Where Life Is Cheap

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The depraved indifference regarding potential American civilian casualties displayed by the military officials responsible for last December’s fighter jet crash near San Diego prompted LRC reader Bill to describe “an incident in my early [military] career”:

“It was my responsibility to fly out to the carrier in the Pacific Ocean, take a helicopter and ride the cable down to the fantail of another ship to prepare for a visit from the then President of the United States and his Secretary of Defense.

While on board we were making a fueling run behind the carrier when a pilot had to eject from his aircraft. Many of us watched this event as I was up at the bow. We broke off the fueling run to go rescue the pilot. The swabbies were in the small boat preparing to lower it according to procedure when the Captain said very clearly to `just throw him a rope ladder.’

Unfortunately, the pilot had cinched his Mae West before removing his chute. He was promptly sucked into the cold water intakes of the ship and killed. We spent the night dead in the water while his body was being removed.

[Before dying] he spoke to me as he drifted by the bow and asked if we enjoyed the show. The local papers reported that he was DOA.

I hate incompetence in high places.”

8:19 pm on March 4, 2009