I find the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) hearing on Lt. Lance Leone of the U.S. Coast Guard appalling. I feel well qualified to comment on this. I have 42 years as a military aviator both as a Naval Aviator and as an Army aviator in the National Guard with Master wings. I have 15,000 hrs with over 10,000 of them military and over 10,000 Alaska hours. In those 42 years I have never seen UCMJ charges brought in a case like this. It is very important in an aircraft accident to get complete and honest testimony of survivors. This allows investigators to accurately determine the cause of the accident and make proper recommendations to further safety. When a copilot who was not on the controls on a ferry flight gets brought up on homicide charges after an accident I guarantee you future accident testimony is going to be clouded by the instinct for survival.
I worked with Coast Guard aviation for 30 years, occasionally in Western Alaska, frequently here in Juneau. I have always been impressed with their professionalism and often held in awe their courage on missions that I was ever so grateful that I didn’t have to fly.
Alaskans who venture on the water have known that when events and weather have overwhelmed them there is Coast Guard team ready to bail them out and they know that team is coming no matter what the circumstances. Frequently that team is in a Coast Guard aircraft, flying in incredibly daunting conditions. Up till now they have used their skill and best judgment to accomplish these difficult missions knowing that the command will back them up. In the future, in addition to taking in account the conditions for the mission, they will have to factor in the fact that the command is still behind them, knife in hand and ready to put a target on their back.
I strongly urge that any individuals that feel as strongly about this travesty of a hearing as I do to please write to our congressional delegation. You can do it quickly and easily online.
MAJ. U.S. Army (Ret.)