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Friendly fire' pilot given reprimand and fine

Scoobie Newbie

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[ Original Article ]


The commander in charge of an administrative hearing said that the U.S. fighter pilot who mistakenly dropped a bomb that killed Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan "acted shamefully" and found him guilty of dereliction of duty, according to a written statement released by the U.S. air force Tuesday.

Maj. Harry Schmidt, 37, faced four charges of dereliction of duty. He had been scheduled for a court martial, but recently agreed to an administrative hearing instead.

Lt.-Gen. Bruce Carlson, the commander of the 8th Air Force, handed Schmidt a letter of reprimand and ordered him to forfeit almost $5,700 in pay.

In addition, Schmidt will longer be allowed to fly Air Force planes, but can continue to serve in the Illinois Air National Guard.

In his written decision, Carlson said Schmidt was guilty of "exhibiting arrogance and a lack of flight discipline."

"I was astounded that you portrayed yourself as a victim of the disciplinary process without expressing heartfelt remorse over the deaths and injuries you caused to the members of the Canadian Forces," he wrote.

Carlson wrote that if Schmidt believed, as he stated in his defence, that he and his wingman Maj. William Umbach were threatened, he should have taken a series of evasive actions and remained at a safe distance to await further instructions from the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft controller, who directed Schmidt to "stand by" and later to "hold fire."

Instead, Carlson wrote, "you used the inherent right of self-defence as an excuse to wage your own war."

On April 18, 2002, Schmidt dropped a 225-kilogram bomb on a group of Canadian soldiers engaged in a night-time live-fire training exercise, killing four soldiers and injuring another eight.

Sgt. Marc Leger, Pte. Richard Green, Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer and Pte. Nathan Smith were killed in the explosion. Eight others were injured. The men were all members of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. They were the first Canadian troops to be killed on duty since the Korean War.

Schmidt said that he dropped the bomb because he thought Taliban soldiers were firing on him from the ground.

Canadian and American inquiries found that Schmidt acted too hastily in his decision to drop the bomb. The U.S. investigation said he should have left the area instead of dropping the bomb.

Schmidt and Umbach were originally charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault and faced up to 64 years in prison.

Those charges were later dropped against Schmidt, who was offered administrative punishment rather than a court martial. At that time, he refused, saying he wanted to clear his name.

Military officials suggested he be tried for dereliction of duty.

All charges were dismissed against Umbach, 44, a United Airlines pilot. He was given a letter of reprimand and allowed to retire, as he had requested.

 

Bruce Monkhouse

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Much as a sense of outrage in me wants more, I must take solace in the fact that he won't fly again.
We can go into the whole argument again but that still leaves us 4 wonderful souls short and nothing will change that.
I also must console myself that I believe that if he thought for a second that they were our troops he would have peeled off.
Godspeed and fast healing to those they leave behind.
Bruce
 

Michael Dorosh

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The letter itself is a doozy - this guy sounds some pissed....

Following is the text of a letter of reprimand issued Tuesday by Lt.-Gen. Bruce Carlson of the United States 8th Air Force to fighter pilot Maj. Harry Schmidt, who dropped a bomb that killed four Canadian soldiers and injured eight others in April 2002 in Afghanistan:

"You are hereby reprimanded. You flagrantly disregarded a direct order from the controlling agency, exercised a total lack of basic flight discipline over your aircraft, and blatantly ignored the applicable rules of engagement and special instructions. Your wilful misconduct directly caused the most egregious consequences imaginable, the deaths of four coalition soldiers and injury to eight others. The victims of your callous misbehaviour were from one of our staunch allies in Operation Enduring Freedom and were your comrades-in-arms.

"You acted shamefully on 17 April 2002 over Tarnak Farms, Afghanistan, exhibiting arrogance and a lack of flight discipline. When your flight lead warned you to "make sure it's not friendlies" and the Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft controller directed you to "stand by" and later to "hold fire," you should have marked the location with your targeting pod. Thereafter, if you believed, as you stated, you and your leader were threatened, you should have taken a series of evasive actions and remained at a safe distance to await further instructions from AWACS. Instead, you closed on the target and blatantly disobeyed the direction to "hold fire." Your failure to follow that order is inexcusable. I do not believe you acted in defence of Maj. Umbach or yourself. Your actions indicate that you used your self-defence declaration as a pretext to strike a target, which you rashly decided was an enemy firing position, and about which you had exhausted your patience in waiting for clearance from the Combined Air Operations Center to engage. You used the inherent right of self-defence as an excuse to wage your own war.

"In your personal presentation before me on 1 July 2004, I was astounded that you portrayed yourself as a victim of the disciplinary process without expressing heartfelt remorse over the deaths and injuries you caused to the members of the Canadian Forces. In fact, you were obviously angry that the United States Air Force had dared to question your actions during the 17 April 2002 tragedy. Far from providing any defence for your actions, the written materials you presented to me at the hearing only served to illustrate the degree to which you lacked flight discipline as a wingman of COFFEE Flight on 17 April 2002.

"Through your arrogance, you undermined one of the most sophisticated weapons systems in the world, consisting of the Combined Air Operations Center, the Airborne Warning and Control System, and highly disciplined pilots, all of whom must work together in an integrated fashion to achieve combat goals. The United States Air Force is a major contributor to military victories over our nation's enemies because our pilots possess superior flight discipline. However, your actions on the night of 17 April 2002 demonstrate an astonishing lack of flight discipline. You were blessed with an aptitude for aviation, your nation provided you the best aviation training on the planet, and you acquired combat expertise in previous armed conflicts. However, by your gross poor judgment, you ignored your training and your duty to exercise flight discipline, and the result was tragic. I have no faith in your abilities to perform in a combat environment.

"I am concerned about more than your poor airmanship; I am also greatly concerned about your officership and judgment. Our Air Force core values stress "integrity first." Following the engagement in question, you lied about the reasons why you engaged the target after you were directed to hold fire and then you sought to blame others. You had the right to remain silent, but not the right to lie. In short, the final casualty of the engagement over Kandahar on 17 April 2002 was your integrity."

 

Scoobie Newbie

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The US airforce says he will never fly again and I think thats best for everyone involved.
 

Jarnhamar

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Thanks for posting that Michael.  Your post really humbled me too Bruce..


After reading that "repremand" how can this guy NOT be punished something more strict?

You were blessed with an aptitude for aviation, your nation provided you the best aviation training on the planet, and you acquired combat expertise in previous armed conflicts.

Michael where did you find that letter? That repremand sounds really weird to me for some reason. (Then again i've never got one heh)
The repremand  almost sounds staged, like  ohh look were being really mean on him saying bad things so everything is fine now.
It just kinda seems staged or made for everyone to see it if you know what i mean..
 

Scoobie Newbie

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http://sympaticomsn.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1089142017405_84551217?hub=TopStories

pilot has no remorse and is appealing the descion.
 

casing

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I still don't understand why one of the punishments wasn't getting turfed on his ass out of the Air Force with a dishonourable discharge.  He's closer to the end of his flying days than the start, anyway.  The punishment is not severe enough.  Especially considering his attitude about the whole thing.  Disgraceful!
 

stukirkpatrick

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Taken from http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1845&ncid=1845&e=3&u=/cpress/20040707/ca_pr_on_na/us_cda_friendly_fire

..."Sgt. Lorne Ford, who lost an eye and suffered other wounds from the bombing, has not often agreed to talk about what happened, but he spoke Wednesday to say he was also upset at word of the appeal.

"It doesn't surprise me the little weasel is going to try to get out of it again," Ford told CFRN-TV in Edmonton.

Ford said he was pleased with the strong language of the reprimand, but wasn't sure it would have an effect on Schmidt.

"I hope somebody reads the reprimand word for word to that remorseless p***k because I don't think he would read it. I think he would just shove it aside and he doesn't care," Ford said.

"I felt that as soon as I walked into the court house that first day and I saw him. He had a smug look on his face and all the families picked up on that."

-quote edited for language
 

Jarnhamar

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I saw his wife on TV. Oh he's being railroaded, he's being made the scape goat. He's sorry, it still keeps him up at night.
You used the inherent right of self-defence as an excuse to wage your own war.
Following the engagement in question, you lied about the reasons why you engaged the target after you were directed to hold fire and then you sought to blame others

I still don't understand how that reprimand can be so harsh obviously indicating that this guy fucked up, and get off with what he did.
It's like saying 'Your guilty of murder and your too stupid to even pretend you feel remorseful, so heres a slap on the wrist".

I've heard people argue. 'Well he's never going to fly again, thats punishment enough!'.
Thats not punishment, thats normal. If i bust open a door without thinking as an infantry soldier and hose down the room with gunfire killing a bunch of civilians am I going to be carrying a rifle ever again? I doubt it.  If I'm an MP and I pull someone over, shoot them in the face and then say hands up don't move i doubt i'll be driving a patrol car again.

Now he's trying to appeal the decision. I hope they get fed up with his BS and throw the book at him.  Better yet give him an M16 and send him to the Marines or Army for some patrolling in Iraq. I bet he wouldn't look so smug then.

 

Scoobie Newbie

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If he bombed a bunch of allied local militia's we would have never heard a peep.  Shit happens in the fog of war. 
Hopefully everyone learns from this.
 

girlfiredup

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Now he's decided to sue the air force.

http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2004/07/08/world/schmidt040708
 

McG

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The "administrative hearing" sounds a lot like a summary trial in the Canadian military.  Is there anyone out there that is qualified to compare the two for those of us not knowledgeable of the US military justice system.
 

bossi

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I have the utmost respect for the USAF general who wrote that letter
(it was published again today in the Toronto Star).
Text of Letter, An Excuse To Wage Your Own War

Based on remarks from a colleague who has heard much of the evidence first-hand, the USAF general has accurately summed up the actions of the pilot, and also delivered a reminder about "honour".

The letter is scathing, but a reminder that true warriors must follow a higher code of conduct.
 

tabernac

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What kind of person would show no remorse to the victims and their families, and then sue the USAF for releasing "damaging" information? He caused so much hurt and damage to the families of the soldiers, yet he states that he doesn't care about the families? I have more choice words against him, but I'm sure you all know what they are.

I have the utmost respect for the USAF general who wrote that letter.
As do I


:cdn:
 
S

SFontaine

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If he bombed a bunch of allied local militia's we would have never heard a peep.

Whenever a member of the US Military kills large numbers of any sort of innocent/allied men, women or children it's normally a big deal. Case in point, the accidental killing of 9 civilians in Afghanistan by a US Warplane, in an attempt to kill an AQ Lieutenant.
 

shaboing

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I'd just like to point 2 things out, I'm sure we all know the whole Todd Bertuzzi incident.... he can get up to 18 months jailtime and the guy he hit is living and is expected to get back into hockey. now compare that to the severity of the friendly fire incident.....

also i would like to add that if it was a Canadian pilot who bombed Americans how do you think the verdict would change. i bet the US would see to it that it was way more then 1 weeks pay and early retirement with a pension.
 

Ex-Dragoon

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I am in the wrong military if USAF pilots get paid over 5000 a week. I think you need to get your figures checked if you think it was only a weeks pay.
 

shaboing

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cmon, you took that literally, i was being sarcastic. but 5600 or whatever isn't really a whole lot.
 

Jarnhamar

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also i would like to add that if it was a Canadian pilot who bombed Americans how do you think the verdict would change.

This is a really good question.  What do you think would happen if a Canadian pilot bombed an american company?

I think the americans would accept that friendlies died because of the 'fog od war' and be thankful to have canadial support in the war while I think the Canadian goverment would make  a HUGE example out of the pilot upto and including jailtime and a dishonourable discharge for "waging his own war".
 
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