Another Blackhawk Down
December 10, 2004 8:21 PM   Subscribe

I was in the Blackhawk mentioned in the above story, which is mostly accurate. I, along with six others, were on a mission last night heading into Mosul. An Apache was flying next to us. Some say that the Apache took evasive action after being targeted by an RPG. Unfortunately, in doing so, it collided w/ our helicopter and tore off our rotors completely. The Blackhawk then fell to the ground. Good thing was that we were pretty low to the ground when the collision occurred. Otherwise, there's no way I'm here right now. So begins a letter home from my brother, a grueling first-hand narrative from the front, so-to-speak. I have been putting his photos and letters home online for family and friends and thought some of you might appreciate reading what it's like to be over there.
posted by Qubit (35 comments total)
I'll leave this post up, because it's stuff we could see nowhere else, but you shouldn't link to your own site, as the posting page clearly states (and says is a bannable offense).
posted by mathowie at 8:29 PM on December 10, 2004

I know the self link policy to protect against the slippery slope, but this is the exception that makes the rule.

For me, it really helps to put some faces and emotions behind the "Aircraft Down" stories that are regrettably a regular part of the daily newsfeeds. It also helps the people on both sides of the political fence remember that the soldiers over there are human beings. I'm a pretty hard-core atheist, so I'll call these fellas damn lucky instead of blessed.
posted by PissOnYourParade at 8:39 PM on December 10, 2004

I've somehow become the lieutenant who walked away from the Blackhawk crash.

Amazing. We need more stories like that.
posted by stbalbach at 8:42 PM on December 10, 2004

so, how many hajis has he wasted?
posted by quonsar at 8:43 PM on December 10, 2004

posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:48 PM on December 10, 2004

Your brother was pretty damn lucky to walk away from that. Probably not the best idea to link to break MeFi procedure and link to your own site but I don't see how it's any worse than the flood of FPP's about Mozilla or "Girls are Evil." BTW I really like the photo of the shaggy camel.
posted by TetrisKid at 9:01 PM on December 10, 2004

Easy, Quonsar. He's just a JAG.
posted by metaculpa at 9:04 PM on December 10, 2004

What a lucky guy. I wish he wasn't there tho. (Is he due to come home anytime soon, or is that out of the question for everyone there?)
posted by amberglow at 9:27 PM on December 10, 2004

Would you please [forward] this to our parents and sibs.

And the rest of the world?
posted by euphorb at 10:42 PM on December 10, 2004

Thanks for sharing this. A reminder that my week wasn't so bad after all. Sounds like several very fortunate people -- it's a good trick to hit the ground from any significant height and not get seriously hurt.
posted by Tubes at 10:51 PM on December 10, 2004

Some people are never satisfied.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 12:27 AM on December 11, 2004

Good post... I reckon if Matt posts the first response saying "This breaks the rules, but I don't care" then anyone else bitching about the self-post is just a nonce.

Now, my first thought on reading it: He was the only person to walk, unscathed, away from a helicopter crash... Where's Elijah Price in all this?
posted by benzo8 at 4:49 AM on December 11, 2004

re: Haji don't surf...

It's sort of funny that the American grunts in Iraq use the term "Haji" as a pejorative for the locals (dispatch 5 on the referenced site), since it's a term of respect among muslims.

For anyone on MeFi who hasn't figured it out, Haji means someone who has made the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Here in Egypt, it's the default term of respect for older people.
posted by jackbrown at 6:33 AM on December 11, 2004

From Dispatch 5, Nov. 27, 2004:

"Nobody here seems beset with fear. I'm not sure if that's being rational or insane, but we don't expect anything bad to happen to us. "

From Dispatch 6, December 10, 2004:

"The colonels then looked at me and asked where I was injured. Other than having my pants torn up, I replied I had not suffered any injuries. They looked at me in awe, saying that I must be the luckiest person in the world."

Wow. I hope his luck continues. I'd say having another helicopter smash into yours is a bad thing to happen, but I'm glad no one was killed.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:43 AM on December 11, 2004

Two better blogs from deployed soldiers:

Citizen Frank.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:46 AM on December 11, 2004

I was led to believe that they call them Hadji based not on the respectful title from Islam but on the goofy little turbaned Sidekick from John Quest.
posted by Megafly at 9:34 AM on December 11, 2004

me too.
posted by quonsar at 9:41 AM on December 11, 2004

And he was called Hadji because..?
posted by benzo8 at 10:07 AM on December 11, 2004

posted by quonsar at 11:11 AM on December 11, 2004

I know that there's a big brouhaha over on MeTa in regards to the self-link, but I just want to say thank you for posting this. As someone who has an Army Reserve JAG Corps Appointment letter sitting 6" from my keyboard, I appreciate the information. Thank you.
posted by Juicylicious at 11:53 AM on December 11, 2004

'spect to one word patronisation, quonsar!

Now maybe you'd like to explain why you think that a question I was interesting in getting an answer to is "irrelevant" to anybody other than small minded little pricks like yourself?
posted by benzo8 at 2:07 PM on December 11, 2004


1) i ask how many haji's has he killed.
2) jackbrown notes the actual meaning of the word
3) megafly correctly notes that the term is used perjoratively, as a reference to a cartoon character.
4) i agree
5) some small minded prick interjects an opinion as to why the cartoon character is so named, but this has nothing to do with why the troops use the term, and is thus, irrelevant.
posted by quonsar at 2:29 PM on December 11, 2004

...or will you now assert that the soldiers are merely showing thier respect for pilgrims? i suppose back in the 60's, 'gook' was a term of respect used in vietnam.
posted by quonsar at 2:32 PM on December 11, 2004

No, I neither asserted, nor opined anything. I asked (note the question mark - it's a dead giveaway) why the character was named thusly. Now, you may not have known the answer to the question, and you may have found it irrelevant to your particular thread of the discussion, but that doesn't give you the right to dismiss it with a single, arrogant word.

I do not know why the character was so-named. I do not know whether it is a common-name in the Middle East or whether the writers of the cartoon took it from the meaning given above. But I would like to know.

If you could, for one minute, veer your small mind away from the fact that someone might be disagreeing with you, you'll find a whole new world out there with people asking questions about things of which they don't know.

(Also, if you wish to use my insults, please make sure they're relevant.)
posted by benzo8 at 2:56 PM on December 11, 2004

see, i mistakenly assumed you were participating in the discussion about the war, not seeking information on the etymology of cartoon characters. my bad.
posted by quonsar at 3:27 PM on December 11, 2004

additionally, if you are going to stick to that story, you might want to examine your wording.

"And he was called Hadji because..?" implies that the answer satisfies a question that preceded it, even implies that the answer should have been obvious.

"Say, why WAS that cartoon character named "hadji"" would have been what you should have said if you really just wanted to know that.
posted by quonsar at 3:32 PM on December 11, 2004

Inferrence is not implication and assumption is... etc.

Life must be hard when you're so suspicious and untrusting.
posted by benzo8 at 3:55 PM on December 11, 2004

yes, that's it, dodge the point.
posted by quonsar at 4:05 PM on December 11, 2004

Which point would that be? That I phrased a question badly? Good god, have you nothing better to do? Or is the point that you're calling me a liar? Because I certainly do have better things to do...
posted by benzo8 at 4:32 PM on December 11, 2004

posted by fenriq at 8:11 PM on December 11, 2004

"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the War Room!"
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:18 PM on December 11, 2004

Due to the on-going investigation into this accident I have removed the link for now.
posted by Qubit at 6:58 AM on December 12, 2004

Haji used as other than an honorifc has some history with the British in what is now Iraq, predating the cartoon. Haji/Hadji/Hajji as a pejorative or derogatory name most likely does not come from the cartoon: the word was likely picked up "on the ground" by troops who heard it as part of their interaction with muslim locals.

Also, to reiterate the positive spin being placed on it: haji is most certainly and with rare exception not meant as an honorific when used by Joe Soldier.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:13 AM on December 12, 2004

Sorry, I meant "refute the positive spin."
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:13 AM on December 12, 2004

Right, I think it's fairly clear that as far as the grunts are concerned, Haji is roughly equivalent to the familiar "gook", "Jap" and "Hun" (in descending order through our major 20th century wars).

Jap and Hun have self evident etymologies. Gook is interesting; my father and his buddies used it during his service in Vietnam, but it was originally applied to the enemy during the Korean war, and derived from "Hanguk" which is one way the Koreans referred to their own country.

I was merely noting the irony of a completely positive word in the local culture (an honorific, in fact) being used as a pejorative by the outsiders. It shows, I guess, that the power of a word is entirely in the way you use the word.
posted by jackbrown at 2:54 AM on December 13, 2004

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