Smithsonian Books Releases "The Final Mission of Extortion 17"

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Account of Extortion 17 Tragedy Available Sept. 19

Smithsonian Books is releasing The Final Mission of Extortion 17: Special Ops, Helicopter Support, SEAL Team Six, and the Deadliest Day of the U.S. War in Afghanistan by Ed Darack Sept. 19. The book examines the Extortion 17 helicopter shootdown during the war in Afghanistan.

On Aug. 6, 2011, a U.S. Army CH-47D Chinook helicopter approached a landing zone in Afghanistan 40 miles southwest of Kabul. The helicopter, call sign Extortion 17, was on a mission to reinforce American and coalition special operations troops. It would never return. Insurgents fired at the Chinook, severed one of its rear rotor blades and brought it crashing to the ground. All 38 onboard perished instantly in the single greatest moment of sacrifice for Americans in the war in Afghanistan. Those killed were some of the U.S.’s most highly trained and battle-honed commandos, including 15 men from the Gold Squadron of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, known popularly as SEAL Team 6, which had raided a Pakistan compound and killed Osama bin Laden just three months earlier.

The downing of Extortion 17 spurred a number of conspiracy theories and rumors; in the book, Darack debunks them and uncovers the truth behind the tragedy. His account of the pilots, crew and passengers of Extortion 17 and the events of that fateful day is interwoven into a discussion of modern joint combat operations, the history of the Afghan war to that date, U.S. helicopter use in Afghanistan and the new and evolving military technologies and tactics being developed to mitigate such tragedies now and in the future.

About the Author

Darack is a writer and photographer who has traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan numerous times to embed with infantry and aviation units at the front lines of modern war. He is the author of four books, including Victory Point, and numerous articles on military topics ranging from counterinsurgency to close air support. His work has been published in Air & Space magazine, the Marine Corps Gazette, Leatherneck Magazine, Foreign Policy, Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute and others.

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