An A-10 pilot in Afghanistan used flares, infrared cameras, his 30-millimeter gun, some quick thinking and his huge brass balls to save the lives of a German reconstruction team in Afghanistan two years ago. On July 11,
Capt. Brian Erickson was awarded a much-deserved Distinguished Flying Cross.
It happened like this: On Oct. 16, 2006, Erickson and a wingman were called in to help six German soldiers pinned down by insurgents firing rockets, machine guns and small-arms. As Captain Erickson flew his A-10 deep into the moonless valley, the only light on the ground was from insurgent weapons-fire,” the Air Force reported.
“I initially had my infrared sensor on to pinpoint the location of the insurgents,” said Captain Erickson. “The problem with using the infrared is every time an RPG went off the glow impeded my ability to navigate the dark canyon. The whole screen would go white and I couldn’t see outside my cockpit. The only solution was to turn the screens off.”
His wingman climbed high to use his own infrared camera pod to try to spot the bad guys. Meanwhile Erickson, all but blind after turning off his sensors, “continued his low-level runs while illuminating the area with pyrotechnic self-protection flares in order to uncover the enemy location.”
“After we located where we thought the insurgents were, I had my wingman light-up the area with his targeting pod,” Erickson said. …
In a single-pass, Captain Erickson employed 240 30-mm rounds from the aircraft’s GAU-8 cannon. This completely halted the enemy’s fire.
Two hundred rounds from an A-10’s tank-killing gun? I’ll bet it “halted” the insurgents. More likely, it turned them into pink grease.
Well done, Captain.
(Photo: Air Force)