THE MAILMAN DELIVERS
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 27 HUD Tape.
"Captain Keith Rosenkranz ... Howler 04 ... 3001 charlie ... Two M-129s - I'm a mailman tonight. Takeoff time is 16:40z ... TOT is 18:58:30z and date is 25 January '91. Tail number is 422."
My airspeed is 345 knots and I'm level at 30,500 feet. The clouds below me have scattered, and fires can be seen in every direction. Reaching
up with my right hand, I hit the air-to-ground button on my up-front control. The ground-map radar begins to sweep, and a good set of returns appears on the north side of my cursors.
As soon as I switch my radar to twenty-mile scope, Mans rolls inverted and executes his attack. The infrared image of his
F-16 is visible in my HUD as it descends toward the desert floor. Jabba's bombs have just
gone off, and secondary fires from Badger's bombs are burning out of control.
I'm seven miles from the target, heading east at 30,300 feet and 345 knots. I press the pickle button. As soon as the weapons release, I call out: "Bombs away for Howler four." When I complete the call, I turn twenty degrees left and proceed toward steerpoint seven. Our egress point is directly overtop Bubiyan Island.
27 JANUARY 1991
"Captain Keith Rosenkranz ... Shepherd 21 ... 3021 lima ... Four CBU-87 ... 16:05z takeoff time ... TOT is 18:22:30 ... 27 January '91 ... Tail number is 357."
"Shepherd 23 has an SA-2 at ten o'clock!" I check to my left and immediately spot the missile corkscrewing upward.
"Shepherd 24 has tally," I respond.
My heart begins to pound. I check my RWR for activity, but the scope is clean. The missile doesn't appear to be guiding on anyone. A few seconds later, it burns itself out and disappears. On the edge of my seat, I continue toward the target. As soon as I'm within forty miles of the POL site, I reach toward my up-front control panel and hit the air-to-ground button. After a few sweeps of the ground-map radar, a
bright set of returns appears on the north side of the cursors.
After I slew my cursors overtop the radar returns, I hit the pinky switch and call up the EXP mode. The picture looks great. "Shepherd 23," I radio to Grover
. "Shepherd 24 has bright contact returns north. Are you going to take those?"
"Shepherd 23, affirm," Grover answers.
"Copy. I'm going to take the southern side of those bright contacts."
"Shepherd 23's on the northern."
I hit the pinky switch again, and the radar transitions to DBS1. A collection of oil tanks begins to appear on my MFD directly under my
cursors. Since Grover plans to drop on the north side, I press my thumb against the cursor/enable switch and slew to the south. In less than three minutes, I'll be over the target.
"Shepherd 21 has some contacts about two miles to the right of the cursors," Grumpy calls out.
"Shepherd 22 showing some tanks there," Jackal replies.
I switch to DBS2 to refine the target even further. The tanks Jackal referred to jump out at me. I make one last correction with my cursors to ensure that my bombs will cover the southern section of the facility.
Suddenly a wall of tracers appears off my left wing. My head is on a swivel, and adrenaline is shooting through my veins.
"Shepherd 23, heavy AAA to the north," I scream.
While descending toward the target, I reach down with my left hand and switch my VTR to the HUD position. My airspeed is 377 knots, and I'm passing through 24,300 feet.
"Shepherd 22," Grumpy calls out. "If you've got my CBU in sight,
there's AAA coming up about a half mile to the northeast."
I quickly check my HUD. I'm only seven miles from the target. My airspeed is 475 knots and I'm twelve degrees nose low passing through 15,500 feet. While correcting toward the steering line, I get the max-toss cue indication. "Damn it," I say to myself. "AAA on the nose." Red tracers shoot up in front of me. Every muscle tightens.
One of these shells has to hit me. I can't jink, though. I have to stay on the steering line until my bombs come off.
My right thumb is holding down the pickle button while my eyes remain focused on the steering line. Finally, the solution cue appears and begins to descend toward my flight-path marker. The two meet as I pass through 10,800 feet, and all four cannisters drop from beneath my wings.
I immediately pull back on my stick and push my throttle up to mil
power. Red tracers whiz past me. I expect to feel a thump, but it never comes. I jink left, hold the position for a few seconds, then jink back to the right. The bombs should be hitting any second, so I roll the jet left and stare at the facility.
"Good fires down there," I say out loud. "Come on bombs, hit!"
Seconds later, the entire south side of the complex lights up. It looks
like a giant fireworks show, and I've got the best seat in the house. The bright flashes of white and yellow last a few seconds. They're immediately followed by three secondary explosions. Flames burst into the air, lighting up the entire area.
"There they go," I yell. "Whooo-hooo!"