News: Heroic pilots land helicopter after being shot
Maj. Juanita Chang
Multin-National Division – North TAC PAO
"I could hear the snap, crackle, and pop. And I could smell the gunpowder."
"Then it hit me."
"It hit me so hard that it threw my leg up in the air," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Leif Neely, of Woodbridge, Va.
"Jason and I got hit at the same time, so I don't know who got hit first," Neely said referring to his co-pilot Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jason Anderson, of Crossville, Tenn.
The two pilots were flying a helicopter one May evening when they were both shot over the skies of Iraq. Amazingly, the wounded pilots were able to safely land their helicopter at the combat support hospital on a nearby coalition forward operating base.
"We were in our command post when we heard that some local Iraqis were reporting that there was a [car bomb] attack. We found it was odd that there was no chatter on the radio, as there usually is when something like this is happening," recounts Anderson.
"So, we fly out to check things out and everything appears calm from our view," Anderson continues. "Then our tactical command center radios us and tells us to go check out two other locations and we do that"
"Then we heard that there were reports that the Iraqi army and Iraqi police were being attacked," Anderson says unfolding the events as he remembers them from his wheelchair at the Combat Support Hospital on a coalition force forward operating base in Iraq.
At this time the pilots were not taking fire but heard over the radio that the base was taking indirect fire, or mortar rounds. So both their aircraft and their partner aircraft maneuvered closer to base so they could help spot the insurgents who were launching the mortars at the base.
"At this time, we felt a [car bomb] go off in town," Neely jumps in. The two pilots are both passionately recounting the details of the incident.