Not WWII - But Somalia...PT1

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Airman 1st Class
Nov 22, 2006
"Bait, Hook Juggling RPG's"

Mogadishu Somalia, September 1993

No, this ain't about Blackhawk Down, that episode takes place 3 October – which is in another three weeks or so.

"Bait and Hook" is a modification of the 'Eyes Over Mog' mission we've been doing since June – we still maintain two Blackhawk's 24/7 over the city (which has been grueling on both airframes and crews) for a constant presence and rapid reaction, but with the Bait and Hook we take a more surgical approach to frustrating Addid's clans continuing harassment of the humanitarian mission or some UN base camp. We modify one of the Hawks to support two sniper teams (sniper and spotter) from each cargo door. The Bait bird is unmodified, with the exception of additional attention getters installed, like some flash bangs grenades and a couple cases of tiny ¼ liter drinking water cubes that we freeze.

I volunteer, once again to the despair of my crew, to be the Bait bird – I prefer the baiting task, basically because I'm always moving low and fast, scouting and drawing the enemy out….and I get to control the tempo of our action. And frankly, I think being Hook is an invitation for a sucker RPG or other well placed shot, because the Hook bird, for the most part, has to remain static so the snipers can pop off an accurate shot.

Ya…anyway, we're at like the 3 hour mark of our 4 hour 'Eyes Over Mog' mission, I'm doing my initial recon circling over Bakara Market in a 45 degree bank at like 1500 AGL, after having completed our weapons test fire well south of town and having gotten our Hook aircraft stationed in a position to view and shoot down the streets surrounding the market place.
Good. The climb to altitude outside of town, the no moon night and our black out lighting seems to have allowed us to get staged unnoticed. Lesse, it's 2230...the skinny's should be quite high on their "Khat" drug about now and scrapping for a fight – so, it's just about time to divert their attention.

Well **** lets get it over with - I squeeze the intercom switch to the first detent to talk to my crew - "OK, ya'll know the drill; accurate, concise SPOTREPs; no Ahh… this, Ahh… that ****. I wanna hear, like; "RPG crew 10 O'clock, rooftop, 500 meters, preparing to fire. Dig? Keep your eyes out, scan scan scan – report the most imminent threat first." To my co-pilot: "Tony, monitor aircraft systems, my power, TGT, rotor RPM…and, as we enter the target zone get lightly on the controls with me…you know, just in case." "OK, we ready to dance?"

"Noooo." Tony replies.
"Ahhh. ya…no **** bro."

Then pressing the comm switch to the second detent I transmit to my Hook bird: "One five this is Two Three, on Fox, in the red."
"15, go ahead."
"All set? Got a tally on me?
"We're set, and tally on you."
"Copy 15, I'm commencing descent, circling south near the embassy, then behind your ass for the market…say altitude?"
"300 feet."
"Copy – expect us to come in from behind and lower."
"Roger 23…we got your back."
"Talk is cheap bitch."

We start our shallow clockwise descending turn to line ourselves up just off the main street and cross the markets tin covered layered roofing diagonally to hopefully reduce our exposure time to small arms fire.

I take a moment for myself. Alrighty Lord, as always, you're in control, it's my body here but you control my hands and feet, do me well, do us well. And on that note, think you can like transport me right this moment, to….Hmmm…..boy, a relaxing instrument flight on a clear starlit night over Tennessee? Enroute to Muscles Shoals, Alabama, and then I'll order one of that restaurants huge ass juicy steaks -- damn, what's that place called? I can't recall, but that was some of the best flesh I've sunk my teeth into.

OK Mister, you had your 1 second dream, now get back to the present. Christ I'm tired of this ****.

"Chief, get that case of frozen Kilimanjaro cubes ready to dump out the left side."
"Roger sir."
"Lead it, and riddle the tin roofs, dude."
"I'm all over it."

"15 this is 23."
"1 minute out, coming across your ass now."

We skim 15 feet over the rooftops at 130 knots; I feel a very slight nudge on the stick as Tony joins lightly on the controls, as I've trained him…just in case the pilot flying takes a severely incapacitating round – Good. To throw off the aiming of the skinny's small arms fire I weave the bird slightly left and right and kick the bird abit out of trim, skidding us in an uncoordinated profile – this basically points the nose of the aircraft slightly off it's direction of actual flight and may cause those shooting at us to mislead their aiming point – that's my theory anyway.

To part two....
PT 2..."Bait, Hook Juggling RPG's"

"Tally!! Two dudes on roof, 11 O'clock."
"Chief…"Your weapons free… get ready for drop, then back to your weapon ASAP."
The market is the next block over and approaching rapidly…"Ready…. ready…. Drop!"
My flight engineer spills the case of frozen cubes overboard. We zoom 20 feet over the market….and even from inside the aircraft you can hear the bam! Bam! Bam! of the frozen cubes slamming into the corrugated tin roofing.

Well that outta let em know we're here.
"Sir, tracer's 4 O'clock, no factor."
"More from 7 O'clock."
And like a flash we are clearing to the north east, for a cyclic climbing turn and back to the market in the reverse direction.
"Ok, chief, next case of cubes."

"15, 23."
"15 - Go."
"We gotta couple on rooftops, we're reversing now."
"Copy, we're engaging - looks like scrambling ants there."

At the top of my reversal turn, in a 60-degree bank, the market again comes into view through the overhead Plexiglass – some lazy tracer fire arching in my general direction.

"15, you see that dumbass………umm, disregard."
"We just popped him 23"
"I see, we're back inbound."

I continue to pull the aircraft around the turn, allowing the nose to drop so we can get back up to speed and on the deck.

"Systems good Doug, TGT's, and rotor RPM fine."
"Cool, Tony."

Here we go, once again skimming over the roofs at 120 knots – my world is different shades of luminescence green through the NVG's. What's left of the city lighting and the camp fires glowing must be enough to highlight me against the black sky, because more tracers from rooftops and windows now appear and are distinctly aimed in my direction. On zero illum nights, or nights with no moon, I've seen a few of our aircraft from the ground through the naked eye only when they've banked and cockpit lighting comes into view. Nope – I want to be damn near invisible. I take a quick scan of the cockpit to ensure upper and lower counsel lighting is off and all other instrument lighting is set to a bare minimum.

"We're back inbound fella's…on your toe's."

A flash and spark trail at my 2 O'clock, an RPG launch, he fired too early - its gunna go high and behind – I keep course. As we approach the market from the reverse direction, another RPG launch from about the same position, just to be sure I climb slightly and weave out – the rocket falls low.

I wonder what Somali household will be getting an indiscriminate rocket knocking on their door.

As we come upon the market my chief unloads the second case of frozen water with another resounding bam! Bam! Bam! More tracers are zigzagging across our path. My right M60 machine gun opens up…I only hear the initial call by my gunner that we're taking fire from windows…then it's drowned out by 550 rounds per minute of RATT TAT TAT 7.62mm suppressive fire and the smell of cordite filling the cabin.


Dammit! More drain holes.

"Sir we're taking hits!"

No **** chief…I'm thinking.

It really is all so surreal, how it seems time slows as the brain and senses go into some kinda hyper drive – the sights, sounds, smell, feel, and thoughts. I hear our Hook bird calling out reports and confirmed shots, I hear my crew calling and spotting shots, I hear the M60 machine guns chattering, I hear and feel my aircraft responding to my inputs, I smell cordite as it fills the cockpit, I see tracers arching through the air in different directions coming from various locations not far below. Milliseconds of time somehow stretched and slowed down – the mind and consciousness absorbing it all, analyzing, prioritizing, determining next courses of action.

OH ****!!! RPG launch!! 10 O'clock, from across and slightly down the street, just after we are passing over the market – this one is aimed. Blink Blink…lesse quick math: this dude just fired at about 300 feet away, and the RPG-7 has potential to reach speeds of nearly 1000 fps… fudging in the acceleration time of the rocket, that gives me about 1/2 second to not occupy the same space in time…

I yank hard up on the collective control and snap the cyclic stick back and left turning into the rocket, climbing hard --- "Uugghhh" – the G's pull and the engines scream to supply the power demanded of them.

"Douughh…Rotor RPM; 98%…97%…and dropping, TGT's max'd out". Tony yells over all the noises. The combination of the G's pulled plus demanding more power than the engines can supply cause the main rotor RPM to decrease.

The rocket and trails of sparks that follow pass left and low, just outside the rotor disk – **** me! That was close!! Ok, let's get my big fan speed back to normal RPM.

BREAK RIGHT!!! BREAK BREAK!!! RPG's!!! – It's my chief.

RPG's?? Multiple? The skinny's are adapting to tactics as well – simultaneous launches.

****!! I'm in a hard climbing left hand bank, with my rotor RPM decaying because of the power I yanked and the G's we are pulling – effectively making my bird weigh like around 70,000 lbs. Damn. Damn.
I cannot see the shots, but chief called for an immediate BREAK – I gotta trust his call. I snap the cyclic stick hard right as I keep the power in…

96% Rotor RPM….

… They say a Blackhawk has a quicker roll rate than an F-16. Show me now baby!! Show me!


2 RPG's followed by their spark trails zing close out my left side moments later.

"HELL YES!!!!! Oh, Chief you sweet ************…I will bear your children!!!......Scan people scan!!"

I continue the right roll, and let the nose of the bird fall through the turn, 30 degrees low pointing us toward terra ferma, and diving back to the roof tops then flicking the aircraft back to wings level.
OK, get the power lowered you fucking dumbass. There, there. Main rotor RPM comes back to 100% -- now let's get the hell outta here!!
I glance up and left, I see the RPG's self detonate harmlessly in the air on their pre-programmed 4.5-second life span – Holy Christ that was waaaay to fucking close! Man-O-man -This **** is gunna catch up with me.

"We're clear…. sir"
"About bloody time ain't it?"

"15, 23"
"15 – Go"
"You're falling down on the job bitch."
"We popped our wad of .50 cal. sniper rounds. Hey, you flushed out two technical vehicles, one with a big ass mortar mounted in it – we put depleted uranium rounds right through the engine blocks and trashed the mortar."
"Look, we got fluctuating oil pressure on the #1 engine; possible frag damage, we're taking it back to the barn." "Watch your ass 15."
"Will do 23, by the way - Nice work, and that looked like some **** hot flying dude."
"Ya ya…lovely…whatever….23 out"

We land, taxi into our protective revetment. As I pull the engines off-line, I slump back into my seat – I'm wet with sweat, exhausted and I'm thinking I need to get my fucking head examined. I notice my hands are shaking slightly… adrenaline, that's one trippy chemical.

"Doug?" Tony questions softly.
"Ahhh..ya Tony, what's up?"
"Can we do Hook next time?"
"I'm thinking it's getting near that time bro…I'm thinking it's that time."
All I can say is wow. Did this really happen Husky? I mean its so detailed! I also like how Two Three disabled that mortor with Uranium .50 ammo.
All I can say is wow. Did this really happen Husky? I mean its so detailed! I also like how Two Three disabled that mortor with Uranium .50 ammo.

Pretty close as to I recall.

The "hook" bird (one-five) with the Berrett 50 Cal sniper rifles disabled the 'technical vehicle' with the morter mounted in it.

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