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Fear in Combat

Old 10th Dec 2019, 14:20
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Fear in Combat

Having talked a little about Red Flag, this former F-15E pilot provides a very candid view on the fear that comes with real combat:


Anyone else willing to share their experiences?
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Old 10th Dec 2019, 18:44
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Not on the air, but as an acting Det Cdr in Macedonia in 1999, I was confronted with a situation with injured allied personnel (injured in a car accident) being taken hostage by armed militia. I stood my ground, but remember trembling with rage so much I had to put my pistol on a table to line up the loaded magazine. The guys with AK 47s and RPGs were a murderous lot but let teo of our guys go, but held an injured Norwegian captain at gun point. The incident didn't end that well; but I remember downing a large number of beers whe the Wg Cdr turned up to debrief us. I remember shaking a lot. Got written up for a MOD, but compared with what our people have done in Iraq and Afghanistan in more recent years, I feel ashamed.
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Old 10th Dec 2019, 19:57
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I did one particular mission in Kosovo/Serbia where I was professional in my flying, but quite literally kacking my pants for 15 minutes of pure terror. Not scared to admit it
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Old 10th Dec 2019, 20:03
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Originally Posted by jayteeto View Post
I did one particular mission in Kosovo/Serbia where I was professional in my flying, but quite literally kacking my pants for 15 minutes of pure terror. Not scared to admit it
If prepared to provide more information jayteeto, I’m sure your account would be a very interesting read.

TN.
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Old 11th Dec 2019, 01:51
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Remember it like yesterday

Was stood with the OP at the time, shuffling around in the shadows attempting to resolve the 'situation' without escalation but gentle 'positive diplomacy' seem to remember a couple of wind-down cold-ones later on too.
There is a bit of a tale to the episode.

And Yup, could be a bit sixpence- half- a- crown 'sausage side' in '99

Hubs
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Old 11th Dec 2019, 03:20
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Salute!

Somehow I get the impression that most of the posters here did not fly a whole lotta combat missions when the other side was really upset and were shooting back. My bio is referenced on the link at my login name.

I gotta tellya that training and practicing really reduces the lump in the throat, but it is still there the first few times you make a pass and the other folks want to kill you! After that it becomes a combination of "do your job" and don't do something stupid.

My ilk had the opportunity to fly hundreds of missions while getting shot at back in the late 60's and early 70's. Down south it was mainly small arms and a 12.7 mm or 23mm now and then. Further north and along the trail it was everything the PACT provided the Vee.

Bottom line was not worrying about it, and for chrissakes do not have a picture of your girlfriend taped the instrument panel!!!!!

Like my CO told us going Downtown during the Christmas Blitz of 72..."Don't worry about dying. Get to the target and for a few seconds going down the chute your ass belongs to Uncle Sam, the Air Force and apple pie. Hit the damned target! If you die then you don't have to worry about anything. If you don't, then you don't have anything to worry about. So don't worry!"

I was only scared the first one or two times I got shot at. After that it was a "contest".

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Old 11th Dec 2019, 09:29
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Living in denial most of life, then for my first operational missions over Bosnia then I was more worried about being captured than killed. That was a result of the Conduct after Capture Course - I would have been better off not doing that and living that element in denial too! Then Iraq and Afghanistan - more worried about the civilian ‘reception committee’ than the other side’s combatants.
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Old 11th Dec 2019, 13:57
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But could you still sweat afterwards....

Seriously though, huge respect to those who have been in challenging circumstances, been scared, and prepared to admit it. My hat is doffed
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Old 11th Dec 2019, 14:23
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I've always thought, from the comfort of my armchair or cold-war/peacetime flying, that 'knowing it, but still doing it' is the bravest thing of all. A local man, friend of my parents flew liberators in the war, and flew with an irishman called Ensor (sp) who was apparently a decorated officer. After an attack on a channel port with incredible AAA coming up, Ensor asked my neighbour, "Were you frightened then Taff?" Neighbour answerd, "Skipper, I was sh1tting myself in and out!" He said, "Good, you can fly with me again- I don't want to be in an aeroplane with anyone who says they weren't scared by that." Having his fear 'validated' by someone he thought a hero stopped him feeling a coward for being scared. He was a lovely, humble man. RIP Campbell Hanbury.

CG
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Old 11th Dec 2019, 16:03
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When I was a kid, my friend's father had been a Navigator on Lancs He would never talk about the "war" or any other war, or what he did.
I was around 8 or 10 when we were all having dinner together with another family when he suddenly felt the need to talk.
Gradually, the other adults gently helped him to remember a few things. The kids were ushered away from the table. (I was definitely to be seen but not heard), but I could still hear.

He had done his training at Lindholme and moved onto ops.

He accepted from the start that for his own piece of mind it was better to keep his focus on the charts and navigation kit, keep his headphones on, and not consider what was taking place outside of his bubble.
Yes, occasional shaking from exploding flak, and the noise of shrapnel hitting the aircraft, but he stayed in his own world, always coming back safely to home base.
He was only invited to the cockpit once during his 15-20 trips during an op to Berlin.

On getting close to the target, he was shocked to see, "flaming onions" coming up towards them, aircraft going down, the fires of hell below and the pilots trying to hold a straight course through the chaos.

He did a few more trips after that but never again went to the cockpit and the war ended soon after,

He was still in his early 30's, but he seemed to me to be a very old gentleman.

RIP Colin Firth RAF Navigator

IG

Last edited by Imagegear; 11th Dec 2019 at 16:36.
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Old 11th Dec 2019, 16:09
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Originally Posted by gums View Post
If you die then you don't have to worry about anything. If you don't, then you don't have anything to worry about. So don't worry!"
A great chiasmus.
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Old 11th Dec 2019, 17:46
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A recent letter in 'The Times' repeated the remark by a New Zealand cricket captain, who had been a fighter pilot in WW2. When asked about how he handled the pressures of playing first class cricket, he laughed and said that there was no pressure, that 'real pressure was flying a mosquito over Europe in in 1943 with a Messerschmidt up your arse'.
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Old 11th Dec 2019, 19:59
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Not sure from where the quote comes from but

"We train you to death, so when it really happens and fear kicks in, you will revert to your training rather than to your fear".
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Old 11th Dec 2019, 20:07
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Originally Posted by pettinger93 View Post
A recent letter in 'The Times' repeated the remark by a New Zealand cricket captain, who had been a fighter pilot in WW2. When asked about how he handled the pressures of playing first class cricket, he laughed and said that there was no pressure, that 'real pressure was flying a mosquito over Europe in in 1943 with a Messerschmidt up your arse'.
It was the Australian all rounder Keith Miller.
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Old 11th Dec 2019, 20:55
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Flighthappens: thanks for the additional info, and apologies for the wrong nationality. It still a good quote.
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Old 11th Dec 2019, 21:04
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Originally Posted by flighthappens View Post


It was the Australian all rounder Keith Miller.
I thought it was the late Richie Benaud. Regardless, a great quote that some of our sporting prima donnas should think about.
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Old 11th Dec 2019, 22:45
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We recently had a TV interview with Matt Hall of Red Bull Air Race fame. He was a RAAF F-18 driver who spent a three year exchange with the USAF flying the F-15 bomb truck, was in the package that made the opening attack on Baghdad. Following the attack his element found themselves low on fuel and had to egress by doing a 180 and overflying the now wide awake city through an absolute barrage of fire. Claimed it was the event that later caused his PTSD, such was his fear of running the gauntlet through the fire.
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Old 11th Dec 2019, 23:05
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Originally Posted by Lima Juliet View Post
Living in denial most of life, then for my first operational missions over Bosnia then I was more worried about being captured than killed. That was a result of the Conduct after Capture Course - I would have been better off not doing that and living that element in denial too! Then Iraq and Afghanistan - more worried about the civilian ‘reception committee’ than the other side’s combatants.
Interesting point.

Remember sitting in a brief being told how we would be wading through a fog of acidic vapour servicing our aircraft...

Great way to build the foundations of a fighting wing that.

But not as frightening as the NAIAD's going of in sequence along the fence line at night....

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Old 12th Dec 2019, 00:05
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I had several experiences to question my decision to take up flying helicopters in the US Army...far too many actually.

The one that stands out most was when I had a .51 Caliber Round remove the left pedal from under my foot, start a hydraulic fluid fed fire under my feet while carrying an underslung load in cloud.

The North Vietnamese Army gunner and I both had a very lucky day.

He hit my aircraft and missed me.

We were quite busy for a while....but ultimately made a safe landing at a Special Forces Camp from which I was medevac'd with burns and a shrapnel wound.

Yes....it stays with you....and it is after all the fun and games when you have time to contemplate everything that happened that the deep down cold realization of how close you came to snuffing it gets to you.

There were other times when you knew ahead of time the LZ was "hot" and you were without doubt were going to get shot at that gave time for the worry to get up close and cozy too.

Being scared is easy....saddling up and carrying on without showing fear to your subordinates is the hard part.

I learned it is wise to never fly with someone braver than you are.

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Old 12th Dec 2019, 00:44
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Salute!

For some here, SAS may have lifted my crippled Dragonfly from Saigon and dragged it back to Bien Hoa.
I had to deadstick the thing into the airport after running outta gas due to many bullet holes in my fuel lines.

Gums sends...
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