Apache pilot from Hank is pilot by heart and soul

Home of the Redskins, that’s the name of the shelter where the pilots of the Apache squadron of the airbase Gilze-Rijen are housed. Captain Martin (36) from Hank is a pilot on the Apache combat helicopter for the third time in Afghanistan. In the two previous missions in 2004 the base was Kabul, now Martin is stationed in the southern Uruzgan. “There are many more combat contacts here than in the north. There was the appearance of an Apache enough to end the fight. The Taliban then eggs for her money. In the south they have a stronger survival culture”. The Apaches are used to protect the ground troops, not only in Uruzgan, but also in the neighboring provinces where English and Canadian troops are located. Martin: “It would have been more logical if we had been in the more central Kandahar. However, politics wanted us to be close to our own boys so that we can help them in case of need”.

The Apacheis an attack helicopter that was purchased by the Dutch army in the mid-nineties. The helicopter is equipped with advanced electronics systems such as night vision equipment, immune systems and a laser with which targets are irradiated. The helicopter can also fly at night and under difficult weather conditions. Martin: “In 1996 we were trained with 25 Air Force pilots in the United States. The Apache spoke directly to me, especially the varied range of tasks. You can shoot, explore, convoy guide and attack. During the fighting I feel no fear but only adrenaline. You need that to perform well”.

Flying was there early at Martin. “After high school, I applied for the Air Force. There was a whole selection process, but eventually I ended up on the Alouette helicopter. I already flew all over Europe as a pantie “. In addition to the missions in Afghanistan, the Hank pilot was also sent to Bosnia and African Djibouti. In Afghanistan he is in the “Quick Reaction Force”, who can respond quickly in an emergency. This work gives a good feeling. Colleagues have witnessed that boys who were shot at, yanked around their necks, so happy that they were saved “.

Captain Martin is married and has two sons aged 3 and 5 years. “I have chosen this work, it gives a lot of satisfaction. Of course you miss your wife and children. For my eldest son this is also his third mission. My wife gets a lot of help from family and friends, but in the end she is still alone. The advantage is that we now have good communication options. In Bosnia you could call five minutes once a month. Now the connections are super-de-luxe. As long as everything stays in the right proportion, it is good “.

(c) Bart Coolen 2007
Photo’s on www.bartcoolen.nl