Kiowa pilot thwarts rocket attack in Iraq

By on Friday, April 1st, 2011

An OH-58D Kiowa helicopter pilot will be recognized during the first week of April for thwarting a rocket attack on Contingency Operating Base Warhorse in central Iraq.

Two Kiowa Warrior helicopters were conducting patrols in Diyala province, Feb. 23, when they received a “threat to forces” call. Improvised rockets had been fired at Contingency Operating Base Warhorse. The fast-flying Kiowas made haste to the reported location of the threat.

Chief Warrant Officer Chase Magann was piloting the lead aircraft with co-pilot Chief Warrant Officer Mike Walton. Capt. Seth Power and Chief Warrant Officer Travis Prohaska were in the trail aircraft. The crews and their aircraft belong to A “Aces” Troop, 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment from Fort Wainwright, Alaska. The 6-17 Cavalry is an attack and reconnaissance element attached to the National Guard’s 40th Combat Aviation Brigade.

The two patrolling helicopters searched the threat area. “My left-seater, (Walton) thought he saw rockets in the tree line,” recalled Magann, an Easton, Pa. native. “When he called it out, we came back around at a slow airspeed and a low altitude to confirm the rockets were emplaced.”

They spotted five improvised rocket launchers embedded in a dirt mound, with rockets still on the rails.

Magann and Walton saw the rockets pointing toward friendly forces. After consulting with a ground unit, the aircraft crews decided it would take too much time for the ground unit to arrive on the scene.

Magann aimed his aircraft at the rocket site and on his initial pass fired two 2.75-inch rockets. He hit his target, setting off a secondary explosion.

On his second pass, he saw two rockets still undamaged and went in to finish them off.

“I made another attack run on a steeper angle hoping to dislodge the rockets from their dirt mound,” Magann said.

After his second pass, Power and Prohaska in the trail aircraft determined that the improvised rockets were no longer a threat, Magann said. The Kiowas remained overhead and walked the ground unit to the site. An Explosive Ordinance Disposal team then recovered some unexploded ordinance.

Magann said a few concerns ran through his mind during the engagement.

“To be honest, I was afraid of not hitting the rockets and wasting ammo on this target,” he said. “Another concern was if we shot these rockets, would we set them off and hurt the people we were trying to protect. We really attempted to not harm any Iraqis in our engagement methods and it worked so that no one was hurt.”

Magann’s actions and quick thinking have been noticed. “(Magann is) a great individual and a very driven trooper,” said Capt. Phillip Vaughn, commander of “Aces” Troop. “(He) always can be counted on to get the job done.”

In recognition of his actions, Magann was named “Ironhorse Soldier of the Week,” an award presented by the 4th Infantry Division. As a recipient of the award, he receives a three-day pass at Freedom Rest North, which is a resort facility in Iraq where Soldiers can relax.

He also gets dinner with the Division’s top five leaders at the Commanding General’s mess, an “Ironhorse” Bayonet, the Commanding General’s two-star note, a Certificate of Achievement, a flag flown in his honor at his headquarters building, and a 4th Infantry Division coin.

The award will be presented to him by Maj. Gen. David Perkins, 4th Infantry Division commander,in the main dining facility foyer at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, during the first week of April.

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