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Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Dennis P. Hay

Died August 29, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom


32, of Valdosta, Ga.; assigned to the 4th Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Carson, Colo.; killed Aug. 29 when his OH-58D Kiowa helicopter came under attack by enemy forces using small-arms fire in Tal Afar, Iraq.

Fort Carson pilot’s last selfless act saves co-pilot

By Tom Roeder

Associated Press / The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

FORT CARSON, Colo. — Chief Warrant Officer Dennis Hay always cranked down the knob that increased tension on the helicopter controls.

It made the OH-58 heavier to fly, an upper-body workout for pilots pulling against the spring tension. His co-pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Gabriel Torney, complained about the arm-straining adjustment. But Hay, nicknamed “Shooter,” always said that extra tension would buy precious seconds in an emergency.

That’s exactly what happened, Torney said Wednesday. His voice quaked at times as he spoke at a memorial service for Hay and three other soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

“He did this every time he flew and that selfless act is why I’m here today,” Torney said inside Soldiers’ Memorial Chapel at Fort Carson.

It was just after sunset on Aug. 29 when machine-gun fire stitched its way through the low-flying observation chopper over Tal Afar, Iraq.

Hay, who was at the controls, was fatally wounded.

The helicopter pitched up, but didn’t go out of control — that extra spring tension held it in check. Torney, injured by a bullet that tore through his right leg and lodged in his left thigh, had just enough time to grab the controls.

Bleeding badly, Torney wrestled the helicopter to the ground outside town and was rescued by comrades. Hay, a married father of two who left the Air Force to fly Army helicopters, died at a hospital.

Torney said he says a prayer every night now for Hay.

But prayer isn’t enough.

“You continue to teach the things that he taught me,” Torney said after the service. “That’s how you keep his memory alive.”

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