran Edward "Babe" Heffron, known from the book and television miniseries "Band of Brothers," died December 1st at the age of 90. Heffron served with the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, better known as Easy Company. He fought in major battles during the European campaign, including the Allied landing at Normandy, and the Battle of the Bulge.
Earl "One Lung" McClung died on November 27th. McClung was one of the scouts for Easy Company (2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division) and was also a sniper/marksman. He parachuted into Normandy and fought alongside the 82nd Airborne until he could reunite with the 101st for the assault on Carentan. He received his nickname, according to Marcus Brotherton, this way in Normandy:
So [the lieutenant] just put the machine gun by me. I wasn’t very happy about being made a machine gunner. As far as I know that machine gun is still there. When I woke up there were some strong adjectives being thrown around. So Rogers [who was known for writing funny poems] wrote a poem about it with a line that went:
Who hung the gun on One Lung McClung?
See more at: http://www.marcusbrotherton.com/honor-earl-mcclung-1923-2013/#sthash.hgliAuK4.dpuf
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.