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Airmen capture Iraqi republican guardsman


Release Date: 6/11/2003

by Capt. Trisha Cundiff 447th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

6/11/2003 - BAGHDAD, Iraq (AFPN) -- Three air traffic control radar controllers were surprised June 9 when they found a member of Saddam Hussein's republican guard hiding in an abandoned building by their radar site at the international airport here.

While patrolling their site, Airman 1st Class Richard Mansure, deployed from the 305th Operations Support Squadron at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., spotted the man first.

Staff Sgt. John Shipp, from the 46th OSS at Eglin AFB, Fla., and Senior Airman Matthew Hanes, of the 347th OSS at Moody AFB, Ga., were following behind Mansure for their first patrol on their first day on the job with the 447th Air Expeditionary Group. Both realized something was going on when Mansure suddenly chambered a round in his weapon.

"We didn't have any rounds chambered," said Shipp. "When Mansure chambered his round, we stopped and did the same."

Unsure whether the soldier was armed or carrying explosives, the airmen kept their weapons aimed at the man while taking cover to coordinate their plan.

While Hanes ran to the radar site for assistance, Mansure and Shipp moved in on the soldier and waited for back-up. People from the 3rd Combat Communications Group, assigned to the radar site, flanked the building and set up cover for the airmen inside.

"The guys set up a 360-perimeter by the book. They responded exactly the way they should have, just like they were trained," said Staff Sgt. Juan Camargo, a radar maintainer.

"Combat Communication Readiness School really paid off," he said.

Once the perimeter was secure, Hanes joined Mansure and Shipp. The airmen moved in to restrain the Iraqi soldier who had a metal cot pole hidden underneath him that could have been used as a weapon. According to the airmen, he was dressed in full uniform with a military identification.

The airmen remained with the soldier until security forces arrived.

Although Baghdad is still a dangerous place, the controllers were somewhat surprised to find themselves in a position to capture a uniformed enemy soldier.

"It was like something in the movies," said Hanes.

"The same qualities that make a good air traffic controller is what enabled these guys to take control of this situation," said Chief Master Sgt. Pete O'Shaughnessy, a radar approach control chief patroller. "They basically assessed the situation, determined a course of action and then executed their plan. It was pretty amazing."

The team of controllers is charged with controlling all airspace in Iraq, including civilian aircraft.

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