We lost two great cavalrymen.
CW4 Keith Yoakum and CW2 Jason Defrenn were flying in a flight of two on a security and recon mission just north of Camp Taji, Iraq when they were caught in an ADA ambush. Even though their aircraft was seriously damaged they continued to fight until the helicopter came apart due to the damage inflicted upon it by the enemy. This was one aircraft of 10 that was downed by enemy action during a terrible month in Iraq in 2007.
From Keith’s DSC citation:
Awarded posthumously for actions during the Global War on Terror
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Chief Warrant Officer Four Keith Yoakum, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with Company A, 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Corps-Iraq. Chief Warrant Officer Four Yoakum distinguished himself as a Pilot of an AH-64D Longbow Apache Helicopter on 2 February 2007 while engaged in aerial operations in Baghdad, Iraq, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. During a reconnaissance mission, Chief Warrant Officer Four Yoakum’s aircraft was seriously damaged by heavy enemy machine gun fire, which required him to land immediately. Without regard for his own safety and to protect his comrades, Chief Warrant Officer Four Yoakum chose to remain with his wingman to destroy the enemy. With his main gun inoperable, his only option was to climb in altitude and then dive while firing his Apache’s rockets. Ultimately the aircraft succumbed to its battle damage and crashed. Chief Warrant Officer Four Yoakum’s distinctive accomplishments and dedication to service to his country are in keeping with the finest traditions of the military service, reflecting great credit upon himself, the 1st Cavalry Division, the Multi-National Corps-Iraq, and the United States Army.
Action Date: February 2, 2007
Rank: Chief Warrant Officer 4
Company: Company A
Battalion: 1st Battalion
Regiment: 227th Aviation Cavalry Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade
Division: 1st Cavalry Division
Halfway down the trail to Hell,
In a shady meadow green
Are the Souls of all dead troopers camped,
Near a good old-time canteen.
And this eternal resting place
Is known as Fiddlers’ Green.
Marching past, straight through to Hell
The Infantry are seen.
Accompanied by the Engineers,
Artillery and Marines,
For none but the shades of Cavalrymen
Dismount at Fiddlers’ Green.
Though some go curving down the trail
To seek a warmer scene.
No trooper ever gets to Hell
Ere he’s emptied his canteen.
And so rides back to drink again
With friends at Fiddlers’ Green.
And so when man and horse go down
Beneath a saber keen,
Or in a roaring charge of fierce melee
You stop a bullet clean,
And the hostiles come to get your scalp,
Just empty your canteen,
And put your pistol to your head
And go to Fiddlers’ Green.