The Speed of Heat

An Airlift Wing at War in Iraq and Afghanistan

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About the Book

With its fleet of large transport aircraft, the United States military can put personnel and equipment anywhere on the globe within hours. In the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in particular, virtually every soldier, every bullet, every pint of blood, and every bite of food have arrived in the war zone by airlift. This book tells the story of one Air National Guard airlift wing as related by its members. The 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard consisted of a squadron of 12 C-130 cargo planes, their crews, and all the supporting sections—in all, more than 1,200 people. The author, a former Associated Press reporter turned aviator, flew as an active member of that unit and interviewed nearly 70 servicemen and women for this book. They include aircrews who dodged heat-seeking missiles, mechanics who made combat repairs, flight nurses who treated and transported the wounded, even two motor pool truck drivers struck by a roadside bomb.

About the Author(s)

Senior Master Sergeant Thomas W. Young is a flight engineer with the West Virginia Air National Guard and a former writer and editor for the broadcast division of the Associated Press. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

Bibliographic Details

Thomas W. Young
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 273
Bibliographic Info: 42 photos, glossary, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3798-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5532-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Preface      1
Introduction      5

1. Train Like You Fight      7
2. Condition Delta      16
3. Afghanistan      30
4. Where’s the Runway?      41
5. Valley of Death      50
6. Kyrgyzstan      54
7. Salerno LZ      59
8. Defensor Fortis      65
9. See You in Baghdad      76
10. Alarm Red      84
11. The Speed of Heat      93
12. Command and Control      102
13. The Rockets’ Red Glare      106
14. Road Warriors      118
15. “Civil” Aviation      125
16. Don’t Shoot the Messenger      133
17. The Other War      137
18. Folded Flags      153
19. Mortaritaville      159
20. Healers      175
21. Arabian Nights      192
22. When You Least Expect It      205
23. Metal Has Memory      210
24. The Aviator’s Prayer      218
25. Never Open Your Wallet in a Sandstorm      225
26. Twice the Citizen      235
27. Final Thoughts      245

Epilogue      253
Glossary      255
Sources      259
Index      261

Book Reviews & Awards

“it’s as complete an impression of life in that branch as can be found on contemporary bookshelves”—Air & Space.