Tuesday, August 02, 2011

What the Navy Seals Actually Said When They Bagged Crankshaft

August 2, 2011

Last night I downloaded the newest issue of the New Yorker on my iPad, thanks to Thomas Charles and Pattarapan, who gave me a crash course on how to use my own device, last Saturday. I still had to call them last night to walk me through the loading process ("Now go into settings and click on Wi Fi connection.")

I am a print subscriber to the New Yorker, but I won't get my issue in the mail until Wednesday or Thursday. This felt a bit like cheating but I heard, or read somewhere, there is an in depth report on the Osam bin laden raid by the Navy Seal 6 team, who took out the elusive target on May 1.

As you know I love Classic Gunfights in the Old West, but my interest extends to Normandy Beach and Gettysburg and even the SLA shootout in LA in 1974. And, I wondered how long it would be before we got the inside skinny on the Osama raid.


• "Helo one" the Black Hawk that crashed in Osama's yard was brought down by a hazardous aerodynamic situation known as "settling with power." It was brought on by the high walls of the compound and the warm temperatures, which caused the Black Hawk to "descend inside it's own rotor wash." When they rehearsed the raid in North Carolina, "this potential problem had not become apparent, because the chain-link fencing used in rehearsals had allowed air to flow freely."

• As Osama took a second bullet in the head, just above the left eye, the Navy Seal who shot him reported on his radio, "For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo." Then, after a pause, he added, "Geronimo E.K.I.A."—enemy killed in action." Another code word the military had for Osama was "Crankshaft."

• The Navy Seal team had created a checklist of code words than had a Native American theme, although the article does not name them, other than the code usage of "Geronimo."

• Although the crashed helicopter was a slight blemish on the expert lightning raid, a specials operations officer said, "I'm glad no one was hurt in the crash, but, on the other hand, I'm sort of glad we left the helicopter there. It quiets the conspiracy mongers out there and instantly lends credibility. You believe everything else instantly, because there's a helicopter sitting there."

• Rather than an isolated raid, this was one of almost two thousand missions that have been conducted over the last couple of years. Special-operations forces based in Afghanistan conducted 12 other missions on the same night, bagging or killing "between fifteen and twenty targets." The operations officer said, "Most of the missions take off and go left. This one took off and went right."

• Safely back in the states, the Seals met with President Obama and gave him an American flag that had been on the rescue Chinook. The flag was stretched, ironed, and framed. An inscription on the front reads, "From the Joint Task Force Operation Neptune's Spear, 01 May 2011: 'For God and country. Geronimo."


Got up this morning and finished two studies, the first I worked on last weekend and discovered a cool way to simulate sand dunes. By accident I worked a fan brush, wet into white and came up with this effect:

Also, finished another storm rider, this one called "Fort Bowie Courier":

"The U.S. economy is the healthiest horse in the glue factory."
—Alan Cranston, quoting some brilliant economist

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