After Action Report: Operation Persian Freedom Phase 3 Mission 17: Munitions Factory at Aghar Jan 11.14.04 Page 4

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“As you can see from the satellite imagery, the buildings are very distinct and we were able to clearly mark them with GPS markers…”

OPF17 mission

“So, without jinxing anything, this should be a straightforward mission. Get in, hit the 4 buildings, and get out.”

“Man, those are some fat targets,” laughed Tickle in his characteristic Elmo laugh. “We ought to be able to stick it back to them good for Naz.”

“Yeah!” cheered Dill. “Let’s make them pay for Naz!”

I could see that the Jolly Rogers were getting pretty bloodthirsty. “I’m with you on that,” I said but in a more reserved tone. “But let’s not let it cloud our vision on this mission.  We would be doing Naz no justice by serving ourselves up to the enemy simply because we were blind with revenge.”

“That’s why I am making sure we don’t’ take any unnecessary steps. Weapons officer, what’s our inventory looks like for smart pigs?”

“We got more than enough JSOWs, sir. We haven’t been using many of them to boot.”

OPF17 mission

“Good, requisition some for us,” I ordered.

“Aw, c’mon!” moaned Dill. “I want to get in close. Give me JDAMs or something.”

“Negative, Dill. And Stow it. The only JDAMs anyone is going to get are for backup if the JSOWs don’t work. I can feel this campaign getting closer and closer to an end, and I don’t necessarily mean to the end of the war, but also the end of some good pilots’ lives and there is no way I am going to risk that.” I looked Dill straight in the eye. “Neither should you. You should be playing it safe and using the best weapons that keep you out of harm’s way. You shouldn’t be looking for trouble, because if you do, you dang well will find it.”

I motioned to the weapons officer. “Get it done, Lieutenant!”

“Sir!” he replied as he got the necessary forms together:

OPF17 mission

“OK, people. Get some yourself together and I’ll see you on deck in 45 minutes.  Dismissed.”

The three pilots stood at attention then prepared to leave. “Not you, Dill,” I said, stopping him at the arm and pulling him aside.

Dill looked miffed, and gave me a slightly insolent look.

“Dill, didn’t want to say anything in front of everyone else, but that attitude of yours is going to get you killed. OK, if you don’t care too much about yourself, we’re all tired and frustrated here, but it threatens the rest of us too, and there is no way I am going to let you get us killed.”

“But Bones —“

“But nothing. I don’t want to see anything less than professionalism out of you. And just to make sure, I was planning on making you section leader on this one, but I think I’m going to put Blind in there instead.”

“What? Why?”

“Because I want to keep a very close eye on you. You’re on my wing, you got that?” I said with a deathly serious tone.

“Aye, sir,” said a disappointed Dill.

“Don’t take it personally, I know you’re a good flyer, and you did great, even the day I got shot down. I just can’t have us losing anymore people, nor do I think we should lose you.”  For an instant the faces of our war losses flashed through my skull.  Martin, Kegger, Simon, Naz… Faces to which lives were attached, lives that took 20 or 30 years to build and 20 or 30 nanoseconds to destroy. Too much waste. Too much. And now Coyote and Pokey were at risk. I couldn’t have us losing any others. You got your target assignment?” I asked as I handed him the satellite photo:

OPF17 mission

“Yes, sir.”

“OK, let’s get suited up. I’ll see you on deck, I need to talk to Phinin.”

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