Minor Injuries Suffered, Wreckage Destroyed By US Forces
The crew of an OH-58 Kiowa attack helicopter was rescued after
being shot down by insurgent ground fire south of Baghdad
The two pilots were rescued by an AH-64 Apache crew. The two
Kiowa pilots were identified by a US military command in Baghdad as
belonging to Task Force Marne, according to the US Department of
"An Air Force Thunderbolt II destroyed the downed helicopter
with two 500-pound laser-guided bombs after the pilots were
evacuated from the area," the DoD said. "The OH-58 pilots suffered
The US military will often destroy such damaged military
equipment to prevent insurgents from using parts or munitions to
gather intelligence or mount attacks, according to the Stars and
"We're taking fire!" Chief Warrant Officer 2 Steven Cianfrini,
27, yelled when he saw the tracer rounds during the reconnaissance
mission to flush out Sunni insurgents, according to the Washington
Pilot Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mark Burrows, 35, tried to avoid
the ever-increasing barrage of insurgent bullets.
"The whole world just opened up on us, it seemed like,"
Cianfrini said. "We zigzagged, whatever we could do, to get out of
the guns' target line. Then we started taking rounds from behind.
That... took the aircraft down."
The two pilots sought cover in nearby canal, only to face the
possibility of drowning as their heavy armor and thick mud
threatened to overtake them. Then, insurgents descended upon
"We couldn't move," Cianfrini said. "I was thinking, 'This is
Burrows said his attackers were so close he saw one wearing a
brown T-shirt and carrying an AK-47.
"He just didn't see us. I don't know how," said Burrows,
back-to-back with Cianfrini. "I was just praying that they didn't
Then came the welcome sound of a couple of Apaches from the 1st
Cavalry Division who effectively pushed the insurgents back with a
30mm Gatling gun. While one kept cover, the other sat down to
retrieve the downed Kiowa pilots.
But, an Apache only has two seats. No problem -- one of the
Apache pilots, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Micah Johnson strapped
himself to one side the helo's exterior while Burrows did the same
on the other side, allowing Cianfrini to use the available interior
Burrows said he didn't mind the 120 mph winds he endured during
the trip out.
"I was in pretty high spirits knowing I was going home," he
Military helicopters in Iraq are attacked about 100 times each
month. Using heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and
shoulder-fired missiles, about 17 are hit.
This year, 10 US military and private contractor helos have been
lost to such fire, according to the Post.