(Courtesy of Tactical Life)
On June 2, 1995, a United States Air Force F-16 Falcon was shot down over Bosnia while enforcing a NATO peacekeeping mission. The pilot, Captain Scott O’Grady, ejected safely over enemy territory. For six days, he used the lessons learned in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training to avoid capture. On June 8, Marines from the USS Kearsarge launched a rescue mission that brought O’Grady home.
At the time, it was heralded as the most successful combat search and rescue (CSAR) mission since Vietnam. In fact, it was very reminiscent of the “Bat 21 Bravo” rescue mission where, for 11 days before his rescue, Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton avoided capture by the Viet Cong. In both cases, had the pilot been required to use his pistol, it would have compromised his position and put him at a higher risk of capture. What these pilots needed was an ultra-compact suppressor that would allow them to holster a pistol with the suppressor mounted.
In 2014, I had the opportunity to visit Gemtech’s manufacturing facility in Boise, Idaho. We were in the arms cage packing for a range trip when I noticed a plastic tray with 10 or so very small suppressors not much larger than a tube of lipstick. Being the polite guest, I asked about them before touching them! What I had found was a batch of Aurora 9mm suppressors awaiting transfer to a government end-user. I was told that the Gemtech Aurora was designed in the mid-1990s for a pilot’s bailout kit and has since been utilized by other “government entities.”
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