Before this flight, the pilots and crew check the two Black Hawks from tires to tail to rotors.
Afghanistan and rough flying are tough on helicopters.
The enemy constantly tries to shoot down our helicopters and sometimes succeeds. During a recent Air Assault, a couple of A-10 Warthogs strafed some enemy positions near 4-4 Cav. After the strafing, the A-10s rolled lower and flew over our heads. Just as an A-10 zoomed over, we heard a gunshot, apparently from an enemy firing at the Warthog. The shooter was close to us.
When an aircraft goes down, it’s called a “Fallen Angel.” Hearing the words “Fallen Angel” crackle over the radio leaves a very bad feeling inside.
Our angels shoot back.
Maintenance is the primary cause of crashes in Afghanistan. The environment and op tempo are brutal on machines. Recently, during a dangerous mission as we walked through bomb country, a young Soldier said it’s not really so much Afghans who beat invaders who bring machines, but Afghanistan itself that beats down the machines. “Good point,” I said. The young Soldier continued, “Look at the Taliban machines,” he said. “AKs. RPGs. IEDs. Simple stuff that hardly breaks. Our stuff breaks and it’s expensive.”