This is a SitRep of a CH-46 in trouble after being hit by a rocket propelled grenade. The CH-46 is a twin rotor medium helicopter that is a workhorse of the Marine Corps; commonly known as "Phrogs". LtCol Roy Osborn, CO of Helicopter Marine Medium 263, the "Thunder Chickens", is the author of this SitRep.
From: Osborn LtCol Roy
Sent: Saturday, October 09, 2004 1:01 PM
Life is a basket of peaches over here - full of pits.
Actually the day to day living is not too bad, since the temps are now down around a 100. Chow has sucked lately, but that is to be expected. After three months ashore, you have eaten every meal on the menu multiple times. Unlike some of the more posh Army or Air Force bases, we do not have Subway, McDonalds, Burger King, etc... Yes they have those at all the other service bases. Makes you wonder what Marines are doing 300 miles from the nearest salt water.
Flying is at a pace that would make your head spin.
We are pushing triple peace time utilization on all TMS every month. Take your best three months at home and I do that in a month here. Planes are doing great and the Marines are phenomenal. Work 14 to 18 hour days 7 days a week with no breaks. Pilots and crew are running 14 hour crew days. It is not unusual to put eight plus in the saddle four or five days in a row. If you have a high side account, I will send you the stats - amazing stuff.
Morale is the highest I have ever seen in the Corps.
We know what we are doing is the right thing.
We bust our tails to make sure it is done correctly.
We do it 24/7.
Time goes fast and you lose track of the days.
The only way I can tell what day of the week we are on is to look at my watch.
Threat issues are another other story.
One thing you can take from a dirt poge - make sure all the ASE works in the simulators. It works in the aircraft 100% or you don't go. FMC is the requirement. Compound EPs are another thing we have not done a good job of in the peace time world. You live them out here. I will shoot you something on an incident we had. It will give you gray hair. The sims must be able to properly depict compound emergencies. Tough. Last plug - NVGs have to work in sims. 90% plus of all hours are on the gogs. I do not ha
ve a single pilot with double digit gog time anymore. I had a couple fly 70+ in one month and they were only copilots - that is the norm.
Drink a beer or three for me.
No alcohol in this fight.
It makes you hard and off, so probably not a bad thing.
Drop me a line with the latest goings on.
LtCol Roy A "Ozzie" Osborn
[pumbaa] LtCol Roy A "Ozzie" Osborn
The following summary of action is compiled from eyewitnesses that were involved in the downed aircraft as well as the rescue aircraft.
At approximately 2230 local time on 8 Sept 2004, Sexton 47 and Sexton 50 were tasked with the successful completion of Assault Support Request 066-Alibi. The mission consisted of launching two CH-46Es to transport VIPs from Al Taqaddum Air Base (TQ) , Iraq to MEK East runway outside Fallujuah, Iraq. Total flight time, for the leg, was planned to be no more than 45 minutes. After the successful insertion of the VIPs into MEK East the section proceeded on routing to return to Al Taqaddum Air Base. App roximately four minutes later, enroute to TQ, the section received at least three simultaneous enemy rocket propelled grenade attacks followed by small arms fire from multiple fighting positions. A well coordinated, multiple position enemy RPG and small arms aerial ambush had engaged Sexton 47 and flight. Cpl Lewis and LCpl Deboer, from both aircraft, opened fire on the enemy positions with their left door gun mounted 50-caliber heavy automatic weapons as dash two called for a breaking maneuver to the ri ght. As dash two broke right the pilots and aircrew noticed that Sexton 47 was continuing straight ahead. Sexton 50 observed what was thought to be visible flares being expended by the lead aircraft. After closer examination, the pilots in the second aircraft noticed that the flares were indeed sparks and the left side of leads tail was on fire. During the initial RPG attacks, Sexton 47's aircrew felt and heard the RPG impact as the tail of the aircraft kicked to the right. The pilots saw a large flash, which was assumed to be the RPG impact. The other two RPGs climbed above dash two missing their intended target.
Sexton 47 immediately lost all electrical power to include instrument lights, internal and external communications, automatic flight control systems, as well as losing their number one engine. Both pilots were in a darkened cockpit with no instruments, no ability to talk to each other, with their aircraft on fire and going down over confirmed hostile territory without stabilized flight control inputs. Without verbal communication, Capt Franko and Capt Pawson immediately came on controls together to regain balanced flight. Sexton 47 could not perform the break right command from Sexton 50 because they had inoperable radios. Sexton 47 continued straight ahead attempting to ! clear the engagement area. With no visibility on engine instruments, Capt Franko heard the rotors "winding down". He immediately pushed the collective down to build rotor speed and prepare for an autorotational profile for landing. With the collective down, both pilots realized the aircraft was single engine and could continue with straight and level flight to clear the engagement area. Fortunately, an autorotational profile with no lights, no communications, and degraded flight controls was not necessary. The pilots remained at 50 feet pressing towards TQ for an emergency landing.
Within seconds, Sgt Weischedel climbed forward to the cockpit and yelled to the pilots that the aircraft needed to be landed immediately. The flames from the RPG impact were building and moving up the cabin towards the cockpit. Sgt Weischedel fought the fire while receiving burns to his face and hands. Capt Pawson, with Capt Franko riding controls, set up for a low light desert emergency landing into the wind south of Fallujah. On short final, both pilots could not see outside the aircraft due to the glare from the fire degrading their night vision goggles as well as the dust and sand obscuring visual cues to the ground. Capt Pawson trimmed up the aircraft with minimal rate of descent, level attitude with slight forward airspeed. Sexton 47 impacted the! ground immediately breaking the nose wheel and left main mount. The aircraft rocked to the left causing the rotors to impact the ground. The rotors came apart and stopped quickly. The pilots egressed the aircraft through the cockpit emergency doors and joined up outside the nose of the aircraft.
Both pilots immediately started looking for the two remaining crew chiefs. Without regard to their own safety, Capt Fanko inspected the fiery cabin and saw that it was clear while Capt Pawson reached back in the cockpit to pull the Fire T-Handles to shut down the engines and possibly extinguish the fire. Sgt Weischedel and LCpl Deboer had egressed the aircraft safely from the opposite side. In flight, both crew chiefs had moved their way closer to the cockpit as the heat intensified from the rear. During impact Sgt Weischedel suffered a broken arm, bruised ribs, a collapsed lung and burns. LCpl Deboer was thrown into the cockpit during landing where he impacted the center console face first. He suffered lacerations and burns to the face. LC! pl Deboer stayed on his ..50 cal returning fire to suppress further enemy action taken against his and the dash two aircraft. He manned and engaged the door gun all the way to landing despite horrific temperatures from the cabin fire. Once on deck, despite lacerations and burns to his face, LCpl Deboer remained calm and began acting as radio operator for the recovery effort. After the recovery and enroute to TQ, LCpl Deboer disregarded his own injuries and tended to Sgt Weishadel's injuries keeping him calm and comfortable prior to arriving at the medical facility. Capt Franko received serious burns to his hands and face. Capt Pawson received minor burns to his face, as well. After joining up outside the wreckage, the pilots and LCpl Deboer moved Sgt Weischedel farther away from the wreckage as fire engulfed the entire aircraft within minutes. Capt Franko turned on his survival radio and IR strobe to mark their position for pick up! by Sexton 50. Sgt Weischedel now lay on the desert floor being treated for serious injuries to his chest and arm. He mustered the strength to walk to the rescue aircraft when it landed. All four aircrew survived and walked away from Sexton 47.