THE NEWS BLOG

 
Steve and Jen bring you this daily review of the news
Premium Advertiser

News Blog Sponsors

News Links

BBC World Service
The Guardian
Independent
Washington Post
Newsday
Iraq Order of Battle
Agonist
NY Times
LA Times
ABC News
CNN
Blogger

 
Blogs We Like

Daily Kos
Atrios
Digby's Blog
Skippy
Operation Yellow Elephant
Iraq Casualty Count
Uggabugga
Media Matters
Talking Points
Defense Tech
Intel Dump
Soldiers for the Truth
Margaret Cho
Juan Cole
Tbogg
Corrente
Gropinator
Just a Bump in the Beltway
Baghdad Burning
Wonkette
Howard Stern
Michael Moore
James Wolcott
Cooking for Engineers
There is No Crisis
Whiskey Bar
Rude Pundit
Driftglass
At-Largely
Crooks and Liars
Amazin' Avenue
DC Media Girl
The Server Logs

 
Blogger Credits

Powered by Blogger

Archives by
Publication Date
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
Comments Credits
Comments by YACCS
Sunday, February 27, 2005

Old men in Iraq


Vietnam vets serving in Iraq


Flyboys of Vietnam, Gray and Grounded in Iraq
By KIRK SEMPLE

FORWARD OPERATING BASE DANGER, Iraq, Feb. 20 - The seasoned pilot was recalling a different war in a different place. "Every time we went in, we went in hot," he remembered. "You were fighting your way in and fighting your way out."

The pilot, Chief Warrant Officer James G. Freeman, was 23 when he began flying Huey helicopters in the Vietnam War in 1970. His missions with the 116th Assault Helicopter Company often involved dropping into a battleground to unload soldiers after helicopter gunships had "prepped" the zone with a torrent of rockets and machine-gun fire.

"There were a lot of bullets flying down there," Mr. Freeman recounted dryly during an interview. He was seated in a trailer on the airfield at Forward Operating Base Speicher, an American military base near here and his home for the next year while he is deployed with the 42nd Infantry Division of the New York National Guard, based in Troy, N.Y.

Mr. Freeman is now 58, with wry creases spraying from the corners of his eyes and a penchant for menthol cigarettes. As a member of the Guard, he has been deployed for events including the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., and relief and recovery missions after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the crash of T.W.A. Flight 800 in 1996 and the attack of Sept. 11, 2001.

Now, 34 years after his yearlong tour of duty in Vietnam, Mr. Freeman is back in another war.

He is one of five helicopter pilots from the New York National Guard who flew Hueys in the Vietnam War and who have been deployed as Black Hawk pilots in northern Iraq with the 42nd Infantry Division. The five pilots, all together, flew thousands of combat hours in Vietnam and survived being shot down several times. In this war, however, they say their responsibilities have kept them largely earthbound, as younger pilots rack up the flight hours. And they are not very happy about it.

"I'd rather be flying," grumbled Chief Warrant Officer Thomas McGurn, 57, one of the pilots who is at Base Danger helping to coordinate daily aviation schedules for the brigade. "This is kind of a bummer."

Only two of the five veteran pilots have flown since the bulk of the brigade arrived in Iraq last month.

Mr. Freeman, a retired Suffolk County police officer who lives in Stony Brook, N.Y., has flown once. Chief Warrant Officer Steven M. Derry, 53, a New York State correction officer in Wilton, N.Y., has flown twice. The others have not yet been tapped, but expect to fly sometime this year.

All five are members of a headquarters unit for the division's aviation brigade, which includes four aviation units from around the country and a maintenance battalion from Brooklyn.

For now, the five men spend their days at desk jobs or hanging out in their khaki flight suits, like caged, graying lions. Their command and control responsibilities, rather than their comparatively advanced ages, are the reason they are not flying as much as other pilots, the men say.

Mr. Freeman has taken to calling himself "a staff weenie." And Chief Warrant Officer Herbert A. Dargue, 57, of Brookhaven, N.Y., who is serving as a liaison between the division headquarters and the aviation brigade, said, "I'd rather get in the action than sit behind a desk."

About 5,570 American troops who are 50 or older have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly all of them members of the Guard and the Reserves. Although there are mandatory retirement regulations in the military that can apply anywhere from 55 to 62, depending on a soldier's length of service and other circumstances, there are no age limits on the battlefield.


Jonah, think these men have kids, you gutless piece of shit.

posted by Steve @ 1:48:00 AM

1:48:00 AM

The News Blog home page





 

Editorial Staff
RSS-XML Feeds

Add to My AOL

Support The News Blog

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More
News Blog Food Blog
Visit the News Blog Food Blog
The News Blog Shops
 
 
 
Operation Yellow Elephant
Enlist, Young Republicans