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Air Force dismissing charges against Harry Schmidt (A victory for a real "Top Gun")
AP ^

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 ...

TOPICS: Canada; Constitution/Conservatism; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: friendlyfire; harryschmidt; justice; topgun; usaf
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To: dennisw

Oh, let him stay. If we kick him out, he'll be stuck with having to hang with Canadian liberals. That's a fate to cruel to comprehend.

41 posted on 07/06/2004 4:16:02 PM PDT by Tribune7
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To: Tribune7

bump to read later

42 posted on 07/06/2004 4:22:35 PM PDT by meema
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To: Tribune7

bump to read later

43 posted on 07/06/2004 4:22:36 PM PDT by meema
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Comment #44 Removed by Moderator

Comment #45 Removed by Moderator

To: Windsong
After looking at a lot of media reports, many of them slanted one way or the other and non of which told the whole story, these are the facts I've been able to dig out;
The Canadians -
Asked for and received permission to hold a highly unusual night live-fire exercise (in a combat area!),
Didn't have any IFF equipment, didn't ask for any and weren't offered any by U.S. forces,
Used red flares as identification (as per Canadian practice) instead of red beacons (as per U.S. practice) and didn't bother inquire of U.S. forces if this would be acceptable,
Had a problem with ricochets (buried in Candian General Baril's official report) - they were using rocket propelled grenades,
Had Canadian forces personal posted in the Kandahar Control Tower with a direct line to the exercise area but failed to cease fire for overflying aircraft in a timely manner at least once before during the exercise,
The Americans -
The Army gave permission for the exercise but didn't pass on the information to the Air Force,
The Air Force, in the preflight briefing given to Majors Umbach and Schmidt, included the possibility of a large force of Taliban near Kandahar Airport (a vital military target),
No mention of the Canadian exercise was made in the briefing,
Routed their flight over Tarnak Farms (never done during live-fire exercises in order to avoid exactly what happened),
The Pilots -
After completing their mission over Kabul were descending through 20,000 ft. ASL, had stowed their night vision equipment and turned on their navigation lights in preparation for their pending refueling,
While over Tarnak Farms (Kandahar Airport is 3300 ft. ASL and Tarnak Farms is just a couple of miles away) the Canadians resumed firing which caught the pilots completely by surprise,
After recovering from their surprise Majors Umbach and Schmidt immediately called their AWACS controllers and asked who was firing while turning off their nav lights and putting their night vision gear back on,
After calling on the Guard frequency, calling AWACS again (who was frantically trying to determine who was firing at Tarnak Farms) Manor Schmidt asked for permission to make a strafing run with his 20MM cannon to suppress the ground fire (a standard procedure),
He was denied permission and did not make the strafing run,
Major Umbach called Major Schmidt and told him to they might be friendlies,
Several minutes after the pilots' frantic initial calls AWACS still didn't know who was on the ground firing,
Major Umbach had descended and was attempting to identify the forces on the ground,
Major Schmidt observed several persons on the ground with what appeared to be artillery,
Major Umbach reported his infrared sensors showing "heat plooms" up to 10,000 ft (ASL),
[note: small arms fire is lethal up to about 2 statute miles - 10,500 ft.]
Major Umbach then reported that the ground fire was "leading him" (a standard tactic when attempting to shoot down an aircraft),
It was then that Major Schmidt called AWACS and reported he was "rolling in in self defense",
AWACS replied "roger, rolling in in self defense",
Major Schmidt reported that he had released his bomb,
AWACS replied with permission to do so,
Shortly before the bomb hit AWACS called "friendlies Kandahar - hold fire" or words to that effect,
It was too late.

Based on these facts and the qualifications of Majors Umbach and Schmidt I have to believe that what happened was a tragic accident caused by incompetence at a much higher level than the rank of Major. Major Schmidt's primary responsibility was to protect his flight leader and when Major Umbach reported that he was "being led" by the ground fire Major Schmidt acted exactly as he was supposed to. Had he not done so and Major Umbach had been shot down Major Schmidt would have been guilty of much worse.

By the way, my wife and I are from Colorado but now live in Ontario (and are dual citizens). Many Canadians feel the same way I do - don't let the biased Canadian media fool you. I also earned my PPL here. Canadian licenses are among the most respected in the world and the flight training is second to none. Finally, Heaven didn't help at all - the Liberals won again but at least won't have a majority government.
46 posted on 07/16/2004 9:29:06 PM PDT by Don QN
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To: Don QN

thank you for that wonderful moment of sober factual comment. You are a breath of fresh air compared to the rest of the nameless arrogant users of this space.

I have one question: Did Major harry schmidt ever apologize to anyone for the results of his hasty actions?

47 posted on 04/09/2006 7:10:15 PM PDT by rudyman (Did Major harry schmidt ever apologize for the result of his hurried actions?)
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