(Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kevin Gruenwald)
It’s a well-known phrase in the military. We don’t see race, we see different shades of green or blue. In today’s world of jointness, the same can be said about inter-service support. In Iraq, where the services often fight side-by-side, they’re all a shade of green too.
Late last year, Texas Army National Guard Apache helicopters flew support missions for Marines and Iraqi forces who were setting up an observation post in Ramadi. Suddenly, an IED exploded, wounding some of the Iraqis. Then another. And another. Small arms fire erupted, and the Marines called for evacuation of the wounded as they continued fighting on.
The Apaches couldn’t shoot – the urban environment prevented that – but could fly low enough to draw the fire and attention of the bad guys. In the process, they exposed themselves not only to small arms fire, but also to Rocket Propelled Grenades. Despite taking significant damage to the aircraft, their efforts paid off. The Marines were able to get the wounded out, and continue the fight.
After seven hours, the Marines on the ground evacuated on foot. The Apaches – riddled with bullet holes and on their third tank of gas – covered them as they moved out.
The pilots, 1st Lt. Matthew Salo, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert Stacy, Chief Warrant Officer 4 William White, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Marcus Moore, each received a Distinguished Flying Cross for their actions.
Does the joint environment work? Ask the Marines. These Texas Army National Guard pilots are our heroes of the week.
For the complete story, see the Defenselink article.