Haitian-Born Black Hawk Pilot Joins Haiti Relief Operations

August 18, 2021Noelle Wiehe
Alix pilot

A viral photo of Alix Idrache, left, and a post he made on social media while heading to Haiti on a mission. Photo courtesy of DVIDS, screenshot from LinkedIn. Composite image by Matt White/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Haitian-born US Army pilot Alix Idrache, whose tear-streaked face at his US Military Academy graduation became an iconic image of an immigrant’s success, said on social media Monday, Aug. 16, that he was headed “back home” to Haiti in the wake of the massive earthquake that rocked the country Saturday.

His LinkedIn post reads: “11 years ago, I remember feeling powerless and simply watching the news wishing there was something I could do. Today, through a series of unlikely events and a rather unexpected journey, I’m in a position to help. I’m heading back home. All the hard work has paid and it has gone full circle.”

In an Aug. 16 LinkedIn post, Army Black Hawk pilot Alix Idrache — an immigrant from Haiti and a West Point graduate — said he was on his way “home” to help after the island nation suffered a major earthquake on Aug. 14, the second in 11 years.

It was unclear what role Idrache might play in Haiti, though several Army UH-60 Black Hawks — the helicopter Idrache flies — were part of a task force headed to the country, according to US Southern Command. Eight military helicopters will join a large Coast Guard contingent of ships and helicopters already working in and around the island nation. The 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck just off the coast of the Dominican Republic. Much of Haiti remains in tatters after a similar quake in 2010.

Mission Haiti
A Coast Guard aircrew member helps transport a critically injured child from a helicopter to awaiting emergency medical services in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Aug. 15, 2021. US Coast Guard photo by Lt. David Steele, courtesy of DVIDS.

Idrache emigrated from Haiti in 2009, joined the Maryland National Guard, and graduated from West Point in 2016 at the top of his class in physics. He became a Black Hawk pilot and started attending the Marine Expeditionary Warfare School at the Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia, in August 2020.

“I don’t like being comfortable at all,” Idrache told Coffee or Die Magazine in 2020. “I think growth and discomfort go hand in hand. So I just try to put myself in the most uncomfortable situations and meet the challenge.”

Read Next: American Dream: The Journey of a Haitian Immigrant Turned US Army Black Hawk Pilot

Noelle Wiehe
Noelle Wiehe

Noelle is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die through a fellowship from Military Veterans in Journalism. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and interned with the US Army Cadet Command. Noelle also worked as a civilian journalist covering several units, including the 75th Ranger Regiment on Fort Benning, before she joined the military as a public affairs specialist.

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