Thursday, December 11, 2008

Leviathan Devours a Family

“Now there came a day when [Job’s] sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house; and a messenger came to Job and said … `The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I alone have escaped to tell you!’… While he was yet speaking, another also came and said, `Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you….”

Job 1:13,16,18

It was neither a demonic wind nor “the fire of God” that destroyed the home of San Diego resident Dong Yun Yoon. The culprit was a crippled F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet that spiraled to the ground out of control after its pilot ejected two miles short of the runway at Miramar Air Station.

The pilot survived the experience. Yoon’s family did not. The crash destroyed his home and killed his wife, daughters, and mother-in-law, none of whom arose that morning expecting to become collateral damage in a military training exercise gone lethally wrong.

After receiving word of the tragedy, Yoon, a 37-year-old immigrant from South Korea, rushed to his home from his job at a retail store near the Mexican border – but by that time his family was gone and his home was in ashes. Like Job, Yoon was beaten to the ground by the weight of the sudden, inexplicable loss of everything he cared about.

From the depths of his misery, Job displayed astonishing stoicism. “Naked came I into the world, and naked shall I return,” he from the abyss of his misery. “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”

Yoon likewise exhibited astonishing composure in dealing with his life-shattering loss. Referring to the pilot whose actions precipitated the loss of his family, Yoon declared: “I pray for him not to suffer for this action. I know he’s one of the treasures for our country.”

Yoon’s grief is sacred, and his capacity for forgiveness is worthy of emulation. The pilot who ditched his plane over the University City neighborhood where Yoon’s family lived certainly did not intend to hurt anybody; as he was rescued the pilot described seeing his plane hit a house, and was visibly anxious over the possibility that someone had been killed.

That young man – a Marine lieutenant in his twenties – is indeed a treasure, but for a reason other than Yoon’s remarks suggest. He is an irreplaceable human being made in the image of his Creator; he is somebody’s son, perhaps somebody’s husband and father.

The pilot’s value is a product of his humanity, not a function of the job he has chosen or the clothing he wears to work. The same can be said of Yoon’s wife, Yong Mi; his daughters, 15-month-old Grace and 2-month-old Rachel; and his mother-in-law, Suk Im Kim. Each of them was a treasure of incalculable worth.

None of these individual human lives should have ended on that morning. But if one couldn’t be spared, it was the moral duty of the pilot to sacrifice his own – assuming, of course, that there is a coherent moral code underlying the institutions of American militarism.

We are incessantly ordered to support, sustain, applaud, and pray on behalf of our “troops” – a term that encompasses pretty much any armed individual in a government-issued costume – whose “service” and “sacrifices” supposedly keep us free. It is impossible for a mind unclouded by official propaganda or poisoned by puerile sentiment to see how our supposed freedom is enhanced by the discretionary killing of distant foreigners who pose no conceivable threat to us. But the threat to life and limb posed by warplane left pilotless over a residential neighborhood is very easy to understand.

From what is presently known, the Marine pilot had been conducting a training exercise involving an at-sea landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln, which was approximately fifty miles off-shore. On his way back to Miramar, he reported that one of his plane’s engines failed. Although the plane can operate on one engine, its condition posed a risk to anyone on the ground in the flight path back to the Air Station.

This lieutenant thus confronted that rarest of things, an opportunity for a member of the US Armed Forces actually to defend the lives of American civilians. In this case, he could have done so by turning around and attempting to make it back to the Abraham Lincoln, rather than flying over a heavily populated area aboard a stricken fighter jet.

Had he done so, he may have had to ditch his plane in the ocean and die at sea. But he would have protected the civilian population, which is supposedly the reason our government has a military in the first place.

I do not mean to suggest that I wish this young man had died. Four deaths as a result of this incident are too many. I am underscoring the fact that it would be ethically perverse to suggest that the proper course of action was to sacrifice the lives of four civilians in order to save the life of a Marine.

Furthermore, it’s important to recognize that civilian pilots faced with similar crises have taken care to minimize the risk to people on the ground.

Nearly nine years ago, Alaska Airlines Flight 261 was en route from Mexico to San Francisco when the MD-83 jetliner suffered a catastrophic failure in its tail stabilizer. Owing either to poor maintenance or some bizarre accident, the jackscrew controlling the stabilizer was damaged, and this had the effect of locking it in the “full up” position – which sent the plane into a nose-first dive.

For eleven minutes, Captain Ted Thompson and First Officer William Tansky struggled to save the airliner and its 83 passengers. Displaying preternatural calm as their wounded aircraft bucked and dove, the pilots consulted with airline maintenance officials and air traffic controllers in search of an answer. They requested clearance to land at Los Angeles International Airport, specifying that they wanted to remain over the ocean as long as possible during an attempted emergency landing.

That request reflected, among other considerations, the pilots’ determination to minimize the risk to people on the ground in the event that they were unable to regain control of the jetliner. And, tragically enough, the plane eventually went into an irreversible dive, corkscrewing its way into the Pacific.

All eighty-eight people aboard that plane perished despite the genuinely heroic efforts of Thompson and Tansky to save it. A year after the tragedy, the pilots were posthumously awarded the Gold Medal for heroism from the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA), the first time that commendation had been thus awarded.

In explaining the award, ALPA executive vice president Capt. Cress Bernard explained that Thompson and Tansky had displayed “amazing grace under unbelievable pressure.” This is not just because they did what they could to save their passengers and crew, but because they had also acted to protect innocent people on the ground.

Doubtless there are some, perhaps many, military pilots who have done likewise in similar circumstances; such men are eminently worthy of respect. Mr. Yoon’s ability to forgive the pilot whose actions led to the death of his family is likewise admirable. And it shouldn’t be forgotten that the pilot had no intention to hurt anyone, and was understandably frantic over the possibility that he had.

I am very concerned, however, that Yoon’s generous gesture will help fortify an already widespread, and thoroughly pernicious, assumption – namely, that those wearing government-issued uniforms are more valuable than the population at large, and should be protected at the cost of civilian lives.

About a quarter-century ago, while reading a movie novelization by the immensely talented award-winning science fiction author Vonda McIntyre, I stumbled across the concept of Rickover’s Paradox, which was used to test the moral attitudes of officer candidates at the U.S. Naval Academy. The most famous version of this conundrum, according to McIntrye (who, when I asked her, couldn’t remember where she had encountered it), is the following:

Two individuals, the only survivors of a tragic shipwreck, are adrift in a small, damaged lifeboat. The water is pitilessly cold and infested with ravenous sharks. The boat itself is irreparably damaged in such a way that it will only be able to carry one of its occupants. If nothing is done, both occupants will perish. But whichever is cast into the sea will die very quickly.

One of those aboard the stricken lifeboat is a highly trained military officer with valuable – perhaps irreplaceable – technical skills. A huge sum has been spent on his training, which is of critical importance since the country is at war.

The other is an innocent and law-abiding person of no particular achievements or aptitudes. Few if any would notice that person's absence, and the community at large would be impoverished in no discernible way if he were thrown overboard.

Since only one can be saved, which of the two should it be?

The only morally sound answer to this predicament is that the military officer must sacrifice himself on behalf of the civilian. That, after all, is what he was trained to do, what he had promised when he enlisted. To do otherwise would be to nullify the entire stated purpose of having a military establishment in the first place. Any other conclusion would be based on the assumption that the civilian population exists to defend the military, rather than the reverse.

Those serving the Regime under which we live regularly acts on the latter assumption in ways both great and small. Consider, for example, how frequently the behavior of police (who are now effectively part of a militarized internal security force) reflects a paramount concern for “officer safety,” even when that concern leads to the use of military tactics that leave innocent people dead.

Indeed, the fact that the Regime claims the supposed right (which remains dormant for now) to conscript people to kill and die on its behalf reflects how deeply entrenched that second assumption has become. Rather than forcing civilians to sacrifice their lives for the military, conscription forces civilians to surrender their lives to protect the State and those who control it.

In a July 13, 1863 editorial commending the Lincoln Regime for imposing the draft, the New York Times discarded the usual persiflage about conscription serving some noble purpose and described the matter with unstinting candor. Describing conscription as “a national blessing” even as a major armed insurrection against the draft raged outside, the Times demanded that Americans recognize “that our national authority has the right under the Constitution to every dollar and every right arm in the country for its protection….” (Emphasis added.)

Although we’re rarely told that our rulers assume we exist to protect them and serve their needs, that assumption is infused into the warp and weave of the Regime.

It is why the mechanism of military slavery (the so-called Selective Service System) still exists. A closely related attitude is made tangible in the ongoing peculation –through inflation, taxation, and other means – of the national wealth in order to bail out politically connected swindlers: The Regime has committed more than half of this year’s GDP toward that objective.

Dong Yoon’s gracious gesture, offered amid unfathomable grief, will almost certainly become a pseudo-patriotic proverb recited as part of the sacraments of the cult of imperial militarism: “See how nobly this young father, who came to our country in search of freedom, accepted the sacrifice required of his family in the service of that freedom!”

The unadorned truth, however, is that Yoon's family was taken from him needlessly, killed as collateral damage in the routine operations of the Leviathan State.

On sale now

Dum spiro, pugno!


Anonymous said...


wow. you offered a 50 year outlook on that one.

i just find it...amazing that they told the pilot to make the risky landing by first going over a populated area. we're dropping 12 billion a month in two wars. and are bailing out everyone from A-Z. what's a plane but a drop in the bucket?

well, i hope, like Job, the Lord gives mr. yoon more in his later days than he had in his previous days.


billy said...

It is the people in the military who give you the right to make such comments. While I agree the military should serve and protect the civilian population, they are not superheroes and can act as humans no matter the training. I find your comments in this article to be insulting. But I will let you say them.

Anonymous said...

Nobody, but nobody, takes on the hardest cases the way Will Grigg does.

The Mainstream Media could not even remotely contemplate publishing an essay like this one.

Nor could I, simply because I lack the ability to write it.

You, sir, rock.

Jerri Lynn Ward said...


I completely agree with you. This whole thing has become a call to prostrate oneself before the altar of the military.

I have gotten myself in trouble by suggesting on this blog that under God's Law, restitution is demanded and that Mr. Yoon cannot abrogate it as it is a necessary part of redemption. I also took issue with the "Treasure" comment which just jarred me. I got back this comment which is completely along the lines of what you are writing in this post:

"Others may not like that this man sees a military pilot as having more than the average value, but he does see it this way and I for one thank him for it.

I'm being accused of "talking like a lawyer". Funny, I always thought that God is more concerned with justice than emotion.

One other thing. I'm wondering if you saw this:

“What’s unclear is why the pilot chose to land at Miramar, which involves an approach over heavily populated La Jolla and University City, instead of North Island Naval Air Station, which could be approached entirely over water. Military officials have not said where the Abraham Lincoln was operating.”

Anonymous said...

You obviously know nothing about what it takes to fly.....I can absolutely gurantee that if the pilot bailed meant his plane was going down then and there and there was nothing he could do about it....especially not turn around to the ship...and the fact that you think our military doesnt protect us directly then you are officially retarded....if we had no military you probably would not are not a smart person

Lemuel Gulliver said...


You are pointing out something which is endemic to our society. Courts all the time evaluate the worth of a human life by its earnings potential - the widow of a high-earning husband wrongfully killed, who perhaps hated her husband, will be awarded by the courts far more monetary compensation than the widow of a McDonalds burger-flipper just as wrongfully killed, who perhaps loved her husband. Love and tenderness and loss of companionship has nothing to do with it.

Someone whose pet, as dear to them as any child, is wantonly killed by a bungling vet can recover not a penny more than they paid the pet store or the pound where they bought the animal. The law recognizes no difference between a chicken or a sheep and someone's beloved companion dog or cat.

Four uneducated Korean immigrants, be they little girls or old women, are of far less financial value to America than a (presumably) white young man in whose education and training the taxpayers have invested several millions of dollars. The outcome you describe was, financially, and therefore morally, perfectly sound.

For that is how we assess morality in America - by its cost. If you can pay five million bucks for a lawyer, you MUST be innocent. If you are poor and have a public defender, you MUST be guilty. God only punishes the wicked with poverty, right?

Greed is good. He who dies with the most toys wins. Do unto others before they can do it unto you first.

When I was selling for a living, my wife used to advise me: "If you bronze the cat's turds and wrap them in tissue paper, people will pay good money for them."

Packaging and presentation is everything in America. It is how we elect our leaders.

As a society, we are obsessed with establishing the price of everything, while knowing the value of nothing. Whatever is expensive we consider morally superior to whatever is cheap. Of COURSE we support our troops and police and our various governments. They are the most expensive assets America has.

The coming economic, ecological, and life hardships we Americans are about to face will either make us better or worse. I don't think we will remain unchanged. It'll be interesting to see which we become.

Kind regards,
Lemuel Gulliver.

John Pittman Hey said...

Billy said: "It is the people in the military who give you the right to make such comments."

Spoken like a true statist.

Sir, it was Mr. Grigg's Creator who "gave him the right" to make such comments. Or haven't you read, much less subscribed to, the sentiments of our nation's foundings as expressed in the Declaration of Independence.

"All men ... are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ... among these are ... liberty."

Mr. Grigg's right to speak doesn't come from the state or its armed forces. "People in the military" don't give free citizens any rights at all.

On occasion, the military acts to DEFEND those right, but never can it be said the military grants rights to anybody.

John Pittman Hey
America First Party

averros said...

It's insturcive to compare the sentiment expressed in American media with the lyrics of a popular Soviet song "Enormous Sky" by Edith Pyeha written after 1966 accident in which two Soviet military pilots sacrificed their lives while piloting a falling Yak-28 away from a German city.

It is a startling realization that Soviet "culture" officials were more decent that American journalists...

For those who can read Russian, here's the lyrics and a video of performance:

Mimi said...

You have put into words my feelings after reading Mr. Yoon's forgiving words. I'm not suggesting he should not forgive (and you didn't, either), but the militarism that took his family should not be so easily championed. What a sorry business!

Al Newberry said...


The military gives nobody rights. Rights are given by our creator and are either protected (rarely) or violated (more often) by the military and other government operatives.

And your presumption to "let" Will or anyone else say whatever they want is pretty arrogant.

Chip said...

I was going to reply to billy's ridiculous comment but John Pittman Hey beat me to it.

1. Mr. Grigg, once again you have exhibited a remarkable grasp and comprehension in the way the world really works. It is a proper worldview that is more and more difficult for people to have after years of statist propoganda — hence comments like billy's

2. John Pittman Hey, well said, sir. I have nothing to add. Except maybe this...

3. billy, you said "But I will let you say them." You will LET him say these things? You sir, have no authority to either grant nor deny Mr. Grigg the right to say anything. I'm not trying to come down on you — because it was not too many years ago I shared your ideas. Just keep on reading here, you may begin to see the world in a different light.

Anonymous said...

I am glad to see that blogger Billy has decided to let us off the hook on this one and is allowing Mr. Grigg to say what he wishes. Phew .. thank you Billy. It is clear to me now that freedom of speech is ultimately derived from the good graces of people like yourself and not the Bill of Rights. Please, I implore you, continue to grant us these freedoms.
Actually all cynicism aside - give up your thuggish viewpoints of civil liberties and if you absolutely cant maybe move Cuba or N. Korea - you might feel more at home.

Vincent said...

Excellent article. Someone who is serving their country is to hold those whom he serves in highest regard taking no chances with their lives. Whether it be a fireman, policeman, or others. It is possible that the pilot mistakenly assumed he could make it back to the airport, but either by mistake or by intention of saving his own life, the results are the same. Once the plane is headed down in a neighborhood, it was his duty to stick with it to the last second to make sure it missed the houses. It's not about his age, his background, his humanity, or anything else. His training should reflect this standard. Once the decision was made to fly over civilians the pilot's duty was to safeguard their lives for it is his reason to exist. Very brave article, thanks you for having the strength to write it.

Anonymous said...


As others have said, the military does not "give" Mr. Grigg or anyone any rights--Unless they believe Mao's statement that "power grows from the barrel of a gun." In which case, the 2nd amendment "gives me" my rights, not the state run military.

Anonymous said...

I felt the same way when I heard about the accident. I wondered why he didn't take the plane to it's grave in an unpopulated area. He joined the military to sacrifice himself for the civilian population but instead, saved his own and let 4 others die in his place. Maybe he did lose complete control and there was nothing he could do, but I find that hard to believe given the circumstances.

Chip said...


You are correct that our rights do not come from the good graces of people like billy. However, and I don't mean to be nit-picky, neither do they come from the Bill of Rights.

Our rights are inherent. They are ours by virtue of our being. We are "endowed by our Creator" with these rights. These rights are ours whether governments recognize them or not.

The Bill of Rights merely recognizes our body of rights and is designed to prevent the federal government from infringing on those rights.

Small point, I know, but important.

Doc Ellis said...

Cool post. Good to see that other folks covered billy...his kind need to learn to eat their own guns.

troll Doc Ellis 124

Doc Ellis said...

Cool post. Good to see that other folks covered billy...his kind need to learn to eat their own guns.

troll Doc Ellis 124

signup said...


Good post and a couple of comments.

I concur that this pilot did not follow his training and (being a part of the military reserves)will undoubtedly lose his flying privileges and will most likely lose his commission.

I am currently a drilling member of the reserves and I actually drill in the San Diego area. I am also a licensed civilian pilot. The real tragedy here is that this pilot continued to press on to his destination despite the fact that he had reported difficulties while still over the water.

There are four options that this pilot could have taken that would not have resulted in the deaths of four people on the ground. The first one you mentioned, which was to return to the carrier out over the water and attempt a landing on the carrier. The "air boss" on the carrier might have not been able to get the decks clear in time for a distressed landing, resulting in more deaths, but that's his decision to make. However, the pilot could have elected to fly close by the carrier and ejected at low speed over the water from a safe altitude. In that instance, he would NOT have died as the pilots wear GPS beacons that give there location and there is always a helicopter flying just off the side of the carrier for the sole purpose of rescuing pilots who eject because of a problem in take/off landing on the carrier. It is a tragedy he did not choose this option.

Second, he could have landed on "north island" which is the northern most part of coronado. If you google earth coronado, ca you will see two sets of runways on the island. that part of the island is the navy's main runways in the san diego area. He proceeded past that point and....

flew right past san diego intl airport, another runway long enough to safely land his plane on (all he would have had to do is declare an emergency and all civilian air traffic would have been diverted away from the airport).

instead, he chose option four, most likely because it was a Marine base and he was a Marine. To his credit, he did try to eject and crash the plane into the canyon that his parachute did eventually drop him into, but he should have never been there in this situation in the first place, having past three safer options.

That being said, there are some mitigating circumstances surrounding this tragedy. One, in an airplane flying at 400+ knots, the 60 miles or so from the carrier to miramar would be flown in less than 5-6 minutes, so things probably developed very rapidly. Second, modern fighter jets are inherently unstable aircraft and require computers just to keep the thing upright and moving in the proper direction. My guess is that this plane not only experienced an engine failure (as you mentioned, this plane is capable of flying on only one engine), but probably the loss of a computer or some other part of the fly-by-wire system. This would explain the immediate ejection of the pilot-- you only have about 1-2 seconds to make the decision of whether you've lost control of the aircraft. Finally, and i think the most powerful mitigating circumstance, is that miramar, up until about 5 years ago, was not developed around the airport/base. It was essentially "in the middle of nowhere." That the civilian planning nazis gave the go ahead to build fairly dense residential housing around the known flight paths of military aircraft also share a large part of the blame here.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately because of my job I spent the last week with a navy FA-18 pilot. We happened to be walking into work together the day after this occurred so I broached the topic with him in much the same manner as the majority of you did.

I purposely avoided bringing it up when others were near because I wanted to get his real response and not put him on the spot in front of the other people in the course we were taking.

We discussed the situation as it appears to have unfolded and I said barring the ability to dump the plane in a safe area the pilot owed it to the people on the ground to ride the plane in trying to avoid exactly what happened.

He informed me I was crazy and my previous time in the Army must have made me that way. The pilot had followed procedure by trying to save the plane first, then ejecting and saving himself once that became impossible. Who or what was below the plane was insignificant. He did say he did not know why he did not fly to the island since it was water the entire way but neither he nor I knew exactly what happened.

I said again to the pilot, "He should have road the plane in, that is what I would have done and what I would expect of anyone else placed in that situation even if it meant I died trying to keep from killing someone."

He told me I was crazy and he would have done the same thing. We ended the conversation but my warning to one and all is. If you hear a plane flying overhead you better watch it, because it might be the guy I was talking to and he will eject to save himself, others be damned.

dixiedog said...

Remember folks, billy is largely a representative sample of the commoner mass population. His view is in no way atypical, unfortunately.

What I find particularly telling, in my view, is that anyone with even a modicum of mental acuity could see that your entire piece never castigated a person, but only an institution(s). And even on that count, it was most mild. Yet, he found fault and responded accordingly.

As has been said/written countless times already, the culture is thoroughly corrupt and apathetic. billy's simply a single specimen, a microcosm of the populace at large; one humanoid example of how generally coarse and willfully obtuse the overall culture is these days.

Anyway, back to the piece. These paragraphs were particularly poignant in my view:

I do not mean to suggest that I wish this young man had died. Four deaths as a result of this incident are too many. I am underscoring the fact that it would be ethically perverse to suggest that the proper course of action was to sacrifice the lives of four civilians in order to save the life of a Marine.

and especially...

I am very concerned, however, that Yoon’s generous gesture will help fortify an already widespread, and thoroughly pernicious, assumption – namely, that those wearing government-issued uniforms are more valuable than the population at large, and should be protected at the cost of civilian lives.

Yep. I've often thought the same about what folk would infer as a total picture from your posts by the way you framed your views in most of your posts.

You know, like conveniently omitting certain aspects of statism, while continually lambasting get the idea. Anyway, some (many?) folk inevitably get all the wrong vibes, as has became clear in one arena already: the election of Mr. Obama. You started hammering home the SAME opposition views to statism as always, but this time it obviously riled some feathers because the main target happened to be Dalai Obama.

In terms of Mr. Yoon's remarks, my thoughts reflect yours completely. It gave me pause to wonder if I could be as stalwart and humble in character, given the same kind of Job-level tribulation, as he displayed publicly when I saw him briefly speaking on the booby the other day. Mr. Yoon probably has no idea how his demeanor and remarks have positively impacted outside folk.

Speaking of concerns about inferring the wrong message(s) I'm in the same camp. It's public gesturing/speaking off the cuff without thinking, especially in a moment of horrific despair and/or emotional turmoil, that is almost always problematic and tends to make me cringe because most folk who hear such remarks cannot discern properly; they are not critical thinkers. Of course, you have others, whose mental acumen is not so handicapped, that will nefariously weave remarks made by the poor soul under incalculable burden and distress in such a way to support their own personal agendas.

The "Rickover Paradox" is the paramount core message in this piece. In this cultural landscape, however, it should come as no surprise that many folk share Mr. Gulliver's societal synopsis above concerning one's value.

What folk can't seem to comprehend is that socialism and other statist institutions and mindsets are evil and inevitably turn lethal, regardless of who the contemporary puppet taskmaster happens to be.

This is why I have to take breaks from reading and commenting on these political sites. My blood pressure is negatively impacted eventually ;). Besides, I'm done. Anyone hoping America can be somehow be restored to its founding basis without the people themselves having a hand in it by means of their own restoration is a vain hope. Bah, I think our former country has already bit the dust. The insanity of the bailout mania afflicting the imperial capital now and how officials openly (they've tossed the cloaks) spout socialist and Marxist dogma is indicative of the total demise of what remained of the country's vestigial constitutional government before this flurry of activity.

BTW, as an aside, your The Lincoln Gambit post was an engrossing read and contained a relative wealth of little-known "connect the dots" information about Lincoln, the personage, as well as his attendant Regime. The sourced links were most useful as well. Thanks for the great piece, Will.

Anonymous said...

As Signup pointed out there are other factors involved in this accident. In the same manner that the military does not grant the right to speak, being in the military does not require you to commit suicide to prevent loss of civilian life or property. That thought is neither scriptural nor civil in nature.

It is a well known city planning issue that land near airports will sell for less because of the noise and hazard associated near airports. Almost every airport, military or civilian, was built in the boonies and after a few years was surrounded with houses instead of fields. From all available information, this pilot did what he could to put the jet in the ravine. Please note that when the engines quit working, the airplane's hydraulic system controlling the flight surfaces only allows for course rather than fine adjustments of the flight path. Please wait for the facts to be gathered before pointing fingers.

The accident investigation and report will take months to complete and while it is easy to comment or point fingers at the pilot or the military levaithan, in many cases the real cause is something else. For example, when the A-3 was first introduced to the Navy it was the largest plane to operate from a carrier. One of my friends was flying the A-3 on deployment in the Pacific. While near Okinawa one engine failed. The Captain ordered him to land at Kadena Air Base rather than to attempt landing on the carrier. As they flew to Kadena, their fuel decreased at an unusual rate. The long and short of this accident was that they ran out of gas before they got to Kadena and had to bail out. After investigation, the Navy discovered that even though the failed engine was properly shutdown, it continued to pump fuel overboard. Since he was the pilot, my friend was initially blamed for the accident. When the accident investigation was completed he was completely exonerated.

What should be obvious to all of us is that God is still in control. God directed the actions of this pilot, directed the intended recovery airport, the route and altitudes, as surely as he directed exactly where this F-18 would crash and who would live or die in this accident.


Broken said...

So, it comes down to a radical change in procedure from what we older folks learned. My good friend, an elderly former pilot, was angry at the story because he said there is no excuse for ejecting over a populous place, for reasons already cited. My Army training says similar things: In a dangerous situation where bystanders are present, I am the first bullet stopper because I know how to do it better.

Anonymous said...

Hi Will,

I enjoy reading your blog. This is not for your blog but to help you have a better understanding of flying. I didn't see an e-mail address on your blogger informatin.

Here is a thought on Alaska Flight 261. If the Captain had thought outside of the box, they would have returned to PVR and landed immediately after the stabalizer trim problem was noted during climbout. Immediate return was not in their checklist, but it would have kept them in one piece.

In the NTSB report, immediate return to PVR was understandable because the checklist did not demand that action. Airplane checklists are agreed upon between the manufacturer, the FAA and later the airline operator. Pilots are supposed to follow checklists to prevent unexpected problems. The Captain is supposed to deviate as he thinks necessary during unusual emergencies and situations to take the safest course of action.

Please look at report page 177 item 14 and 17, Adobe page 191.

The pilots probably could have made San Diego and not crashed. No one talks about a divert to San Diego.

They should not have changed aircraft configuration once they moved the flaps and leading edge devices from the up position. The old rule written in blood is try a little change at a time and then stop if control is threatened. Once you are configured you keep that configuration.

The pilots should have first descended to a lower altitude before messing around with the trim in the situation they were in. That is basic aerodynamics. Control checks are worked out at about 10,000 feet to give the crew time to react and to prevent high speed, high altitude problems with control.

It is easy to back seat drive after an accident. However when you are faced with problems and there is little or no time to think things through, then the pilot is supposed to do what is safest. Please note that there is a difference between peace time rules while flying stateside and combat rules flying elsewhere. Everyone on the ground tries to distance themselves from the pilot so that they are not blamed if things go tragic. Report page 177, Adobe page 191 If you read the Cockpit Voice recorder transcript, (starting report page 195, Adobe page 209, codes are at the start of the CVR transcript) you will see that the dispatcher is coaching his words so that the destination is still the Captain's decision. He didn't say get it on the ground ASAP and he didn't say continue to SFO. That is typical of both civilian and military dispatchers and bosses.

I earned my pilot wings in 1978 and am still flying now. My flying includes military and civilian flying. I have had more character building moments than I would have liked, but God allowed me to stay calm and to reach the best solution even when the solution wasn't in a checklist.

Some of my buddies who fly the MD-80 were extremely critical of the Alaska pilots for not immediately returning to PVR. Again, it is really easy to back seat drive.

If the F-18 HUD film survived the crash we will have an extremely good understanding of this tragedy. I would also think that this Lieutenant did not have lots of time telling senior officers to take a hike and that he was going to do what he thought was the safest course of action. That will also show up in the accident report.

Please let me know if I can help you with airplane thoughts.

Dave Glasebrook
Moscow, Home of Idaho's Communists

The Bullion Insider said...

Well said. You have great courage to tackle this sensitive subject that will undoubtedly receive much criticism. Nevertheless, it must be said.

Anonymous said...

Every time I read Will, I begin to feel like my eyes are opened just a little wider. He is the anti-propaganda, wiping away the obfuscation and deceit, using core human values and blunt honesty. Very glad I found him, and have already recommended him often. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

The truth not only hurts, it burns away hypocrisy, like a flame thrower used in a wind tunnel. This post brings up excellent and painful points, which - of course - are so because they are points which are true.

We may look away from truth, but the verdict is in: we are living in an epoch of deception and deceit. In such times, truth is as rare as those who uphold rights given by God, not men. To believe that the military should and must be exonerated for any and all misdeeds or costly errors not only lays down our rights and honor, but our very lives.

Wake up military. Wake up (now fascist) America... In all the history of tyranny, in the end, no one was spared; including the deluded minions serving evil... You, like all "civilians", are sucking down the soft-kill weapons. You, like all the rest, are taking the cancer viruses, the DNA changing GMO foods, the poisoned waters, and plastics. Whether you think yourselves above and superior to it all matters not. When you lay down to die of the same diseases they give to all, you die as one of us, not 'them.' But it is not too late...

It is not too late to repent and regain your honor, your soul, and your future. It is not too late to take back the country. It is not too late to restore what is on the brink of being lost forever. But first you must wake from your deluded dream, which will soon be the nightmare you could never imagine. It begins with bowing to God-given rights (and the Creator who blessed us with these gifts), not men or women.

GOD bless America.

Bob said...

Excellent essay.

For what it's worth, there are a handful of canyons surrounding that neighborhood. And just on the other side of the 805 freeway there is wide open land. All are clearly visible to anyone flying above the area. This suggests to me that, giving the pilot the benefit of the doubt, the problems he faced must have given him little choice in where to ditch the plane.

Thirty or so years ago another plane from Miramar crashed in almost the exact same spot, but the pilot was able to ditch it on the side of a hill about 50 yards shy of the homes on top of the hill.

It's a wonder these tragedies don't happen more often in this area. There are jets flying all the time, plus the Blue Angels do their shows directly above the neighborhoods, schools, and shopping malls that are everywhere.

Anonymous said...


glad that you even made it over to this blog. i disagree with your stance. i'm in the military, too. you are in a culture (military) that will change the way you think: some of it bad, some of it good. however, please bear in mind a few things:

--if a nation's freedom came from its military, then the chinese are the freest people in the world.

--if the military is responsible for our freedoms, then what are the american indians complaining about?

--what freedoms would you lose if the military disappeared tomorrow? the answer is none.

--what "security" would be lost if the police went away tomorrow? the answer is the same. none. except in both cases, you would then have more funds available to purchase arms for your defense.

terrorists pose no threat to our freedoms, either. if "terrorists" blew up every building in the US, which one of your freedoms is lost? not one. but afterwards, when the govts convene, that's when your fredoms start to evaporate.

as for where our rights came from..they came from God. He created us in His image. that's the link so what rights and freedoms. He has, we have. whatever rules He must obey, we must obey. He never created man to rule over another man. also, He never made one man to have His life dependent upon another. so just as no one has rule over you, you rule over no one.

so ask yourself this, do your rights and freedoms come from the guy the next rank up to you, your sister unit? no, they do not. that's absurd.

please keep coming here. you'll eventually see where we're coming from.


Anonymous said...

Rick, you stated that argument very well.

-Sans Authoritas

Bob said...

Excellent post Mr. Grigg. I eagerly look forward to your commentaries each week and enjoy your talks on Dr. Monteith's program.

I thought similar things as yourself when I read the gracious remark by the father/husband. I thought "Right on that how Christians should be knee jerk forgiveness..." But then I saw the grounds of his forgiving the fellow wasn't the image of God but that this pilot is a "treasure" as a military person. That is tragic.

Unfortuanately as you point out that is an ubiquitous belief of the military, they are somehow an uber-citizen by virtue of a uniform and a fully automatic weapon.

Now I know you are too much of a gentlemen mr. Grigg to reply to critics so I will, "Anonymous" said:

"...and the fact that you think our military doesnt protect us directly then you are officially retarded....if we had no military you probably would not are not a smart person"

Sir, with all due respect since WWII what war has the US engaged in that has been defensive? I guess since 9/11 we are in a defacto state of being at war with everybody who is Muslim.

If our military is keeping us safe why couldn't they bring down those hijacked jets flying all over the eastern seaboard on 9/11?

Fascist Nation said...

Because some pigs are more equal than others here on the farm.

AP and


9th Company said...

As a military member, I wholeheartedly agree. The individual should always be placed over the State, and its agents. Remember, the shewbread was eaten by David when he was hungry (1 Sam 21), since the purpose of the Kingdom of God is to minister to man and act in a responsible manner, rather than to enslave him.

The implicit contract upon enlistment or commissioning is the subservience to the civilian populance, not the other way around. Agents are servants, not ruffians.

Where is the servitude?

Anonymous said...

Since I guess that, according to your first commenter, you need permission to exercise your freedom or something, I as a military veteran give you that permission. I even agree with you. The young pilot may have felt horrible about the deaths his plane caused on the ground but the bottom line is that he doesn't have the ethics necessary to be a good Marine. And it's sad, because his heart is sort of in the right place.

liberranter said...

[Will: feel free to edit this for space and content]
Rick, back on or about the 11th of October of this year, in this very blog, I asked you, in response to an equally pointless and nonsensical reply to a posting of mine, to answer the following three overhead questions that I posed to all serving members of the United States Armed Forces:

“I ask each and every member of the United States Armed Forces:

- Are you willing to turn yourself [into] a criminal by obeying an order you know to be illegal and a violation of your oath of [enlistment/commissioning]?

- Are you willing to turn your weapons on the very citizens whose "freedom" you claim to be defending, which might very well even include your own family and friends?

- Do you realize that, no matter what you think you can get away with in this life on earth and no matter how in awe you stand of your military "superiors" and how willing you are to obey their every order, that the "Eichmann Defense" will help you not at all come Judgment Day?”

Unsurprisingly, you declined to answer the questions. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt this time and assume that you simply did not revisit the posting upon which the whole discussion was based (“...Its Hour Come Round At Last...”, Saturday, October 11th) and that you thus did not see the question. So, I ask them again here. I'm certainly not expecting you to answer, although I'm 99.999 percent certain of which of the two boolean answers you would provide if compelled to do so, given your insipid attempt to rationalize state violence in your previous response, not to mention you exhortation to avoid confrontation with our “betters” (the fact that you quote scripture in the process as justification is downright nauseating, if not sacrilege). I can only imagine what kind of nation we'd be living in today as subjects of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II (or worse), had the America colonists of 1775 adopted your attitude and chosen not stand up and fight for their God-given rights against a tyranny much milder and more benevolent than that under which we now suffer. All of that said, I now count you among those whom I say need to be “deprogrammed” in order for this nation to get itself back on track.

9th Company, I understand where you're coming from too. However, to be perfectly blunt, I no longer give two dried pieces of excrement or an invitation to self-copulation/a one-way trip to the underworld what “the troops” (or indeed, large numbers of any other demographic that comes to mind) think of me or my attitude. Indeed, that is the problem with today's Amerika - too many otherwise semi-intelligent people are under the delusion that some politically or socially favored demographic group (in this case those wearing the battle costume of the State) command our unquestioning adulation and/or deference as a profession/class simply because they serve the State or are somehow at the top of its grace list. As far as I'm concerned, the only conceivable scenario under which “the troops” as a whole will ever command my respect is when they begin, preferably at the lowest echelons, to stand up and refuse to carry out those orders that are transparently not only unlawful and unconstitutional, but immoral as well (the brave and patriotic Lieutenant Ehren Watada is a perfect example of this in action). Here's a little test for each person in uniform today: look closely at how you are serving, where you are serving, and what you do in the line of duty on a daily basis and ask yourself just exactly HOW IT PROTECTS THE LIVES, PROPERTY, AND LIBERTIES of the citizenry as codified within the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I think I can say with absolute certainty that such a question will go unanswered .
Here's an example in point. Ask yourself: How is installing “democracy” in Iraq helping my fellow citizens at home guard their residences or personal property against asset forfeiture by federal authorities in violation of the Fourth Amendment, confiscation of their firearms in violation of the Second Amendment, and illegal confinement to a “free speech zone” in violation of the First Amendment? Why am I and my comrades in arms not back home arresting the thuggish denizens of Rome-on-the-Potomac (or their armed goons with brass stars on their shoulders who enable this lawlessness) responsible for these despicable, criminal violations of their offices? Again, I don't expect these questions to be asked let alone answered, given that they are clearly not part of the mission of today's all-volunteer (read: mercenary) legions.

As for “educating” our policy enforcers or military leadership, my attitude in that regard is best reflected by the chiding I've given other libertarians recently in response to their hand wringing over the idea that the ruling elite are “ignorant” of their constitutional responsibilities or of sound economics. HOGWASH! They are not “ignorant” of these things; they are CONTEMPTUOUS of them and have every intention of destroying them while they have power to do so! The same can be said for the “leaders” [sic] and decision-makers who command today's Amerikan legions, in uniform or at the political level. These are individuals “educated”, supposedly, by the most elite institutions of higher learning in this country, institutions thoroughly grounded in the country's founding precepts. Graduates of the service academies, in particular, are required to study constitutional law and demonstrate a thorough understanding of the armed services' role in the preservation of that document's principles. Ditto for the political class, particularly at the Congressional and Executive level. As with the commissioned officers of the armed forces, these creatures swear an oath to uphold and defend that document as their primary duty of office. Ignorance of said document is no excuse! As for the enlisted troops, I repeat: the “Eichmann defense” holds no water. The fact that someone orders you to do something transparently illegal and immoral, no matter how lowly your station, does not compel you to obey do it; indeed, it is incumbent upon you to stop it by any means within the law (and that “law” includes legal precedents under which such disobedience is sanctioned, propaganda by military JAG officers and Justice Department thugs to the contrary notwithstanding).

But for all of the “serving my country” rhetoric belched up by the average enlistee in response to the question of why they are wearing the uniform, the sad fact is that 95-plus percent (to be conservative) are serving for purely economic (i.e., mercenary) reasons. “Patriotism” or “defense of country” as applied in the context under which previous generations served has no meaning for the current generation of soldier. For him/her, the military is just a job, one that allows them to escape a dreary existence at menial labor in a decaying, post-industrial Amerika that offers few or no options for productive (i.e., private sector) employment.

Sans Authoritas, I am certainly not Jesus and would never dream of thinking that I can come even close to mimicking his compassion and patience. That fact notwithstanding, I'm afraid that we're pretty well past the stage where we can “reason” with most of the people responsible for the current chaos, from the highest-ranking politician to the lowly private/seaman in uniform. Yes, there are rare exceptions, but that's exactly what they are: exceptions. Tell me honestly that you've ever tried to hold a discussion -- a rational, fact-based discussion requiring critical thinking skills-- with either the average uniformed member of the current armed services, or, worse yet, the average flag-waving, Old Glory pin-wearing, “my son/daughter is a Soldier/Sailor/Airman/Marine” bumpersticker-sporting jingoist civilian that goes beyond the “I disagree” stage. In ninety-nine percent of cases, it just cannot be done. There is simply no reasoning with these people, no matter how civil, polite, gracious, or objective you attempt to be. In these peoples' minds, there is the absolute power of the State ueber alles, and that's that. End of discussion, no matter how much evidence to the contrary is exposed. Since it is these people who must be “won over” to the cause of liberty for any meaningful change to succeed, how can one honestly believe with any degree of optimism that a rebirth of liberty is possible, given the refusal of these people to even acknowledge, let alone accept, the fact that we are descending into irreversible tyranny.

Finally, you recommended posing the following questions to current active duty personnel: “From whom do you think you are protecting Americans? Do you really think that you being 3,000 miles away is going to prevent any determined individual from slipping across the porous political map lines of the U.S. government's territorial claim and doing whatever he wants to whomever he wants? Did the Viet Nam vets protect us from the Viet Cong? Were they circling off the coast of Santa Barbara in LCT's, waiting to land and plant punji stakes and toe poppers?"

I absolutely agree that these are the right questions to ask, but as I just said, getting them to even acknowledge the validity of the questions, let alone answer them, is generally an impossibility. (See my questions to Rick and 9th Company above. I'll die of asphyxiation if I hold my breath waiting for honest answers to them.)

Anonymous 11:57, you make the point that Ron Paul received more support from military personnel than all other Republicans combined. Granted, but what percentage of the overall armed forces did these supporters represent? I'd be willing to bet that it was very small, less than a full percentage point. More relevant is the question of how many of these supporters truly embraced liberty and the armed forces' role in protecting it, as opposed to simply wanting to get out of Iraq (certainly not that this is an unlaudible or illegitimate position to take). Furthermore, the idea that voting the “right” or “better” people into political office will change the status quo is proven nonsense. Ron Paul got nowhere in the 2008 presidential campaign not only because the majority of the Amerikan population was either ignorant or contemptuous of his platform, but because the establishment-controlled political machine and its media surrogate was not about to let a liberty-loving reformer get anywhere near the Oval Office. Yes, the Amerikan people have been propagandized, and most of them are apparently content to remain so.

I sum, I think we'll all have to agree to disagree.