U.S. Marine Corps pilots Maj. Brooks Gruber and Lt. Col. John Brow were incorrectly blamed as the primary cause of a V-22 Osprey crash that took their lives and killed 17 other Marines in April 2000, the Pentagon said Tuesday in an unusual reversal clearing the pilots’ names.Bob Work is a Marine...and a son of a bitch for that wording. "I cannot in good faith overlook that their actions..."
Gruber and Brow’s Osprey crashed in Marana, Ariz., on April 8, 2000, during a nighttime combat scenario test flight. At the time little was known about the limits of safe flight for the innovative tilt-rotor Osprey, which could perform like a helicopter and an airplane. The Osprey program was under intense pressure to show progress to avoid having its budget cut, and subsequent investigations by the Government Accountability Office found that the Navy reduced the amount of testing the Osprey’s primary contractor had to complete before pushing it into the military’s hands. After a second fatal Osprey crash later that year, the program was temporarily halted. It was declared operational seven years later.
The investigation immediately following the 2000 Marana crash found that decisions that Brow and Gruber made in their rate of descent and air speed before the crash were two of many factors leading to the accident. However when the Marines briefed the media that summer on the crash, “human errors” were characterized as being the primary “fatal factor” leading to the crash.
Those words have haunted the families ever since, and spurred a relentless fight by the pilots’ widows, Connie Gruber and Trish Brow, to clear their husbands’ names.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon officially stated that blame was inaccurately attributed in 2000.
“While I cannot in good faith overlook that their actions were the last in a long chain of events that ultimately caused the tragic events on April 8, 2000, I believe the links in the chain leading up to the crash made the accident – or one like it – probable, or perhaps inevitable,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work wrote in correspondence released by the Pentagon on Tuesday.
Just plain wow.
This all started way back when the Marine Corps was trying to get the Harrier. I can't find the quote but remember it well. The pilots that went to the UK to test the plane came back and briefed the Commandant on it. They did the right thing and laid out its pluses/minuses and what was the response they got? Be advised that I'm paraphrasing all this but they were told to tell Congress that the plane is perfect and that "we'll fix it once we get it".
The group of Marine Corps officer that were raised on that story are now in the highest parts of its leadership (extending back to the time of this accident all the way thru Amos' tenure). Unfortunately they passed that lesson on to those that came behind them and we're experiencing that thinking with the F-35.
The United States Marine Corps is a fine organization. But its flawed too. This fetish for air vehicles at any cost is one of its biggest missteps and something it needs to change.