THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Tuesday, August 15, 1995 TAG: 9508150290 SECTION: FRONT PAGE: A6 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES DATELINE: WASHINGTON LENGTH: Short : 40 lines
The Air Force plans to announce today that it is effectively ending the careers of at least seven officers who initially were given slaps on the wrist for their role in the downing of two Army helicopters over Iraq last year.
The unusual action comes as the result of a growing anger by lawmakers, surviving family members and even senior military officials that no one had been held accountable for the incident that killed 26 people, including 15 Americans, April 14, 1994. This feeling intensified after the acquittal in June of the only person to face a court-martial in the accidental shooting, Capt. Jim Wang.
The Air Force is grounding the two F-15 fighter pilots who mistakenly shot down the U.S. helicopters and three officers on the radar plane who failed to prevent the incident. The five - including Wang - will be grounded for at least three years and will most likely be assigned to nonflying jobs.
The F-15 pilots being assigned desk jobs are Lt. Col. Randy May and Capt. Eric Wickson, who each shot down one helicopter. The radar plane controllers who have been grounded are Wang, Capt. Joseph Halcli and Lt. Ricky Wilson.
In addition to these five officers, critical evaluations of two generals were written. One is Brig. Gen. Jeffrey S. Pilkington, who was the commander of the operation in northern Iraq from his headquarters in Incirlik, Turkey. The other is Brig. Gen. Curtis Emery II, who was a colonel and Pilkington's top aide for air operations at the time of the incident. It was unclear on Monday if the Air Force would transfer them to other jobs or seek to demote them in retirement.
KEYWORDS: FRIENDLY FIRE U.S. AIRFORCE by CNB