Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jared Kimber
During my second deployment to Iraq, we were stationed in Kirkuk. As pilots of medical-evacuation helicopters, we have to be ready to pick up wounded soldiers and bring them to the hospital at any hour of the day or night. When soldiers suffer injuries, we are the first ones they call.
One night we got the call to rescue some soldiers who were shot up pretty bad. It is always better to not be seen when flying in a hostile environment—if the enemy can see us, they can shoot a missile at us, and so we take every precaution to be as stealthy as possible. We flew this nighttime mission blacked out (without any lights on). Our night-vision goggles enabled us to navigate at night.
As we approached the area where we were to make our pickup, I tried to make radio contact with the soldiers. But as I diverted my attention down to the radio I felt I should look up instead. I knew I needed to make radio contact, so I continued focusing on the radio. Again I was prompted to look up. I still ignored the prompting. Suddenly it was as if someone grabbed my helmet and forced me to look up. I looked and saw the silhouette of one of our blacked-out helicopters flying near us. I instinctively knew that the oncoming helicopter was flying in a pair, and I immediately looked for the second helicopter. At the same time, I yelled to my copilot to turn left. Instead, he dove the helicopter downward. As we dove our aircraft, I looked to my left just in time to see the second helicopter upon us and flaring upward.
I still do not know how we missed each other. It all happened instantaneously. I guess the second helicopter saw us the same time we saw it, because it was climbing when we were diving and we somehow avoided a collision. We were so close that when I looked out my window I could see the two pilots in their seats! It was a very scary experience. If I had looked out my window half a second later, we would have collided for sure.
I have since thought many times about that experience. If I had looked out after the first prompting, it would not have been a close call and we could have maneuvered easily out of each other’s way. I ignored the Spirit twice; thankfully Heavenly Father was not going to let me ignore it a third time. I learned from this experience that I need to stop being stubborn and pay attention to the promptings of the Spirit the first time. I know that Heavenly Father is looking out for me, and I need to do my part to let him take care of me. (Chad Hawkins, Faith in Service, 2008)