"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.

From the 10th Group's history page (emphasis is mine):

...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.

Providecomfortblackhawkvillage

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.

Iraq_no_fly_zones 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...

In memoriam:

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)

787px-1994BlackHawkShootdownWreckage

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.

 

800px-BlackHawkIncidentCasualtyArrival

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.

 

Thompson

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.

Continue reading ""No Survivors" - The Twentieth Anniversary of Eagle Flight"



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New Ranger Up Video (Tim Kennedy) is sure to give Team Bisping Collective Apoplexy

Posted By Blackfive


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The Damn Few Visit the V.A.

Posted By Blackfive

NSFW...

 

Hilarious as @#$%. Might be the best one yet...



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MilBlogger Heads Back to War

Posted By Blackfive

Former Paratrooper, now Officer and father, is headed somewhere dangerous.  From Tuesday night:

...Tonight I will be leaving everyone and everything I love and begin another journey to Afghanistan. It's much more difficult to leave this time now that I have a family and have been out of the fight for a few years, but my situation is no different than the vast majority of the other soldiers who are deployed.

Despite the fact that the news rarely brings it up, we are still actively at war in Afghanistan. Men and women are still taking the fight to the enemy every single day. Once I get my platoon, I will be responsible for kids who were as young as 6 or 7 when 9/11 happened. This is not their war, but yet they still chose the honorable route of joining the Army. I will also have soldiers who are on their 4th or 5th deployment. They've embraced the suck time and time again and been through more misery than any civilian could ever imagine or truly appreciate, yet they'll be there willingly fighting side by side with me one more time.

My point is this: The one thing I do not want to hear about my service(and I hate even calling it that) is sympathy. Sympathy is exactly what I received from the cashier at Best Buy last week when I bought my new camera for deployment and she asked what it was for. When I told her, she made a sad face and said "oh I'm so sorry".

<...>
All I am asking from anyone who reads this is their prayers. My soldiers and I will need them every day. I'll do what I can to keep this updated while I'm overseas, and if my guys are needing anything important I'll be sure to post it on here.

Thanks in advance to those who still read this despite these past couple years of boredom. Hopefully things will pick up soon.

Keep up with the new LT at Life In the Infantry (although now he's an Armor Officer).



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I Imagine This Investigation Will Be Painful

Posted By Grim

 

Paktika Province, Afghanistan – After spotting Taliban forces on a distant ridge line, U.S. Army mortar teams engage with 60mm mortars. A simultaneous airstrike is called in which accidentally drops a 500 pound bomb on a U.S. Army infantry outpost, mistaking the position for Taliban fighters.

Sounds like the First Sergeant saved the day.



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Some good reads worth your time

Posted By Blackfive

Each of these deserve their own post about them; however, there is not enough time.  Let me sum up.

Stormbringer (Sean Linnane) - The Real Afghanistan: A Marine's View

Military Times - Fallen Medic Receives Silver Star

Smithsonian - The True Story of the Monuments Men

The Shreveport Times - Barksdale Mysteries Continue to Raise Questions

Brookings - Afghanistan's Presidential Elections Go Awry

Not from the Duffel Blog - Jerusalem Post - Iranian Admiral: The US can expect heavy losses at sea should it attack Iran

Not necessarily a read but a watch...Nancy Pelosi says, "We did not treat President Bush this way!" - Um, yeah, lady, you treated him worse... - Youtube

 

Next, pre-order this book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

1897730_10203199568256009_975118108_n


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Palate Cleanser - Gunny Bryan Wallgren's John Glenn Speech

Posted By Blackfive

The initial assault on Marjah, Afghanistan, was about to commence in February 2010. 1/6 was going in to a Taliban stronghold laden with IEDs, snipers, and insurgents.  Around 8,000 ground forces and 7,000 support troops were involved including American, British, French, Canadian, Estonian and Danish forces under ISAF Command.  After speeches to the Marines by the officers, Gunnery Sergeant Bryan Wallgren, A/1/6, decided to really motivate his Marines...his words were the last they heard before boarding the helos...

He received a Commendation Medal with V for Marjah. And some of you might have been one of his students at the JWTC 14 years ago...



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Happy Tenth Birthday to the Jawa Report!

Posted By Blackfive

JawaKeggerDr Rusty over at the Jawa Report posted a 10 year anniversary message.  Here's a taste:

...I started this blog with the intent of being a minor nuissance. I think I've done that here. It's a low bar, I know, but this is a blog. A web log. A personal diary of my thoughts and the thoughts of a few of my friends. I never expected it to last 10 years. I never expected to do anything more than amuse myself and maybe a few of my friends. The fact that I've been able to do any good with it and have any impact at all means I've exceeded all of my hopes and expectations for it...

First, welcome to the 10 Year+ Club!

Second, the Jawa Report has taken on terrorism and terrorists head on.  Extreme risks have been taken.  In order to simply fight evil.  Period.  We here at BlackFive salute you guys. 

Happy 10th, Jawa Report!

Check out this new link from Rusty. I agree with the changes to blogging over the last 10+ years...



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Palate Cleanser: Ronald Reagan "We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on Earth, or we will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness."

Posted By Blackfive

Jimbo's Reagan post below caused me to remember to re-post this annually...



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"Dr. King’s dream was not for us to define ourselves or be defined by what we have or don’t have, but to live up to the best that we can be.”

Posted By Blackfive

Scr_140116-M-EV637-064Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, speaks with Army Col. Gregory D. Gadson before the Martin Luther King Jr. Day event at the Pentagon, Jan. 16, 2014. DOD photo by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler 

Commander Praises Perseverance in MLK Observance Speech

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2014 – An injured Iraq war veteran and the garrison commander of Fort Belvoir, Va., described the alignment of his ideals with those of Martin Luther King Jr., during the Defense Department’s Annual MLK Observance.

“King never served in the military, but he commanded an Army of Americans dedicated to fulfilling our country’s highest ideal, that all men and women are created equal,” Gadson said.Army Col. Gregory D. Gadson delivered the keynote speech, discussing overcoming his own challenges, primarily from injuries he sustained in May 2007 from a roadside bomb in Baghdad.

The ideal, he added, was “forged in the heat of battle here at home in the struggle for civil rights and around the world in wars against tyranny and oppression.”

The colonel, a double amputee, also reminded people that seriously injured wounded warriors across the services must not only prove that they contribute, but also that they can continue to serve and should not automatically be disqualified because of their injuries.

“My injuries caused significant physical, mental and emotional changes in me -– it has not been easy,” Gadson said, adding that society alone couldn’t reintegrate him. “I had to learn to accept myself before I could contribute again.”

Gadson said he’s seen continued emphasis on the inclusion, integration and opportunities for all races in the military.

“Dr. King’s dream was not for us to define ourselves or be defined by what we have or don’t have, but to live up to the best that we can be.”

But he observed how being disabled impacts job prospects.

“If you … look at the unemployment rate for those with disabilities compared to now, there has been very little progress made in 20-plus years,” he said.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, eight out of every 10 people with disabilities are not in the labor force, which Gadson described as a sign that there is much progress to be made.

The colonel said he hopes those with severe wounds can serve as examples of overcoming and adapting, and illustrating the ideal of making contributions regardless of perceived limitations.

“The United States military is the most resilient and diverse institution in the world,” Gadson said, noting that not long ago soldiers in his condition would be medically discharged. “I’m amazed and proud to be part of a culture whose sacrifices are embodied by the Purple Heart [and] I’m also impressed by brothers and sisters who seamlessly move throughout formations without people knowing about their disabilities and challenges.”

Gadson recounted sitting at functions for an entire evening before someone would realize he was missing his legs. “At the end of the evening when I roll away, they were shocked, seeing me differently than I was,” he said.

Gadson said the key to success is the military’s diverse workforce and its commitment to change.

“Let us remember that change has never been quick, change has never been simple or without controversy, change depends on persistence, changes depends on determination,” he said.

Gadson described the U.S. military as the leader in social change.

“In this world-class force, there is no room for racism, sexism, prejudice, bullying or hazing,” Gadson said. “Do not tolerate it; do not accept it.”



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