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61 minutes | 5 days ago
Hand-to-Hand Combat, When It's Least Expected
In this episode of The Spear, MWI's John Amble is joined by Maj. Tyson Walsh. In 2013, during a deployment in Afghanistan, he found himself fighting hand to hand against an enemy combatant in an unexpected place: inside the heavily secured Bagram Airfield, the largest US and coalition base in the country. Listen as he tells one of he most intense stories we have featured.
52 minutes | 15 days ago
A UH-60 in a Firefight
In this episode, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joe Roland joins to share a story from 2004. A UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, his aircraft and another were supporting an Army Special Forces team in search of a group of enemy combatants in Afghanistan's northern Kandahar province. As soon as his aircraft landed to drop off a US soldier and two Afghans to take up an overwatch position, they saw enemy fighters approaching the position. He made a decision to hover his aircraft between the enemy fighters and the friendly position. He shares the story of that decision and the fighting that quickly followed.
36 minutes | a month ago
Neutralize the Threat
In this episode, we talk to retired US Army Apache pilot Dan McClinton. He tells two stories from a 2007 deployment to Iraq. Together, the stories demonstrate powerful lessons about how military units learn, how they improve, and how that improvement requires servicemembers and leaders to be honest and, at times, self-critical. Note: This episode was originally released in 2018.
38 minutes | 2 months ago
The First Living Medal of Honor Recipient Since Vietnam
In this episode, Maj. Jake Miraldi is joined by retired Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta. In 2010, he became the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. Listen as he describes the 2007 mission in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley, and the actions for which he received the award. Note: This episode was originally released in 2019.
48 minutes | 2 months ago
Thirty Seconds on the Ground
As a lieutenant, Maj. Jesse Lansford was deployed to Afghanistan. A Kiowa helicopter pilot assigned as an aviation platoon leader, he rarely found himself on foot outside the wire. But on one day his helicopter had to land. He spent a brief time on the ground, but it was enough for him to encounter an IED. He joins this episode of The Spear to tell the story.
47 minutes | 2 months ago
Get the Puma in the Air
This episode features a conversation with Chief Warrant Officer 4 Dylan Ferguson. In 2012, he served as part of the brigade aviation element of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That's mainly a staff job, but part of his responsibility dealt with the use of small unmanned aircraft systems like the RQ-11 Raven and the RQ-20 Puma, and he sometimes accompanied the brigade's platoons and companies on patrol. He shares a story of a firefight that erupted during one of those patrols, describes the capabilities the Puma brought to it, and relays what happened when the the aircraft went down in the middle of a field just when it was needed most.
43 minutes | 3 months ago
In 2003, Dave Rittgers was in command of a Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan. Partway through its tour, the team moved to a firebase in Orgun-E to undertake a new mission: helping to mitigate the threat of Taliban ambushes in an area where they were so frequent it earned the nickname "ambush alley." Lt. Col. Rittgers joins this episode to share the story of one of those ambushes.
35 minutes | 3 months ago
Apaches into the Fight
This episode of The Spear features a conversation with Capt. Lindsay Heisler. An aviation officer and Apache pilot, in December 2015 she was part of a mission in Afghanistan supporting a ground force. Just as Chinook helicopters arrived to pick up that force, they came under fire from 360 degrees around them. The two Apaches overhead, including Capt. Heisler's, immediately took action to protect the ground force, and she tells the story in this episode.
53 minutes | 4 months ago
A Sniper Section's Fight in Ghazni
In 2012, Master Sgt. Brody Hall was a sniper section leader in a scout platoon in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, deployed in eastern Afghanistan's Ghazni province. Tasked with providing overwatch during a mission to establish a joint security station, the mission quickly changed after enemy fighters attacked. Listen as he tells the story in this episode.
54 minutes | 5 months ago
Coming in Low
During a deployment in Afghanistan, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Dylan Ferguson was flying an Apache, providing close air support to a special operations ground force below. When his aircraft's 30-millimeter cannon failed and there wasn't space to get the standoff distance required to fire Hellfire missiles, he and his copilot changed tactics—flying in low over enemy fighters to bait them into opening fire on their helicopter, so the other Apache flying with them could identify the enemy location and target it.
36 minutes | 5 months ago
Combat in the Kunar River Valley
In this episode Maj. John A. Meyer shares a story from his first deployment, in 2007, to Afghanistan. On July 27, his platoon and a group of Afghan National Army soldiers were moving along the road next to the Kunar River during a squadron mission to secure the valley. The Afghan soldiers began to cross a bridge when they looked down and saw a group of enemy fighters. The massive fight that ensued would involve the other platoons of Meyer's B Troop, as well—matched up against an enemy force three times the size of their own.
69 minutes | 6 months ago
The Reaper in Combat
This episode features a story from Maj. Joe Ritter, an MQ-9 pilot—the first remotely piloted aircraft story featured on The Spear. The MQ-9 has a wide range of the capabilities—from providing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to conducting battle damage assessments to helping a ground element direct their fires to striking enemy targets with air-to-ground Hellfire missiles. Ritter and his sensor operator brought all of these capabilities to the fight during a single mission in Afghanistan in October 2018.
69 minutes | 6 months ago
The Most Challenging Start to a Platoon's Year in Afghanistan
In 2010, Maj. Tyson Walsh was a platoon leader on his first deployment. Just ten days after arriving in Afghanistan, the platoon suffered its first casualties when an IED—an improvised explosive device—killed one soldier and wounded another. Eight days later, the battalion chaplain visited the platoon's combat outpost to perform a prayer service for the soldier they had lost. Afterward, when he left, his vehicle also struck an IED, killing him and four other soldiers. It was only the beginning of a very difficult deployment, and led to leadership challenges Walsh would have to overcome.
64 minutes | 7 months ago
Spectre Gunship Overhead
In August 2007, a US Army Special Forces team came under fire while passing through a valley in Afghanistan. The call for support went to a nearby base, where an AC-130H Spectre gunship crew was standing by. The crew quickly launched, and shortly later, the aircraft was overhead. This is the type of job the AC-130H was designed for. In the hours that followed, they engaged enemy targets a number of times with both a 40-millimeter cannon and a 105-millimeter howitzer. Lt. Col. Michael Murphy is the commander of the US Air Force's 16th Special Operations Squadron. In 2007, he was a copilot on that aircraft in Afghanistan, and he joins this episode to share the story.
54 minutes | 7 months ago
Support the Ground Force
Just six weeks out of flight school, Jordan Terry was in Afghanistan. On one of his first days flying, he took off on a flight that was supposed to be straightforward—he and three other pilots left their base in two OH-58D Kiowa helicopters, intending to help get him oriented to the rugged, mountainous area the unit was responsible for. On their way back, they they flew around a bend in a valley and came upon an Afghan unit under fire from Taliban fighters. The mission quickly changed, and an hours-long fight ensued, with the two helicopters repeatedly engaging the enemy from the air, refueling and rearming, and returning to the fight.
29 minutes | 8 months ago
On October 22, 2015, members of a special operations joint task force deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve were given a mission: rescue seventy hostages being held by ISIS. Along with a partner force, they launched the operation. One of the US soldiers who took part in it was Sgt. Maj. Thomas "Patrick" Payne. On September 11 of this year, during a ceremony at the White House, he received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the raid. He joins this episode of The Spear to share the story.
49 minutes | 8 months ago
Three Missions in Panjwai
This episode features a conversation with Ryan Hendrickson. After almost losing his leg in an IED blast in 2010, he was back in Afghanistan just eighteen months later. He shares the stories of three missions from that first deployment back, when he was testing his body physically and working to prove that he was ready to be back at the tip of the spear, on a US Army Special Forces team.
61 minutes | 9 months ago
In 2012, Mike Kelvington was a company commander in 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, deployed in southern Afghanistan's Kandahar province. He joins The Spear to share a story of a two-day operations during which his company confronted a number of challenges. Some members of the Afghan National Army unit they were partnered with essentially quit during the mission. They took casualties from improvised explosive devices. And perhaps most challenging, the enemy was inflicting damage while avoiding an open fight. It was, in many ways, like chasing ghosts.
52 minutes | 9 months ago
An Infantry Company at War
In 2007, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment deployed to the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Over their months in a combat zone, they would see some of the most intense fighting of the long war. Chosen Company's commander and first sergeant from that deployment, along with one of the company's platoon sergeants, join for this episode to discuss the fighting their company experienced. *Note: This episode was originally released in 2018.
59 minutes | 9 months ago
A Platoon's Fight in Paktia Province
In this episode of The Spear, MWI's John Amble is joined by Maj. Jacob Absalon. He shares a story from his first deployment, as a lieutenant and platoon leader in eastern Afghanistan. Toward the end of a five-day operation, after meeting with a local key leader, the platoon and a partnered Afghan National Army force came under fire from two enemy positions. He tells the story of the fight that ensued—and what came next.
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