The crew on Nov. 12, 2004

  • Matt Backues of Streamwood, a chief inspector at Priester Aviation at Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling, helped drag Tammy Duckworth to safety after her helicopter was hit by enemy fire and landed.

      Matt Backues of Streamwood, a chief inspector at Priester Aviation at Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling, helped drag Tammy Duckworth to safety after her helicopter was hit by enemy fire and landed. George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Pilot in command Dan Milberg landed the Black Hawk helicopter after it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, but still faced a chaotic scene of badly wounded crew members on the ground in enemy territory. He directed the rescue.

    Pilot in command Dan Milberg landed the Black Hawk helicopter after it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, but still faced a chaotic scene of badly wounded crew members on the ground in enemy territory. He directed the rescue. Courtesy of Dan Milberg

 

Matt Backues

Matt Backues of Streamwood, a chief inspector at Priester Aviation at Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling, helped drag Tammy Duckworth to safety after her helicopter was hit by enemy fire and landed.
  Matt Backues of Streamwood, a chief inspector at Priester Aviation at Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling, helped drag Tammy Duckworth to safety after her helicopter was hit by enemy fire and landed. - George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

A gunner in the sister Black Hawk flying with Duckworth's. Helped carry Duckworth to safety in the minutes after they landed. Now a top aviation maintenance supervisor at Priester Aviation, based at Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling.

Kurt Hannemann

Kurt Hannemann, now a Black Hawk pilot, stood guard while others carried wounded Tammy Duckworth from her downed helicopter. "Even though he was shot and scared and bleeding and going into shock, (Hanneman) still walked toward the enemy," she said.
  Kurt Hannemann, now a Black Hawk pilot, stood guard while others carried wounded Tammy Duckworth from her downed helicopter. "Even though he was shot and scared and bleeding and going into shock, (Hanneman) still walked toward the enemy," she said. - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Door gunner who sat behind Milberg. Stood ready to confront insurgents while Milberg and others helped Duckworth out of the helicopter, even though he had been shot in the back. Was deployed with his father, who is also a Black Hawk pilot. Now a test pilot for the Illinois National Guard based at Midway Airport in Chicago.

Chris Fierce

Manned the other gun, behind Duckworth's seat. His right leg was seriously injured in the attack.

Pat Meunks

The pilot of the second helicopter. Meunks landed his Black Hawk near Duckworth's to evacuate its crew. His quick work is also credited in their survival.

Dan Milberg

Pilot in command Dan Milberg landed the Black Hawk helicopter after it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, but still faced a chaotic scene of badly wounded crew members on the ground in enemy territory. He directed the rescue.
Pilot in command Dan Milberg landed the Black Hawk helicopter after it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, but still faced a chaotic scene of badly wounded crew members on the ground in enemy territory. He directed the rescue. - Courtesy of Dan Milberg

Pilot in command of Duckworth's Black Hawk. A veteran of Desert Storm and police officer in suburban St. Louis. Credited with saving the lives of the crew members by landing the helicopter in the chaotic minute after it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Now chief warrant officer 5 in the Missouri National Guard.

Randy Sikowski

Col. Randy Sikowski, Tammy Duckworth's boss, learned about the downed Black Hawk from his position in the tactical operation center at Logistics Support Area Anaconda in Balad, where Duckworth worked most days. "That was probably the worst day, for me, in Iraq," he said.
  Col. Randy Sikowski, Tammy Duckworth's boss, learned about the downed Black Hawk from his position in the tactical operation center at Logistics Support Area Anaconda in Balad, where Duckworth worked most days. "That was probably the worst day, for me, in Iraq," he said. - Mike Riopell | Staff Photographer

A colonel with the Illinois National Guard and Duckworth's boss in Iraq. He was back at their base, Logistics Support Area Anaconda in Balad, when radio calls about the attack came in.

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