Ralph Hayles Friendly Fire Incident in Desert Storm, 1991 (full video)

Ralph Hayles Friendly Fire Incident in Desert Storm, February 1991 (full video)

Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Hayles was commander of an Apache helicopter which fired two Hellfire missiles at friendly vehicles killing two US soldiers and wounding six other. This friendly fire incident took place on February 17, 1991 at about 1am Persian Gulf time during operation Desert Storm. Below is full video of the incident along with commentaries (9 minutes long, but an interesting watch).

On that February night of 1991, Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Hayles and his pilot Chief Warrant Officer Larry LeBlanc started up an Apache helicopter to patrol the north of Saudi-Iraqi border. US ground forces operating in the area reported possible enemy sightings – suspected Iraqi armored vehicles moving towards the 1st Squadron of the 4th Cavalry (1-4 CAV), 4th Brigade. Commanders of the ground forces asked for assistance from the 1st Battalion of the 1st Aviation Regiment Apaches to examine the area and if enemy presence is found, to engage them from the sky. This would have been the battalion’s first no-drill combat mission in the Desert Storm conflict. Because an actual sand storm was imminent and visibility was low, Ralph Hayles decided to command the Apache himself.

Three Apache helicopters responded to the call and found two military vehicles in the area. The Apache commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Hayles fired two Hellfire missiles at suspected vehicles. Shortly thereafter the Apaches received cease fire requests as there were friendlies in the area. The Hellfire missiles were already fired and both vehicles – Bradley Fighting Vehicle and an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier – destroyed killing two US soldiers inside.

Full length video of the friendly fire incident commanded by Ralph Hayles is below:

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16 thoughts on “Ralph Hayles Friendly Fire Incident in Desert Storm, 1991 (full video)”

  1. After watching this video with the commentary from someone at the discover channel, i was fairly disgusted. The video was heavily edited and many of the statements made were out of context or completely wrong.
    Mostly uknown outside of the unit they were in, Ralph Hayles and Larry “casper” LeBlanc were both afraid of flying at night. Surely if you ask them this they will deny it, but it is true. I personally launched many night missions for this flight crew and was very aware of their fear. BTW as an interesting aside Casper was the Battalion safety officer and after returning to Kansas, he was promoted to Brigade safety officer. F up move up, the army way.
    Hayles went on this mission because he was a cowboy and wanted credit for the first “combat” kill in the Division (Big Red One, 1st Infantry Division).
    Second, 3800 m (more than 2 miles) is a long way off to accurately ID any vehicle positively, and he had NO IDEA what kind of vehicles he was shooting at. AH-64A helicopters are nearly undetectable at night from less than 1 km. I can personally testify to this having been surprised by them during ODS waiting for returning flights.
    Third, Blue 6 (C co 1st bn 1st reg Capt. commanding) had a perfectly good gun and could have engaged the vehicles with his 30mm cannon instead of $300,000 apeice hellfire missles. Notice that 6 troops were injured, lucky for them they werent fired on with 30mm HE rounds, (with a 5 meter kill RADIUS) more casulties would have likely resulted.
    Fourth, 1st ID policy was commaning officers are not to engage in combat. Both Apache’s were crewed by commanding officers. A poor choice on Hayles part, considering the current policy.
    Fith, On his return from this flight mission (I was present) Lt COl Hayles was PISSED OFF! not remorseful or even shocked. He knew that his career in the Army was over. He was a career officer and the only thing that he expressed when i saw him was anger.

    IMO this “friendly fire” incident was completely caused by the flight crew’s negligence, fear and ambition. I hope they never forget what they have done.

  2. Ok. It sounds as if the last post was by a person that was in 1/1 Avn!! If so I definitely know you!! Ralph was nothing but a Cowboy and defied a direct order from the division commander not to be flying direct combat missions, his job was to direct his pilots and gunners in combat and not to go out and engage. The mistake he made that night is just like the one he made at Ft. Hood on a live fire range, when he called fire on his position by reading the wrong line of info!! Anyway whoever “warmik” is…look me up on facebook Tim Donk

  3. I knew LT Col Hayles as commander of the avn brigade at Riley before DS. We were in another unit on the airfield…

    His reputation was definitely a cowboy who wanted the glory, attention, and lauds at any cost(as long as the cost was to others). I knew him to be haughty and pompous with enough ego for 2 commanders.

    The above 2 reports are exactly what was reported by others there and stands in line with his known reputation and modus operandi.

  4. I’m a proud American and, any day, would stand up against anyone that badmouths our men/women in arms. I come from a long line of military (lost a great-uncle in France {WWI}, my grandpa was shipped out of Pearl Harbor just months before the attack {Navy ship builder}, several uncles served in the Army during WWII, another uncle served in Vietnam {Army} and, sadly, I lost a dear friend to the war in Afghanistan {one of the first killed}.) I’ve avoided watching this particular video because I was, admittedly, believing as one of the many “sheeple” I’ve read about. If I don’t know about it, how bad can it be? After watching the video in its entirety and reading the comments above I not only feel informed, but frightened about how accidents like this happen. Today, just like yesterday, I’m going to seek out a military member so I might let them know how much this little old redneck lady appreciates them. Luckily, I live close to a National Guard airbase and find many folks in uniform on any given day. Today, dear soldier, your money is no good in this restaurant. God bless America.

  5. “I just killed a bunch of people” “Don’t force me to concentrate”…..
    Wasn’t he just laughing few seconds before because of the same reason? What a fucking hypocrite….if you don’t like war just don’t laugh at all, do your service if you want to, without laughing and few seconds later being sad. Because you were not even sure they were enemies or not. But you shot anyway. That’s war. No one normal will laugh while killing people. Laugh and then be destroyed inside like that it’s not pretty coherent.

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