This morning’s brief e-mail from Ian to family and friends intersected the headline news.
Since it’s in the news, I can write and tell you. One of our planes was shot down over Baghdad. The pilot had to eject. Other A-10′s scrambled to perform combat search and rescue. His wingman was shot at and was able to land at the forward operating location where we are also located. I’ve worked with the pilot for over 2 years and have crewed the jet for weeks during this deployment. Thank God he was rescued in time.
This was probably not in the news. Yesterday a plane came in that was shot up by AAA (Anti-Aircraft Artillery). The pilot had the option to eject, but she decided to bring the bird home. She is one brave pilot. I took pictures of the damage — it’s incredible! I felt a sinking feeling when I saw the plane. Imagine what could have happened if it had been worse. The plane and the pilot survived the fiery barrage of shrapnel because the A-10 is one tough hombre. It can take a beating and ask for more.
That’s all I can write for now. I’ll keep y’all updated.
Ian C. Whitney, SrA, USAF
This message reminds us that although “we own the skies,” and although there is talk of the collapse of the regime, it is still dangerous to fly sorties over enemy territory. It’s also a reminder of the professional training and bravery of America’s fighting men and women.
— Gleaves Whitney is editing a book of wartime speeches by American presidents, to be published later this year by Rowman & Littlefield. This is the seventh in a series of reports about his 19-year-old son Ian, who is serving in Kuwait with the Michigan Air National Guard.