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Ear to the Ground

‘Friendly Fire’ Caught on Tape

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Posted on Feb 7, 2007

Britain’s Sun newspaper has obtained a copy of a “top secret” tape that depicts the adolescent joy of two U.S. fighter pilots as they gunned down a British convoy, killing Lance Cpl. Matty Hull and injuring four others.

Largest Minority:

A “top secret” cockpit tape held by the Oxfordshire Coroner is finally being made public by The Sun, a British publication. With the joyful reaction from two US pilots after successfully hitting their targets, you’d think they were rejoicing over scoring points in a video game rather than murdering human beings. However, their nonchalant demeanor is not what’s shocking Britain, but the fact that the victims of these pilots were allied British soldiers. The two reservist Americans had never been in action before and made errors which killed 25-year-old Lance Corporal Matty Hull and injured four of his comrades on March 28, 2003.

The first US pilot on the tape, referred to by POPOV36, gloats during the attack. He is encouraged by the second pilot, call sign POPOV35, who yells, “Get him, get him!” as the first shoots up the British convoy. Looking down at the mangled vehicles, one pilot sees a British soldier pulling his comrades from the wreckage. He comments, “It looks like he is hauling ass. Ha Ha.” After this, a second burst of fire is unleashed. Moments later, the pilots are told over the radio that their victims were British soldiers. More concerned with his own fate than that of the people he just shot, POPOV35 says, “We’re in jail dude”. POPOV36 weeps on the return to base: “G_d dammit. Fuck me dead.”

The British convoy was inside an area US pilots had been told not to shoot into. Their armored vehicles also had orange overhead canvas panels to identify coalition forces to aircraft, and were displaying thermal reflectors and British Flags. The two US pilots, who were being guided by Forward Air Controllers from the US Marine Corps, made 6 major errors.

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By Patti876, March 18, 2007 at 5:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am appalled it has taken 3 1/2 years for Americans, such as myself, to even begin discussing this situation. I would hope the United States would be investigating this situation, if they have not already and that we have sent an apology to Britain, which, from their side of it, we haven’t.  War or not, our military should be held accountable and not try to cover up our mistakes, but instead deal with them directly and in the year they happen, not years later.

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By vet240, February 7, 2007 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In every war since the invention of gun powder, Armies have accidently killed their own. This war is no different. It is just another reason we need to be absolutely sure before we send our troops into a war environment.

In an environment like Iraq where the enemy can be anywhere, the same holds true for friendlys. Murphys law (What can go wrong will go wrong) will always assure these types of incidents.

While the pilots are in fact taking pleasure in killing what they first thought to be their enemies. That’s not new either. It’s always a pleasure to survive a confrontation with your enemy, and that usually means your enemy did not survive.

Was this a botched operation? Of course it was. A number of steps could have been taken before firing. But I still can’t fix the blame solely on the A-10 pilots. There was a lot of chatter on their comms.

What was disturbing is the continued demonstration by the military to keep the truth from coming out immediately. It seems the Military feels it’s allegiance is to themselves first and to America and the Constitution second. That is disturbing.

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By Ga, February 7, 2007 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Although I have no experience at all of being in war, I read quite a bit about of narrative from people who have. (Still, I ain’t no expert.)

But, one must keep in mind that soldiers are of a different mindset and civilians back home. Soldiers are, essentially, trained to kill. That’s their job.

One can discuss at great length, I suppose, whether or not soldiers do or should take “joy” in what they do. Please let us not, though, condemn a young man for the words: “It looks like he is hauling ass. Ha Ha.” without knowing alot about the him and the events that lead him to that point. Saying that he “appears to gloat sickeningly” (The Sun) seems to be quite subjective. If so, that does not reconcile with the latter report of that the soldier “weeps as they return to base: ‘God dammit. F*** me dead.’”

Soldiers go through an emotional hell in battle.

I despise the fact that the U.S. invaded Iraq. But I just cannot condemn any soldier there for being emotional in battle while there.

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By Ga, February 7, 2007 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: #52214

Interestingly, it was from whom Truthdig excerpted that “bleeped” God.

The source from whom the jwharrison website excerpted (The Sun), says:

“POPOV36 weeps as they return to base: ‘God dammit. F*** me dead.’”

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By Quy Tran, February 7, 2007 at 11:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Friendly Fire” death is very familiar to us. No surprise at all.

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By amanda, February 7, 2007 at 10:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wait—I heard the tape last night on the News Hour and the pilot was clearly distressed.  The moment he realized the error, he said he was going to be sick.  I thought the arc of his reactions were entirely appropriate:  a little cocky getting to fire on the enemy, then horrified by the error. 

Let’s keep the blame focused where it belongs: on the administration who placed these guys in harm’s way.

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By Mole, February 7, 2007 at 10:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t know why this poster would use the term adolescent joy to describe the video.  I watched it on Olberman last night who is hardly fox news, and I saw the pilots showing lot’s of remorse.  I think the term adolescent joy is misused and is unwarranted.

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By nonameblogger, February 7, 2007 at 10:10 am Link to this comment
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I actually HEARD the tape on BBC World. The pilots got the okay to fire from superiors on the ground. “No friendlies in the area.”

When they found out who they hit, they were anything but jubilant. They were devastated, and figured their military lives were over.

Let’s get it straight.

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By cory, February 7, 2007 at 8:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Uh, you guys bleeped out god but decided to print “fuck”? Nice.

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By anonymous, February 7, 2007 at 7:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This would really upset people if it weren’t just a TV show.

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