While deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom in 2003, a CH-47 Chinook Helicopter from Company G, 104th Aviation Regiment, call sign Yankee 2-6, was participating in the 10th Mountain Division Operation Mountain Resolve in the remote and rugged mountainous region of Nuristan Province in northeastern Afghanistan. The 2nd of the 22nd Infantry Regiment, "Triple Deuce", requested an extraction of detainees from their position. They selected the only clear site available to them, a "postage stamp" size spot atop a tenuous appearing adobe structure perched on a steep mountainside. The Yankee 2-6 Aircrew, Pilots CW3 Larry Murphy (Aircraft Commander) and CW3 Paul Barnes, Flight Engineer SSG Jim Duggan, Crew Chief SGT Brian Kilburn and Door Gunner SPC Margaret Haydock, maneuvered the aircraft into position and performed an uncommon, distinctive precise rear wheel pinnacle style landing onto the rooftop, boarded the detainees, and completed the extraction.
In 2003, the units of Company G, 104th Aviation Regiment (Co. G, 104th AVN REG), "Nomads", B Company of the 1st of the 130th Attach Helicopter Battalion (B-1/130 AHB) "Panthers", were as assigned to the 10th Mountain Division (10th MTN DIV) Aviation Task Force (ATF) Nighthawk, and. A, B and C Companies of the 2nd of the 22nd Infantry Regiment (A,B,C-2/22 IN REG), "Triple Duce", a Light Infantry Regiment of the 10th MTN DIV were all deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).III and IV. All were based at Kandahar Army Airfield (KAAF) in the southeastern Afghanistan desert province of Kandahar.
The Nomads were a CH-47D Chinook Heavy Lift Helicopter Company, and was a combined unit of the Pennsylvania and Connecticut Army National Guard (PA and CTARNG). The Panthers were an Apache Attack Helicopter Company of the North Carolina (NCARNG). The Triple Duce were active duty Infantry Companies of the 10th MTN DIV.
In November of 2003, all three units forward deployed to Bagram Airfield (BAF) to conduct Operation Mountain Resolve. This maneuver took place in the Kunar, Nuristan and adjacent provinces of Northeastern Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province. Operations were also conducted from Forward Operating Bases (FOB) in the Area of Operation (AO) at Jalalabad and Asadabad among others.
This was a hammer and anvil infantry movement was conducted in the remote river valleys, rugged ridgeline and high steep mountain terrain of the Hindu Kush Range of the Himalayas. The mission was to locate, neutralize and/or detain for interrogation, designated High Value Target (HVT) individuals, Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters, and locate, secure and/or destroy weapons caches.
After the initial infantry insertions (INFILL), were accomplished, the aviation assets were assigned to standby for and perform Continuing Operations (CON OPS) with follow on missions for unit sustainment to resupply ammunition, water, food and medical supplies, as well as for medical evacuations (MEDEVAC) and other support requests as required. The Panthers" Apaches provided armed escort, overwatch and cover on all Chinook movements.
While on one of these resupply missions, with nightfall approaching, the Triple Duce’s made a call for assistance with evacuating detainees form their location to relieve their assets dedicated to the security of the detainees, or Persons Under Control (PUCs), and thus allow them to continue pressing their mission at optimum unit strength.
The call was received by Chinook, call sign Yankee 2-6, who, with Apache escort, was just completing their assigned resupply operations of the day in the area as nightfall was approaching. The grid coordinates were provided and the request accepted. The aircrew located the unit and identified the selected pick up location. The only possible site available with any potential to land and board the PUCs, was a rooftop of an adobe structure situated on the extremely steep mountainside.
Flying to, locating and landing at unprepared locations is a normal part of military helicopter operations. The uniqueness of this site was the challenge to land a 50,000 pound gross weight aircraft with only a 2 rear wheel footprint on the "postage stamp" sized roof area of unknown structural strength or integrity. The mountainside location was not only at 8,500 feet above sea level (MS), but was also had a 2,500 foot vertical drop to the base of the valley below. This offered no visual references from the cockpit for hover. The particularly challenging rear wheel landing was accomplished with the benefit of an amazingly capable aircraft, with a highly trained and thoroughly experienced crew. Working together as the team they were trained to be, and working through the careful crew coordination choreography of verbal "remote control" directions provided from the flight engineer and crew chief to the pilots, allowed the successfully complete for this landing.
The PUCs were boarded and flown back to base with their Military Police escort for processing. The unit continued to use this site as a "speed ball" supply drop off point during the rest of the completion of the operation and unit extractions (EXFILL).