“Winchester Over the Hammurabi” by Rick Herter

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This dramatic mission was flown by Major Jim "Chocks" Ewald and his wingman near the beginning of the air campaign of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March of 2003. "Chocks" belonged to the 110th Fighter Wing from Battle Creek Michigan, part of the Michigan Air National Guard.

On the night of the mission U.S. Forces had identified the headquarters position of the Hammurabi Division of the elite Republican Guard.  The target area was 3 miles long by nearly a mile wide and was a target rich environment. Prior to Chock's arrival, departing fighters had already hit some of the targets which included ammo storage bunkers, troop barracks, command and control buildings, fuel dumps and assorted ground vehicles including many tanks and trucks.

As Chocks and his wingman pressed their attack they were soon met with a barrage of large Secondary explosions and massive fires necessitating the pilots to remove their Night Vision Goggles and fly by the ambient light of the fires below and the moon above.

As Chocks described the scene, "Light from below was so intense that it caused an atmospheric phenomenon by casting a shadow of the jets upon the thin overcast above. Our A-10's looked like giant Hawks circling the battlefield below. The scene below reminded me of what it must be like to look into Hell."  

Each aircraft carried several MK-82 bombs, Maverick missiles, rockets and hundreds of rounds of 30 mm cannon. After approximately 30 minutes each aircraft expended all ammunition and called "Winchester" over the radio. As they departed other aircraft came in and continued the attack.