Thursday, July 08, 2004

That's right .. you're the victim here

Friendly fire pilot will appeal and sue.

So, poor Major Harry Schmidt had his privacy violated. Were his widdle feelings hurt by the judge's ruling that he demonstrated arrogance and a lack of flight discipline?

This is nauseatingly reminiscent of a training accident which occurred at Fort Drum a few years ago. A toxic mix of arrogance, negligence, and human and mechanical errors resulted in the deaths of two soldiers. During a live fire exercise, two rounds of artillery went dramatically off course, and landed in a mess tent at the edge of the impact zone.

The battery commander, CD, was not the only one at fault. I believe that the final report cited no less than 38 factors which contributed to this tragedy. However, CD's actions did contribute to the deaths of two men.

I had met CD once before the incident. He and his wife came to dinner at our house a few years ago. Now, I love to entertain dinner guests. The army is a microcosm of society, and it is full of interesting characters. I am constantly nagging encouraging Steve to bring people home for dinner.

CD is the only person I have ever barred from my dinner table.

A few months after the incident, we went out for lunch at our favourite Watertown restaurant, The Apollo. The food is great, and it is usually a GI-free zone. Usually. In came CD and his wife. Steve tried to avoid eye contact, but it was too late. CD made a beeline for our table.

"Did you hear what happened to me?" he asked.

Steve played dumb. My husband doesn't suffer fools, but he's smart enough and gracious enough not to remind people of their screwups in a public place. Unfortunately, this tactic did not work in this case. CD proceded to rant about how he was getting screwed over in the course of the official investigation. It was all about him. Not once, in the course of his diatribe, did he even mention that two men were dead. Not once, did I get any inkling that he felt anything resembling regret or remorse for their deaths. I was stunned and speechless.

CD is no longer in the army. I believe his plan was to go to law school. How appropriate. If I ever need a bloodsucking amoral vampire lawyer, he'll be the first one I'll call.

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