The 307th Night of Memory -1

Marine Patrol

Maryam Rajabi
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


According to Iranian Oral History Website, the 307th session of Sacred Defense Night of Memory 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 Mohebi spoke of their memories of the Iraq imposed war against Iran.

Davood Salehi, host of the 307th session of memory night of the sacred defense, said before the first narrator telling his memories: "The first narrator of the 307th session was Born in Tehran in 1953. He grew up in an ordinary family in the south of the city. After receiving his diploma, he entered Air Force. From 1975 to 1977, he went to the United States to spend his pilotage course and then returned to Iran. During part of his presence in the fronts against the enemy, he served in Ground Forces (NEZAJA), and for some time served in the southern and Dehloran fronts. A series of his activities in service time included replacing the wounded, delivering parachutist or carrying cargo to the war zone, transporting combatants to war zones and conducting marine patrol flights. The first narrator of the 307th session has been trying to educate and present brave and courageous people like himself to the country by educating military techniques to his students. He is so passionate and partiality about The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) that he insisted me to call him "veteran of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army".

Then Brigadier General Amir Habibi said: "One of the missions served to the Air Force was marine patrol. On this patrol, P3F, Hercules and C130 aircrafts were tasked to continue flights across the ever Persian Gulf, Oman Sea, and sometimes to farther borderline waters, seeking targets that provided military assistance to the Iraqi Ba'ath Army. It was planned for this target and aircraft flew from the mother base, Shahid Dowran airfield in Shiraz. They landed in Bandar Abbas and, after receiving the flight plan and target characteristics, they continued flight again from the 9th hunter base toward the Persian Gulf, Hormuz Strait and Oman Sea to the Indian Ocean coast in order to find the target and after being assured a target was the final target, left the area, and F14 bomber fighter pilots were dispatched to the area to destroy the ship carrying fashionable weapons and military equipment for the enemy. The aircrafts went again to take photos of extent the ship had been destructed and then returned to their base. These flights required radar coverage, radio coverage, and air coverage. Due to the low altitude flight and worn-out radios, radio coverage was not possible after the aircraft departed 100 to 150 kilometers from Iran. Radar coverages also- due to inefficiency and impracticality radars of the area that required supplying parts and various kinds of sanctions that were imposed on the country, especially in the military dimension- were not efficient and could not watch patrol aircrafts in their sight so that if enemy aircraft and outsider close to the aircraft they inform us. Air coverage was also not possible because of covering aircrafts that had been dispatched to border bases and near war zones, and naturally, marine patrol flights were carried out to the mercy of God at an altitude between utmost 300 and at least 30 meters above sea level. Under normal circumstances, the altitude was about 300 meters, about a thousand feet, and as soon as the target was found, to better identify and recording characteristics of the ship carrying weapons, and the direction and speed and flag which was planted on the deck, the altitude lowered and then the area was evacuated.

It was impossible that a flight to happen and we would not encounter American aircrafts that had taken off from aircraft carriers. In one of these flights, I saw four F18 aircrafts; one on my left, one on my right, one on ten to fifteen meters in front of me but at an altitude above me, about five hundred to one-thousand-meter high, and the fourth one was also behind me but I didn't see it. After the few minutes that they conducted along us an almost group flight and organized the area, I also saw the fourth aircraft that moved with them toward their cruiser. We faced with dangers in these flights, but thank God nothing happened to us. On one of my flights, I suddenly saw a F15 at my left. It shook pillow to get attention. As usual I saluted him and he also answered me. All military aircrafts, cruisers, and ships which are floating at sea, listen on a particular emergency frequency that if one speaks on that frequency, other watercraft and aircrafts hear its sound. I decided to talk with him on a particular frequency. With gestures that we had already been taught and is a contract among military pilots, I said I would give you a specific frequency and set that frequency on the radio. The frequency sign is also a punch that you show on your flight cap when you look forward. I clenched my fist and put it on my face and returned a moment later and he showed me a thumb sing that implies confirmation and acceptance. I gave him a certain frequency to get in touch with me so that other aircrafts and aircraft carriers which were near us would not hear us. He accepted and I gave him the frequency and he set up the frequency and we talked on the frequency. I got some common information from him, his name and that which flight crew he was and from which watercraft he had taken off. He also had a series of questions that I answered as usual.

Then I told him would he like to have a group flight? Group flight means that an aircraft positioned on the wing of another aircraft and the flight to be continued without increasing the distance. Usually the leader aircraft directs the second aircraft on the left wing or the third aircraft on the right wing. He was on my left side wing and agreed to join me in group flight. I had a speed of 180 knots equals 350 kilometers, and I was 1,000 feet, that is about 300 meters above sea level. He joined me and really flew very well. I admired him inwardly. During the flight, I turned to left and right and he followed me. My turn were not regular turns that I usually had to observe in public flights. My turns were a bit faster and he turned with me so easily, and if turned toward him, he positioned below me, and if I would fly out of his space, he positioned above me so that see me totally. I suggested a five hundred feet altitude, about 150 meters above sea level, and he accepted. As the altitude was diminished, turns to the left and right was continued and he also followed me. I proposed three hundred feet altitude, about 100 meters above sea level, and he accepted and followed me. I lowered the altitude to about 150 feet, about fifty meters above sea level and he came again until I reached fifty feet latitude, about fifteen meters. I implemented a decision I had in mind already and turned toward him in a swift motion so that I might sink him into waters of the Oman Sea, but he had got my number. As soon as I turned, he heighted and escaped and increased its altitude and reached to five hundred feet altitude. I also didn’t circulate anymore and increased my height to 500 feet. He left the area and went, and we continued flight to our homeland and landed safely."

Habibi narrated a memory from after the war and said: "One day I was missioned a flight to take some pilots' families to Kish in the early morning and return at night. We got on the plane early in the morning. All the passengers were ladies. There was no man among them. 160 people departed to Kish by an Ilyushin plane. By the time we arrived, there was a bus ready to take families to see or buy in the sightseeing, and we also got on the bus with family of pilots. We were in front of the bus door when one of the ladies called me by my first name and said, nice landing; that means you landed very well and soft and we didn't feel that you were landing. Such thanks are usual between pilots and their families. We flew at the end of night and returned from Kish to Shiraz. After we landed, we parked the plane in the parking, shut down the engines and families got off, about 25 of our friends attacked us! They protested and saying, "Don't you know ?!" Are you crazy? And they started saying such statements. One or two of them were persistently hitting my chest. I wondered and said myself what was wrong with me that they were so angry? One of them said good man did you do the flight, instead of throwing the plane in the water and rescuing us from our wives you bring them back again?! I just found out that they were joking with us. Then they thanked us for taking their loved ones to Kish and bringing them back."

To be continued...


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