MY FATHER ABOVE ME - We received word last night that ISIS fighters were massing for a ground assault against the frontline Iraqi troops in West Mosul. It was the perfect opportunity for them to attack due to a low cloud layer that made coalition air cover almost impossible. We slept on the roof with our rifles in preparation for the attack. Around 2300(11pm), ISIS attacked the Iraqi position just to our East. We couldn't do anything to support them. A ferocious battle ensued for about an hour until ISIS shifted and began to probe the lines in front of us. It would be our turn to hold the line next. Shortly after midnight, while taking my turn standing watch and waiting for the ISIS fighters to come pouring through, the clouds parted and I heard the old familiar humming of an American AC-130 gunship overhead. I thought of my father who used to fly C-130s and it was like he was there looking out for me. I knew right then that we'd make it through the night. The gunship opened up on the ISIS fighters and poured devastating fire into their lines. They were slaughtered as the advanced. The line held and I didn't have to fire a single shot. It's dawn as I write this from our defensive position which is pictured here. This morning I am thankful for the US Air Force and my father who served in Iraq long before I did.
-Ephraim Mattos, youngest son of Lonnie Mattos
Be brave. Be kind. Be free.
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