“About a month after getting into Afghanistan and specifically the Nad Ali district of Helmand, I ended up flying a Puma in a rotation with three other guys. It was an invaluable ISR tool because we could follow enemy combatants home after they took shots at our patrols. Aside from that we had good enough cameras that we were credited with something like 40 confirmed IED finds in the battle space and this is from 700 feet in the air or so. Usually we would patrol between hotspots or run overwatch for our people on the ground but my commander had a hunch for me to check out NAI 1(Named Area of Interest 1, we had 5).

That area had produced to date our only friendly casualty via IED and as of that day I caught a group of three men in the act of planting another on the very same road. I called to have my commander confirm what he was seeing before getting IDF assets on station, originally he wanted to use mortars but we didn’t have the right munitions for an effective kill of all three. Higher denied HIMARs because the enemy were too close to buildings and in 2012 the Roses were pretty tight. We settled on Hellfires from RAF pilots, because that was what was approved and God bless those pilots.

Once I was properly offset and still maintaining observation I was given the radio to talk the helicopter on, and he asked me about a fourth person across the street and about ten meters away. They appeared to be laying command wire for the IED back to a nearby compound or perhaps power source. Both were common TTPs for the area and time. I made the call to take them out and this is where the story gets interesting.

Later I was going through the footage frame by frame to see if I could find the exact moment when the missile made impact and I did. But what was funny was how the two men standing attempted to run away and the man on the ground who was actually building the bomb just looked up and to the left as if to say “Oh, fu*k.” Like in the movies. About this time a motorcycle with two men rode past and wobbled a little bit and it wasn’t until the second missile that he was hit by either shrapnel or just concussion. The second missile was a direct hit on target and cut the young girl assisting in the attempted murder of my friends in half. All told, four enemy combatants killed, two unlucky guys injured but I believe they both survived after we got them adequate medical treatment and it was all from the only airstrike from my platoon the whole deployment.”
– Anonymous US Marines. 2/7 Weapons Co. Nad Ali district, Helmand province. 2012-13
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