We are not the only forces fighting the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan. There is a whole coalition of nations that have troops there in the middle of the fight.
This story is about 5 American Soldiers, helicopter pilots, crewmen and tanker crewmen who risked everything and fought against the odds to rescue seven of our coalition troops from New Zealand from a base under fire north of Baghram.
They were in their helicopters readying for that day’s work when the word came in that two New Zealand troops were wounded critically at their base about 60 miles away. They took off in their helicopters to rescue those two, but while they were on their way they got word that there were now seven injured New Zealanders.
They came into the valley where the New Zealand base was. There was a lull in the fighting, but the pick up was still tricky. When they got the injured aboard there was immediate concern for whether they would have enough fuel to get back to their base. They needed to make contact with tankers in hopes of being refueled.
The weather at high altitude was windy and rough. It is hard enough to put the refueling nozzle of a fighter jet into the refueling basket that trails behind a tanker. A helicopter is another thing altogether with those large rotary blades spinning above the craft.
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In this video you will see and hear the story from a couple of the men who were involved with the events on the ground and in the air that day.
The first helicopter pilot was able to hook up on the first try, but the second helicopter was being buffeted by the high altitude winds and for a while it did not look good for them being able to be refueled. There was considerable worry that the second helicopter, too low on fuel would have to go land and efforts would have to be made to send protective troops out to defend them and more helicopters to ferry the wounded out, etc.
In the end, the second pilot was finally able to get connected to the tanker basket and get enough fuel to bring the wounded back to medical care directly.
The Veterans Site has a great deal of respect for these helicopter pilots whose skills make it possible to get the wounded back to the necessary care so quickly. Their courage is legendary. We also honor and respect those pilots and crews on the tankers that refuel our aerial assets to keep them in the fight, or to get them home.
Hooah to all. Congratulations to the five who received this award.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.