By lex, on November 25th, 2008
Sometimes you don’t:
Lt. Col. Thomas Bouley, commander of the 65th Aggressor Squadron at Nellis, died July 30 after ejecting from his stricken F-15D Eagle when the plane was about 550 feet above the desert, said the president of the accident board, Brig. Gen. Robert Otto, a former F-15 safety officer and now commander of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, Calif.
Bouley’s passenger, a British observer pilot, ejected less than a second before Bouley and survived.
It’s easy to second guess a late ejection – there comes a time when you’ve done all that you can do and you’re supposed to give the jet back to the taxpayers.
But I read something once in a USAF safety magazine, something written by a senior officer that has always stuck with me. Memory forces me to paraphrase, but it went something like this: “When a troop augers in, it’s tempting to stand on the sidelines and play the critic. But we have to keep in mind that he put everything he’d ever been taught, everything he had and everything he ever would have had into that decision. He believed in it so completely that he laid his life on the line for it. Everyone who ever flew with him, or taught him, or fought alongside him is a part of who he was, and by his loss we are all diminished. The fact that he was wrong is not an opportunity for those left behind who have not faced what he faced to stand in judgment – it is a tragedy.”