Fought Insurgents, Secured Perimeter Around Downed Black
They risked their own lives to try to save their fallen
comrades... and last week, three US helicopter crews were honored
for their bravery, for responding to the scene of the downing of a
UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter north of Baghdad earlier this year.
As ANN reported, the
transport helo was felled by enemy fire January 20, the first of
what would be a string of helicopter crashes over a two-month
period. The downing claimed 12 US soldiers, including the
military's senior medical official in Iraq and two other senior
Reuters reports the three Black Hawk crews honored June 4
responded to the scene, in an attempt to rescue any survivors of
the downing. The helicopters' crews deployed the troops they had
been transporting to set up a perimeter around the crash site,
fighting off insurgent forces until Apache attack helicopters could
take over that job.
Chief Warrant Officer Jerry Sartin received the Silver Star for
leading the effort, while three others received the Distinguished
Flying Cross. The rest of the airmen received Air Medals.
"It was just another one of the 8,600 combat missions this
brigade has flown, but it was a day that has changed all our lives
forever," Major-General James Simmons told members of the 36th
Combat Aviation Brigade.
Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Schroeder was one of the pilots who
received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions that
"We saw the aircraft flying erratically and smoking," Schroeder
said. "After a while it crashed. My first instinct was disbelief.
You see them flying around all the time. They are not supposed to
Along with a second helicopter, Schroeder's gunners opened fire
on the insurgents who shot down the Black Hawk, and were attempting
to flee in a truck. One of the gunmen fired a rocket propelled
grenade at them, narrowly missing the second helo.
A gunner onboard Schroeder's Black Hawk dispatched that shooter,
along with two others. A fourth was wounded; crewman said he was
later found to have been shot 15 times.
"The Black Hawk is not designed to be an attack aircraft,"
Sartin said. "We were doing what we had to do to get rid of the
"We would trade the awards to get our soldiers back," added
Chief Warrant Office Max Timmons, the pilot of the third
helicopter. "They were very close friends."