Investigation of Okinawa crash of Dec 2018
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  1. #1

    Investigation of Okinawa crash of Dec 2018

    This is my first in the Aviation forum. My participation has been limited to the Parent forum "Recruit dad here." My son is currently assigned to VMA-542 at Cherry Point. When I began that thread, even though I am an AF vet, I was very ignorant and, frankly, nervous about my son's prospects. Long story short, the response that thread got was amazing.

    So now I need some input to help me organize my own thinking. A brief summary of the matter...Two F-18's were doing night refueling over the Sea of Japan. One of them hit the tanker. Both of them crashed. All crew of the tanker perished, The F-18 pilots ejected, one of who was rescued and the other died in the water 12 hours later.

    https://www.propublica.org/article/m...cific-resilard

    This is a link to an article related to a journalistic investigation. I am posting this, looking for feedback. I already am planning to get in front of my Congressman.

    It is pretty long...there is a You Tube video embedded. Here is a direct link to that,

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=lOUp6DcPfAo

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  2. #2
    Squad Leader Platinum Member Zulu 36's Avatar
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    I can't really speak to what happened with 242. Too many years have gone by since my time in.

    I did serve in VMA-211, then an A-4E squadron. We were sent to Vietnam in May 1972 as a response to the NVA's Easter Offensive. Although I was a truck driver temporarily assigned to the squadron while we had been TAD to Naha, Okinawa, an admin glitch did not send me back to the regular motor pool.

    So, when the commanding officer of 211 found out, he pulled strings and got me officially assigned to 211 nominally as his driver. Actually, I did a lot of stuff except drive him.

    211 was seriously undermanned in the maintenance area. However, most of the mechs we had were experienced and many of the senior ones had done tours in Vietnam before. We had a full stable of pilots, most fairly experienced. Most of the time we got the parts needed, as needed, although hanger queens were designated at times and cannibalized.

    The aviation ordinance shop was hurting for people worse than the other shops, so I was often assigned to help them load bombs, etc. All grunt work for me, the trained ordies did the more technical stuff. Other non-aviation guys took turns out there too, like the S-1 admin clerks. Sometimes, I was sent to help F-Troop, the plane captain shop. I helped them prep the birds for flight. As I got some experience, I was allowed to do more technical stuff, like pull the chocks, then I got to do the hand signals to the pilot to check his controls, guide him out of the bunker, and "launch" him. The real plane captain stood right next to me and made certain everything was correct.

    Despite a shortage of mechs, we hit our FragO everyday, never missed.

    One big difference between a 1972 VMA-211 and a 2018 VMFA-242 was the A-4s flown by 211 were not night capable aircraft. Sure they could fly at night, and did, but not for combat purposes. Our pilots flew a little at night to keep their qualifications up, but it was essentially, take off, fly high in the sky, fly circles until time to come home. Maybe 1.5 hours just after dusk a few times per month.

    So, I think a shortage of mechs is not insurmountable as long as the mechs present are experienced and good at their jobs. But that's the rub, isn't it? Experience. Whether you're a pilot or a wing wiper, experience is key.


  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Zulu 36 View Post
    Experience. Whether you're a pilot or a wing wiper, experience is key.
    That was a major point for the squadron commander as he alerted his chain to multiple ticking time bombs. When Mattis made SecDef I had such high hopes that rooting out non-hackers might just be coming.


  4. #4
    I have looked for the report of the investigation but cannot find it. If anyone can, I would appreciate a link.


  5. #5
    the only article I find is from 5/Dec./18, that's it, but it sometimes takes a year or better to get an accident report out...


  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by irpat54 View Post
    the only article I find is from 5/Dec./18, that's it, but it sometimes takes a year or better to get an accident report out...
    It's out. The article i linked has quotes. Perhaps they had to do a FOIA to get it. I have emailed one of the authors. If he replies, maybe he has some info.


  7. #7
    This piece from Japan Times seems to indicate that the report has been released.

    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/20.../#.Xg3pVPx7lyk


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  10. #10
    It has been suggested to me that my even mentioning this might have negative repercussions for my son. Any thoughts? If there is even a chance, I would delete the topic.


  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by dono View Post
    It has been suggested to me that my even mentioning this might have negative repercussions for my son. Any thoughts? If there is even a chance, I would delete the topic.
    I don't see why it would, it's open to anyone who wants to download it...


  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by irpat54 View Post
    I don't see why it would, it's open to anyone who wants to download it...

    My concern is the propublica piece I linked to that calls into question the official investigation.


  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by dono View Post
    My concern is the propublica piece I linked to that calls into question the official investigation.
    I still don't think you'd have to worry about it, it's out there anyway, and the worst that could happen, IMO, is that they ask you son to talk to you about it. but I doubt they even care... or even pay attention to what the family is saying or putting links to, unless you go on national TV or something, then you might get a fast call from your son...lol


  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by irpat54 View Post
    I still don't think you'd have to worry about it, it's out there anyway, and the worst that could happen, IMO, is that they ask you son to talk to you about it. but I doubt they even care... or even pay attention to what the family is saying or putting links to, unless you go on national TV or something, then you might get a fast call from your son...lol
    No doubt, I would! I did meet with a staffer from my Congressman and I asked him not attach my name to my request for a progress report. The integrity of the Squadron Commander is what just would not permit me to just ignore this. I felt bound to do what is in my power to do.


  15. #15
    Well, I had the meeting with the staffer from local office. I gave him a couple of weeks to respond, then today I called him. It was a most unsatisfactory conversation. He gave me boilerplate and political bafflegab. When I requested a name in the DC office of someone who had direct knowledge, or access to it, he refused to give it to me. Again, I asked him to confirm that the investigation had been reopened. Seems like that is a simple yes or no.


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