To his right, a bullet or fragment ripped a silver-dollar-sized hole in the other pilot’s wrist, while yet another tore into his thigh.
Seriously damaged, and with its pilots barely able to control it, the Chinook hit the ground hard, just below the peak of the ridge.
With the helicopter still 80 feet off the ground, bullets shattered the cockpit glass.
A round smashed one pilot’s thigh bone, another knocked his helmet off.
The use of blood in the field is a controversial topic, according to Burlingame.“Blood is an FDA-controlled substance,” he said.
“It’s very, very regulated.” Special training, not to mention lots of paperwork, is required before medics are considered qualified to administer blood in the field.
But so many troops performed with such extraordinary courage during that long night and day that it could easily have been named after any one of at least a dozen men. Riding in the back of the Chinook were a handful of Navy SEALs moving to a position where they could observe a series of cave complexes where al-Qaida fighters were concentrated. “We did not want to leave one of our people behind.”Forty-five minutes after Razor 3 had made its forced landing, another MH-47E — “Razor 4” — landed beside the damaged Chinook. There Razor 3’s crew got off, and the Chinook sped back to the valley. On the flight line, the twin rotor blades of two more MH-47s — “Razor 1” and “Razor 2” — slowly began to turn.
You sit there [watching] and your heart sinks.”When it was clear that the “landing zone” was in fact a free-fire zone, Razor 2 was waved off without dropping off its Rangers.
But as the pilot from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment brought the Chinook in to land, the helicopter was met with a fusillade of enemy machine gun and rocket-propelled fire that severed vital hydraulic lines. Sitting on the Chinook as it flew south into the heart of enemy territory was Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, a 26-year-old para-rescue jumper on his first combat mission.‘He was all about saving lives’Cunningham was a bright-eyed kid from New Mexico who always had a smile on his face.
The pilot jerked the helicopter up and away without inserting the SEAL team. Married with two children, he had only been a pararescue jumper for eight months, but his infectious enthusiasm had already made him popular with his fellow PJs.
The rescue force had lost the advantages of surprise and darkness. Heavy machine gun, Kalashnikov and grenade fire erupted from the snowy mountainside as the helicopter came in to land.
At least one rocket-propelled grenade hit the aircraft in the tail rotor.