The raid was conducted by 50 Army Rangers and 40 Afghan commandos on Thursday. Rodgers and Thomas were killed in the opening moments of the firefight, which lasted for three hours and included air strikes by drones, AC-130, Apache gunships and F-16 fighter jets.
AC-130H 69-6570 (here as Bad Company) though we called her ‘The Hussy’ this is with the deletion of the ASD-5 Black Crow ball near the nose and the deletion of the twin 20mm Vulcans and twin 7.62 miniguns. The crease on the front of the left wheelwell used to hold the “FLIR” ball back in the Vietnam era configuration.
5. Eight AC-130H Spectre gunships taxi into position on the flightline prior to the final AC-130H mission conducted at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Jan. 16. The C-130 began its operational service with the Air Force in 1956 and AC-130 development began in the early 1960s. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Matthew Plew)
The aptly named “First Lady” was born in Marietta, Georgia (uncoincidentally, so was the author), as the first ever production C-130A. Only two Hercules airframes came before her, both of which were pre-production prototype YC-130 aircraft. First Lady rolled off the assembly line on March 10, 1955. Today, over 60 years later, the production line continues to produce new C-130 aircraft, making this the longest production run in American military aircraft history. More than 2,500 of these have been built in Marietta and this was the first.
Today, it is common that the first several aircraft in a production run will participate in nothing but flight test through their entire life and never see an operational sortie. Nothing could be further from the truth for First Lady. Her first flight lifted off from Dobbins Air Force Base on April 7, 1955. During her third flight, a fuel line broke, causing a major fire. As soon as she landed, her entire right wing burned off, giving the crew just enough time to escape the blaze. This would not be her last emergency. After being repaired and then returning to the lengthy test program, she was converted to a JC-130A and began operating in the Eastern Test Range, serving NASA and missile test squadrons out of Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.
In November, 1967, First Lady was converted to an AC-130 Spectre. Over the years, she would fly with different weaponry. Her final armament would include a pair of 20mm cannon, a pair of 7.62x51mm Mini-Guns and two 40mm Bofor cannon, enabled with FLIR and Ground Mapping Radar, allowing night/all weather attack. During her career, she would fly over 3,000 combat hours and be hit four times by AAA (anti-aircraft artillery) while performing close air support over Vietnam. After her last encounter with 74mm AAA, First Lady would limp home with a good portion of her nose missing and major damage to hydraulic, avionic and landing gear systems. Again, her crew survived unharmed. These stories are now shared at the Air Force Armament Museum on Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, where the aircraft now resides.