May 26, 2013

War Stories: Hanging By A Cheek

When I went to my first rotary wing training exercise with the 160th SOAR, all I wanted to do was ride on a Little Bird (MH-6). The Little Bird is not the U.S. Military’s fastest helicopter, but it sure is the most maneuverable. I remember standing in awe watching the best pilots in the military conduct precision rooftop lip landings and racetrack fast-rope training.

As snipers, our section regularly worked with the MH-6′s in training, but not as often on overseas deployments. It still amazes me where those small little aircraft can land. Fortunately, while I was in the section, the 3rd Battalion snipers fashioned a very good working/training relationship with our Tier 1 friends. While my team was in Baghdad, we ran a number of missions with these high-level warriors.

On one particular mission, I remember sitting in the mission briefing and being told that we would be infiltrating the target by MH-6. Two two-man sniper teams would be over-watching and covering the main assaulting element. I had ridden on a Little Bird many times in the past, but the flights were always less than 20 minutes and during warmer months. This time it happened during the winter months, with temperatures in the 30′s, and the flight was over 45 minutes.

As we flew to our objective, my lanyard stretched to what felt like its maximum tolerance, and all I could think was “I am going fly off the back of the F*#$%@&amp helicopter.” Because of the wind catching my night vision goggles, my neck felt like someone had beaten it with a baseball bat. There were only two guys on each side, but I was at the back of the two on my side and was slowly getting pushed further and further towards the back of the pod.

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About the Author

I served in 3rd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment from 2003-2008. Almost four years of the time spent in 3/75 was spent in the sniper section. I am a graduate of US Army Airborne School, US Army Ranger School, US Army Sniper School, Special Forces Sniper Course, and the US Marine Corps Summer Mountain Scout Sniper Course. I have competed in the US Army International Sniper Competition as well as the US Army Small Arms Championships on three separate occasions. I currently live in Corvallis, Oregon and hold a Bachelors of Science in Biology from Oregon State University.

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  • StormR

    Thank you, Isaiah.  I know it's not appropriate or kind, but your article gave me the best laugh I've had in weeks and I seriously needed one.  It's really NOT funny that you were in danger, cold and uncomfortable, but <snort, giggle> I can't help myself.

  • HugeFan

    Love the way you write these stories, Isaiah. Pucker factor: 10+

  • Old PH2

    Virginstateofmind Nuclear Aircraft Carrier=CVN   NJP= Non judicial Punishment, meaning no Military Court Martial Still Stings

  • Old PH2

    Virginstateofmind Speaking as a guy who has fallen out of a helo onto the deck of a CVN.  Even when your "Hooked in" don't trust the other FUCKERS in your A/C.  All I will say on that subject, is thank god the USN bought Cannon cameras.  Landed right on that MF'r, didn't even scuff the paint!  The NJP hearing really sucked.....

  • Ben K

    You know, I always wondered how you sit on those things without falling off.