Skip to comments.Downtown Turns War Zone (C-130 Gunships)
Posted on 03/10/2006 2:34:19 PM PST by blam
Downtown turns war zone
Friday, March 10, 2006
By NADIA MOHANDESSI
About 60 Air Force personnel flooded lower Dauphin Street and the surrounding area Thursday night in mock combat battles that looked a little more like a scene from West Side Story than one from downtown Baghdad.
With less singing and dancing, of course.
The U.S. Air Force Weapons School's 14th Weapons Squadron, based out of Hurlburt Field, Fla., staged simulated combat scenes beginning shortly before 8 p.m. Thursday near Bienville and Cathedral squares to show personnel flying an AC-130 Gunship aircraft what different urban combat scenarios looked like from the air, according to Capt. Mike Edwards of the U.S. Air Force.
"This training was solely to provide pictures for the aircraft," Edwards said Thursday night. "We're basically trying to show what it looks like when the good guys and the bad guys are in close proximity."
Thursday's exercises are vital to what the military is doing overseas, because so much combat takes place in urban areas, he said.
Members of the squadron, outfitted in civilian clothing such as jeans, basketball jerseys and hooded sweatshirts, gathered at different street corners and waited for the signal to begin the street brawls. No weapons were seen.
"There's absolutely no one out here with simulated weapons of any kind," Edwards said.
In an empty parking lot at the corner of Conception and St. Francis streets, about a dozen giggling squadron members threw fake punches, faux-kicked each other, gently body slammed one another and even tossed a black plastic garbage can at each other's heads.
At one point a barricade was picked up and tossed a couple of feet in the air before clattering at the feet of a laughing airman.
Meanwhile, the aircraft circled overhead, sometimes barely visible through the filmy cloud cover.
"Wow, (the aircraft) couldn't make tighter circles," Alli Flowers, a self-described "Air Force brat" and a teacher at LeFlore High School, said. "It's like a step back into my past. That's about where they fire from, too."
Flowers, who with others glanced skyward at the buzzing aircraft, said she rode in an AC-130 gunship aircraft while in the college Air Force ROTC.
A few minutes later, about 25 squadron members gathered at the intersection of St. Joseph and Dauphin streets, pretending to throw fake rocks at a participating extended-cab pickup truck.
Superiors in the truck who were running the exercise used their hands to simulate guns and then pretended to shoot at the crowd, and several dramatically fell into a giggling heap in the middle of the street.
"Oh my liver!" screamed one member, while another shouted "Think about something besides the pain," before dissolving into laughter.
Some participants staged a mock rescue, dragging one of the "victims" by his arms across St. Joseph Street.
Several passersby, including 12-year-old Tom Moore, had gathered by this point, watching the bizarre scenes with an odd fascination in the downtown streets.
"I thought it was pretty cool," Moore said.
Members of the Mobile Police Department assisted in the exercise by maintaining a presence in the streets to ensure the public that the show was all staged.
Capt. Edwards said the squadron performs "this very same scenario every six months," and has been using the streets of downtown Mobile for the last 3½ to 4 years. "This is the best urban environment we can find in the area," Edwards said.
The Weapons School is based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and has squadrons at five other locations across the country, including Hurlburt Field
West Side Story has gunships?! I never knew musical theater was so exciting!
I sure hope it didn't look like west side story, with our troops skipping and singing and snapping their fingers
No such thing as a C-130 gunship is there?
THIS is a C-130
I was just knitpicking the title :)
Don't; it'll become infected.
Aren't they all just a variation of the same airframe?
Did that aircraft just $hit a tank? (:^*)
Norfolk, VA. , earlier this week. They're hosting elements of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
That's gotta leave a mark!
I think the "A" in AC-130 means attack. The "C" just mean cargo, but I will stand corrected if I am wrong.
When you're a Jet,
You're a Jet all the way
From your first cigarette
To your last dyin' day.
I used to chat with a guy here on FR who used to be a crewmember on one, but dont remember his username.
Anybody remember when this sort of story would bring out the black helicopter/contrail/concentration camp/marshall [sic] law crowd? Those were the days.
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