Richard Mulhern ’71 (Eagle Flight)

Richard Mulhern

Rich Mulhern arrived at PMC from Long Island, but was born in Brooklyn. His classmates described him as a great friend with a tough demeanor and a sense of humor. When he arrived at PMC in the fall of 1967 he was assigned to Echo Company. He became a Corporal, Cadet Sergeant and Cadet Captain. He was also a member of the Battery Robinett and the Ranger Platoon. After graduation he pursued a career in the Army. He served in Germany, the U.S. Embassy in Jordan, and in various positions in the Pentagon.

In 1991 Operation Provide Comfort, which provided humanitarian aid to over one million Kurdish Refugees in northern Iraq, was begun. For the next 1,000 days, the Air Force flew over the area and airdropped food, clothing, tents, blankets, medicine). To further stop Saddam from killing the Kurds, a northern No-Fly Zone was placed north of the 36th parallel. Any Iraqi aircraft would be shot down in the No-Fly Zone. The No-Fly Zone was patrolled and kept “clean” by the USAF with fighters (F-15s) being supported by command and control aircraft (AWACS).

mapIn April 1994 two Blackhawk helicopters, carrying Colonel Jerry Thompson and his replacement, Colonel Richard Mulhern, 71, the incoming Commander of the No-Fly Zone, along with 24 others, the group took off from Turkey for an orientation tour of the area. Despite being granted permission to enter the No-Fly Zone, the two helicopters were mistakenly identified as Soviet style helicopters used by the Iraqi army by two Air Force jets patrolling the area with a C5-A providing air traffic control. From a distance of 4 nautical miles, both Air Force jets fired on the helicopters. Both Black Hawk helicopters were instantly destroyed. All twenty-six people on board perished.