THE LEDGER-STAR Copyright (c) 1994, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Tuesday, November 22, 1994 TAG: 9411220782 SECTION: FRONT PAGE: A10 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: ASSOCIATED PRESS DATELINE: BONN, GERMANY LENGTH: Short : 43 lines
A U.S. Air Force investigator has recommended dropping charges against Lt. Col. Randy W. May, an F-15 pilot facing court-martial for shooting down a U.S. helicopter over Iraq, the military announced today.
Air Force sources said they expected the recommendation by Col. Edward M. Starr would be followed by May's commanding officer, Maj. Gen. Eugene D. Santarelli.
May, 41, was the subject this month of an Article 32 proceeding, the equivalent of a grand jury hearing, for his role in the April 14 downing of two Black Hawk helicopters in northern Iraq. He faced 26 charges of negligent homicide and two of dereliction of duty.
Twenty-six people - 15 Americans, military officers from Britain, France and Turkey, and five Kurdish workers - were killed in one of the U.S. military's deadliest friendly fire episodes.
A military judge in Oklahoma has recommended that an Air Force radar plane officer be court-martialed in the downing of the two helicopters. The judge recommended that another crewman aboard the AWACS plane receive administrative punishment, and that charges be dismissed against three others.
The AWACS officers are accused of failing to warn May and another jet pilot that U.S. helicopters were in the area. The military was patrolling the air space above Iraqi Kurdistan to enforce a U.N.-ordered ban on Iraqi military flights.
May and Capt. Eric A. Wickson, who shot down the second helicopter, mistook the Blackhawks for Iraqi Hinds violating the no-fly area. May and Wickson belong to the 53rd Fighter Squadron based at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany.
Wickson, who fired the first deadly missile, has admitted inexperience in intercepting low-level aircraft. He did not face a disciplinary hearing.
KEYWORDS: U.S AIRFORCE HOMICIDE MURDER PILOT FRIENDLY FIRE by CNB