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An email from a rescuer pilot
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I'm back home for a few days while we work on our helicopters and wait for the crowd at the naval air station in NO to thin out. I flew Wednesday, Friday, Monday, and Tuesday with the D.C. Guard before we left. My crew had 81 saves in the days we flew. Tuesday, I couldn't find anyone alive who needed to come out, but we marked the location of 5 bodies for retrieval. My unit got into NO as soon as the wind abated, and as soon as we could get fuel to sustain operations. I've heard that the National Guard did nothing, but the "Red Cross" helicopters did a great job. Guess what's painted on the side of our aircraft? Some observations:

1) The mayor of NO, Nagins, dropped the ball in a huge way. The whole fiasco at the Superdome and the people left there is in his lap. The Governor also is culpable.

2) We trained our enlisted men, specifically the Medics and Crew Chiefs, very hard on the rescue hoist. During our deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom, we only had 2 hoist missions. The same number is typical for an experienced Medic in a Guard Medevac unit over his whole career. We now have Medics and Crew Chiefs with 50 hoists under their belts - many of them difficult precision hoists onto car hoods, 18 wheeler cab roofs, and onto covered porches. We kept our Crew Chiefs and Medics together as battle roster crews and they developed advanced techniques early and amazed me with their skill and bravery.

3) Some people just don't get it. Yesterday, I flew over people with grills and coolers on their roofs, and they raised signs saying, "We OK." Two houses down, bodies were floating.

4) The violence you heard about was only the tip of the iceberg. One of our Guard members was with the Fish & Wildlife and deployed early to NO as security. They encountered four dead men in a neighborhood who had been shot, execution style. Their wives had been raped. NOTE: Emphasis ExSoldier762

5) Our hangar in Baton Rouge housed 300 Border Patrol agents with all kinds of exotic weaponry. They were inserted into the bad neighborhoods and reportedly nailed about 25 of the goons from roving armed bands. They then just withdrew and let them lay.

6) Some have claimed that racism caused black people to be left while white people were brought out. Of the 81 people I brought out, 2 were white. Both thanked me. Only 3 other people thanked us, as I recollect. When we cruised over flooded neighborhoods, we'd say to each other, "Hey, this is a high dollar neighborhood. Let's go back to the projects." We never pulled anyone out of a good neighborhood. They left before the storm. We were trying to maximize the number of saves we had, so we'd go to the "hood."

7) There were more helicopters in NO than I've ever seen before. We lost one of our Hueys doing a rooftop pickup. He rocked back on his skids and broke through the roof, and was unable to free himself. They hoisted the crew out and recovered the aircraft with a CH-47 a few days later.

8) We all have personal firearms. I briefed my crews to expect a "Blackhawk Down" scenario if we went down. Unbelievable over a US city.

9) I flew within 100 yards of Air Force One at Louis Armstrong Int'l airport. Bush flew in and out without shutting down the airspace. I was cautioned by ATC to "not over fly THE AIRPLANE." I complied by flying back behind THE AIRPLANE and the following SUVs full of instant death.

10) Two things would have made things better for us. The first is Iridium phones. 10 at each flight facility would have made all the difference. Our radio communications sucked. The second is getting our own refuel tankers in place early. By the time they got ready to refuel us, the Naval Air Station and Louis Armstrong Int'l were pumping fuel.

11) The airspace over NO turned into the Wild West. All the other aircraft over the city were using our VHF and UHF internal frequencies for the first few days. As time went on, the airport towers came back on line and we started using the normal freqs again. I saw every conceivable helicopter over NO, including Soviet designs.

12) I'm glad to be home for a few days. The Search and Rescue phase is over. Now, it's all body retrieval and cleanup.

13) We're still waiting for the French contingent to show up. Don't hold your breath!!!
 

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It looks like the guys got some excellant training and raised their skill level for this sort of rescue. Surprised to hear of the Border Patrol taking care of bad guys, our press would not cover that one but good to know help can come from unexpected places. The pilots did a fine job down there in spite of poor communications and fuel problems.
 

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Kudos to all the pilots - and I fully expect this learning experience will see things getting into the manuals eventually.

There has been nothing like it before and I hope it will never be seen again.

Thx for the post EX - seems like a good personal report.
 

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Outstanding report there....my old ANG unit is a CSAR wing (with LOTS of civil SAR experience); I wonder if they made it down there to NOLA.....in any event, I hear the USCG has also been doing superb work there....I ran into a few in Gulfport, MS when I was there two weeks ago.

The crews deployed to NOLA had personal weapons? Good for them!
 

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Thanks for all you did and thanks for sharing how it really was - we don't get that on the news.
 

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That was a great report! It's amazing how much it differs from the media reports, but then most military reports that I've seen DO.
 

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great post

Small wonder that this kind of information didn't make it onto the Main Stream Media. Thanks to the pilot and his crews for their hard work and skill.
 

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striker said:
Small wonder that this kind of information didn't make it onto the Main Stream Media.
First, my admiration and thanks to all those involved in the rescue efforts. Those guys have guts and devotion to be lauded.

But you have noticed that the information did get out? :smile:

Media: a medium of cultivation, conveyance, or expression.
Source: Merriam-Webster Online
MSM still does not realize that the New Media (Boards like this, Blogs and other formats) are a new way to disseminate information and to check on their work. MSM loaths the fact that "untrained" people can beat them to a story and fact-check theirs and call them on the carpet when they fail to cover something or do it with their slant and try to sell those goods as "impartial".

People may complain that the New Media, not trained in the "proper schools of journalism" are nothing more than rumor mongers, Tin-Foil hacks or, like CBS News executive Jonathan Klein said: "a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing." Unfortunately for him and Dan Rather, The Pajama Squad delivered a mortal blow to their egos and their shady operation-cum-"news".

You would think that the MSM would have learned from the Rather episode but sadly isn't true. If anything they still stick to their unloaded guns and keep drowning in their own primeval swamp. Another excuse they use is that the information shared in the Net might be unreliable and false. True, some stuff is just bad imagination and falsehoods, BUT SO IS THEIR COVERAGE! Besides, an internet board like this is not a place where any idiot can post a falsehood and be confident that it will go unchallenged. Whatever is posted will be read, reviwed and commented by hundreds or thousands and feedbacks will be soon following and given EQUAL time and place and not a mild correction hidden somewhere in between the ads for Purina Dog Chow and the Pewee Hockey results for last month.
 

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I had heard that all the roving gangs were not necessarily from NO. Gangs from other parts of the country came down there to loot. Anyone else hear this?
 

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Did not hear such Joe - but I would imagine the parasitic nature of the BG mentality would probably tempt some - easy pickings would be like a magnet to them.

Vultures could be a good description too.
 

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havegunjoe said:
I had heard that all the roving gangs were not necessarily from NO. Gangs from other parts of the country came down there to loot. Anyone else hear this?
Yes I did, they thought there was up to 3,000, they came better equip then the cops had at one time.Some had flat bottom boats and better radios.Tat's from Colonel Hunt, On Fox Network, I hope I got it right. :wink:
 
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