with local ties involved in war
Eckerberg, Greg Earnest, and Armondo Espinoza
Captain Aaron Eckerberg, United States Marine Corps,
has in the last few days
appeared and been interviewed several times on network
news. Col. Oliver North, retired, together with commentators
for Fox Network News conducted the interviews.
Captain Aaron Eckerberg grew up in Platte City and graduated
from Platte County R-3 High School in 1991. He is the
son of Dean Eckerberg and Ceil Witt. Captain Eckerberg
is a Marine Corps helicopter pilot flying CH-46 Sea Knight
helicopters. His squadron, The Red Dragon 268, was the
first squadron to deliver troops to Iraq when the war
On March 19 Captain Eckerberg was interviewed with regard
to his opinion on the attitude, abilities and equipment
of the chemical and biological protections afforded to
the leathernecks. Earlier, he was interviewed with regard
to the particular advantages and the problems of night
flying his aircraft.
At that time, Oliver North was apparently flying with
him in the CH-46 helicopter which is a medium range helicopter.
On March 13, Cpt. Eckerberg had been on the network news
shaking hands with North as North initially arrived at
the squadron. Transcripts of the network news interviews
may be found at www.foxnews.com.
According to some of the transcripts, this squadron of
Marines were notified on Jan. 10, that they were to prepare
for immediate embarkation and four days later the squadron's
12 CH-46 helicopters were packed and sealed.
On Feb. 11, the entire unit, officers enlisted alike,
pitched in to build tents and fill sandbags, more than
20,000 in the first week alone and six hours after the
helicopter arrived in port, they were ready for flight.
On March 21, the Red Dragon Squadron suffered a tragedy
when a helicopter crashed killing the crew and a total
of 12 Marines and British soldiers due to mechanical and
or weather conditions. The network reported that marine
military maintenance technicians were wearing gas masks
so that they could work on aircraft in conditions that
can only be described as "extreme."
Visibility is reduced to less than 30 yards with the
sand blowing steadily at 25 to 30 knots. Particles of
sand are inhaled with the marine's every breath and swallowed
with every mouth full of food, jams weapons and seeps
into jet engines.
Surveying the fury of the dust storm, one of the correspondents
asked another Marine Corps. pilot in Captain Eckerberg's
unit if the dust and dirt would affect the performance
of his aircraft. The Marine replied, "Dust storms
aren't allowed to affect us. It's contrary to Marine Corps