I was coated in hydraulic fluid and profoundly grateful as I stumbled bowlegged away from the helicopter.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a 46 or 47 (and I suspect true of any similar make anywhere in the world), you and everything in it gets a fine coating of the fluid. Just the nature of the beast. On the up side, the camera still hasn’t needed lubrication since (extra cleanings, yes). As for stumbling, that came from being wedged into place among the other cargo, legs spread far wider than comfortable. I’m not saying that the few of us that made the bird had our legs forcibly spread so wide that porn stars were shocked and awed, but… Yes, it was painful but I was secondary cargo and glad to be able to get out on that particular bird no matter the contortions. In short, not an atypical flight.
There were some interesting maneuvers on the Marne Express (and similar flights), but those were to prevent people from being able to easily shoot at us. Being a sick puppy, I found them pretty fun, and they reminded me of some even more interesting rides down at Ft. Rucker back in the day (between those two trees, no, between THESE two trees!). I will not say the Blackhawks are more comfortable than the old Hueys but will note that you can cram a lot more people and gear into them.
If anyone shot at myself or any of the units I was with via small arms fire, they either did so using suppressors or from such a distance we could not hear the shot, and were lousy shots. At the time I was there, the largest form of attacks were IEDs, rockets, and mortars. The only time there was the sound of gunfire (other than practice ranges) was in the run up to Operation Browning, and I still wish I could have stayed for that.
As for one particular 5 o’clock Charlie, the safest place to be was his known point of aim. Sadly, like most sports pools I enter, my picks as to distance missed/what is actually hit have a dismal success rate. Whoever it was that kept betting on the greater than distance made out like a bandit. Say, wait a minute…
For whatever mainstream media still checks us out, Brian Williams is a hint as to why troops neither like nor trust reporters. If you check out the writings by or about dedicated military reporters (Dan Lamothe, Tom Kludt as but two of several articles), you will find that they are livid too. Far more surprised I think than milbloggers, but… I also want to point to this story about Stars and Stripes, the first major publication to investigate and run the story. Note, however, that they were the first old-school media to run it; it was social media/new media that first began to expose it.
As for me, my decision to have my “media” badge say “Blogger” instead of press or media was reinforced by hearing more than once about previous mainstream media embeds and pithy discussions of “misremembered” reporting. Giving the number of personal videos and other recordings made, I would not be surprised to see more than Brian Williams be deservedly bitten in the ass for “misremembering” and “misreporting” events. My own opinion is that such extends far beyond military coverage, and the rapid circling of wagons indicates that others see this more than mildly damaging for the media. Kudos to Tom Brokaw for his reported thoughts on the matter, and if Dan Rather has to try to defend you…