Skip to comments.Air Force dismissing charges against Harry Schmidt (A victory for a real "Top Gun")
Posted on 06/24/2004 8:12:19 PM PDT by Pukin Dog
The Air Force has decided not to court-martial a U.S. fighter pilot who mistakenly dropped a 500-pound, laser-guided bomb that killed four Canadians in Afghanistan in 2002. Maj. Harry Schmidt, 37, will face nonjudicial punishment and four dereliction-of-duty charges against him will be dismissed in court, the Air Force said Thursday. He could face punishment including 30 days confinement or loss of one month's pay, about $5,600, Air Force spokeswoman Col. Alvina Mitchell said.
Schmidt, a 1983 graduate of Vianney High School in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood, Mo., originally was charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault and faced up to 64 years in prison. Military officials recommended against a court-martial on those charges last June, saying Schmidt could face nonjudicial punishment instead. Schmidt turned down the offer, saying he wanted to clear his name in a court-martial instead. He was ordered to be tried on the lesser charge of dereliction of duty. But the agreement announced Thursday meant the dereliction charges will be pursued in a lesser, nonjudicial forum, beginning July 1. Schmidt's lawyer, Charles W. Gittins, said the Air Force has agreed to allow him to remain employed with the Illinois Air National Guard, but not as a pilot. Gittins said his client did not want to fly for the Air Force anymore because he feels he has been "second guessed in a combat situation by people sitting back in the air-conditioned comfort of the Pentagon."
Schmidt was charged for dropping the bomb from his fighter jet on April 17, 2002, near Kandahar, killing four and wounding eight Canadian soldiers who were conducting live-fire exercises. The victims were the first Canadians to die in combat since the Korean War. Schmidt later said he released the bomb because he mistook the Canadians' gunfire for an attack from Taliban soldiers. A military investigation found that Schmidt should have flown out of the area instead. The case against Schmidt and his mission commander, Maj. William Umbach, has been closely watched in Canada, where many were outraged by the bombing and the two days it took President Bush to publicly apologize.
Manslaughter and aggravated assault charges against Umbach were dismissed and he was allowed to retire, as he had requested. Agatha Dyer, mother of Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, 25, who was killed in the bombing, said word of the decision made her "very sad." "He should get some penalty because he was at fault. He didn't obey orders. My heart is broken," Dyer said from her home in Montreal. Schmidt had transferred to the National Guard in 2000 after a decorated career as a Navy pilot and an instructor at the Navy's "Top Gun" fighter pilot school.
(Excerpt) Read more at stltoday.com ...
The Canadian troops were in a designated weapons training area adjoining, or in close proximity, to Kandahar. They were on an approved live fire exercise ... this "hot dog" pilot with an itchy trigger finger wasn't thinking clearly. Why in the hell would the Taliban fire tracer rounds (at night) at high flying aircraft? It would bring about instant annihilation, either from artillery at Kandahar or from the aircraft they were shooting at ... this "greatest warrior" of yours has crap for brains.
Lord, what a f'ing way to die.
Well, commanding officers, NCO and troopers are responsible of their decisions in a battlefield. While there are many circumstances when nobody can be blamed for such unfortunate tragedies, there are some when a clear and grave mistake has been made.
Fellow Freeper Mr. Burns says that the Canadian unit had signaled its position, but nobody told the controlling AWACS Schmidt was relying on during his patrol mission. If that's what happened, then IMHO is is a grave mistake we can't discard by saying that "sh*t happens and it's probably the Canadians' fault anyway".
If a soldier must never be judged because he's putting his life at risk for others, then there should not be any court-martial nor any need for military justice. But if that is what happened (I mean, the AWACS not being told about the Canadian unit), Schmidt should not be the one taking the fall, because he seems to have acted rationally according to the parameters he was given.
Weren't Canadian troops bombed by a F-18 during Gulf War 1 ? I do remember there were Marine light assault vehicles bombed because they resembled Iraqi vehicles, but I do seem to recall there was a similar incident with Canadian troops.
I suppose you mean 'get' over it?
The premise is not possible. First, because Canadian pilots suck so much they would almost certainly miss. Second, Canada is not one of our allies anymore from a tactical sense. We could not count of them for any form of defense mission. Their military is a complete waste of space. Being a civilian now, I can say what I could not when I was still flying. The Canadian military is utterly incompetent.
Oh, you were a pilot ? What birds did you fly ?
Actually, early on, I was with the pilot ... until the story began to unfold as more details emerged. This was a major F***Up on this pilots part; what little remorse he has shown had more to do with the fact he now has a "blemish" on his record. Anyone familiar with the "jet jock" ego syndrome knows how they feel about screwing something up. Allen Shepard sitting atop a rocket on his first space flight, just seconds before launch, muttered the prayer "Please Lord don't let me f*** this up".
I don't think anybody here really believes that.
I think, however, there is some resentment that Schmidt was facing criminal charges -- and a possible 64 years in jail -- for the perceived purpose of diplomatic expediency.
I think it's pretty safe to say we'd be satisfied with an apology and an explanation. I'd be shocked if U.S. troops had never been killed by allied friendly fire. I can't recall us ever making an issue of it.
I can understand it, particularly if Schmidt was acting in good faith but on bad intel...
The way Mr Burns explains it, Schmidt was not given any info about a possible Allied unit there by its AWACS controller.
SO if there is a blame to lay on someone, I guess it should be either on the AWACS team (if they had knowledge of the Canadian unit being there), on the guys who fed the AWACS team info (if they failed to signal the AWACS about the Canadian unit), or on the Canadians themselves (if they failed to signal their presence there).
Whatever the cause of the tragedy, this kind of thing just conjure bad blood between the two armies.
Thanks for posting. French conservatives must be encouraged :-)
This doesn't even deserve an answer, but I'll give you one anyway. Bug off, troll.
Get lost, puke!
LOL. There have been a lot of people killing American troops with intent and all CNN has done offer the killers their sympathy.
The simple fact is, Schmidt f*cked up.
And you want him charged with murder.
I assure you the military personnel are not the idiots you ignorant morons think they are.
I'm sure those who make up Canada's military are the best Canada has to offer.
America is NOT the center of the world.
It takes a smart Canadian to understand that they are not America
Most of the world hates America.
I guess that's why most of them are trying to move in with us. How many Americans emigrate to your bumpy, burger-shaped land compared to the Canadians who want to come down here with us? Hey, did you know Wayne Gretzky is a U.S. citizen? Pretty cool, eh.
You need to get rid of that idiot President . .
Oh, I think we'll keep him.
. No terrorists will attack you if you stop screwing with their countries.
No terrorists will attack you guys because most of them don't even know you exist.
Your Canadian Friend Ruutu.
With friends like you who needs Iraqis.
'British and Canadian troops join the military after they already have a university degree or technical diploma / trade. That's why you never hear of Canadian soldiers degrading prisoners of war by making them pose naked, because they aren't savage retards who joined to "shoot stuff"'
Check your history. Somalia ring a bell? All Naval aviators/AF aviators are college grads.
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