My First Love Was an Iroquois Maiden.
Gideon D. Asche
This article originally appeared in the Havok Journal
My first love, she was an Iroquois maiden – She had a body that would take your breath away – her smell still permeates my reminiscence; her curves, smooth and crisp, asked to be caressed and stroked. It’s true she was old and worn and, she had many men before me. Still, I was taken by her beauty, I was hers from the day I met her.
I would go to her each morning, gently wipe her, wash her and check her underside for new holes then doctor any ailments with same the attention I would give if it were my own flesh. She was mine and I was devoted to her.
Those long days I spent with her helped develop me into the man I am today. She will always be a good memory, she taught me what no man could teach me and I loved her, of this there can be no question.
After a year and a half with the old girl, our paths took us in different directions. Another Soldier and I shared her for two months; just long enough to give her a chance to grow accustomed to a new man in her life and to let me make damn sure he was good enough for her – I said good-bye.
I still carry a picture of us together during happier times and I still get nostalgic if I smell her perfume or hear a voice like hers on the wind. My wife says she knew she should marry me because she saw the same expression on my face, the day I proposed, as is on my face in that tattered 40-year-old picture in my wallet.
I remember the day we lost her. I was sitting in the Crew Lounge at the airfield, doing my logbook, when the Operations Officer came in and told me she was gone. She took one on the blades and burned it in; nothing left to recover except her crew.
One of the men who was with her when it happened told me he could hear her groan as the life left her. Her rivets creaked and tore as she fought the overwhelming effect of having a couple of feet of her Main Rotor blade blown-off… but she remained true – right until the end.
I felt like I lost family, but I was proud of her… She stayed in the game long enough to get her crew back to mother earth.
My first love; she was an Iroquois maiden named “Bat-263.” I just called her “Bat Girl” when were alone.
That is a true story – My first true love really was an Iroquois maiden. How incredibly insensitive of me to call something I loved by a Native American name! What an insult that I equate a Native tribal name with the object I trusted most in my life.
Just in case you are misinformed; Chickasaw, Choctaw, Iroquois, Kiowa, Chinook, Sioux, Blackhawk and Geronimo were all selected to honor the Native American Warrior. Each Tribe must agree to have their name assigned and they take great pride in the honor.
I married into the Choctaw Nation but, I didn’t even know there was a helicopter named Choctaw until a young relative bragged that the U.S. Army had so honored the Choctaw Nation.
I recently contacted the Office of the Chief of all Five Civilized Tribes to ask their stand on the issue and each response included some variation of this Statement from the Choctaw Nation:
“We definitely consider it an honor to have the Choctaw name associated with a US Army Aircraft.” –Tracy McKaughan, Special Assistant to the Chief, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
The Best of the Best in the US Army wear “Crossed Arrows” – What an insult to the Native American -or is it? If you ever meet a man who wears crossed arrows on his collar you will discover he is a “quiet professional” with a lethal edge that will show itself, without reservation, if he is required to act on behalf of his flag or his people, I assure you he is who you want on your corner.
The arrows are not arbitrary; they are a sign of respect for another great American Warrior.
As the legend goes – A U.S. Cavalry Officer was ordered to hunt down Geronimo and bring him to Justice. Chosen because he knew Geronimo personally, spoke his dialect and was considered the authority on the Warrior who was never defeated, never surrendered and that no bullet could kill. The officer refused and resigned his commission rather than follow the order. He left his replacement with this warning before he departed:
You can take Geronimo up into the mountains, drop him off naked, unarmed and without supplies in mid-November… When your patrols return in the spring, they will find themselves killed off one by one by, an unseen, well-fed, well-clothed, well-armed Warrior named Geronimo.
Think of the infantry squad who walks into a shit-storm and calls for QRF; do you think the sound of the RTO hollering “Apache flight inbound” is discriminatory. Hell No – It is not; and I promise, no one in that squad just said “Friggin Indians – who needs em”.
In fact if you listen real close you might be able to hear that one guy, the one stuck out on point when it all turned to shit, shouting “WOOOO HOOO – GIT SOME!” when he hears that distinctive “blade whopp” of Apache Flight turning base for gun run – For the rest of his life the word “Apache” will be spoke with great respect. Especially when he tells his grandchildren of the day the Apaches came. What a disrespectful SOB he must be, to call the reason he is alive by a native moniker.
You peg your damn Torque Meter at 110% over some sports franchise, product name or Waxman-esque fool mooing about what we call our birds if you want to, but… You just Leave Us the Hell Out of It!
We choose Native Warrior’s names because they exhibit the qualities we seek in ourselves: Loyalty, Honor, Courage, Commitment, Intellect, Compassion and Mercy. We pick names like Geronimo as the Battle cry of an Airborne Regiment and Camp Red Cloud because they were true Warriors and we wish to emulate them.
The names embody the Spirit of the Warrior — It is one of the ways we show respect to Warriors past. If you don’t understand it – you never will, so just stay out of it.