While not in the Navy, I was an aircrew member in the test world of the Air Force from 2007-2014. A lot of the things said in this documentary are 100% true. The culture of putting flight hours over safety has always been an issue. In the test world, safety is a much bigger priority then normal flying units because we're flying new or untested aircraft, weapons and equipment. But it's still an issue that raises its head occasionally.
The one major thing that I want to point out that the documentary didn't really cover and that's the state of military aviation and maintenance operations during the timeframe of 2008-2016. During that time, our military was being stripped to its bare bones of funding. Proper maintenance, training and flight hours were all sacrificed due to military funding cuts. There were times that half our fleet of aircraft were grounded because there was no money to buy the needed maintenance parts. Times where flight scheduling was cut to the point where you only flew if you had training boxes to check before you went red on your qualifications and some years the reduced flying schedule lasted for 2-3 months at a time. Squadrons, Groups, Wings and MAJCOMs we're scrambling to find money anywhere they could. When you can't do your work properly, whether flying or maintaining aircraft because of funding issues, it gets really frustrating. The other wing on base with us had a mishap on a routine training mission where the main factor was lack of training flight hours for the pilot who caused the mishap. That's a major issue in the eyes of all military aviators. But in the end, the politics win out. Those who shut up and do what their told instead of raising alarms and preventing mishaps are the ones who end up being promoted. Their the ones who go on to lead groups, wings, majcoms and then entire service branches. The ones who do speak out have their careers negatively impacted and most either voluntarily get out of the military after they've had enough or they're forced out for speaking up. It is easy to see how the same culture keeps getting recycled from generation to generation. I have no doubt in my mind that the huge military funding cuts from 2008-2016 played a direct part in Lt. Van Dorn's death and some of the blame should lie at the feet of those that were leading our country during that time. Sure, that's not where all the blame should land but a good portion of it should. General Davis was one of four that signed a plan outlining the replacement of the Kapton wiring in the fleet of MH-53's by 2019. The documentary covers the fact that during the time that plan was signed, the MH-53 program was a "bill payer" program and the money was taken from the plan to replace the Kapton wiring to fund other military needs. This reflects directly on the extreme hardships that the military was facing during the administration in office from 2008-2016. During that time, I saw and heard of numerous urgent projects that were either completely or partially stripped of their funding for the entire year. So again, the MH-53 had numerous issues from the start but when the Navy finally nailed down the issue, came up with a plan to fix it and requested the funding necessary, that funding was taken away during a time where politics on the federal level, in regards to the military and its funding, we're at the worst point it had been in several decades. It's only one small piece of the puzzle but I felt that it needed to be mentioned since it wasn't included in the documentary. I can say without a doubt that ALL military aviators were aware of the consequences the lack of funding was having on flying operations and it was without a doubt the biggest concern that we had on a DAILY basis, especially from 2010-2016.
In the end, Lt. Van Dorn is a patriot who gave his life in service to our country. As an officer he was doing the right thing by voicing his concerns about the MH-53 program, the lack of officer and senior enlisted leadership and his concerns over maintenance efforts. The military needs more service members like Lt. Van Dorn, regardless of rank or duty title. If there is something going on that puts service members at risk, a real leader is the one who speaks up. So I salute Lt. Van Dorn and I salute his family for continuing to speak out on these issues in an effort to make changes to the military aviation culture and in general, the military as a whole.
Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn?
Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn?
An inquiry into the death of a Navy lieutenant who was in a crash of the controversial MH-53E helicopter model .
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
April 15, 2021 at 04:30 AM