The 307th Night of Memory-4

Memories of Pilot of One of Those 42 Aircrafts

Maryam Rajabi
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


According to Iranian Oral History Website, the 307th session of memory night of Sacred Defense was held in Sooreh Hall of Hozeh Honari on the evening of Thursday, October 24, 2019. In the session, pilots Amir Habibi, Mohammad Gholamhosseini, and Attaullah Mohebbi spoke of their memories of the Iraq war imposed on Iran.

Before the third narrator's talks, Davood Salehi, the host of the 307th Sacred Defense’s memory night said he was pilot of one of the 42 aircrafts who were assigned from Tabriz to attack Saddam's military bases. Then retired second Brigadier general pilot Amir Attaullah Mohebbi said: "We were training in commanding and general staff. We had a master for a lecture and speech technique unit. He said: For fifteen minutes of lecture, you have to study at least twenty hours and the next day you want to go to the lecture hall, coordinate with the emergency department that there would be an ambulance at the back of the hall, so if you fainted behind the microphone, there would be someone to save you."

Mohebbi started his narrative, "It was Monday and I was serving at the Tabriz Air Base. It was about 1:30 to 2 p.m. on September 22, 1980 when we heard the aircrafts sound. I saw through window of the battalion residence two Sukhoi 22 aircrafts. The bombing was started and we headed to the command post to see what was going on. Our duties were clear almost previously since our hostile government was Iraq. The target and flight platoons were clear. Every three to four months it was checked if any pilot had transmitted? Whether any new pilot had joined and lists had been replaced? And they also justified pilots.

Our target was Mosul Air Base, and I was number two in a four aircraft platoon. Our leader was martyr pilot Asadollah Barbari whom his corpse was also brought to his family after US invasion of Iraq and when situation of captives and the missing was cleared completely. Iraq struck at 2 p.m. and around 3: 30 to 4 p.m. we were all waiting in the shelter under the aircraft wing. One of the dear martyrs, martyr pilot MG Mohammad Hojjati asked under the aircraft wing: Do you have cigarettes guys? I took a pack of Marlboro out of my flight suit pocket and gave him and I said, "Smoke it because if in the future we would be captured Saddam doesn't give us even Special Oshno cigarette! late Amir Mohammad Daneshpour was leader of the second flight platoon. He said, "We came to the conclusion today that if we want to go, it's suicide. The defense is ready. Go, we'll inform you.

In the morning, it was about 3:30 to 3:45 a.m. when they said come. We were on the fifth floor of a building. Abbas Hejazi was on the third floor and Martyr Asadollah Barbari was on the first floor. When we got down, I saw his wife had lit two candles in the darkness and spread a small tablecloth. He gave everyone a piece of bread and cheese and milk. Three of the 42 aircrafts that flew from Tabriz did not return that day. Martyr pilot Gholamhossein Afshin Azar, martyr pilot Alimorad Jahanshahlo, and regrettably martyr pilot Mohammad Hojjati, who did not reach even Ashno cigarette and he just smoked that Marlboro the day before."

The third narrator of the 307th session of memory night continued: "Usually the flight leader is leader of the flight platoon that take two or four aircrafts with himself. The other three aircrafts next to his aircraft wing are like his children. All his worry is to take and return them safely and nobody should be hurt even as big as a nosebleed. We didn't have much experience on the first day of the war. The war had been imposed and we had to resist. To justify before flight, they said: When we arrived at above of the target and fired our bombs, take 60 degree angle and go the lowest altitude as much as you can. We you saw Lake Urmia you can be relaxed. The first and second platoon moved. Pilot Barbari and I also moved with the third platoon. At the time, we would not use direct bombardment and at low altitude. We would go up and hit the bombs at a 30-degree angle and in a spin state. Each aircraft hit a point of the target five seconds after the other. If number one went I who were number two, I would go after five seconds and bombed. Mohammed Hejazi and Fazel Bahmani were number four in that flight. We fired the bombs, and then we did turns that we must do after bombings so that they did not hit our defense. We prepared to come back. Usually at low altitude aircraft UHF radios range is how that sounds are not well heard. The area was also mountainous, and I arrived alone near Lake Urmia. I was at speed of about 500 to 550 m, which was about 850 to 900 km/h. I directed bow above to go at high altitude and headed for landing in Tabriz Base. I heard pilot Barbari said: Atta ... Atta where are you? I said, I'm at eighty miles to the base. He said: How did you go? I'm at 150 miles. While it was supposed that he would look after me and I would also follow him! Pilot Barbari and I landed, and the other two aircrafts landed at Urmia Airport due to finishing gasoline."

Mohebbi said during recounting his memories, "It was Operation Al-Faw and I was in Isfahan that day. We were told to go to Omidiyeh, an operation is going to be done. We arrived in the afternoon and they said it was late, we start tomorrow morning. May God have mercy on Martyr Mostafa Ardestani, then he was deputy of the Air Force Operation and Head of flight platoons. We started in the morning. Ardestan himself flew about ten to eleven sorties and I five sorties. It was fifth sortie and number two was pilot Colonel Hossein Chegeni. (one of the very good F5 pilots and then he shone well at MiG 29. Unfortunately, he died in an accident in Tabriz-Tehran road) This time tactic had been changed. Iraq had recently acquired Crotale missiles that were extremely dangerous at low altitude, meaning they would hit if we were a little distracted. That's why we went at high altitude in high speed. Near the target, we raised bow 30 degrees, and at one point, in a steady speed and a constant time of about ten to fifteen seconds, we would go down and up and fired the bombs. We fired at the least time and we came back so that Crotale missile radar didn’t have time to catch us. It was during our back turn that I felt a sound was heard. It was as if something like flour was dredged on my neck. I finished our tour and headed to Omidiyeh Base. I was at low latitude. I looked and saw that nothing had happened and engines were intact, our navigation equipment was good and hydraulic, etc. the aircraft was intact overall. I landed. A technician came and looked at the aircraft. He said, "if you go today sacrifice a sheep. I asked: what happened? He said, look behind yourself. I saw there was a hole in the canopy with seven to eight centimeters in diameter, and it had been cracked here and there. It had been shot. The bullet was 35 to 40 centimeters far from my temple. I was young at that time and I calculated how close was the shooting given 800 to 900 speed in which we flew. Later, they called me from the preservation battalion and told me to get to the aircraft. I went and saw that the bullet had pared off all the cables behind the seat, meaning that if I were to leave the aircraft, ejection seat would not function at all."

Attaullah Mohebbi said, "We had a flight with Amir (2nd brigadier general and higher in Iranian Army) Daneshpour. There was a strategic bridge inside Iraqi territory, almost thirty to forty miles after Haji Omeran Garrison. The gentlemen who served in Hamadan or Tabriz are well acquainted with Haji Omeran Garrison. We delayed about half an hour due to the bridge. Amir Daneshpour was over my head and said: "Don't fire your bombs, given the situation, it certainly won't strike at target." I would go up and place behind him and somewhere he did spin and said, "Atta, don't come down! There is a mountain in front of us, and we would strike at the mountain. We examined the target about four to five times from different angles. At one point I went up and he said, "Atta, your situation is good, fire your bombs." I fired the bombs and unfortunately the bombs hit the rock that was next to the bridge and the bridge didn't break down. Our fuel was finishing and had to go back."

Mohebbi continued, "By the time the war started, I had 27 years. If we were experienced and had war experience, we could understand what day is not our day and we may not come back. One day I came in flight battalion. I felt dead soil had dredged on my face. I thought today is my last day. I couldn't say I scare today or I’m not at good mood. Amir, Houshang Aghasibeik, was one of the top Air Force pilot-teachers and a very cool man. During the war missions, his briefings were in a way that you felt you were taking two aircrafts from Tabriz to Tehran. We went with them very easily and comfortably. The first aircraft I got on had hydraulic defect and I couldn't use the aircraft. I said to number one: My aircraft is in trouble and I am going to a backup aircraft. The aircraft was inside the hangar because of better safety and lack of space. Hangar admitted two aircrafts, but they had placed four aircrafts in it. My aircraft was one of them. They had to pull its caliper and bring it out so I could turn it on and fly. They got together and I also helped and they got the aircraft out. I boarded the aircraft. I wanted to press start, I saw that tip of the aircraft that is like a tube was deflected; the tube in the cabin called Pitot tube, indicating speed of the aircraft. I saw that the tube was about thirty degrees deflected. I called the technician and told him, "Look and see what the bug is. He said it is crooked; as if during pushing, one of the technical personnel had taken the pipe and pushed the aircraft. I said to number one, sir! My number one and backup aircraft got a problem; I go to the third aircraft. He said no! Today is not our day. We have lost time on our target and it is too late. You don't need to come. I come and get in a car and come back. I think if that wasn't decided, maybe that day would be my last day and I would come back never."

At the end, Mohebbi said, "To appreciate efforts of pilots' wives, I would like to say that I served 33 years and was transferred eleven to twelve times. Japanese say that anyone who replace two times, it is as if his/her home is on fire. During my service, my house has been on fire six times. I have just on daughter that passed her first grade at Shiraz Base. At the time, preschool and kindergarten weren’t important like today. He passed second, third, and fourth grade in Dezful, and fifth grade in Tehran. I had come to Tehran for DAFOOS course. After Tehran I was transferred to Omidiyeh. The first term was over until I got home and settled down. He spent the second term of his educational year in Omidiyeh. When he entered high school, we moved to Isfahan. We were in Isfahan for three years. He received his diploma in Isfahan. I was transferred to Tabriz for his pre-university. Immediately he was accepted in University of Ardebil and we were happy that the university was close. We got a house for her and said that we travel to see him. Just six months passed that I was transferred to Tehran. We left our daughter in Ardebil and came to Tehran ourselves. Let me give you an example that is easier for you to understand; I served four years at the Omidiyeh Base. The most prosperous region was a village called Khalafabad where was called Ramshir. There was not the least entertainment. I went from 6:30 to 7 a.m. to 5:30 to 6 p.m. There was no entertainment at home for ladies. Another issue was the temperature and warm weather. We have emergency oxygen on aircraft seat that provide you with oxygen automatic at high altitude due to the lack of air pressure in order to reach below fifteen to sixteen thousand feet where you no longer need oxygen. One of these oxygen capsule had been exploded. Our technical team insisted that this was a factory problem. The manufacturer group who were one or two person from China said it was due to the temperature. Once we decided to test it. We parked an aircraft in the middle of the ramp, and we went under its wing. We brought one of these meteorological thermometers. It was about eighty to ninety centimeters long and six to seven centimeters in diameter. We took this under wing of the aircraft and sat in the shade for about ten minutes. The air temperature in the shade was about 58 degrees. We said let's put it in the cabin now to see what the result is. We put the thermometer in the cabin and closed canopy. It didn't take about five minutes that the thermometer blasted! It showed up to 80 degrees, but the temperature was above 80 degrees. We were going from base to base in this situation with our women and children."

The 307th session of Sacred Defense’s night of memory was held by the Center for Studies and Research of Resistance Literature and Art and the Office of Resistance Literature and Art in the Sooreh Hall of Hozeh Honari on Thursday, October 24, 2019. The upcoming session will be held on November 28.


Related Topics:

The 307th Night of Memory -1: Marine Patrol

The 307th Night of Memory-2: The Pilot Became RPG Shooter and the Aircraft Became RPG

The 307th Night of Memory-3: Our Mission in 1983

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