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Aviator grounded by drunken driver (Army loses Aviators Skills to a Drunk Driver)
Sierra Vista Herald, Sierra Vista Arizona ^ | Bill Hess

Posted on 06/05/2006 5:34:28 PM PDT by SandRat

FORT HUACHUCA — Slightly more than three years ago Chief Warrant Officer Corey Lefebvre was heading to Fort Rucker, Ala.

He wasn’t going on duty. He was heading on post to pick up some milk and put gas in his vehicle. Around 7:30 p.m. — BAM — his life changed. He was hit by a drunken driver doing 75 mph.

After the wreck, Lefebvre saw his military career take a different path as the result of the crash.

Just a week away from graduation at the Army Aviation Center, the former enlisted soldier was heading toward a career as an Apache Longbow helicopter pilot.

The accident caused severe neck injuries that led to massive migrane-like headaches. The headaches led the Army to decide he could not be a pilot.

“They don’t want someone flying who gets a lot of headaches,” the 30-year-old said.

Orders to go to Germany with his wife, Heather, and six children Krysta, P.J., Aaron, Alyssa, Ashley and Deven, now 13, 12, 10, 7, 5 and 4, respectively, were canceled. Once in Germany, he was supposed to go to Iraq.

For years, the former Patriot missile system operator and maintainer wanted to be an Army aviator. His chance came when he put in is warrant officer package and was accepted for the program.

There is something about flying that gets into a person’s blood, Lefebvre said.

“Once you taste it you don’t want anything else. There’s that special feeling to leave the Earth. It’s a special freedom,” he said.

And having been chosen to fly the Army’s top helicopter gunship was an extra bonus.

“Flying at 140 knots, five feet over the trees was exhilarating. There’s a whole different view of the world as you float above it,” the chief warrant officer said.

He was in the first Apache Longbow class — he has 177 flight hours in the aircraft — and was excited to be part of a team that would help fine-tune tactics and put the aircraft through maneuvers in combat.

Going back to the day in May 2003 when he was hit by the drunken driver, a man who had a number of DUIs and other problems with the law, Lefebvre said the other driver initially was heading for him, then went around his vehicle, hitting him in the rear.

Lefebvre tried to maneuver out of the other driver’s way. But he was unsuccessful.

All the air bags in his car deployed as his vehicle spun 360 degrees. Smoke from the air bags filled the car.

The chief warrant officer was taken to a hospital, where the initial examination found nothing wrong.

“I was sent home with a bag of meds,” he said.

But his neck hurt and he had a headache for a couple of days, which he thought was normal.

The headaches became progressively worst.

“I had headaches every day for three or four months,” he said. “They tried everything, including acupuncture.”

He even went through chiropractic treatments.

He slowly saw some improvements and went back to duty, hoping he could resume his flying career.

But one day he was doing physical training when suddenly he passed out.

“On the run, I think I jerked my head around,” he said. “When I woke up I had a headache.”

He again went through a series of headaches.

As a father of six children, there was always a lot of horseplay in the home. But he no longer could do so with his children.

“I couldn’t even pick up my youngest (who was about 1 at the time),” he said.

As he continued to recuperate, the only flying he did was from a desk, assisting the chief of staff at the Army Aviation Center.

As the days went by, the 13-year Army veteran realized his time in a cockpit was not to be. He feared his flying career over before it really began, as well as his time in the Army possibly being at an end.

“I was concerned the Army might not let me continue if I couldn’t be 100 percent,” he said.

When the Army Aviation Center recently became the proponent for unmanned aerial systems, Lefebvre saw another opportunity to be involved in a different aspect of military.

He transferred to Fort Huachuca where the Army UAS Training Center is located. The center recently transferred from the Military Intelligence Branch to the Aviation Branch.

Lefebvre and a few other warrant officers are being trained on post to become platoon leaders for the Army’s growing pilotless plane program.

Fort Huachuca will continue to be the training arena for soldiers learning to fly and maintain the aircraft, primarily Shadows. The Army is looking forward to larger aircraft in the future, such as the Warrior, which is like the Air Force’s Predator. The aircraft can carry munitions.

On Fort Huachuca, he is a member of the Unmanned Aerial Systems Training Battalion (Provisional).

“I still got to stay in aviation. I get to go on with my career,” said Lefebvre, who will soon be heading to Iraq as a UAS platoon leader.

Born in Louisiana and raised in Alabama, Lefebvre laughs easily as he remembers a day in June 2005.

On that day, Brig. Gen. E.J. Sinclair, commander of the Army Aviation Center, pinned Army aviator wings on Lefebvre’s uniform.

The general said Lefebvre completed all the requirements to be a pilot except a couple of administrative issues and deserved the wings.

Later that day, Lefebvre received official orders permanently grounding him from flight status.

“Pinned and grounded on the same day,” he said with a laugh.

Herald/Review senior reporter Bill Hess can be reached at 515-4615 or by e-mail at bill.hess@svherald.com.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; US: Arizona
KEYWORDS: army; aviator; driver; drunken; grounded; wreck

Chief Warrant Officer Corey Lefebvre stands in front of the Unmanned Aerial Systems Training Center on Fort Huachuca. (Bill Hess-Herald/Review)

Please don't Drink and Drive You Just May be Helping Al Qaeda if you Do.

1 posted on 06/05/2006 5:34:31 PM PDT by SandRat
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To: StarCMC; Bethbg79; bentfeather; EsmeraldaA; MoJo2001; Kathy in Alaska; Brad's Gramma; ...

Story of a very determined soldier and a very special safety message.


2 posted on 06/05/2006 5:35:56 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: SandRat

Where is the smoking gun website on this?


3 posted on 06/05/2006 5:37:59 PM PDT by kinoxi
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To: SandRat

Damn, just damn! What a waste.


4 posted on 06/05/2006 5:37:59 PM PDT by oxcart (Journalism [Sic])
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To: SandRat

He should see another chiropractor and also see a good osteopath


5 posted on 06/05/2006 5:42:53 PM PDT by dennisw (We should return to calling them Muhammadans -- Worshippers of Muhammad and maybe Allah)
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To: SandRat
a man who had a number of DUIs and other problems with the law

The legal system has been too lenient on this evil scumbag.

6 posted on 06/05/2006 6:20:30 PM PDT by grundle
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To: SandRat
Thank you, CWO Lefebvre, for your continued service to our country despite the drunk driver who tried to end your career.


7 posted on 06/05/2006 7:07:18 PM PDT by Kathy in Alaska (~ www.ProudPatriots.org ~ Operation 4th of July ~)
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To: Kathy in Alaska

You almost need tissues to read that story.


8 posted on 06/05/2006 7:08:36 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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