Monday, September 12, 2011

She Was Willing to Be A Kamikaze Hero

Of all of the interesting and sometimes inspiring stories of 9/11, now told 10 years later, I find this one to be remarkable.

One of the F-16's scrambled to intercept Flight 93 before it got to Washington, was flown by a woman. And she was sent up there, without a single thing to shoot that commercial airliner down with.

“We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We’d be ramming the aircraft,” Penney recalls of her charge that day. “I would essentially be a kamikaze pilot.”…
They screamed over the smoldering Pentagon, heading northwest at more than 400 mph, flying low and scanning the clear horizon. Her commander had time to think about the best place to hit the enemy.
“We don’t train to bring down airliners,” said Sasseville, now stationed at the Pentagon. “If you just hit the engine, it could still glide and you could guide it to a target. My thought was the cockpit or the wing.”
He also thought about his ejection seat. Would there be an instant just before impact?
“I was hoping to do both at the same time,” he says. “It probably wasn’t going to work, but that’s what I was hoping.”
Penney worried about missing the target if she tried to bail out.
“If you eject and your jet soars through without impact . . .” she trails off, the thought of failing more dreadful than the thought of dying.

Now, let's begin with the shameful part of this nugget. Somehow, with the BILLIONS upon BILLIONS our nation spends on military and defense, we were caught so badly with our pants down that day, the only thing on our "rapid response" fighters was a nice glossy coat of tire shine on the wheels.

The F-16 can be armed with any of the following array of bad-ass armaments: AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, HARM's, Hydra 70 rockets, bombs, and a bunch of other crap too numerous to spell out here. It also has an onboard M61 Vulcan cannon gatling gun, which I suppose was doing nothing more than holding paper clips or old Pentagon receipts.

I guess that's bureaucracy for you.

Yet despite that, our bravest men - AND WOMEN - ran into harm's way on that day, without a moment's hesitation. And they did so, against an enemy who thinks the only place for women in their society is under a bedsheet, and in constant fear of severe beatings or a good stoning.

Our women, are given the opportunity to fly a high tech modern marvel that requires steel nerves, intelligence that is off the charts, and costs $14 million each.

They will also give their own life, to save others.

Welcome to America. I've never been prouder.


  1. I can't be that mad that we didn't have combat air power in the continental US on 9/11. We have that stuff to fight wars. We fight our wars Over There. It takes time to move all that stuff, so we keep it in Europe/Guam/Diego Garcia because that's closer to the countries that we might want to blow up.

    I don't have a source on this, but I suspect that the only reason we had ANY combat aircraft in the continental US was for pilot training and plane maintenance. Maj Penney was in training, I'm guessing that Col Sasseville was one of the flight instructors.

  2. Incredible story . . . . when her Commander said "Lets go, I'll get the cockpit" She replied without hesitation "I'll get the tail" . . . F'ing incredible . . . . God Bless these men and WOMEN who stand at the wall!!!!

  3. When I read the part "I'll get the cockpit", and she replied with out hesitation "I'll get the tail". I brought tears to my eyes that strangers would do literally whatever it took to protect us. We are truly blessed by our fighting forces. And further proof that Obama is not big enough to bring down the American spirit. God Bless America, and God Bless our fighting forces.

  4. Our fighting forces are truly heroes.
    We are blessed to have these people among us who will put their own life on the line to protect our freedom.
    Male, female, black, white, spanish, etc.
    They are all heroes.
    This lady has bigger stones than most men in this country.

  5. Yep, 5c4ea, she's your worst nightmare. The hell of it is, there's a bunch more just like her. So get back to work on your ied's because there are people just like her ready to rock your world. (you wont hear it coming)

  6. Czabe -- she was likely a fighter pilot in training -- which is why they didn't have live ammunition. While it was a mistake not to have any available, it's not as egregious an error as you have posted here. And it's an error that I expect to be corrected at this point.

    Before September 11, who thought that an airliner would intentionally be flown into a building? What exactly would a training pilot have to shoot down, other than target drones?

    It is, however, an excellent story about the fighting spirit of our military, regardless of what either side is doing at any given moment in time.

  7. Great comments, and yes, before 9/11, I suppose we all thought "why the hell do we have to have armed F-16's at the ready 24/7 in America?"