Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
The Kopp-Etchells Effect
Magic and Immortality in Afghanistan

Michael Yon is an independent journalist, and former Green Beret, who has spent more time embedded with American and British units in Iraq and Afghanistan than any other human being. His latest dispatch contains some remarkable photography – and a remarkable tribute.

He took these photographs of landing and idling Chinook helicopters at night, using very high-end kit:


A witness must spend only a short time in the darkness to know we are at war. Flares arc into the night, or mortar illumination rounds drift and swing under parachutes, orange and eerily in the distance, casting long, flickering but sharply defined shadows.

As you can see, he's identified a stunning visual effect in these photos. It is "a result of static electricity created by friction as titanium/nickel blades move through the air and dust." But none of the pilots he spoke to had a name for it.

Interspersed with the photos, he also tells the story of how one of these helicopters flew to the rescue of a twice-ambushed British patrol, in which three soldiers were killed.

Soldiers asked me to go on that mission but I was busy assembling this dispatch. One of the killed soldiers, shortly before the mission, had looked over my shoulder as I selected the photos. Captain Mark Hale was killed while aiding a wounded soldier.

Mark, he adds, had especially liked the first of the three photos above.

He also tells the stories of two corporals, one American, one British, who were killed within a day of each other. Corporal Benjamin Kopp, of the 75th Ranger Regiment, died at age 21, a veteran with three combat tours. He was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. "Yet the effect of Corporal Kopp," Yon writes,

did not end on the battlefields of Afghanistan; he only regrouped and continued to serve. Corporal Kopp had volunteered as an organ donor and his heart was transplanted. Two days after most people would have died, Benjamin Kopp’s heart was transplanted into Judy Meikle. According to the Washington Post, Meikle said, "How can you have a better heart? I have the heart of a 21-year-old Army Ranger war hero beating in me."

Yon also attended a ceremony for Corporal Joseph Etchells, who was killed the day after Kopp:

I was told how Joseph died in a bomb ambush, and that his last request was to be cremated, loaded into a firework, and launched over the park where he used to play as a kid. When Joseph’s last request was explained, I burst out laughing and the British soldier who told me also was laughing. The absurd humor of Joseph’s request was familiar, and it was as though Joseph were standing there with us, laughing away.

Michael Yon decided to call the ghostly sparking whorls of the helicopter blades at night: The Kopp-Etchells effect.

His original piece on this has many more of these amazing photos, and more heart-rending reporting, and is well worth reading.


  photography     the military  
about
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
DON'T SHOOT ME IN THE ASS, AND OTHER STORIES by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Fickisms
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