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Technomancer and troubleshooter by trade. Programmer by choice. Creator of Deviant Paradigm, somewhat by accident.
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Sunday, January 21, 2007
And for your seating, would you prefer window, aisle, or wingtip?
Okay, I couldn't pass this up. Looks like we of America can't hog all the heroes (okay, from my perspective, it was largely us and the Aussies, who I am rapidly considering the most steadfast people I have ever heard of -- I'd rather an Aussie than anyone else at my back in a knock-down drag out in any arena the way they're going). The Brit's RAF is out to prove they're still a shining force in this world of increasing shadow.
The reason I couldn't let this go by is two fold -- one, I am a lover of heroic tales. I can spend hours reading about how medal winners earned those honors. And two, the AH-64 Apache is my favorite helicopter of all time, dating back to a childhood of playing LHX, an old helicopter flightsim (the LHX, for Light Helicopter eXperimental, would later be christened the "Commanche"). As anyone passingly familiar with the Apache can tell you, it's a fearsome unit on the battle field, but it isn't exactly good at troop transport. It has a pilot, a wizard (sort of co-pilot), and lots of weapons -- no room for passengers of any kind. So when the RAF Marines hears they've got a fallen Marine in Taliban country, they're pretty much out of time and fuel, they can't do a proper rescue. So they act like the Marines they are and make due. They strap themselves to the outside of a couple of their Apaches and head out to pick this guy up. They are literally tied to the wingstubs of an attack helicopter out on a rescue mission. They hit the ground running, knowing they have a couple minutes to find their comrade before the Taliban catch wind and come out with guns blazing. And they're right. About three minutes after touchdown, the Taliban show up, and the third Apache, which flying around to provide cover, opens up. A 30mm chain gun on a swivel mount can make for a very frightening antipersonnel weapon, I'm sure. The RAF Marines find their fallen buddy, and strap him securely on one Apache, but the Taliban are coming out in full force now, and they have to dust-off immediately. So they skip tying themselves on, and just grab hold and take off. They hold on to the sides of these attack helicopters the whole way back to base. At touch down, there were two minutes of fuel left in the Apache carrying the man.
Sadly, the wounds of the fallen Marine were mortal, and he passed away. But he passed away in the hands of friends; the RAF refused to let him be captured or die alone. This is the mark of heroes. They volunteer to do the craziest things imaginable, because those things are what are right and good. And they don't think they did anything special after everything's said and done. This is one of the most amazing things I've heard about in recent days. The RAF Marines have more than proven themselves in my book, with just this alone. (Hey, I never get to hear about anything they do, since Afghanistan is virtually forgotten by the media, so I know I've missed out on a lot of British heroism. This sort of thing probably isn't so unusual.)
The video of this spectacular feat is on Sky News, the full story is at the Sunday Mirror, and I heard about it at Hot Air.