Wings Over Wayne Airshow


Wings Over Wayne Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Airshow

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42 missiles and flew missions, or sor- ties, to seek and destroy Scud sites. "They showed a lot of restraint," he said. Sloan and his wingman were fly- ing in defense of Israel one night, "Scud-hunting" as the men called it, when the events unfolded that led to the Silver Stars being awarded. "It wasn't a mission that we liked very much. It was basically going out, moding around, and waiting for a Scud launch and then trying to find them," he said. "They had a very mobile capa- bility. They would come out, launch and then they would duck into a highway overpass and it was hard to find." These missions had very limited success, Sloan said. "But one night, myself and my wingman, we were tasked to go out Scudhunting. We hit the tanker (to refuel) and we enter the western part of Iraq and shortly afterwards we get a call from AWACs and they said, "Hey, there are some Special Forces troops on the ground and they have been discovered by some Iraqi armor, and we've got some helicopters on the way to come and pick them up, but they are not going to be there for a while so go and see if you can give them some cover," he said. So the two-ship of F-15Es deployed to the general area where the troops were thought to be, but with most sorties taking place at night, and the Special Forces being adept at remaining unseen in the presence of the enemy, finding the men was not easy. "So we went up there, got in radio contact with the Special Forces troops, authenticated and made sure they were the real deal, and they told us generally where the armor were," Sloan said. "But this is before GPS. So we had no real god idea as to where the good guys were." Now, a pilot's biggest fear, Sloan said, is being on the giving end of a friendly fire incident. The risks to self are inherent. Some things, however, no one wishes to have to live with. "One of things that I think most fighter pilots will say is that the biggest fear that you have is that you will take out some of your own troops," Sloan said. "You accept the fact you're getting shot at. You accept the fact you could hit the ground. But you just don't want to ..." his voice trails off. Sloan needed to find out where the tanks were. He needed to know where the good guys were. And no matter what, he needed to keep the two of them from coming together. "We felt like we had to find out where the good guys were and we couldn't pinpoint it. So we did a couple of things that were techni- cally against the rules, but we felt at the time that we needed to do it. He circled around and turned on the aircraft's exterior lights –– a no-no because they were supposed to be blacked out. "So I turned them on and I said, "OK, tell us where we are in rela- tion to you." "So we did that a couple of times and they said, 'OK, you're over- head now.'" Now Sloan and his wingman knew where the good guys were. But another problem existed. The munitions they had on board were good for taking out Scud missiles, not tanks. "So we knew that if we did have to drop on the tanks, it wasn't going to do anything. But if we did drop and we hit the good guys, it was going to hurt them," he said. Both pilots were concerned. Again, it was the middle of the night. A company of Iraqi armored tanks were advancing on the posi- tion of American Special Forces troops in the desert of western Iraq. Sloan had already broken one major rule of engagement, putting himself and his wingman in dan- ger of being shot down by turning on his aircraft's lights. That meant he was a visible target from the air and the ground. He was about to have to break another. "So once we had a pretty good idea where the good guys were, we needed to find the tanks. And, of course, they were blacked out. The Special Forces guys said, 'OK, they're kind of two clicks in this general direction from us,'" Sloan recounted. "But of course, we couldn't see them. So at the time, this was the middle of February and we'd achieved air superiority, but we've been told not to fly below 10,000 feet –– we couldn't see anything at 10,000 feet. "So we dove down low-altitude to try to pinpoint the tanks in case we had to attack them," he said. Continued from 12 Silver Star See SILVER STAR, Page 43

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