MISSION FROM HELL
This chapter is accompanied by a video recording of the actual "Heads Up Display (HUD)" tape made during the events described below. To see the following video clip, you must have RealPlayer installed on your computer system. Click here to download this player for free.
This video clip is best viewed after reading the actual chapter in Keith Rosenkranz's book, as he describes in great detail the sounds and sights you are about to see and hear. If you do not have a copy of his book yet, you can order one here and save 30% off the list price.
Click here to view the Chapter 24 HUD Tape.
Special BONUS! Click here to see a sequence of frozen video frames that show a 100mm Iraqi shell passing right through Keith Rosenkranz's HUD!
is 2,000 feet away at my left eleven o'clock. As he turns in front of me, I pull to the right to maintain position. SAMs continue to appear off our left, but the radios are saturated, and it's hard to get a call out.
"Basset 01, SAM left eleven!" Damien screams.
I follow his call with three more of my own: "Collar 15, check your left ten!" "Collar 16, 17 ... check your left ten!" "Collar 18, check your left nine ... cons left nine!"
A pair of enemy SAMs are tracking our formation, and if we don't do something about it fast, we're going to get spanked. All of a sudden, one of the missiles detonates at my left eight o'clock - too low to have
an effect. The other missile is still tracking us, but it appears to be running out of energy. Frozen and unable to suck a breath, I watch as the dormant missile falls back toward the ground.
I check my HUD. The target is only thirteen miles away. I call up my air-to-ground mode and descend to gain airspeed. With one eye on the ground and another on Harpo, I prepare for the roll-in. Missile contrails
fill the sky. The flak is thicker than soup. At 8.3 DME, I get a Hawk symbol on the left side of my RWR scope, along with another launch indication.
"Collar 16, Hawk launch left nine!" I yell.
Within seconds, my RWR scope fills up again. The Iraqi gunners know exactly where I'm at, and they have me locked. The launch indications are continuous. It finally reaches a point where I can no longer hear
them. My mind is task-saturated. I hear radio calls and tones from my RWR, but I don't have the time to discern their meaning. Nor could I - not with all my energy focused on one thing: hitting the target. If I get shot down, then so be it. I am not going to miss this time.
I glance at the satellite photo, then outside again, looking for the bend in the Tigris River. The nuclear facility should be to the right of it and
slightly south. Harpo is ahead and to my right. As soon as he rolls in, I pause for a moment, then follow. As I roll into ninety degrees of bank, the nose of my jet slices toward the ground. At this point, I'm oblivious to everything around me. Passing through 22,000 feet, I get the max-toss cue in my HUD. I still don't see the target. I increase my bank angle to 135 degrees, and, finally, my diamond appears. To my
dismay, the entire facility is obscured by smoke. It has to be from the other bombs. My only option is to pickle on the diamond. I overshoot slightly to the left, then roll back to the right. Passing 17,000 feet, I'm thirty-five degrees nose-low at 450 knots. I hit the missile step button and transition from CCRP to CCIP. I level my wings and place the bombfall line directly over the diamond. As the pipper tracks upward,
my thumb sits on the pickle button. If I so much as blink, the pipper will pass long.
Not yet ... just a little bit ... now!
I hit the pickle button and start to pull off.
Passing 14,700 feet, my aircraft shudders as the bombs release. I continue my five-G recovery until the nose of my F-16
reaches the horizon. I check right for Harpo, but he's nowhere to be found. With flak exploding in every direction, I plug in the afterburner and pull my nose up to thirty degrees. I'm in the heart of the SAM envelope. If I don't gain some altitude in a hurry, life as I know it will come to an end. I look to my right and see a bright red object streaking toward me. I pull back on the stick as hard as I can and scream into my mic: "Collar
16, SAM launch right nine!"