Wednesday, September 07, 2005
I read an article, buried in the National news section, not any front page stuff, and easily overlooked. Trying to find it online took several clicks, from one section to another - through news, national news, more national news and finally all the headlines. There it was, I couldn't beleive what I read. "Navy Pilots Who Rescued Victims Are Reprimanded".
It seems that two navy pilots who sent to deliver water to New Orleans, stopped to pick up over 100 civilians trapped on their roofs. It appears they had done their duty and were returning to their home base in Pensacola, FL when they spotted several groups of civilians on rooftops in need of rescue. Being out of touch with their command center, Lieutenants David Shand and Matt Udkow took it upon themselves to rescue those civilians, thinking their effort would be lauded. Instead the two were reprimanded by their Commander, Cmdr. Michael Holdener.
Cmdr. Holdener's reasoning was just too much to take. He said, and I am paraphrasing here, that everyone wants to be the guys who rescue people, but that was not their priority.
Excuse me? It's not a priority to rescue humans from a life and death situation? For pity's sake they delivered the water already, they were on their way back to their home base with EMPTY choppers and they saw people in need. What were they supposed to do, obey orders and have nightmares about the people frantically waving them down? Were they supposed to ignore the pleas for help because some idiot in some operations room says that the "orders" are more important then saving lives?
Oh please. Is our military so entrenched in a don't think for yourself - don't have feelings or morals - mentality that they are punished for doing the right and honerable thing? If that is what our military has come to then it needs to be disbanded. When orders come before logic, compassion and common sense then it is time to get rid of it.
I was outraged at the callous disreagard for human life at the expense of following orders and protocol and I wrote an irate letter complaining to the Judge Advocate General saying that Cmdr. Holdener should be demoted. And as I said, I wrote to the NYTimes as well. I know my letter is one of thousands received every day, and the chances of it ever seeing print are slim to none, but I just wanted to voice my concern that men like Cmdr. Holdener can be so insensitive to the plight of others while those with the sensitivity and fortitude to help are punished.
It makes about as much sense as Bush telling the FEMA director, Mr. Brown, that he did a good job.