September 20, 2005
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Compiled by DefenseWatch Staff
The following e-mails were sent to DefenseWatch in response to the story we ran last July 17 (Letter Shares Fate of Destroyed SEAL Team In Afghanistan, 8-17-05) from a US Marine LTC purporting to recount the final moments of the ill-fated special operations mission that resulted in the loss of eight soldiers and an MH-47 Chinook helicopter shot down in the mountains of Afghanistan on June 28, 2005.
The letters are from LTC Matt Brady, the commanding officer of the men who died that day and an eyewitness to the terrible events that unfolded when a 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) MH-47D Chinook helicopter was shot down June 28, 2005 near Asadabad, Afghanistan, killing three special operations officers and five special operations soldiers from the 160th SOAR while conducting combat operations in support of Operation Red Wing.
Letter 1 – 9-12-05
Unfortunately, the LTC that published this letter (concerning his time in Afghanistan and the 28 JUNE [MH-47] Chinook shoot down) could not have known the proliferation it would enjoy. He has made some tragic errors in his reporting based on things he's heard, not facts. In fact, his account of the MH-47 (not CH-47[D] "Pavehawk" (as he describes a non-existent aircraft) that limped a mile away and finally broke through a ledge because it was "their time" is completely untrue and based on rumor.
The Marine LTC wrote: "The decision was made, two CH 47 Pave Hawk helicopters headed toward the SEALs. The CH 47 is a large aircraft but it is fast for a helicopter, able to fly at 170 knots. The aircraft entered the mountains flying at 50 feet above the ground with 16 men aboard. All four SEALs were still alive and fighting an unbelievable battle. As the lead bird approached the landing zone they started to slow down and the air speed dropped under 100 Knots, another group of Taliban, not engaged in the initial firefight but in the area saw the aircraft and open fire with small arms and RPG's. The lead aircraft was hit by a RPG but the aviator kept the bird in the air. They were in the mountains; therefore there was no clear place to land. He flew for about a mile and saw a ledge that he could try to put the bird down on. The CH 47 landed on the ledge hard, they almost made it. The hard landing and the palpitations of the rotors were too much for the small landing zone and weak ground. It was their time, the aircraft rolled off of the ledge on to its side and down the mountain into the valley below. 8 SEALs and 8 aviators from TF 160th were gone."
I know this because I was there, I inserted the recon team the night before, and I watched the whole thing happen. I also had the displeasure yesterday of explaining to two of the wives of my lost men where the rumor had circulated concerning the "last mile" of their husbands' flight.
In fact, the aircraft went down immediately and never "limped" anywhere. The author's account gives those wives a horrible image of their loved ones last minutes, and it isn't even factual. You can thank the author for some of their grief, and mine.
Letter 2 – 9-16-05
Thanks for the response. I don't mind if you post my last e- mail to you. You can use my name as well.
I do want to set the record straight. I know the USMC LTC had the best of intentions, and the e-mail he writes seems heartfelt, genuine, and very patriotic. I just mean to point out that there are some things that should not be casually written and distributed. Unless the accounts are firsthand, those publishing them need to be careful what they consider fact. Those erroneous words concerning the last few minutes of the flight are dead wrong, and that needs to be clear.
We have an unwritten rule in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment "Night Stalkers. "
"If we put them in, we take them out." That's why we went that day. That's why we didn't wait until nightfall. The team was in contact, they were fighting for their lives, and so we were going then and there no matter what.
Standing at the ramp of the ill-fated MH-47D, I discussed with Mike McGreavy (sp?) and Erik Kristensen (sp?)actions on contact. How they wanted to be inserted and where, and what they were going to do to find their swim buddies.
Mike's plan of action was this: "We'll take the high ground and work it out from there." That's how ambiguous the situation was.
We had no radio contact with them, had no updated position or disposition, yet rotors were turning and my guys mounted up. All we had to know was that U.S. Soldiers were in trouble. We wouldn't have done it any differently.
I'm not sure how much I can actually disclose for OPSEC reasons, so I'll stop here.
But the LTC hit the nail on the head, those guys were heroes .
Unfortunately, they never had a chance. When that RPG hit, it severed critical components and drive shafts. The aircraft was on short final, went down where it was hit, and met the unforgiving terrain below.
God rest their souls, and the brave men I had the honor of inserting 8 hours prior.
From: LTC Matt Brady
160th SOAR "Night Stalkers"
Editor's Note: The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) is world famous among both aviators and Special Operations troopers alike as the premier special operations aviation unit in the United States Army and probably in the world. The 160th operates a group of highly modified aircraft in their missions. These aircraft are fitted with special avionics to allow them to fly at low level at night or in inclement weather. In addition they have increased weapons and armor to enable them to survive the harder missions in enemy fire.
For more information see the
US Army Special Operations Command News Service
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