Military Helicopters and Good Ideas

By | April 27, 2023

[April 27, 2023]  In 2004, in late August and on a brutally scorching day, my Engineers stood smiling after completing another helicopter-landing pad on Victory Base, Baghdad, Iraq.  We were eight months into our combat deployment, and we were experienced professionals, skilled, in high demand, and the very best at what we did.  One of my NCOs suggested we hitch a ride in the 1st Cav Blackhawk military helicopter to save time overseeing another project.

The good idea fairy had struck again, and I wasn’t thinking as I should have, so I said “yes.”  Standing at the landing pad edge near a helicopter with full rotors powered up, one of my guys heard the “thump” of an artillery round.

We knew the difference between outgoing and incoming rounds, an essential skill in combat.  We all thought these rounds were outgoing, so there was no hurry boarding the chopper.  The pilot seemed agitated at us for not speeding up our boarding when one guy yelled, “Incoming.”  Helicopter pilots don’t like being on the ground when artillery lands nearby, and we were holding up his takeoff.

There was a lesson here for even the best among us.  Don’t be complacent, don’t assume anything (especially when the life of your men is on the line), don’t get cocky, and definitely don’t hitch a ride without some level of planning.  This is how you fail, and all it takes is one time to fail.


Please read my books:

  1. “55 Rules for a Good Life,” on Amazon (link here).
  2. “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

13 thoughts on “Military Helicopters and Good Ideas

    1. Greek Senator

      … and this is one of the main reasons that I read his blog daily and don’t miss a single article. I started reading it about 3 years ago and still have the site linked for easy access. And I got his books too.

  1. Army Vet

    Right, the rotors make it impossible to hear sound like it would be heard otherwise and it is too easy to mistake sounds that keep you alive. Well said, Gen. Satterfield.

  2. Lady Hawk

    A bit off topic here (did I beat Gen. Satterfield to it?) but read about the firing of Tucker Carlson from Fox News and how that decision will eventually destroy Fox News. Like the Bud Light boycott, I see a boycott of Fox News in bound to America. Woke corporation deserve total destruction. Only then will they learn that real Americans don’t like their bs.

  3. Valkerie

    We all make assumptions all the time and mistaking incoming from outgoing artillery can be one of those you don’t want to mess up. General Satterfield is right about this and it was the noise and vibrations of the helicopter rotors that distorted the sound of the arty that confused them.

  4. Ice Man

    Good story, Gen. Satterfield. I always look forward to even a snippet of your experiences in combat.


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