Chris's Rants

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Priorities II

Navy Pilots Who Rescued Victims Are Reprimanded - New York Times (emphasis mine):
PENSACOLA, Fla., Sept. 6 - Two Navy helicopter pilots and their crews returned from New Orleans on Aug. 30 expecting to be greeted as lifesavers after ferrying more than 100 hurricane victims to safety.

Instead, their superiors chided the pilots, Lt. David Shand and Lt. Matt Udkow, at a meeting the next morning for rescuing civilians when their assignment that day had been to deliver food and water to military installations along the Gulf Coast.

'I felt it was a great day because we resupplied the people we needed to and we rescued people, too,' Lieutenant Udkow said. But the air operations commander at Pensacola Naval Air Station 'reminded us that the logistical mission needed to be our area of focus.'


The next morning, though, the two crews were called to a meeting with Commander Holdener, who said he told them that while helping civilians was laudable, the lengthy rescue effort was an unacceptable diversion from their main mission of delivering supplies. With only two helicopters available at Pensacola to deliver supplies, the base did not have enough to allow pilots to go on prolonged search and rescue operations.

"We all want to be the guys who rescue people," Commander Holdener said. "But they were told we have other missions we have to do right now and that is not the priority."
I'm glad that the Commander has his priorities straight. The larger question looming in all of this is, why the hell were there only two helicopters? Haven't we been told repeatedly that the quagmire in Mess-o-potamia hadn't diminished our capacity to defend ourselves here at home? Why weren't more resources, such as helicopters and flight crews pre-positioned at the base?

See, normally, this would be considered going above and beyond the call of duty. After all, they did, according to the article, deliver the supplies as ordered in addition to rescuing 110 people at risk of losing their lives. These guys should be receiving medals, instead, they were grounded.


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