Apache December 18, 2006: U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Philip Learn, and his co-pilot, Captain Brian Hummel, were recently awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroics a year ago in Afghanistan. But there’s a lot more to it than that. 

The two were flying an AH-64 Apache gunship at the time, escorting two CH-47 transport helicopters near Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan. One of the CH-47’s took some ground fire, was damaged, but managed to land. Then the 34 troops on the CH-47 found themselves under fire from a large group of Taliban gunmen in the area. So Learn and Hummel took their AH-64 in low and basically shot it out with the Taliban, killing and wounding many, and forcing the rest to leave the area. At times, the AH-64 was exchanging fire with over a dozen Taliban, who were armed with assault rifles, machine-guns and PRGs.

Learn and Hummel were in the air with their AH-64 for ten hours that day, and Learn flew for 700 hours during his one year in Afghanistan. Normally, an AH-64 pilot has to fly 140 hours a year to maintain his flying skills. But in Afghanistan, the AH-64 is a major supplier of air support. In the last five years, the army has awarded 95 DFCs, but 60 percent of them have gone to pilots in Afghanistan, where the army has only a fifth as many troops as it has in Iraq. The British have brought in some of their AH-64s as well. The eight ton AH-64 carries a 30mm automatic cannon (with 320 rounds of ammo), plus 70mm unguided rockets (up to 19 of them) and Hellfire guided missiles (up to eight). External fuel tanks can also be carried, although the AH-64 only stays in the air for about 90 minutes when just using internal fuel (that can be tripled with the maximum of four external tanks). Typically, AH-64s in Afghanistan will fly up to half a dozen sorties a day, often taking on additional ammo when they land to refuel.

Story found at the Strategypage

Comments

  1. Thanks Maj – for the spotlight on the Apache pilots in Afghanistan. I imagine that’s gotta be extremely tough flying terrain greatly exacerbated by their combat missions. Hope you’ll give us more stories from Afghan.
    Readers, Taco’s having an Open House today. Stop by for some munchies.

  2. Thanks for this story on Afghanistan and the Apaches. One of the groups I am currently supporting via AnySoldier.com is an Air National Guard AVN group from TN. The guys I “adopted” are Apaches mechanics. They work ALL night each night to keep those amazing machines fine tuned and safe for the pilots. My hats are off to all of them for what they do!

  3. Leta, thanks for adopting the mechanics.Thanks Major, for bringing us the info on these pilots with amazing endurance under pressure.

  4. Hurrah to mechanics! They need and drink a lot of coffee 🙂 working these long hours.
    It’s extremely difficult to fly on high elevations.

  5. MARINE PILOTS ARE THE BEST IN THE WORLD. I KNOW I WAS THERE WHEN WE GOT BAILED OUT AFTER BEING PINNED DOWN FOR A DAY AND A NIGHT FROM OUR PHANTOMS AND HUEYS. THOSE GUYS ARE THE GUTSY GUYS IN THE AIR. BUT FOR ALL YOU GROUND POUNDERS OUT THERE WE ARE STILL THE BACK BONE OF THE CORPS.
    BUT LETS NOT LEAVE OUT THE COOKS,SUPPLY,OFFICE WORKERS,MOTOR POOL,ANYONE WITH THE TITLE OF UNITED STATES MARINE.
    MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE.
    GOTTA GET READY FOR 2300 HRS.

  6. Agnieszka, I sent them 2 HUGE boxes of coffee, creamer, sugar and sweetner packets just last week because that’s ALL they were asking for at Christmas. Ah, yes, there were boxes of other goodies, too for sure. Coffee, truly a simple pleasure in life. And, what a PLEASURE to be able to send it to them.
    Isn’t life just so wonderful being able to support our guys and gals the way they so graciously allow us to?
    BIG BRO JIM – tonight the “toast” will be with a large steaming mug of coffee for the all of the helo mechanics, pilots and other support personnel if that’s OK with you!

  7. LETA, YOU CAN HOIST WHAT EVER YOU FEEL LIKE, ITS THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS.
    BAD NEWS, MY LIGHT JUST CRAPED OUT ON MY FLAG POLE NOW I HAVE TO GO LOWER MY FLAG,FOLD IT AND BRING IT IN FOR THE NIGHT,,BUT FIRST THING IN THE A.M I WILL GO GET SOME MORE. BUT MY RITUAL STILL GOES ON.

Leave a Reply