Got a downed Airman in Libya? Phone home…

A little birdie emailed me some more information on how the Weapon Systems Officer from that F-15E was extracted from Libya. All this information is unclassified:

Soft power saves American lives…the Libyan had attended English
language training sponsored by Embassy Tripoli.  Once the downed wizzo
was brought to him, the Libyan called the Assistant Cultural Affairs
Officer’s (A/CAO) cell phone, who answered him while out in Dupont
Circle.  The A/CAO passed on the DoS Operations Center number
where the Senior WatchStander answered the call and got
his military LNO involved.

Downed Airman Rescued by Libyan Who Called State Dept. Operations Center

March 22, 2011 7:39 PM

While there have been detailed descriptions of the rescue of the pilot
of the F-15E that crashed over Libya Monday night, the details of how
the other airman on was rescued have remained murky to say the least.

The 27-year-old airman, who has not yet been identified, parachuted to
safety after the plane experienced mechanical failures over eastern
Libya. He hid near a farmhouse and locals eventually transported him to
Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city and seat of the rebel

Somehow he mysteriously made his way back to U.S. control many hours
after the plane’s pilot had been recovered by a Marine search and rescue
team. U.S. officials tell ABC News that the crewmember’s rescue was
facilitated by an incredible stroke of luck.   According to the
officials, the weapons officer was rescued thanks to the help of a
Libyan citizen who was once associated with the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.

The Libyan, who had once received a grant from the U.S. Embassy in
Tripoli, used his or her knowledge of the State Department to phone its
operations center and notify them about the missing airman’s

After that the U.S. military was made aware of the airman’s location, a
U.S. official says it was the Italian Navy that actually picked him from
Benghazi.  According to the official,  the airman was picked up in
Benghazi and transported to an Italian warship offshore. It was from
there that he was eventually turned over to U.S. control, ending the
airman’s long, but lucky odyssey.

Daniel J. Ricci

Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Dept. of State

I’ve deleted some phone numbers and other identifying information, but otherwise left the information as is.