Editorial Salute - 11/17/11 - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Editorial Salute - 11/17/11

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Recently, as the cloak of darkness gave way to the light of day, in the skies over Afghanistan, the post-mission flight back to base of two Hunter, 3/160th "Night Stalker" Chinooks was interrupted by an urgent call. Nearby, on the ground, a Navy combat specialist, on patrol with an Army Special Forces Team, stepped on an unseen IED, resulting in grievous-damage to his leg. Unable to stem the bleeding, his SF Teammates radioed for assistance.   

With no medivac-helo near-by, the lead Night Stalker pilot made an immediate decision.  With a medic of their own on-board, the crew headed down to hopefully save, and extract their brother-in-arms. With thick vegetation surrounding the critically-wounded warrior, they had to lower their medic by hoist.  Hovering, there, just 20-feet off the ground, as the medic transited down, intense gun fire and RPG's erupted from nearby insurgents, drawn by the prospect of downing an American helo.  Under fire, a Chinook's natural instinct would be to pull-out.  Not so for this brave Night Stalker crew. When suggested by radio that he break-clear, the pilot responded: "My medic's on the ground.  I'm not moving!"  Meanwhile, the second Chinook, moved in, guns blazing, to both suppress enemy fire and terminate enemy shooters. After several minutes at high-risk, the rescue Chinook maneuvered to a clearing, where, after a painstaking-trek thru heavy vegetation, medic and critical-patient met it, then flew at top-speed to the nearest combat support hospital.  Reflecting later, the lead pilot said that was "the heaviest volume of fire he'd ever seen directed at his aircraft, in a single engagement." Despite that intense fire, including mortars, miraculously, the Chinook was never hit, thanks to suppression-fire from the companion helo, and, on that occasion, the ineptitude of the enemy.  The wounded service member did lose his leg, but not his life, thanks to those courageous aviators who voluntarily took-on that dangerous rescue. A clear testament to the dedication and daring of Savannah's Night Stalkers, as with other of our multi-branch combat troops, proud members, all, of the pre-eminent military force on earth, ever-blessing America, keeping world-danger well away.    

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