A Near Miss Over Baghdad

Getting ready for my second night flight in a row, I found myself going through the same ritual as before: mentally coaching myself on what to do if something were to happen, while tending to the details of prepping the aircraft, my body armor and my sidearms. I slid the metal magazine of rounds into each weapon until I heard and felt the metallic clicking of the spring loaded catches and thought about possible situations where I would have to use the bullets.

I flew with a different crew, and before long we were checking the radios of the aircraft and pulling pitch to begin the flight. We were over Baghdad looking down at what seemed to be a fire fight marked by the swarm of tracer rounds, when all of a sudden the aircraft in front of me climbed in altitude so fast that I couldn't keep it in my field of view.

I looked for the reason for the sudden manoeuver, and saw to my left a silhouette of an Apache, blacked out, but at the same altitude and only meters away. I instinctively broke right and the crew chief on the left side would later inform us that the Apache almost clipped our tail.

As I broke right I was boxed in by an aerostat balloon, causing me to have to break back left, at which time the pilot in command started to doubt what I was doing until he saw the balloon. Caught between a rock and a hard place, my heart pounded along with the rest of the crew's. Once we knew we were in the clear I could feel the sweat start to soak my t-shirt and for the rest of the flight we were glued to the airspace, no longer worried by taking fire, but rather trying to avoid other aircraft in the area.

Since I wanted to practice running the radios and navigation a little more, I relinquished the controls some during this flight, but not for very long.

-- Written 3/7/2006

By Bert Stover |  March 17, 2006; 10:45 AM ET  | Category:  Al Asad, Iraq
Previous: Across the Wire at Night | Next: Taking Fire in Iraq

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Bert

What is an Aerostat Balloon and its purpose. I find it strange you have to avoid a balloon? Night flying is tough enough without these obstacles

Thanks

Posted by: Hal | March 17, 2006 10:58 AM

And what about aircraft warning technology such as on commercial aircraft? How about some thoughts on the mood of your fellow soldiers? How about Iraqis -- do you interact with any Iraqi soldiers? This blog is a good idea but its too infrequent and not enough info. Take care!

Posted by: George | March 17, 2006 11:20 AM

neh!?


perhaps it's just being monitored by the der sturrm troopers.

I don't feel any bert in it.


where's the live footage like there was for desert storm, or operation double cross?

Posted by: perhaps the blog is just a propaganda tool.. | March 17, 2006 12:03 PM

Holy Moley! Makes one pine for the National Airspace System here in the U.S. Who was deconflicting the airspace at the time? (Then again, when the entirety of the airspace is a restricted area, how do you deconflict)?

Posted by: SethBeck | March 17, 2006 12:46 PM

George,

You're referring to the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), which in this case may or may not be a part of a CH-46's equipment. Also, these guys are operating in a "see and avoid" regime, which doesn't lend itself to that kind of technology.

Posted by: SethBeck | March 17, 2006 12:48 PM

Bert,
I told you awhile back that your biggest danger over baghdad was Apache pilots, they are a bigger threat than the enemy. Bottom of the OML at mother rucker. By the way, your t shirt doesnt know what sweat is yet, wait till it is 120F at midnight and you are flying to Mosul. 5hr missions. You have got a long year Bert. I just finished it in December.

Posted by: Balad hooker | March 17, 2006 02:37 PM

What type of an A-hole comes in here and demands more information from Bert...I think he is a little busier than you and I and might not have time to give all of the the info that you feel you deserve. Even worse someone calls Bert's postings propaganda. Give me a break and get off it you self-righteous A-hole.

Posted by: disbelief | March 17, 2006 06:37 PM

Dang Bert! Take care of yourself and watch out for those Apaches! I thought you guys were scouring the western deserts.

Posted by: Oldsurfer | March 17, 2006 08:55 PM

Hooker,

Before long this blog is going to turn into one big aerodynamics and combat mission arguement. :-)

Posted by: SethBeck | March 17, 2006 09:43 PM

where's "An American"??? doesn't he have something negative to say about Bert and his mission?
good stuff, bro. great info, for the rest of us sitting in comfort at home in our PJs reading about you. keep safe, holmes. and keep it coming.

Posted by: stan | March 18, 2006 01:58 AM

Stan,

This really isn't the place for your anti-American comments. Take it elsewhere, buddy.

Posted by: Gung-ho | March 18, 2006 09:08 AM

Agreed,

Stan, it's easy for you to sit at home "in your PJs" and criticize, isn't it?

Feel free to point out that 2,300 American brothers and sisters as well as tens thousands of innocent Iraqis have died for a bunch of incompetent lying fools like Bush and Cheney. That's true and it's fine to say. However, this is my country. No anti-Americanism for the heck of it.

Posted by: Another American | March 18, 2006 09:39 AM

Some people like Stan are always looking for "something negative to say." The good news is that Cheney-Rumsfeld (and the boy-president) have failed miserably in Iraq. Unfortunately, cornered beasts are dangerous.

Posted by: Born in the USA | March 18, 2006 09:43 AM

Dear Bert:

The readers at home appreciate your efforts to put to pen your combat experiences. I think about you, and all our troops, everyday. We pray for your continued safety, for the success of your mission, and your safe return to your family and your country.

"May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks,

May your heart be as light as a song,

May each day bring you bright, happy hours,

That stay with you all the year long. "
Nora

Posted by: Nora | March 18, 2006 10:07 AM

I don't know why Stan and his ilk are always looking for something bad to say about "Bert and his mission." Bert is following orders. Hello? The name of this blog is "Reporting for Duty."

It's the people who issue illegal orders who are most culpable for them, which is obviously the case with the attempted US takover of Iraq.

If there were justice in this world, Bert's mission in Iraq would continue after the Iraqi civil war ended as the US would provide material reparations to a recovering Iraqi society and state. However, the Iraqi state is presumably toast and history shows us that the negative consequences of traumatic events like the destruction of the brittle, fragile, resentment-filled Iraqi society by the invasion will last for decades. The civil war is certainly in its very earliest stages.

We have our despicable misleaders in Washington to thank for all this. Leave Bert Stover out of it, Stan. He didn't choose this "mission" of destruction and death.

Posted by: Red White and Blue | March 18, 2006 10:16 AM

I think some of you misunderstood "Stan" , he was referring (I think) to someone who posts negative comments on here all the time. His sign in name is "An American"

Posted by: military wife | March 18, 2006 11:18 AM

I didn't misunderstand Stan and I've read the posts from An American. His posts aren't negative about Bert Stover or our servicepeople, they are only negative about the unjustified US invasion of Iraq and the bad characters like Bush and Cheney who are responsible for all this death and destruction and for putting Bert in harm's way under false pretenses.

Stan should get out of his PJs and smell the odor of burning flesh wafting over Baghdad thanks to Bush and his handlers.

Posted by: Red White and Blue | March 18, 2006 02:57 PM

Just let Bert fill us in on what he and other pilots do. There are some of us who have loved ones there. We want to know they are ok, we want them to know we support them. If you are against the war and Bush, fine, it's your opinion. But take somewhere else. This column is not meant for political views. Take is where the Washington Brass can read it. We just want to support and soldiers here and wish them well and send our love. Please give us that.

Posted by: Barb | March 18, 2006 03:06 PM

There's a special place in hell reserved for people who feel like starting wars for their own reasons and then manipulate people's fears, using every kind of lie in the book to coax their country into it.

Our vice president and his spokesperson Bush are in that category. They are responsible for every US death in Iraq and they don't even care.

They are also responsible for degrading our soldiers by turning them into torturers.

Posted by: Patriot | March 18, 2006 03:09 PM

Bert...Keep it up. One of my friends is currently serving with you in Iraq...for all I know you may even share stick time in the same blackhawk with him. An idea for you...instead of arming yourself with conventional weapons, why don't you start dropping some of thre really mouthy anti-war critics, that use this blog as means of spreading their own propaganda, onto those who are trying to shoot you. Maybe the endless jabbering will bore the insurgents into surrender. In the mean time tell all those in your company to keep their heads up, keep safe, and find a good way to pass the time when not flying missions. A year is long a time but I hope it passes quickly for you all.

Posted by: Harry | March 18, 2006 05:30 PM

I agree with Barb, and have said it before. Take the Bush Bashing to another Blog for the Washington Post or other anti-war site...there are plenty of them, and, leave this one for what it was meant. Bert, keep your chin up and keep your fellow crew mates safe!

Posted by: PATE'S DAD | March 19, 2006 08:25 AM

Google "Task Force 6-26"

Posted by: A Patriot | March 19, 2006 09:06 AM

My son just arrived at Al Asad 2 weeks ago....while we didn't hear from him I was checking out sites on the Internet and came across yours...it was helpful to me to understand his arrival in Kuwait/Iraq and what he was doing...we have since heard from him 2 times and all is well...thank you for your blogs...we will keep you/your missions in our prayers!!

Posted by: A Mom | March 19, 2006 01:11 PM

Dear Bert,
You are in our thoughts and prayers as are all the servicemen in Iraq. We do like reading your blog - it somehow makes us feel closer to all of you. Be safe.

Posted by: Bev at Seconds | March 19, 2006 02:07 PM

Bert, thank you for your service. I cannot convey the pride I have for the professionalism and job that our military is doing in Iraq.
Ignore the critics of Bush and Cheney. I wish that Bush had been president for the 18 months I served as a Warrant Officer flying combat assualts in Hueys.

To the critics that post on this page: Step up and show your courage. Have you SERVED and personally paid for the right to call yourselves "Patriot" or "An American"? Or, are you just enjoying the right that people like Bert have purchased for you? publish your credentials along with your opinion. Be honest and have courage. Stand and deliver or cower in the dark.

CW4 L. Scott
US Army 1969-1970 Vietnam
DFC
2 Bronze Stars
Purple Heart
45 Air Medals
1785 Hours combat flight time.

Posted by: JAVV (Just another Vietnam Vet) | March 19, 2006 02:19 PM

SethBeck,

Keep up with the info or get your "wanna be" info straight on the aircraft. The USMC flies the CH-46, not the Army. There was no mention of a 46 other than that is what the VaARNG guys tok their fam flights in. TCAS is a simple piece of equipment that should be on ALL acft, especially military.

Posted by: Gregory | March 19, 2006 03:13 PM

Bert,
Just wait until late May hits. The sweat you feel now will come automatically when it is still over 100 degrees at midnight.

The whole country is a heat island and the people will sleep on the roof tops to keep cool if they have no air. It is also a great place to take ground fire from so watch yourselves. If you have not already figured it out that no one can drone out for a second when outside the wire, you best get that way ASAP. Think about family and home when you are in your hooch. Outside the wire you've got to keep it wired tight. Good luck to you!

Posted by: Iraq Vet | March 20, 2006 09:38 AM

Writing positively about the mission is not supporting our troops.

Supporting our troops means condemning the mission that has seriously compromised US security and has 133,000 of them tied down in a country where they are not wanted.

Supporting our troops means repudiating the misleaders who have made the greatest political and strategic blunder in US hstory.

Supporting our troops means getting them the hell out of Dodge. Supporting the troops means condemning the president responsible for 2,300 pointless US deaths and 15,000 permanent disabilities.

Supporting our troops means deploying them to defend our fredoms, not to attack far-away countries that have done us no harm. This was the political and military doctrine of George Washington and should be the doctrine of all patriots.

Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld are the worst misrulers in the history of the United States: both criminal and incompetant.

SUPPORT OUR TROOPS not with sweet words but with action. Bring them home now.

Posted by: SUPPORT OUR TROOPS | March 20, 2006 09:43 AM

Thanks for writing, Bert. Russ' sister here sending you best Spring wishes. The shad are running here and you should see the daffodils. Keep your spirits up and know we think of you every day with affection and gratitude. With you guys doing all you can to wrap it up for us in the next couple of years, my four and two-year-old boys won't have to.

Posted by: Elinor | March 20, 2006 09:47 AM

My Son is due to arrive there within days, found this site and am hoping it helps me to understand where he is in the world.

Thank you for your service sir, for all those who insist on posting the negative, please remember, a lot of us are just the families of these young men and women, and a lot of us are scared to death. Please try to understand that concept and move on!

Posted by: I miss my soldier son | March 20, 2006 01:55 PM

Hey Bert,

Keep up the reporting, at whatever pace suits your schedule. We the faithful will be here waiting and praying for glimpses of your piece of Iraqi. We understand that 14 hour days are long and tiresome, and trying to get in a long line to access a computer to post a story may not be tops on your priority list after flying 6 hours of "goggles". But never forget, We know the depth of your commitment.
Isn't it sad that the putzes who spout the illegal war line, Bush bashing, and negative democrat party crap all seem to sound alike. I wonder if they keep changing their names and their is really only one putz? My bet is that when they sign off for the night, cut the old propaganda pc off, they probably wonder why they're party isn't calling the shots. As long as we have idiots like "an american", "patriot" and "supporting our troops", republicans will be in power...so be happy!

Posted by: Guido | March 20, 2006 09:51 PM

dishonesty and a searing ignorance your actions are excusable as being only the panderings of the ignorant talking to the more ignorant...


take heart, you would have been british during the revolutionary war.

Posted by: as long as there's hypocrisy. | March 20, 2006 11:54 PM

Interesting BLOG. I was an Army Cobra pilot for many years with tours in Vietnam (1st Cav), Korea (along the DMZ), and as an advisor in Iran (before and during the revolution). I was shot down twice in RVN and shot at a couple of times in Korea, but I never came so close to getting killed so many times as on the streets of Iran. They actually gave us combat pay for the last two months we were there. The Middle East is a very different part of the world from ours. I don’t think Washington, or the West in general, really has a handle on just HOW different it is. The idea of “Bringing Democracy to Iraq” sounds good to us, but it’s pretty alien to a culture based on tribal traditions. And if they ever did understand it, would they *really* want a bunch of crooked congressmen and senators stealing their money?

Anyway, here’s hoping you get out of there with your butt and brain in tact. Oh yea, watch out for those gun pilots. They’re a crazy bunch.

Posted by: Blue Max 44 | March 21, 2006 01:51 PM

Iraq is a strange mixture of complex geopolitics, fractious inter-religious conflicts, and a very strategic international resource. The country happens to sit on one of the largest remaining underdeveloped pools of oil left in the world, so everyone wants their hands on it, including the U.S. Being able to manage 'responsible' sharing of this resource means stabilizing the country first, or there will be constant guerilla activity to prevent this after we leave. Other folks would be happy to just come in and 'take' the resource in exchange for giving advanced armaments to another unstable regime in a dangerous part of the world (see Iran as an example of this). In that case, the U.S. economy becomes vulnerable (because it's firmly based upon the availability of fairly cheap oil) and our gas prices at the pump go from the $ 2.50 per gallon level to maybe $ 10 per gallon. For all those who want a quick pull-out, be VERY careful what you wish for, unless you're ready to ride a bike to/from work and grow your own food...

Posted by: Jeff | March 22, 2006 11:37 AM

Your blog is fascinating. My father was in WWII, I was in the military (but missed going to Vietnam and my son was a combat engineer in Desert Storm. We all agree that the troops themselves are doing a great job and the losses are tragic. I support them by supporting impeachment of the noob, Bush and the negligent Rumsfeld.
Good luck, concentrate on the mission while we try to bring you all home.

Posted by: freeascent | March 22, 2006 08:54 PM

To SUPPORT OUR TROOPS: Have you asked the troops how they feel about your "supportive" actions? I don't know many -- me included -- who feel that what you do in any way supports us.

Pat
Iraq veteran

Posted by: Pat | March 28, 2006 11:18 AM

At my age, I have lived many wars.... and experienced the aftermath of all. We are now experiencing a war that, in all due process, should have never happend. Yes, putting a boy-president into office with the thinking and arrogance of a spoiled child, was a cripping action that we must now live with for all life to come. For those who die, for those who suffer the remainding of their life, due to this sensless war... I can not find words of comfort....... just a very heavy heart. This war was for one accomplishment... OIL.... and the control of it. Forget democracy.... it will never be in our time...... not in the mideast!

Posted by: John of Wisconsin | March 31, 2006 05:05 PM

To John of Wisconsin. Where there is a will, there is a way! (??)

What has happened to Iraq, to Iran and to the Middle East as a whole in the past 50 years or so, has always been motivated by the control on Oil. As you know, our western societies have evolved and developed themselves during the last century with the extended usages of oil. This powerful mean(oil) has also created a lifestyle concept that we now believe is the normal and maybe the only way life can be. This Oil Age has benefited a lot to a minority in the world and the present Middle East turmOil() is simply the consequence of a struggle by the major benefiters for maintaining their wealth. Our whole economy would collapse dramatically if we were not able to maintain stable accessibility to oil.

There is a solution for ending this very hazardous worldwide battle for oil. We have first to accept a much slower rate of growth, and to achieve this we must find a way to diminished the Oil-Industrial-Financial group’s strong influence on political agendas and on the State's Institutions, primarily the White House and the Pentagon. This could be seen as an utopia, a dream or David against Goliath type of confrontation. We live in a democratic State, so let’s use it for the benefit of the majority. We, as a democratic power by numbers, must become the POWER. We need a (new?) political party that will speak about the facts and realities of this world, and in particular about the great danger to human kind if we don’t adjust our lifestyle and economic growth with the sustainability of the world, including a minimally fair distribution of wealth throughout the world.

Does it mean going back to the horse power Age? NO! Oil provides a may to make very big benefits, very fast, and gives the Oil Peoples a lot of power. We hear ‘more money, more fun’; we should hear also the whole sentence: ‘MORE OIL, more money, more fun, MORE POWER, MORE OIL, ...’. If we would consider the development of a ‘CLEAN synthetic oil industry' based on COAL, OUR COAL(China, Russia, Europe and others could do the same), we would ease the world’s demand for Oil, promote fairness, stability and peace in the world while creating new economic opportunities. Why not then? The answer is, I believe, that our State is controlled by peoples that only want the very fast growth of wealth provided by Oil. I am talking about a minority of big benefiters that holds tightly political POWERS. What is wrong with these big benefiters? Nothing in general(suits and neckties), except for (secret) criminal promotion of violence, state destabilization, propaganda and the likes! They are bright, skilled, organized and only use their brain, their will and their efforts for maintaining their positions and advantages. THEY CALL IT ‘LIBERTY’.

What can we do then, WE, the people, DIVIDED, ill informed, manipulated, not organized, poor, unstable, occupied by the consumerist activities, or held up by beliefs, conformist forces, wealth and naïveté. A big puzzle, isn’t it? Although the task is titanic, we cannot forget the terribly ugly prospects of the current situation. Pollution, global warming, weather outrages, ice caps melting, sea levels rising, wildlife habitats lost and consequences, new epidemics, ugly war calamities, world political and economical instabilities, nuclear war threats, overpopulation, poverty in the Third World and in developed countries, to name the main few, are all contributing to a very very nasty, ugly future. There is only one solution: uniting our forces as ONE People(at least a majority), to be in the driving seat to make the right decisions for a better future for ALL. America has to lead the world, being the largest Oil user.

For the time being, we must struggle in Iraq and not engaged in any way except diplomacy about Iran(in fact engage in friendly and cooperative talks and exchanges) and at the same time, start programs for the development of alternatives(synthetic oil) to Middle East Oil, alternative energies, mass transportation systems, more efficient vehicles and other energy efficiency improvements. We have a window of 5 to 10 years in which we can turn around the status of our country and the world from a endangered to a more sustainable one. To achieve this goal, we need a State by the Majority, not just by a Few.

Picture this just for fun. What kind of effect would do 6 billions peoples planting 10(easy to compute) baby trees every years for the next 10 years. 6 X 10 X 10 X billion = 600,000,000,000. SIX HUNDRED BILLION TREES. WOW! THIS IS TITANIC TOO, the power of numbers! Adding paper recycling, conservation, and others wise new habits to that, would it reduce global warming and favorably impact on the future of HUMANITY? Well, .... In the mean time, we must thank and support all well intended Iraqi citizens, US Soldiers, other Soldiers and others Individuals involved in this terrible crisis, in particular Mr. Bert Stover, Chief Warrant Officer 2! WishRobby

Posted by: wishrobby | April 14, 2006 03:20 PM

To John of Wisconsin. Where there is a will, there is a way! (??)

What has happened to Iraq, to Iran and to the Middle East as a whole in the past 50 years or so, has always been motivated by the control on Oil. As you know, our western societies have evolved and developed themselves during the last century with the extended usages of oil. This powerful mean(oil) has also created a lifestyle concept that we now believe is the normal and maybe the only way life can be. This Oil Age has benefited a lot to a minority in the world and the present Middle East turmOil() is simply the consequence of a struggle by the major benefiters for maintaining their wealth. Our whole economy would collapse dramatically if we were not able to maintain stable accessibility to oil.

There is a solution for ending this very hazardous worldwide battle for oil. We have first to accept a much slower rate of growth, and to achieve this we must find a way to diminished the Oil-Industrial-Financial group’s strong influence on political agendas and on the State's Institutions, primarily the White House and the Pentagon. This could be seen as an utopia, a dream or David against Goliath type of confrontation. We live in a democratic State, so let’s use it for the benefit of the majority. We, as a democratic power by numbers, must become the POWER. We need a (new?) political party that will speak about the facts and realities of this world, and in particular about the great danger to human kind if we don’t adjust our lifestyle and economic growth with the sustainability of the world, including a minimally fair distribution of wealth throughout the world.

Does it mean going back to the horse power Age? NO! Oil provides a may to make very big benefits, very fast, and gives the Oil Peoples a lot of power. We hear ‘more money, more fun’; we should hear also the whole sentence: ‘MORE OIL, more money, more fun, MORE POWER, MORE OIL, ...’. If we would consider the development of a ‘CLEAN synthetic oil industry' based on COAL, OUR COAL(China, Russia, Europe and others could do the same), we would ease the world’s demand for Oil, promote fairness, stability and peace in the world while creating new economic opportunities. Why not then? The answer is, I believe, that our State is controlled by peoples that only want the very fast growth of wealth provided by Oil. I am talking about a minority of big benefiters that holds tightly political POWERS. What is wrong with these big benefiters? Nothing in general(suits and neckties), except for (secret) criminal promotion of violence, state destabilization, propaganda and the likes! They are bright, skilled, organized and only use their brain, their will and their efforts for maintaining their positions and advantages. THEY CALL IT ‘LIBERTY’.

What can we do then, WE, the people, DIVIDED, ill informed, manipulated, not organized, poor, unstable, occupied by the consumerist activities, or held up by beliefs, conformist forces, wealth and naïveté. A big puzzle, isn’t it? Although the task is titanic, we cannot forget the terribly ugly prospects of the current situation. Pollution, global warming, weather outrages, ice caps melting, sea levels rising, wildlife habitats lost and consequences, new epidemics, ugly war calamities, world political and economical instabilities, nuclear war threats, overpopulation, poverty in the Third World and in developed countries, to name the main few, are all contributing to a very very nasty, ugly future. There is only one solution: uniting our forces as ONE People(at least a majority), to be in the driving seat to make the right decisions for a better future for ALL. America has to lead the world, being the largest Oil user.

For the time being, we must struggle in Iraq and not engaged in any way except diplomacy about Iran(in fact engage in friendly and cooperative talks and exchanges) and at the same time, start programs for the development of alternatives(synthetic oil) to Middle East Oil, alternative energies, mass transportation systems, more efficient vehicles and other energy efficiency improvements. We have a window of 5 to 10 years in which we can turn around the status of our country and the world from a endangered to a more sustainable one. To achieve this goal, we need a State by the Majority, not just by a Few.

Picture this just for fun. What kind of effect would do 6 billions peoples planting 10(easy to compute) baby trees every years for the next 10 years. 6 X 10 X 10 X billion = 600,000,000,000. SIX HUNDRED BILLION TREES. WOW! THIS IS TITANIC TOO, the power of numbers! Adding paper recycling, conservation, and others wise new habits to that, would it reduce global warming and favorably impact on the future of HUMANITY? Well, .... In the mean time, we must thank and support all well intended Iraqi citizens, US Soldiers, other Soldiers and others Individuals involved in this terrible crisis, in particular Mr. Bert Stover, Chief Warrant Officer 2! WishRobby

Posted by: wishrobby | April 14, 2006 03:21 PM

I thank God for each and every brave man and woman in Iraq, who are defending our freedom and helping the Iraqi people to have a better life. I cannot imagine what you face each day but I do pray that God will be by your sides throughout each day and night to protect,comfort and keep you safe and strong in every way, mentally, physically and spiritually. Please know that we love you and support you,totally,and we not only pray for you but your families. May God bring each one home safely. Thank God for you all your comrades. Thank you for what you do each and every day.

Posted by: Lisa | June 12, 2006 08:15 AM

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