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Approaching from the Hawaii coast, the mosquito-shaped helicopter buzzed around the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie twice before swooping toward the landing pad. The U.S. Navy crew on the deck crouched, the helmeted faces betraying more than routine concern as the aircraft, flown by a pilot who had never before alighted upon a ship, hovered just off the tarmac and then set down with a thud.

Their trepidation was prompted by three words painted in black block letters on the fuselage: United States Army.

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