In the choppy waters and unpredictable skies above the Red Sea, there’s a Marine who’s making waves in a way that hasn’t been seen since the smoke of Vietnam cleared.

Captain Earl Ehrhart V, flying his AV-8B Harrier with the precision of a scalpel, is on the cusp of etching his name into the annals of aerial combat history.

This isn’t your everyday pilot story; it’s the stuff of legend, with Ehrhart sitting at seven confirmed drone kills since the cold days of December 2023.

The man’s not just flying; he’s rewriting the rulebook on what it means to be an ace in the age of unmanned combat.

Guardian of the Seas

Stationed aboard the USS Bataan (LHD 5) with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), Ehrhart’s been the guardian angel for maritime traffic in the US Fifth Fleet’s patch of sea.

These aren’t just any drones he’s swatting from the skies; they’re Houthi unmanned machines intent on seeding chaos and disruption.

It’s a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, with Ehrhart and his Harrier leading the charge.

AV-8B Harrier
AV-8B Harrier takes off from the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (Image source: DVIDS)

AV-8B Harrier: A New Breed of Ace

The Harrier, a beast known for its VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) capabilities, has proven to be the perfect steed for this modern-day knight.