Purcell Register 12/21/06:
Apaches make stop at Purcell
Pilot flew with the late Steven Shephard
The Purcell Register (405) 527-2126
Purcell, OK -- Two Apache Longbow helicopters and their crews made a special stop in Purcell Friday in honor of the late soldier who gave his life fighting for his country.
The crews landed the AH-64 attack helicopters around 2 p.m. at the Steven E. Shephard Airfield.
One crew member, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Steve Dermer, flew in Iraq with Army Warrant Officer Shephard in the helicopter Dermer piloted.
Shephard was killed June 27, 2005 near Taji, Iraq while flying an escort mission over Mishadi, Iraq.
The soldier was flying an AH-64 Apache Longbow when the attack helicopter was shot down by enemy fire. Chief Warrant Officer Keith Mariott also lost his life.
“I flew in this helicopter a lot with Steve,” Dermer said. “Steve usually had the front seat where he was a c-pilot/gunner.”
The two helicopters were enroute to Savannah, Ga. They had been getting overhauled at a base in Phoenix, Ariz., after returning from combat in Iraq.
The Apaches are built to endure frontline environments. It can operate day or night and in adverse weather using the integrated helmet and display sight system.
Dermer said the helicopters are used for many types of things such as providing overhead coverage for convoys and medical escorts.
The Chief Warrant Officer said the helicopter is capable of shooting rockets, missiles and has a 30 mm mounted below the nose.
It will hold 4 to 16 missiles and 19 to 76 rockets. The gatling-type gun shoots 600 to 650 “Easter egg-size” bullets per minute, Dermer said.
The Apache was first used in combat during the 1989 invasion of Panama, Operation Just Cause.
Apaches have played important roles in several Middle Eastern wars, including the Gulf War, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.
The Apaches were proven to be excellent tank hunters and also destroyed hundreds of armored vehicles (mainly of the Iraqi army).
They are equipped with some of the latest avionics and electronics, such as the target acquisition and designation system, pilot night vision systems, black hole passive infrared countermeasures, nap-of-the-earth navigation and GPS (general positioning system).
The original cost of the Apache is about $14.5 million.
After spending the night, the crew and the massive Apaches made flight Saturday morning.