Six years ago today was one heck of a day for PALE HORSE. We began the day at 0400ish with a battalion air assault into the Shuryak Valley. By daylight our Apaches had killed around a dozen enemy fighters. A few hours later two of LTC Brian Pearl’s men had been injured and required a medevac. The only way to get them out was using the hoist, which would take time and exposure. CW4 Michael Woodhouse and CW2 Ray Illman were teamed with CW2 Adam Stead and CW4 Patrick Benson. As the hoist mission was being conducted, the medevac came under enemy fire. Adam dove his helicopter between the enemy and the medevac to try and kill the insurgents, but the enemy shifted fires to their helicopter. Patrick Benson was shot through the leg and Adam was shot in the head. The aircraft pitched up and rolled, but Patrick was able to regain control of their helicopter. With his leg literally exploded in the cockpit, he flew the Kiowa out of the valley. The medevac followed them to COP Able Main. Patrick was able to safely land on the tiny LZ. Both Adam and Patrick were treated and evacuated. Amazingly, Adam regained conciousness, but he had a long road ahead.
Also, that morning a patrol was ambushed just outside Ganjgal Village ultimately resulting in the loss of three Marines and one Navy Corpsman. CPT Will Swenson and Dakota Meyer would later recieve the Medal of Honor for their actions in that battle.
Amazingly, Adam, a North Georgia College graduate recovered. He and his wife, Carrie Hope Stead are the proud parents of two boys. After several surgeries, Patrick Benson also recovered. Both are now retired. Patrick, Adam, and Carrie were kind enough to share their story in PALE HORSE.