Apache pilots evacuate critically-wounded Soldier, kill several extremists in Ramadi firefight
Staff Sgt. Lorin T. Smith
36th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Office
LSA ANACONDA, Iraq Apache pilots from Company B, 1st Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment (Attack), 36th Combat Aviation Brigade and Company A, 2nd Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, engaged extremists and saved a critically-wounded Soldiers life during a firefight in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on June 30, 2007.
Two attack weapons teams (with two AH-64 helicopters making up a team) flew to Ramadi in support of Coalition Forces in search of insurgents and weapons caches.
The teams reached Ramadi and received notice that Coalition Forces were taking heavy small arms fire. To maximize the helicopters time over a potential target, one team immediately went to the Ramadi forward arming and refueling point and the other attack weapons team flew into the fight.
They engaged extremists with 30 millimeter cannon fire neutralizing them. The team then supported other Coalition Forces engaging extremists using two tractor trailers as cover. The crew took small arms fire and multiple enemy rounds to their aircraft.
Despite the small arms fire, the attack weapons team destroyed the tractor trailers, causing secondary explosions, indicating to the crew that the trailers were possibly used as vehicle-born improvised explosive devices.
The crew stayed on station with the Coalition Forces until fuel levels became low, and returned to the FARP to refuel. Due to battle damage sustained, the Apache team performed a battle handoff to the second attack weapons team and flew back to LSA Anaconda.
The second team entered the engagement area in Ramadi. Coalition Forces were still taking heavy enemy fire. The attack weapons team shot hundreds of cannon rounds and rockets, expending their ammunition. As the team returned to the FARP to rearm and refuel, the ground forces commander informed the crews that he was coordinating a medical evacuation of wounded Soldiers including one critically-wounded.
Approximately 40 minutes later, after rearming and refueling, the team went back to the area and learned that the MEDEVAC aircraft had not arrived. Due to the critically-wounded Soldier and despite continued enemy activity, the Company B aviators landed and extracted the critically-wounded casualty with the Apache helicopter. While the Company A crew provided overhead security, the Company B crew landed within two kilometers of the enemy position.
Upon landing, the co-pilot/gunner helped load the injured Soldier into the front seat without further injury. Despite the heavy small arms fire and surface-to-air fire events in the area, the co-pilot/gunner strapped himself onto the left side of the aircraft and hunkered down on the wing. The pilot flew to Camp Ar Ramadi medical pad, where emergency medical personnel provided treatment. The team went back to the fight and continued to provide support for Coalition Forces. Upon neutralizing the extremists, the crew returned to LSA Anaconda.
Due to the extent of the battle damage, one extremists was confirmed killed in action, but multiple extremists were killed in conjunction with ground forces. The wounded Soldier has been transferred to LSA Anaconda and is in stable condition.