The Patriot Post® · Profiles of Valor: CWO David Cooper (USA)

By Mark Alexander ·

On the afternoon of 27 November 2006, Chief Warrant Officer 5 David Cooper of the United States Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment – the “Night Stalkers” – was leading a formation of six helicopters north of Baghdad. The formation comprised two AH-6 Little Bird attack helicopters (one flown by Cooper), two MH-6 troop-carrying Little Birds, and two MH-60 Black Hawks carrying Special Operations soldiers. When the formation was 50 kilometers from Baghdad, Cooper heard his wingman shout “Mayday!” An insurgent had hit the helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade, severing the tail rotor. Despite the damage, Cooper’s wingman was able to land his helicopter without sustaining major injuries, and the other helicopters in the formation landed to assist.

The Black Hawks soon evacuated the downed pilots, leaving behind 20 special operators and the Little Bird pilots to set up a perimeter around the disabled helicopter. Forty minutes later, eight enemy anti-aircraft gun trucks approached the crash site, and Cooper took off in his Little Bird to investigate. He immediately came under attack by the enemy force but stayed in the air to draw fire away from the exposed U.S. soldiers on the ground. Meanwhile, two more trucks unloaded enemy forces into a house about 800 yards away, where they began to set up mortars and machine guns.

Cooper immediately began attacking the numerically superior force using his Little Bird’s miniguns and rockets. When his helicopter ran out of ammunition, Cooper landed and the men on the ground quickly unloaded the rockets from the downed helicopter and put them on Cooper’s, despite intense enemy fire. Cooper took off and again started to pummel the enemy despite the bullets that were striking the helicopter inches from his face. When low fuel forced Cooper to land again, the soldiers on the ground used a Leatherman tool to remove an auxiliary fuel tank from the disabled helicopter and attach it to Cooper’s Little Bird. Cooper went back into battle a third time, finishing off the trucks and mortar positions once and for all.

For Chief Warrant Officer 5 David Cooper’s “complete disregard for his personal safety and extreme courage under fire,” he became the first Night Stalker to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. “I just happened to be the guy there that day,” Cooper said. “Any one of the Night Stalkers that’s in this formation would have done the same thing I did.”

(This account was originally published in the July 25, 2008 Digest.)

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