Last Flight Eagle 1 and Eagle 2

On 14 April 1994, at 07:36 local time, a USAF E-3 AWACS aircraft from the 963rd Airborne Air Control Squadron (based at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma) departed Incirlik Air […]
April 14, 2016

On 14 April 1994, at 07:36 local time, a USAF E-3 AWACS aircraft from the 963rd Airborne Air Control Squadron (based at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma) departed Incirlik Air Base (AB), Turkey in support of OPC. The AWACS, with its 19-member crew under the mission crew command of Major Lawrence Tracy, was to provide airborne threat warning and air control for all OPC aircraft during its time aloft. The AWACS crew reported on station at its assigned surveillance orbit altitude of 32,000 feet (9,750 m) located inside Turkey just north of the northern border of Iraq at 08:45. The weather that day was fair and clear over northern Iraq.

At 08:22, two U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the 6th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment (based in Giebelstadt, Germany), called Eagle Flight, departed Diyarbakır, near Pirinçlik, Turkey headed for the OPC military coordination center (MCC) located 150 miles (240 km) away in Zakhu, Iraq. Both helicopters were fitted with external, 230-US-gallon (870 L) fuel tanks on sponsons mounted beside each side door with each tank emblazoned with large American flags. In addition to the flags on the fuel tanks, each helicopter was marked with American flags on each side door, on the nose, and on the belly. The lead Black Hawk was piloted by U.S. Army Captain Patrick McKenna, commander of the Eagle Flight detachment of six helicopters.

At 10:22, Wickson, flying at 27,000 feet (8,230 m), reported a radar contact on a low-flying, slow-moving aircraft 40 miles (64 km) southeast of his current position. Wilson acknowledged Wickson’s report with a “clear there” response, meaning that he had no radar contacts in that area. Unknown to the two F-15 pilots, the unidentified aircraft were the two U.S. Army Black Hawks. Contrary to standard procedure, neither Tracy nor Wang spoke up at this point to request that the AWACS crew members attempt to identify the F-15s’ radar contacts.

The two F-15s now initiated a visual identification (VID) pass of the contact. The VID pass entailed violating one of OPC’s rules of engagement, which prohibited fighter aircraft from operating below 10,000 feet (3,050 m) above the ground. At this time the two Black Hawks had entered a deep valley and were cruising at a speed of 130 knots (150 mph; 240 km/h) about 200 feet (60 m) above the ground. Wickson’s VID pass was conducted at a speed of about 450 knots (520 mph; 830 km/h), 500 feet (150 m) above and 1,000 feet (300 m) to the left of the helicopters. At 10:28 Wickson reported “Tally 2 Hinds” and then passed the two Black Hawks.

Following their VID passes, Wickson and May circled back behind the helicopters approximately 10 miles (16 km). Because aircraft from various nations sometimes operated unannounced in the northern Iraq area, the OPC rules of engagement required the F-15 pilots to attempt to verify the nationality of the helicopters. Instead, at 10:28, Wickson notified the AWACS that he and May were “engaged” and instructed May to “arm hot.”

At 10:30, Wickson fired an AIM-120 AMRAAM missile at the trail helicopter from a range of about 4 nautical miles (10 km). The missile hit and destroyed the trailing helicopter seven seconds later (36°46′N 44°05′E). In response, the lead Black Hawk, piloted by McKenna, immediately turned left and dived for lower altitude in an apparent attempt to evade the unexpected attack. About 20 seconds later, May fired an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile at the lead helicopter from a range of about 1.5 nautical miles (2.8 km), hitting and shooting it down also about 1.2 miles (2 km) northeast of the trail helicopter (36°55′N 43°30′E). All 26 people on board the two Black Hawks were killed. After flying over the wreckage of the two helicopters lying burning on the ground, May radioed Wickson, “Stick a fork in them, they’re done.”

US Military:
SSG Paul Barclay (SF Commo NCO)
SPC Cornelius A. Bass (Eagle-1 Door Gunner)
SPC Jeffrey C. Colbert (Eagle-1 Crew Chief)
SPC Mark A. Ellner (Eagle-2 Door Gunner)
CW2 John W. Garrett, Jr. (Eagle-1 Pilot)
CW2 Michael A. Hall (Eagle-2 Pilot Command)
SFC Benjamin T. Hodge (Linguist)
CPT Patrick M. McKenna (Eagle-1 Pilot Command)
WO1 Erik S. Mounsey (Eagle-2 Pilot)
COL Richard A. Mulhern (Incoming Co-Commander)
1LT Laurie A. Piper (USAF, Intel Officer)
SGT Michael S. Robinson (Eagle-2 Crew Chief)
SSG Ricky L. Robinson (SF Medic)
Ms. Barbara L. Schell (State Dept. Political Advisor)
COL Jerald L. Thompson (Outgoing Co-Commander)

British Military:
MAJ Harry Shapland (Security/Intel Duty Officer)
LTC Jonathan C. Swann (Senior UK Officer)

French Military:
LTC Guy Demetz (Senior French Officer)

Turkish Army:
COL Hikmet Alp (Co-Commander)
LT Ceyhun Civas (Laison Officer)
LT Barlas Gultepe (Liason Officer)

Kurdish Partisans:
Abdulsatur Arab
Ghandi Hussein
Bader Mikho
Ahmad Mohammed
Salid Said (Linguist)

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