Portia (who must have a WHOLE lot of free time these days) sent me an update on this story from CNN. (It's a video entitled "Navy Pilots Scolded for Helping Victims" under the Special Coverage section in the middle of the page).
It turns out that Uber-Admiral Rumsfeld got wind of the story through the New York Times (bad, very bad). The Times included a report that the AP didn't have in the story I read: "In protest, some members of the unit have stopped wearing a search and rescue patch on their sleeves that reads, "So Others May Live." It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure Rummy's response. ..something akin to a very quiet large explosion.
The Navy started bailing faster than Sean Penn. Now the actions of these two pilots are to be "commended." Heh. Commander Holdener's in the dog house now. Bonehead.
Navy Commander 'counseled' Pensacola Pilots for Non-Assigned Rescues
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - Two Navy helicopter pilots were reminded of the importance of supply missions after delivering their cargo and then rescuing 110 hurricane victims in New Orleans instead of immediately returning to base, the military said Wednesday. One of the pilots was temporarily assigned to a kennel but that was not punishment, said Patrick Nichols, a civilian public affairs officer at Pensacola Naval Air Station. "They were not reprimanded," Nichols said. "They were counseled.""Counseled" in official Navy parlance means "We took a fire ax to these Hollywood flyboy's egos. Broomsticks should be emerging from their nether regions any day now."
Lt. Matt Udkow and Lt. David Shand returned to the base from their mission on Aug. 30, a day after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, Nichols said. Udkow and Shand met with Cmdr. Michael Holdener, who praised their actions but reminded them their orders were to fly water and other supplies to three destinations in Mississippi - the Stennis Space Center, Pascagoula and Gulfport - and then return to Pensacola. "The Hollywood role [What did I tell you? Ed.] of this thing is search and rescue," Nichols said. "Logistics was just as important. They realize that."
I bet they do. Oh, I know what you're going to say: "Orders are orders. If you don't follow orders the entire world will become so disorganized that graph paper will look like "spin art" and the terrorists will have won." Been there, done that. The world spins still. But a kennel for godsakes? C'mon Skipper! Lighten up!
Tell that to the blind folks, Commander.
The two air crews picked up a Coast Guard radio call that helicopters were needed for rescues in New Orleans, said Lt. Jim Hoeft, another Navy spokesman. They were out of radio range to Pensacola, so they decided to fly their helicopters to New Orleans and join the rescue effort without permission.
It took only minutes for the H-3 helicopters to fly to New Orleans, where Udkow's crew plucked people off rooftops. Shand landed his helicopter on the roof of an apartment building where more than a dozen people had been stranded. When he returned to get more, two crew members entered the building and found two blind residents and led them to the helicopter.
Udkow later received permission to continue with the rescue missions when he landed to refuel in New Orleans.
Both helicopters returned to Pensacola, about 200 miles east of New Orleans, by dark, as required by flight rules. Nichols said no supplies went undelivered as a result of the rescues. The pilots and Holdener were not available for interviews Wednesday, Nichols said. He said Udkow was flying and Shand was resting between missions.
"We all want to be the guys who rescue people," Holdener told The New York Times. "But they were told we have other missions we have to do right now and that is not the priority."
The air over New Orleans was so thick with helicopters a few days later that crews were having a hard time finding people who needed rescuing, but that was not the case when Udkow and Shand flew their rescue missions.Listen, you twerp. These "guys" are dedicated and highly freakin' trained Naval Aviators (rotary wing). Do the country a favor and put these guys back in the air, now. You need somebody to guard the kennel? Then call the Marines! (Heh).
"I would be looking at a family of two on one roof and maybe a family of six on another roof, and I would have to make a decision who to rescue," Udkow told the Times. "It wasn't easy."
Nichols said Udkow was in no way being punished by being put in charge of a temporary kennel in Pensacola for pets of military personnel who had been evacuated from hurricane-stricken areas.
"It's a collateral duty," Nichols said. "These guys don't just fly. They do other stuff."
Seriously, I realize that you guys hosed-up big time with the Skipper. I for one, however, am glad that SOMEBODY showed a little goddamned-out-of-the-box-initiative in the middle of what was otherwise a bureaucratic cluster-f**k to end all cluster-f**ks.
Your men know it.
Rant light is extinguished.