Here's a report on the "action" taken after the April 1994 Blackhawk Shootdown:
Black hawk incident "tragic series of errors".

by MSgt. Louis A. Arana-Barradas

Air Force News Service

WASHINGTON -- The events leading to the trial of Capt. Jim Wang were " a
"tragic series of errors" -- not one person's fault, Secretary of The Air
Force Sheila Widnall said June 20 1995.

Wang was acquitted at a court-martial of three counts of dereliction of duty
June 20 in connection with the April 14, 1994, accidental shootdown of two
Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters over northern Iraq.

Shot down by two Air Force F-15 fighters, the friendly fire incident claimed
the lives of 26 people.

Wang was the only person referred for court-martial. He was the senior
director of the mission crew on board the airborne warning and control
system aircraft the day of the incident.

"The Black Hawk helicopters were downed as a result of a tragic series of
errors and unfortunate events involving numerous people," Widnall said in a
press statement. "The mishap was not the result of any one individual's
actions; the conduct of numerous officers and the system itself

Wang's court-martial started June 2 at Tinker AFB, Okla., where he is
assigned to the 552nd Air Control Wing. By the time the 10-member board of
officers reached a verdict -- deliberating five hours -- more than 40 people
had testified.

Widnall said the Air Force had considered the "culpability of all
individuals involved" and did address personal responsibility and

At a Department of Defense press briefing the same day, Maj. Gen. Nolan
Sklute, Air Force judge advocate general, said, "My heart -- and I'm sure
all of our hearts-- goes out to the families involved in this incident.
Everyone in the Air Force's heart goes out to the family members.

"But an incident like this does not necessarily mean that the conduct of all
those involved rises to the level of criminal culpability," Sklute said.

In her statement, Widnall said Air Force officials conducted a series of
independent inquires and investigations under the Uniform Code of Military
Justice lasting nearly four months. Respective commanders reviewed the
evidence in making their individual determinations on individual

"It was determined that a number of Air Force officers, from the general
officer level on down, failed to carry out their duties responsibly,"
Widnall said in her statement.

As a result, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey S. Pilkington, who commanded the Provide
Comfort Combined Task Force that Wang was assigned to at the time of the
incident, received an official letter of admonishment for "his failure to
fulfill his responsibilities as a commander" and was reassigned.

Brig. Gen. Curtis H. Emery II was serving as commander of the Combined Air
Force Component at the time. He also received an official letter of
admonishment for "failure to maintain adequate control and aircraft
integration within the tactical area of responsibility."

Additionally, one officer received an Article 15 and five others received
letters of reprimand. The letters were all placed in unfavorable information
files, to remain there for two years.

Sklute said he was "completely satisfied" that proper procedures were
followed in the court-martial proceedings and the "rights of the individuals
were fully protected."

"I'm satisfied that the government had its opportunity to present its
evidence in the case of  . I'm satisfied that our Air Force
commanders worked long and hard in a very, very complex facts situation,"
Sklute said. "And I'm satisfied that they exercised their independent
judgment in arriving at the decisions they ultimately reached."

In her statement, Widnall said she appreciated "all who put forth a
considerable effort to ensure the issues in this case were fully and fairly

"I have full confidence in our system of military justice and firmly believe
that the interest of both the United States and Captain Wang were
professionally represented in the proceedings," Widnall said.

And another:

Air Force Grounds Pilots, Controllers Involved in Blackhawk Shootdown

WASHINGTON (AFNS) --The secretary of the Air Force approved the chief of staff's recommendations to remove from flying duties five officers involved in the April 1994 shootdown of two U.S. Army helicopters.

Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman also gave seven officers a letter of evaluation for "failure to meet Air Force standards in job knowledge, judgment and leadership." The evaluations, and any responses by the officers to them, will become a permanent part of each officer's record.

The two F-15 pilots--Lt. Col. Randy W. May and Capt. Eric Wickson--were taken off flying status for at least three years. Additionally, AWACS officers Capt. Jim Wang, Capt. Joseph M. Halcli and 1st Lt. Ricky L. Wilson were disqualified from controlling aircraft for three years.

Fogleman made a video in which he describes his views on standards and accountability. The video tape is mandatory viewing for all officers, senior NCOs and senior executive service members. Copies of the tape were sent to all Air Force agencies in August.

But is that the way it actually happened?

"Chain of Events: The Government Cover-Up of the Blackhawk Incident" presents a totally different picture. Author Joan Piper tells the story of her daughter, Lt Laura Piper, and of the family's battle with government bureaucracy.
Read for yourself the other side of the Blackhawk shootdown.

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Unless otherwise noted contents © 1996 to date by Captain Barbara A. Wilson, USAF (Ret)