Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Battle of the Palm Groves

An air weapons team of two Apache attack helicopters from the 8-229th Aviation, the Flying Tigers, no less, were providing aerial security on a raid somewhere in the Sunni Triangle. A near by ground unit had surrounded a group of insurgents in a small building in a palm grove, had been exchanging small arms fire the whole while, and requested aerial security from the team of Apaches.

“No problem, Gentlemen, help is on the way”, was the calm reply to the request. Troops in contact, as one might imagine, is going to be at the top of anybody’s “to do list”. The two Apache helicopters flew immediately to the fire fight, directed by ground forces to a particular building in the palm grove.

“Is this the right building?”, Mr. Krystal, one of the pilots on the mission, asked the ground unit’s commander.

“That’s it. We’re still taking fire from it. Fire it up.”

As the attack helicopters flew lower and closer to the small building in the palm grove, one of the pilots spotted one of the insurgents sticking an AK-47 out a small window directly at the helicopter. Without hesitation, the front seater pulled the trigger, and fired up the hut.

The Apache weapons team began to rake the small building with their chain guns. An unbelievable number of rounds exploded, punching holes through the mud brick walls. Rockets were drilled in the walls as well, bursting in bright flashes. The surrounding palm trees shook each time a shock wave from a near by explosion detonated.

“They just fired an RPG [Rocket Propelled Grenade] at you guys”, one Apache called to the other, “We’re you hit?”

“An RPG? Nope. We’re still here”, was the answer.

The RPG had been fired, but it flew harmlessly between two Apaches, exploding too far from either one to cause any harm. The gunfire from the two aircraft, their rotors beating the air, continued to pound the small building, killing all inside.

At the end of the short engagement, a number of insurgents lay dead, next to piles of weapons. No US losses or wounded that day.

The Apaches returned to base.

For the dead terrorists who lay inside the destroyed building in the palm grove that morning, their days of blowing up market places, mosques, and slaughtering unarmed Iraqis had come to a sudden, and very violent, end.